October 14, 2021

Education Advocacy Update: Power to Negotiate, Other Bills We’re Watching

Education Advocacy Update: Power to Negotiate, Other Bills We’re Watching Featured Image

A bill to allow teachers and school staff to negotiate with our employers in areas such as school conditions and what happens in the classroom continues to circulate for co-sponsorship. Hundreds of educators have already contacted legislators in support of the bill and WEAC encourages you to take action and share our action link with your colleagues.

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Senate Education Committee Holds Public Hearings

The Senate Education Committee has held public hearings on several education-related bills. Among the bills we’re watching are:

  • State Aid Payments for Students Transferring Schools (SB 587 / AB 600). This proposal for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years would allow students to transfer between schools requiring face masks and those that do not, or between schools requiring COVID-19 vaccines and those that do not. 1-Minute Video The companion bill is in the Assembly Committee on Mental Health.
  • Transferring into Voucher Programs (SB 608 /  AB-621). This bill would allow a pupil who changes residence to transfer from the Racine or Milwaukee voucher programs into the statewide voucher program. The Assembly Education Committee will has set a public hearing on the companion bill.
  • Reading Test License(SB-589 / AB 611). This bill would change the Foundations of Reading test licensure requirement to allow an applicant to pass an examination identical to the most recent edition of the FORT. Memo The companion bill is in the Assembly Education Committee.

Other Bills We’re Watching

  • Raising Tobacco Age (SB 355 / AB 348). The Assembly Committee on Substance Abuse and Prevention has passed a bill to raise the age for purchasing cigarettes, tobacco products, or nicotine products from 18 to 21, and imposes the same minimum age for purchasing vapor products Federal law in 2019 raised the minimum age to 21. The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety has advanced the bill.
  • Gender Identify Opt Out (SB 598AB 562) The Senate has introduced its version of this bill to allow parents to opt out of classroom discussions that reference LGBTQ+ issues. The bill would require schools to notify parents if they provide any programming related to sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or gender expression. Schools would also have to provide parents the ability to opt their child out of the program. Read morewatch a short video & share our Facebook post. The Assembly Education Committee has held a public hearing. The companion bill was referred to the Senate Education Committee.

Circulating for Co-Sponsorship

  • Indigenous Peoples Day. This bill would rename Columbus Day, observed on the second Monday in October, as Indigenous Peoples Day. Similar bills have been passed in New Mexico, South Dakota, Maine, Hawaii, Oregon, Alaska and Vermont, and Indigenous Peoples Day is officially observed in over a hundred localities across the country, including serval cities, counties and school districts in Wisconsin.

Assembly Education Committee to Vote on Reading Bill, Hold Hearings

The Assembly Education Committee will meet October 21 to vote on a bill that would increase the amount of testing for the youngest learners.

  • Additional K-2 Reading Assessments (AB 446 / SB-454). This bill would require school boards to assess our youngest learners three times a year and to create a personal reading plan for K-2 students who score below the 25th percentile based on a screening assessment, calling for additional testing to identify those students. The bill does not indicate how additional assessments would be funded and draws questions – including from the Department of Public Instruction, reading groups and school administrators – as to how more testing will improve literacy and provide educators with necessary funding and tools to conduct increased interventions. The majority of federal funds, including reading teachers paid with funds from Title 1, cannot be used to comply with the language of the bill. Read a related story from the Assembly hearing on the companion bill. WEAC has registered against the bill.

Among other public hearings on education-related bills, the panel will take up:

  • September 11 Observance (SB 398 / AB 405). Adds September 11 to the list of observance days in schools.