State Budget. (AB43/SB70) Signed into law.

Curriculum and Academic Freedom

Censorship of Curriculum and Library Materials. The Senate Education Committee has passed the so-called “parental bill of rights” (SB 489 / AB 510). The bill to make it easier to censor educators and sue school districts. The bill passed the Assembly in January 2024. WEAC opposes the bill because parents, school boards and educators work very well together to do what is best for students, and this bill would undermine our ability to do that. This bill would infringe on the rights of most parents to favor a few extremists. Polls show that more than 70 percent of parents oppose book bans and other extreme policies this bill would encourage. Email your legislators here.

Parent Notification for Library Materials (SB 597 / AB 642). The Senate Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention, Children and Families has held a public hearing on a bill to require schools to notify parents/guardians of each material checked out by students under 16 from their school libraries within 24 hours of checkout. It would also require boards to issue an annual notification if it allows students in the district to access materials through BadgerLink electronic collections. The companion bill (SB 598 / AB 641) enacts similar requirements for public libraries.

Bill to Ban Book Banning (SB 615). Proposal would prohibit government or government-funded institutions from banning books, ensuring that citizens have unrestricted access to diverse literary materials. A similar law has been successfully enacted in Illinois, setting a noteworthy precedent that reinforces a commitment to uphold constitutional rights.

American Indian Studies Package. Incorporates American Indian studies into model academic standards, with the state superintendent working in partnership with the Wisconsin Indian Education Association (AB 209 / SB 198). Explicitly addresses an American Indian student’s right to wear traditional tribal regalia at a graduation ceremony or school-sponsored event (AB 210 / SB 199). Requires school districts to report the numbers, ages and tribal affiliation of American Indian children attending the schools of the school district (AB 212 / SB 201). Provides an option for a federally recognized American Indian tribe or band to decide whether each applicant for a lifetime license is qualified to receive the lifetime license (AB 214 / SB 203).

Civics Ed Requirement (AB 898/SB 837). Requires instruction in civics in elementary and high school as a graduation requirement.

Cursive Writing Requirement (AB 937/SB 873). Requires cursive writing in elementary school as part of English Language Standards.

Pelz Holocaust Ed Resource Center (SB 833/AB 919). Funds the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Center in Wisconsin, which provides programming free of charge for schools to comply with 2021 Act 30, requiring education on the Holocaust. Wisconsin is recognized as a leader in Holocaust education.

Remote Proctoring of Pupil Assessments (SB 611/AB 652). Would allow the Forward Exam to be administered through remote proctoring and has a remote proctoring policy that meets certain requirements.

Reading Curriculum. (AB321 / SB329) Requires phonics and “science of reading” curriculum and lays out a series of requirements including the creation of a new office within the DPI and a commission on reading curriculum with appointed members from the Assembly and Senate majority leaders and the DPI. Signed into law as Act 20.

Financial Literacy. (AB109/SB115) Requiring one-half credit of personal financial literacy for high school graduation. Has received public hearing in Senate Ed Committee, has been referred to Assembly Ed Committee. View Bill History

Remove Protections for Educators. (AB308/SB305) This bill would remove public elementary and secondary schools, private schools and tribal schools from the list of institutions for which an employee is protected from prosecution for an obscene materials violation. Under current law, they are protected against liability to prosecution for an obscene materials violation for acts or omissions while in their capacities.

Common School Fund to Purchase Obscene Materials. (AB309 / SB304) The bill adds language expressly prohibiting using Common School Funds to Purchase Obscene Materials.


State Aid Adjustments under Open Enrollment (SB 653 / AB 680). This bill would increase the full-time open enrollment program transfer amount for the 2024-25 school year is $10,000. The transfer amount, adjusted annually, is currently the amount equal to the sum of any per-pupil revenue limit increase that applies to school districts in that school year and any per member increase in categorical aids between the current school year and the previous school year. This year’s transfer amount is $8,618. This bill has also passed the Assembly Education Committee.

Special Ed Reimbursement (AB 527 / SB 506). This bill would change the special ed reimbursement rate to 90 percent, rather than the 33.3 percent rate for 2023-24.

School Psychologists Loan Program (AB 234 / SB 241). A Senate committee has held a public hearing on this bill which would create a school psychologist loan program for graduate students pursuing a school psychologist career. Eligible students could receive a loan of up to $10,000 annually for up to three years and 25 percent of the loan would be forgiven for each school year the recipient is employed as a school psychologist in an urbanized county or rural area.

Shared Revenue. (AB245 / SB301). This sweeping agreement boosts state and local funding for municipalities and public schools but also supplies  historic taxpayer funding for unaccountable private voucher schools, takes away local control by allowing politicians to determine reading curriculum and forces armed officers into Milwaukee Public Schools. The public school funding component reimburses special education costs at 33 percent, while private school voucher students receive 90 percent tax funding. Signed into law.

Higher Education

End to Minority Teacher Loans (SB 596). The Senate Colleges and Universities Committee has held a hearing on a bill  to end the Minority Teacher Loan Program and all race-based criteria for state-funded programs. The loan program helps educators of color complete teaching degrees, so students have more educators who look like them. The Assembly has already passed the companion bill. The governor has signaled he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

WEAC is opposed to the bill, with WEAC President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen saying, “Students need and deserve to have a diverse representation of teachers and education support professionals throughout their academic careers. It takes intention and resources to build a diverse staff in every school.” Email the Senate committee.

UW System Admissions (SB 367): Guaranteeing admission to the top 5 or 10 percent of high school graduates to a UW institution has passed a Senate committee. It would require schools to use GPA ranking to select the students. The Assembly has passed the bill but would need to take action given a Senate amendment.


Student Teaching Requirement (SB 917 / AB 1005). WEAC analysis shows this bill lacks comprehensive approaches to apprenticeship, ignoring the significant amount of work that has already been done at both the DPI and the Department of Labor, which go far beyond the scope of this bill. The bill also ignores the significant amount of financial and technical support federal agencies have given for apprenticeship programs in many fields beyond education in the past three years under President Biden’s direction. This bill does little to make apprenticeship, a concept WEAC endorses when done well, a practical reality because it lacks any funding support. The Assembly Ed Committee has held a public hearing.

Tier 1 Licensure for Marriage and Family Therapists (AB 251 / SB 253). Both chambers have passed bills which would make clinically trained marriage and family therapists eligible for Tier 1 Licensure by the DPI as a social worker. WEAC analysis shows this bill would most likely benefit rural school districts that have difficulty filling pupil services positions, but there are concerns around lowering the standards for licensing.

Hiring Unlicensed Administrators (SB 335 / AB 342). Allows districts to hire administrators not licensed by the DPI. This bill has also passed the Assembly Education Committee.

Alternative Teacher Certification (SB 742 / AB 758). This bill removes the requirement that an alternative teacher certification program for an initial license to teach be operated by a non-stock, non-profit organization for purposes of an initial license to teach. There is currently no companion bill in the Assembly.

Teaching is a Profession Package of Bills: See summary of eight bills.


Sexual misconduct against a pupil by a school staff member (AB341/SB333). This bill adds certain crimes to the automatic revocation provision and adds a lifetime bar on reinstatement for certain crimes. Under current law, a person’s license is automatically revoked if he or she is convicted of a Class H felony or higher that is a crime against life or bodily security or a crime against a child. This bill adds that a person’s license is automatically revoked if he or she is convicted of certain crimes against children that are Class I felonies, including sexual misconduct, certain crimes against privacy, and theft of property from a school. Under the bill, a person’s license may not be reinstated if the person is convicted of a crime against a child that is a Class H felony or higher, sexual misconduct against a pupil, and certain crimes against privacy.

Safety and Health

Maintaining Supply of Opioid Antagonist (SB 206 / AB 223). This bill has also passed the Assembly Education Committee.

Inhalers (AB 914): Allowing schools to stock inhalers for medical emergencies has passed in the Assembly. The bill would provide some liability protections for schools that choose to stock them.

Immunization Waivers (AB-612). A bill providing waivers from workplace immunization requirements.

Firearms in Private Schools (SB 754): Passed by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. It would change the prohibition on carrying a firearm on school grounds in cases where private schools are located in places of worship. So, if a worship center has a written policy allowing guns, they could receive an exemption from the ban. Note this affects private schools only.

Use of Cell Phones (AB-889): Expanding prohibition of using cell phones (except emergencies/hands-free) to school zones during school hours or whenever a child is present. Passed out of the Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety.

Youth Membership Groups (SB 549 / AB 592). This would allow representatives of certain federally chartered youth membership groups, such as the Boy Scouts, to provide information to pupils on public school property during school hours.

Grants for School Firearm Detection Software (SB 523/AB 542). Providing $4 million in state grants to install micro-radar technology to identify firearms for use primarily in parking lots and main corridors. The technology was used at the recent Republican national debate in Milwaukee to scan all entrants using AI and existing security cameras.

Recovery High Schools (AB-271 /SB-267). A grant program for high schools for students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

Stopping for School Buses (AB 313/SB313). This bill increases the penalties for failing to stop for a school bus that is stopped and displaying flashing red lights. Current law requires motorists approaching a school bus stopped on a public road and displaying flashing red lights to stop at least 20 feet from the bus and to remain stopped until the bus resumes motion or the flashing red warning lights are turned off. A motorist who violates this requirement may be required to forfeit $30 to $300. The bill increases the penalty to a forfeiture of $300 to $1,000. Under current law, DOT may adopt, by rule, a demerit point system for determining when to suspend a person’s operating privilege for repeatedly violating traffic laws. Under this system, DOT may assess demerit points against the driving record of a person convicted of violations of certain traffic laws. The bill requires DOT to assess three demerit points against the driving record of a vehicle operator who violates the requirement to stop for a school bus. WEAC Supports

Indoor Air Quality (AB 434 / SB 444). This bill requires the Department of Health Services to establish an indoor air quality inspection and evaluation program for public school buildings used by pupils. Among requirements of the bill, DHS may perform random inspections of a public school building used by pupils, must respond to complaints about the air quality and post inspection results including known potential health consequences of any problems identified with air quality in the building and any identified potential sources of air quality issues. Results must also be reported to the complainant and at an open meeting of the school board. The DHS would be required to assist the school in developing a reasonable plan to address any air quality issues.

Vouchers and Privatization

Funding of Vouchers and Private Charters (AB 688 / SB 652, AB 900 / SB 838). Local tax dollars that now fund the Racine, statewide and special needs vouchers would shift so they’re paid for from general purpose revenue (bottom line: taxpayers are still on the hook). The legislative move comes after growing recognition that the current funding system for these outfits is unconstitutional – because local public school taxes are diverted from the majority of students in order to pay tuition for a small percentage of private school attendees. WEAC is opposed to the bills.

GOP 4K Kindergarten Plan (SB 973 / AB 1035). WEAC has several concerns about this bill. Initial analysis indicates this would have serious implications for public school funding and would result in some of our youngest learners receiving instruction from childcare staff who are not licensed teachers nor employed by school districts. Further, the bill can be equated with a voucher program for childcare centers, as money from public schools would be siphoned to private childcare centers. It should be noted that public school 4K is currently funded by the state at 50 percent.

Automatic Re-enrollment in Voucher Program (SB 74 / AB 77). This bill would create an automatic process for re-enrollment into voucher programs, rather than the current system requiring annual enrollment in the tax-funded program during a set window.

Requiring Tax-Funded Vouchers to Have Librarians (AB 782 / SB 758). This bill would require every public, voucher and tax-funded privately run charter to have a licensed library media specialist working full-time in each school. Voucher schools would be able to have either a licensed library media specialist or someone with a degree in library science working full-time. The bill allows schools to adjust their budget to increase their budget to cover that cost.

Local Voter Approval of Voucher Funding (AB 516 / SB 503). This bill would require school district voters to pass a referendum approving the use of taxpayer funding for private school vouchers before the amount is siphoned from a local school district. Currently, voters have no say in the system that sends tax dollars intended for public schools to private voucher schools. This bill would only apply to Racine and statewide voucher systems.

Voucher Transparency on Tax Bills (AB 535 / SB 504). Requires property tax bills include the reduction in state aid to their public school district as a result of the statewide, Racine or Milwaukee voucher systems, or as a result of payments to private schools for the special needs voucher system.

Increasing Voucher Per-Pupil Payments. (AB305 / SB330) Increases voucher payments: K-8 to $9,500; HS to $12,000; privately run charters to $11,000; special needs vouchers $14,677. Bundles voucher increases with public school low-revenue ceiling fixes raising the limit to $11,000. Signed into law.


Child Work Permits (AB 442): Ending work permit requirements for 14- and 15-year-olds was passed out of committee. WEAC is opposed.

Eliminating Minority Teacher Loans & Other Programs (AB 554 /SB 596). Ends race-based criteria for college scholarships, grants and loans. The governor has signaled he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk. Has received a public hearing in the Assembly Colleges & Universities Committee, referred to the Senate Colleges & Universities Committee. WEAC Opposes. Read our testimony.

School Psychologist Loan Program (AB 234 / SB 241). This bill would create a school psychologist loan program for graduate students pursuing a school psychologist career. Eligible students could receive a loan of up to $10,000 annually for up to three years and 25 percent of the loan would be forgiven for each school year the recipient is employed as a school psychologist in an urbanized county or rural area.

DPI Mental Health Training Program (AB 575). Requires the DPI distribute information about its mental health training program annually. Additionally districts must develop a plan which includes information about the DPI program for addressing mental health issues that arise for school staff members and pupils. Finally, the bill requires annually distribution of the district mental health plan to all school staff. (Passed out of Assembly Ed Committee with Reps. Shelton, Considine, Hong in opposition.)

Workers First Package of Bills: See article about Democratic legislators’ set of pro-worker bills, including a collective bargaining reform bill for education employees.

Right-to-Work-for-Less (AB 539 / SB 519). Repeals Wisconsin’s Right-to-Work-for-Less law.