WEAC Education Advocacy Update – January 31

A bill circulating for co-sponsorship is a first step to achieve freedom for educators to join together in negotiations. The bill, LRB-4911, would remove all restrictions for negotiating salaries, wages, hours, benefits and working conditions, as well as restores impasse resolution procedures. For teachers, preparation time and teacher evaluation systems become mandatory subjects of bargaining. Also, annual recertification elections are repealed and simple majority of those voting in certification elections is restored. Ask your legislators to cosponsor the bill.

Bills We’re Watching

  • Raising Teacher Retirement Age (SB 612 / AB 670). This would raise the minimum retirement age for teachers to 59.5, who can now retire at 55. Under the proposal, retired public employees could work up to 36 months while collecting their pensions. The bill would apply to employees under the age of 40. While the bill would apply to teachers, a primarily female workforce, it would not apply to employees in male-dominated fields of protective services, including police officers, firefighters, most correctional officers and the state patrol.
  • Flexibility to Rehire Retirees (SB 627 / AB 698). This would allow a teacher annuitant who retired from a school district at least 30 days to return to work as a teacher and elect to not become a participating employee for purposes of the Wisconsin Retirement System, and instead continue to receive his or her annuity. Tell Your Legislators to Give SB 627/ AB 698 a Public Hearing.
  • Holocaust and other genocides in state model social studies standards (AB 816 / SB 744).This bill would require the Holocaust and other incorporating the Holocaust and other genocides into the state model social studies standards and requiring instruction on the Holocaust and other genocides. The bill was referred to the Assembly Committee on State Affairs and the Senate Education Committee.

Circulating for Co-Sponsorship

  • 952 Local minimum wage ordinances Memo
  • 5121 Local family and medical leave ordinances Memo
  • 5342 Prohibiting vaping on public and private school property Memo

Education Committee meets February 6
The Assembly Education Committee will vote February 6 on the following bill:

  • Virtual Schools and Open Enrollment (AB 737). Current law limits the number of nonresident school boards to which parents may apply for a pupil to attend a public school in a nonresident school district under the full-time open enrollment program. Currently, full-time open enrollment applications for a pupil may be submitted to no more than three nonresident school boards in any school year. This bill specifies that an application submitted to a nonresident school board for a pupil to attend a virtual charter school does not count for purposes of this limitation.

The education committee will hold public hearings on these bills (NOTE: several bills relating to Dyslexia were removed from the original agenda):

  • School Accounting (SB-743 / AB-810). This would require the DPI to establish a new computerized uniform budget and accounting system by 2021-22 for the annual transmission of financial information from school districts, independent charter schools, and county children with disabilities education boards related to the receipt and expenditure of state, federal, and local funds at the school district and school level. The DPI would be required to post the information on its website and allow the public to download, sort, search and access the data at no cost. The bill also requires DPI to annually conduct a public information campaign on the availability of financial data on its Internet site. The Senate version was sent to its Committee on Education.
  • Athletic Participation (AB-779 / SB 705). This bill would allow a pupil who attends a virtual charter school to participate in interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities in the pupil’s resident school district. The bill also provides that school districts are not allowed to be members of an interscholastic athletic association unless the association requires school district members to allow homeschooled pupils and virtual charter school pupils residing in a school district to participate in school district athletics. The Senate version was sent to its Committee on Education.
  • Expanding Part-Time Open Enrollment (AB 849). This bill expands the part-time open enrollment program and renames it the course choice program. Under the current part-time open enrollment program, a pupil enrolled in a public school in the high school grades may attend a course at a public school in a nonresident school district. Under the bill, a pupil enrolled in an educational institution, as defined in the bill, in grades one to twelve may attend a course at another educational institution. A pupil may attend no more than a total of two courses at any one time under the current part-time open enrollment program or under the bill’s course choice program. There is no companion bill in the Senate.

Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee to meet February 4 to hold a public hearing on:

  • Lead Testing (AB-475). Testing for lead in drinking water in facilities used for recreational and educational camps and child care.
  • Lead Testing (AB-476). Lead testing of potable water sources in certain schools; providing loans for lead remediation in certain schools; and providing an exception to referendum restrictions for lead remediation.

Executive Orders

  • Student loan debt. Gov. Tony Evers has signed an executive order creating a Governor’s Task Force on Student Debt. The task force will assess student debt in Wisconsin and provide long-term strategies to reduce education-related debt, prevent abusive practices by loan companies and improve financial literacy education. It’s estimated that a million Wisconsinites carry a total of $24 billion in student loan debt. The WEA Academy offers a free online course to members help manage or reduce their debt. Learn more.
  • Redistricting commission. Governor Evers has signed an executive order creating the “People’s Maps Commission” to hold at least one hearing in each of Wisconsin’ eight congressional districts. After the 2020 Census, the Commission is charged with preparing proposed maps that are free from partisan bias and partisan advantage; avoid diluting or diminishing minority votes, including through the practices of “packing” and “cracking”, are compact and contiguous and avoid splitting wards and communities.