Education Advocacy Update: WEAC Testifies Against Student Transfer Bill
The Assembly has passed a bill (AB 600 / SB 587) that would forfeit a portion of per pupil state aid payments to a district when a pupil transfers in the middle of a school year between schools requiring face masks and those that do not, or between schools requiring COVID-19 vaccines and those that do not. The measure would be in effect during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years.
WEAC and other education groups oppose the bill, which Republican authors say will address student mental health needs. “As I listen to our educators statewide about their solutions for addressing mental health needs for our students, who have experienced trauma, and for our educators, who have experienced secondary trauma, not a single one is asking for this legislation,” WEAC President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen said. “Students and educators need real mental health supports. Educators deserve to be listened to and given the opportunity to discuss real solutions, not legislation designed to score political points.”
Under the bill, if the school transfer is authorized, the Department of Public Instruction would be required to make a payment to the transferee school varying from $8,161 for a pupil without a disability attending a public school to $13,013 for pupil with a disability attending either a public or private school. These amounts would be prorated for transfers after the third Friday in September.
In registering against the bill, WEAC testified this proposal was put together with very little understanding of how school finance works in the state. The DPI, the school boards association and school administrators’ group are also opposed.
Some Assembly Democrats have joined Republicans in rejecting redistricting proposals from the People’s Maps Commission. The People’s Maps failed 77-21, with all Republicans present voting against the maps, while 21 Dems voted in favor and 17 voted against them. Instead of the People’s Maps, the Assembly approved Republican maps for legislative and congressional seats on identical 60-38 votes. With the Republican maps passing the Senate and Assembly, now Governor Tony Evers has called for the bills, which has vowed to veto.
Bills We’re Watching
Special Education Aid Increase (AB 662 / SB 648). This bill would provide food security and boost funding for the UW System and Wisconsin Technical College System would also increase special education aids in K-12 by $6,320,000 in 2021-22.
New Poll Shows Perceptions on Wisconsin Public Schools
The Marquette University Law School has released new polling results, including some toplines on public perceptions regarding education in Wisconsin. See the entire report here.
- A majority, 60%, say they are very satisfied or satisfied with the job public schools are doing in their community, down from 69% in the August survey by the Marquette Law School Poll. And, in the current poll, 31% are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, up from 21% in August.
- Fifty-five percent support requiring students and teachers to wear masks in schools, with 40% opposed. Those with children are slightly less supportive of a mask requirement, 51%, than are those without children, 58%.
- A majority of respondents, 57%, say they are very concerned about children falling behind academically due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Another 31% are somewhat concerned, and 12% are not too or not at all concerned.
- Similar percentages are concerned about children’s mental or emotional health being affected by the disruptions of school, with 59% very concerned, 30% somewhat concerned, and 9% not too or not at all concerned.
- A proposal is currently being considered to amend the state constitution so that the governor would appoint the state school superintendent. Appointment of the school superintendent by the governor is supported by 9%, 85% prefer the superintendent is elected.