WEAC Representative Assembly
WEAC is a member-directed, issue advocacy organization. Once a year, hundreds of delegates attend the Representative Assembly to make major policy decisions, adopt a program budget, and elect WEAC officers. The 2016 WEAC RA was April 15-17 at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton.
Highlights of the 2016 WEAC Representative Assembly:
- Ron Martin elected President; Peggy Wirtz-Olsen elected Vice President
- Delegates approve 4 New Business Items
- Delegates amend one Resolution, pass two new ones
- Russ Feingold addresses the WEAC RA
- Video tribute to out-going WEAC President Betsy Kippers
- WEAC Awards video
- Unite-Inspire-Succeed video
Eau Claire middle school teacher Ron Martin has been elected president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the largest organization for educators in the state. And Marshfield High School English teacher Peggy Wirtz-Olsen has been elected WEAC Vice President.
As president, Martin will represent members of the state association – including preK-12 teachers, education support professionals, technical college instructors, aspiring educators in university programs and retired educators. The election took place over the weekend during the 94th WEAC Representative Assembly.
Martin, a social studies teacher and former president of the Eau Claire Association of Educators, has been an educator for more than 20 years. He is currently serving as WEAC Vice President and previously served as WEAC Secretary-Treasurer. He succeeds Racine teacher Betsy Kippers, who is retiring.
Martin is a longtime student council advisor for Eau Claire’s South Middle School and was the Altoona High School head volleyball coach for more than a decade as well an advisor for the Where Everybody Belongs orientation program for sixth-graders.
He has directed faith-based youth programs and ministries was a member of the Board of Directors for the Greater Eau Claire United Way. He has been the president of the Eau Claire Patriotic Council for over a decade, spearheading Memorial Day celebrations and more in the area.
At the Representative Assembly, Martin told delegates he is honored to be elected WEAC President.
“Like you I believe wholeheartedly in the profession and what we do,” he said. “I believe in our union and the power we have to transform public education and to continue to serve as its guardians.
“The next leadership team of WEAC will have work to do, and that work is going to require a great deal of our time, and I know sacrifices will have to be made. I truly believe our organization will be a new exciting organization that represents the voices of tens of thousands of educators all across this state. We will be known all over this state as the premiere association of educators who advocate for a diverse democratic society and quality public education. We will be known by educators as the union that promotes and advances professional practice, personal growth, as well as the economic welfare and rights of our members.”
Both Martin and Wirtz-Olsen begin their terms on August 1.
Wirtz-Olsen is currently president of WEAC Region 2 in Central Wisconsin and a member of the Marshfield Education Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and her master’s degree from Concordia University. Before teaching in Marshfield, she taught in Port Washington for 14 years.
As vice president, she will focus on strengthening the collective power of Wisconsin’s urban, rural and suburban public school and technical college employees.
“We can accomplish great things,” she said. “Our future can be brighter in Wisconsin. With more demands on educators’ time, we’re struggling to keep up with what’s best for students. We know what’s best for our children. These are our schools. These are our children. These are our communities. I want a brighter future for my school, my children’s schools and schools across the state of Wisconsin.”
In other elections, Menomonie paraeducator Lynn Goss was elected as an NEA Director, and Hudson teacher Scott Ellingson was elected as an Alternate NEA Director.
The 2016 WEAC Representative adopted the following New Business Items:
In 1974, while engaged in a bitter strike, 84 members of the Hortonville Education Association, an affiliate of WEAC-Fox Valley/WEAC/NEA, were unjustly fired and unduly replaced by their school district. WEAC condemns the strikebreakers who crossed the picket line in Hortonville. WEAC honors the Hortonville Education Association members who pulled together to improve learning conditions for students and working conditions for educators everywhere. True, they sacrificed their jobs – but they sacrificed much more than that. After their struggle, no one could ever deny collective bargaining is a fundamental right. Let us honor the Hortonville 84 by emulating their resolve. Let us respect the courage of the HEA by “pulling together” and restoring our rights. This policy is to be reviewed annually by the WEAC Representative Assembly.
The WEAC RA discourages WEAC officers and staff from union travel to states that enact legislation intended to discriminate against LGBT groups and individuals, except in such cases where WEAC officers and staff would be working to overturn/oppose such legislation.
STUDENT MEMBER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM:
Professional development leaders within the WEAC organization work closely with student members of our organization to develop and implement an assistance program to help our student members (Region 9) navigate the edTPA process.
The WEAC requests that the state NEA Directors and leadership advocate for the NEA-PAC to create a more robust procedure of polling membership before making endorsements on national primary elections which includes polling local leadership.
The 2016 WEAC Representative Assembly approved the following changes to WEAC Resolutions:
- A-1 Great Schools (Amends language)
- NEW A-2 School Takeovers (New language to address an existing concern regarding public education)
- NEW A-21 (New language in accordance with NBI #11 from the 2015 WEAC RA)
A-1 Great Public Schools
The WEAC believes that every student has the right to attend a great public school. This includes a commitment to equity and a core belief that every public school and every student can excel. In order to promote opportunity, equity, and excellence for all students, the WEAC believes that there is a shared responsibility amongst all education stakeholders.
NEW A-2 School Takeovers
WEAC believes public schools should be accountable to locally elected school boards. We view takeovers of schools by any other entities as attacks to destroy public education, which negatively impact the community. School takeovers result in privatization of public schools and create greater inequality and segregation with no discernible change in student outcomes.
NEW A-21 Teach More, Test Less
The WEAC believes over-reliance on high stakes standardized testing is undermining educational quality and equity by hampering educators’ efforts to focus on the broad range of learning experiences that promote innovation, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and deep subject matter knowledge that will allow students to thrive as citizens. The Council further believes the increasing focus on such testing has particularly negative effects on low income students, English language learners, children of color, and those with disabilities.
The Council further believes the goal of public education is to provide students with in-depth knowledge in a wide range of subjects, to foster their moral, ethical, physical, social, and emotional development, to ensure career readiness, and to promote active citizenship. The Council believes the commitment of substantial resources to testing and evaluation diverts those same resources from the educational needs of students and the professional development needs of teachers who wish to align their skills to the real needs of students.
The Council further supports a parent’s right to opt out or refuse a test at all grade levels. The Council believes the DPI should provide parents and guardians with a timely explanation of the rationale, intended use, consequences, and costs associated with any state or federal-mandated tests. The Council also believes DPI should provide parents and guardians with the procedure to excuse students from testing.
Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, who is challenging Republican Ron Johnson for his old Senate seat in November’s election, addressed the RA: