Education Advocacy Update: Support Freedom To Negotiate, Oppose More Student Testing
WEAC Education Advocacy Update 34
The Wisconsin Education Association Council is applauding a proposal to allow teachers and school staff to negotiate with our employers in areas such as school conditions and what happens in the classroom.
“Educators believe the freedom to join together for our students and each other is a right we definitely should have,” said WEAC President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen. “To make sure students continue to have the best educators, Wisconsin needs leaders who will show respect for educators. The power to negotiate will allow educators to better protect and advocate for every single student.”
Hundreds of educators have already contacted our legislators in support of the bill and WEAC encourages you to take action and share our action link with your colleagues. Look for additional action opportunities coming soon to show your support for educators at the bargaining table.
Bills We’re Watching
Preventing Honesty in Teaching: Higher Education (SB409/AB413). The Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee has received testimony on this bill to ban teaching critical race theory at the UW System and state technical colleges. It would also prohibit race and sex stereotyping in training provided to university and technical college employees. Ten percent of state aid would be withheld from any campus that violated the provisions. Students and employees also would be allowed to sue over alleged violations and would be eligible to receive attorney fees if successful. The companion bill was referred to the Senate Universities and Technical Colleges Committee. WEAC has registered against the bill.
A similar bill was introduced to prevent honesty in teaching at the K-12 level. One supporter of that bill, Representative Chuck Wichgers, provided testimony in favor of that bill that included nearly 100 terms and concepts that would, or potentially would, violate the proposed law including:
- Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
- Culturally Responsive Teaching
- Anti-Biased Training
- Cultural Awareness
- Diversity Training
- Educational Justice
- Implicit/Explicit Bias
Read Representative Wichger’s complete testimony, including the full scope of terms and concepts targeted under the bill.
Additional K-2 Reading Assessments (AB 446 / SB-454). WEAC President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen testified in front of a Senate Education Committee against a bill to 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.
State Aid Payments for Students Transferring Schools (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.
Under the bill, if a pupil meets transfer requirements, a payment deducted from the school district from which the student transfers must be paid to the new school. The payment amount ranges from $8,161to $13,013 depending on whether the child has special needs and whether the school the student is transferring to is private school, which is prorated if the transfer occurs after the third Friday count.
The bill specifies that, if the pupil transfers after the third Friday in September, DPI must prorate the applicable per pupil amount. The bill requires DPI to reduce state aid or certain other amounts otherwise payable to the public or private school from which the pupil transfers by the per pupil amount DPI pays to the transferee school on behalf of the pupil. The bill also sets rules about membership in an interscholastic athletic association, to allow transferring students to participate in sports if they transfer under this measure.
Federal judges have partially paused a redistricting lawsuit but say they are committed to drawing new legislative and congressional maps if lawmakers and the state Supreme Court won’t.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers and members of Congress are seeking to intervene in a separate lawsuit on the issue before Wisconsin’s high court.
The fight over the election maps is playing out before two courts because the stakes are so high. Where the lines go will determine whether either side has an advantage in elections for the next decade. Read more.
An attorney for Republican lawmakers says the legislature plans to take up a Wisconsin redistricting plan before the floor period closes November 11.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission has said it needs maps finalized by March 1 so it can implement them in time for candidates to begin circulating nomination papers April 15. GOP lawmakers believe the deadline to have new lines in place is the end of April.