Wisconsin must demonstrate that we value our teachers, Governor Evers writes

In a column released Wednesday, Governor Tony Evers says Wisconsin must do better in demonstrating that it values its teachers.

“We must … recognize that part of supporting our kids in the classroom means supporting the educators who teach our kids,” Evers writes.

“Wisconsin pays our public school teachers less than the national average, which makes it harder to recruit and retain talented educators. According to recently-released data, Wisconsin has fallen to 33rd in the nation for average teacher pay. Teacher salaries in our state are some of the lowest in the Midwest. Teachers moving across the border to Illinois or Michigan can see pay bumps of $10,000 or more.

“That’s just not good enough, folks.

“As we continue to fight for the resources our schools need to invest in our kids, we must do everything in our power to ensure that educators know the work they do is valued and that they mean something to our kids and the people of our state.”

Read the governor’s entire column, published by the Capital Times:

Last month, Kathy and I escaped Madison for a weekend and celebrated our 50th high school reunion back in Plymouth.

We got to catch up with friends, attend the homecoming parade and football game, and tour the new multi-purpose facility and fitness center at the high school.

While I was in town, I also sat down for an interview with two high school students. They asked me everything from my favorite memory of Plymouth High School (starting at the school when it was brand new) to my thoughts on Greta Thunberg’s advocacy on climate change (I think she is an incredible human being and appreciate her work). The students also posed the question: “What is the biggest change you’ve seen in Wisconsin in the last 50 years?”

It might sound hokey, but here’s what I told them — what stands out for me is that a whole bunch hasn’t changed. Being back in our hometown was an important reminder of how important our kids and our schools are to our communities. And kids are as good and smart and dedicated now as they were when I was in high school.

That’s why after spending my career fighting for our kids, I decided to run for governor. Because I believe what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state.

Since taking office, I have traveled the state listening to the people of Wisconsin, and at every stop, I saw educators and heard folks say how important their local schools are.

That’s why I proposed a bold budget with significant investments in education, including a commitment to return to two-thirds funding and a $600 million increase in special education, among other important priorities.

Now, I know this is not quite where the final budget ended up. We didn’t get everything we all wanted. And, quite frankly, no one was more disappointed than I was by what Republicans did to the budget we put together.

But I wasn’t going to negotiate against what we were able to give our kids with the budget we were sent, knowing that our kids could have ended up with less in the end.

And I sure wasn’t going to let our kids, our educators and our schools become bargaining chips by going back to the negotiating table when it would hurt them the most.

So, at the end of the day, I went back to that fundamental creed: that what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state.

And that’s why I’m proud of where we ended up and what we were able to do with the budget we were given.

We provided $95 million in special education categorical aid — the first increase in a decade.PauseCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time0:00Stream TypeLIVELoaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00Fullscreen00:00Mute

We provided nearly $330 million in state general aid — the largest increase since 2005.

We also doubled state support for school mental health programs to help our kids in need.

And finally, through my vetoes, we were able to increase per-pupil state categorical aids by nearly $100 million over the next two years.

Our budget was a down payment on important priorities, but there is more work for us to do.

I said I wanted to return to our state providing two-thirds funding for our schools, and we have to get that done. And, yes, we increased special education aid, but we’re nowhere close to where we need to be, and we have to do more.

We must also recognize that part of supporting our kids in the classroom means supporting the educators who teach our kids. Wisconsin pays our public school teachers less than the national average, which makes it harder to recruit and retain talented educators. According to recently-released data, Wisconsin has fallen to 33rd in the nation for average teacher pay. Teacher salaries in our state are some of the lowest in the Midwest. Teachers moving across the border to Illinois or Michigan can see pay bumps of $10,000 or more.

That’s just not good enough, folks.

As we continue to fight for the resources our schools need to invest in our kids, we must do everything in our power to ensure that educators know the work they do is valued and that they mean something to our kids and the people of our state.

Because, by golly, I can tell you that our educators mean something to our kids. I see it in every classroom I visit. And I heard it straight from one of those two students who asked me what’s changed since I graduated. She told me that her favorite thing about Plymouth High School is her teachers. That she appreciates how she can talk to them even about things that happen outside of school. That they make her feel like she is important and that she is the future.

As I said, a lot has changed in the last 50 years, but our values have stayed the same. We work hard, we cheer for the Packers, Brewers and Bucks, we look after our neighbors, and we care about our communities.

That’s why it’s time to get serious about investing in our kids, our schools and our educators, because what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state.

Gov. Tony Evers: What’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state

Last month, Kathy and I escaped Madison for a weekend and celebrated our 50th high school reunion back in Plymouth. We got to catch up with friends, attend the homecoming parade and football game, and tour the new multi-purpose facility and fitness center at the high school.

Together, working through our union, we can ‘reach, teach and inspire the students’

In a video message, WEAC President Ron “Duff” Martin welcomes educators back for another exciting school year and encourages them to continue their outstanding work on behalf of the children of Wisconsin.

“The work you do as public school educators is incredibly important, and I know that you give it your all. We make sure that every kid gets a great public education,” he says.

“WEAC is listening to our members, to educators all across the state. We’re spending time in classrooms, we’re spending time in communities, and we’re coming up with solutions that will help make the job more enjoyable for our educators but more importantly to make sure that everyone thrives in our public schools. 

“This school year, WEAC invites you to be part of the solution. Join our family, the WEAC Team, so that we can reach, teach and inspire students. Wisconsin educators, welcome to a new school year!”

weac.org/Join

WEAC members help create safe and supportive school communities

The latest Department of Public Instruction ConnectEd newsletter highlights the work of two WEAC members – Verona language arts teacher Nate Campbell and Rice Lake school social worker Joshua Morey – to create safe and supportive school environments for LGBTQ students and staff.

“In Verona,” Campbell said, “we believe that every child must be successful. My work with the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance, also referred to as Gender Sexuality Alliance) is supporting the efforts of students who are LGBTQIA+ and their allies to feel safe and successful in school.”

In Rice Lake, Morey serves as a GSA advisor for the high school and middle school GSA clubs. Because of the GSA’s efforts, every RLASD staff person, including custodial, food service, teacher, aide, administrator, and all new hires, receive training regarding gender and sexuality inclusive practices. “RLASD staff regularly use our students’ preferred names and pronouns and respect students’ rights to facilities and activities that align with their identities,” Morey said.

Read more:

Safe and Supportive School Environments for LGBTQ+ Youth

We all know how important it is to keep kids healthy, safe, supported, and encouraged in school. However, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students are 50% more likely than their peers to have been bullied at school or online in the past year.

The Department of Public Instruction will host the Creating Safe and Supportive School Communities Social and Emotional Learning Symposium June 19-20, at the Stevens Point Holiday Inn Conference Center. Find out more.

Racine educators, students, parents, community members demand a budget that supports students and educators

Photo by BG Pfeifer.

Dozens of Racine educators, students, parents and community members packed a school board meeting Monday night to demand a budget that supports all students and gives educators the tools they need to help students succeed.

“I realize public school districts across this state are in crisis mode,” said Racine Educators United President Angelina Cruz. “But I strongly believe in the collective power of educators and community to fight back for what’s best for kids.”

Cruz asked administrators and school board members to join all educators at the Capitol “to demand legislators stop playing politics with our kids.”

“It’s imperative we come together to debunk the myth that our kids are failing.” she said. “The state is failing our kids.

“We must stand together to demand that our public schools – the only schools with the commitment, capacity, and legal obligation to serve every child who walks through our doors – be fully funded; that the voucher program be ended; that something be done about the massive teacher exodus in Wisconsin; and to put an end to punitive legislation targeting urban districts.”

Cruz presented a petition with over 1,000 signatures from educators, parents, and community members calling on the school board to approve a budget that:

  • Keeps cuts away from the classroom.
  • Provides planning and prep time educators need to meet the needs of all students, rather than filling that time with meaningless meetings.
  • Provides a sensible and competitive salary schedule and benefits package that attracts and retains the best and brightest public education workers.

“Our ask is simple,” she said: “Keep what’s best for kids at the center of all local budget decisions. Stop cuts in programming and supports that most directly impact student learning. Chop from the top.”

Find out more on the REA-REAA Unity Facebook page:

Read more from the Racine Journal Times:

Racine teachers’ union protests proposed cuts

RACINE – A chorus of teachers who repeatedly chanted “chop from the top” filled the Racine Unified School Board meeting room on Monday night. Attendees of the meeting spilled into the hallway outside the meeting room as members of the Racine Unified teachers’ union, Racine Educators United, protested proposed cuts in next year’s budget that would affect teachers and students.

Governor Evers honored as WEAC’s 2019 Friend of Education

Governor Evers, with WEAC President Ron Martin, proudly displays the 2019 WEAC Friend of Education Award.
Governor Evers accepts the 2019 WEAC Friend of Education Award. (Photo by Tammy Erickson.)

Governor Tony Evers was awarded the 2019 WEAC Friend of Education Award at the annual WEAC Representative Assembly on Saturday in Oshkosh. The Governor made a surprise appearance before hundreds of excited delegates and thanked them for their support of him over the years and especially in his campaign for governor.

“Who would have guessed,” Evers said, “a teacher educator, a former WEAC member, would be elected Governor of the State of Wisconsin? I could not have done it without WEAC. I could not have done it without all of you,” the governor said.

“I believe, as you all believe, that what’s best for kids is what’s best for our state. I said that a million times on the campaign trail, and that’s why we won this race.”

In presenting the award, WEAC President Ron Martin said;

“It is with great personal pleasure and pride that I present this year’s Friend of Education Award to a person who has devoted his entire life to the children of Wisconsin and to ensuring that they have the very best public schools they possibly could have. A man who was a teacher and then a principal and then a district administrator – twice – and then became Wisconsin’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction. And who then – as if that wasn’t enough – decided he had to do even more to advance the cause of public education. And he did it. He became governor of the State of Wisconsin!

“Every step along the way, every day of his adult life, Tony Evers has put children first. He has made enormous personal sacrifices to advance the greater good, to help ensure that Wisconsin public schools are strong and that every student gets a quality education and a better opportunity in life.”

In nominating him for the award, National Board Certified Teacher Amy Traynor said Governor Evers has demonstrated over and over again his willingness to involve educators and citizens in education decisions and to listen carefully to them.

“He understands that the people working most closely with students are the ones who should always be part of the conversation,” Amy wrote, continuing: “Governor Evers has worked tirelessly for the last 35 years to enhance and promote public education. And now as governor he is continuing to be a friend of education and a huge advocate for Wisconsin’s kids and families!”

WEAC Representative Assembly delegates take selfies with Governor Evers as he greets them on the RA floor following his acceptance of the 2019 WEAC Friend of Education Award.
The Governor poses with members of the Green Bay Education Association.

President Martin, Vice President Wirtz-Olsen re-elected

WEAC President Ron Martin was elected to a second, three-year term (unopposed) and Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen was also tapped for another three-year term (unopposed). Other elected union members were Nicholas J. Sirek, NEA Director; Amanda Oudenhoven, Alternate NEA Director; Jesse Martinez, Minority Guarantee Representative to the WEAC Board; and Alexandra Agar-Pratt, Alternate Minority Guarantee Representative to the WEAC Board.


New Business Items

Click here for the New Business Items passed by the 2019 WEAC Representative Assembly


WEAC Resolutions

Click here for the 2019-2020 WEAC Resolutions as passed by the 2019 WEAC Representative Assembly


Outline for Moving Forward

Wisconsin Public Schools: Key Factors for Moving Forward was presented to nearly 500 educator-delegates at the annual meeting. This document, created by state officers based on academic research and discussions with WEAC members across the state, covers the restoration of professional status of educators; improvement of school conditions and climate; and establishment of educator attraction and retention policies. The next steps will be to share the solutions with WEAC members across Wisconsin. Read the paper here, and look for opportunities to get involved coming soon.

Investing in Early Career Educators and Professional Development

Supporting Professional Development and Early Career Educators was a key theme from the Representative Assembly’s actions, with the body voting to approve extra investments in educator-led courses and workshops and an affirmation of the place in our union for educators in the early stages of their careers, as well as for future teachers.

More Awards

Other awards presented at the 2019 RA include the following, with President Ron Martin’s description of each winner:

The Tenia Jenkins Activist Award

This year’s recipient of the Tenia Jenkins Activist Award is Regina Pagel, whose involvement in WEAC goes back to her days as a leader of what we then called the Student WEA. Throughout the many years since then, she has repeatedly and continuously demonstrated her deep commitment to students, teachers, education support professionals and the community – both in in Waunakee, where she teaches World Language and has served as president of the local association, and Sun Prairie, where she lives and is heavily involved in local advocacy groups. Gina is active promoting quality public schools and making life better for students through organizations that include the Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition, an organization called Support Sun Prairie Schools, the Sun Prairie Democratic Action Team, and the Wisconsin Public Education Network. She makes a difference every day in school and in the community. In nominating her for this award, her friend and colleague Jane Weidner said; “Overall, Gina is the embodiment of the ideals recognized through this prestigious award.” Congratulations, Gina!

Education Support Professional Award

This year’s Education Support Professional Award goes to Katherine Hinson, a Special Education Paraprofessional in the Bayfield School District who is known for her compassion for her students, dedication to public schools and the union, hard work and great instincts. In nominating Kathie for this award, Lorie Erickson said she is “the most dedicated paraprofessional I have ever worked with.” … “Every day,” Lori writes, “she goes above and beyond to educate, care for and provide emotional support for some of the most struggling students in our school.” Melissa Giesregen, the Director of Special Services and K-5 Principal, says Kathie “is always one of the first paraprofessionals to recognize when a student is having difficulties and immediately takes action to remedy the situation. The students both respect and adore her.” Congratulations, Kathie!

Richard J. Lewandowski Award

This year’s Richard J. Lewandowski Award for humanitarian activities goes to Kelly O’Keefe Boettcher, an English teacher at Milwaukee’s Rufus King International High School where she is not only a personable, highly effective and extremely popular teacher but someone who has mastered the art of connecting students with the world outside the classroom. Her nominee, fellow educator Michelle Young, says OKB – as Kelly is known by her students – “stimulates rich conversations” with all students “in an ethnic, religious and economically diverse environment.” Kelly works to improve relations between students of different backgrounds in part by guiding student organizations including Jew Crew and Friends of Islam, which work to “educate and fight stereotypes and racial hatreds by encouraging students to become believers in diversity and interfaith equality.” … “OKB,” Michelle continues, “also promotes social equity and justice among African American and Hispanic students by revealing their history, acknowledging discrimination, and engaging them in courageous conversations about open-mindedness and injustice with all groups of students.” Kelly also promotes peace, equity, fairness and justice in the community through media interviews and other activities. As Michelle says, Kelly is “a positive role model for the entire school community and an individual of high-value standards who believes it is her responsibility to be an upstander, not a bystander, for social justice.” Congratulations, Kelly!

President’s Awards

President Martin also awarded several President’s Awards. The recipients were:

Joe Williams, an Ellsworth High School English teacher who has served as vice-chair on the WEAC Governance Documents Committee. He also tri-chaired the Early Career Educator Task Force. Joe was selected by delegates to the NEA RA to serve on the NEA Resolutions Committee.  

Lynn Goss, who has served on the NEA Board of Directors for 7 years. A respected ESP member, she is tapped often by NEA to train other ESP leaders. She has been on the WEAC Board of Directors, serves as Region 1 Treasurer and has a long history of leadership in her local. 

Keri Hetzel, who started her union leadership at UW-La Crosse as the local chapter president and at the same served on the WEAC Region 9 Aspiring Educators of Wisconsin board of directors. She then was selected as the President Elect and this past year led the organization. She is full of energy and ideas.

Gretchen Kubeny, who has served on the GBEA Executive Board and is a building representative. She has served as the vice chair of the WEAC Credentials and Elections Committee for the past three years. She ends her term and time as a member of the Credentials and Elections Committee.  

Deb Bell, who is Region 1 President and on the WEAC Board. She is ending her term and will not run for another term. Deb has served on many committees in her local, region and state, and has been on the WEAC Steering Committee for the NEA RA.

Randy Ebright, who currently serves as the WEAC Region 5 President and serves on the WEAC Board of Directors. During past years, Randy served on the WEAC Board of Directors representing South Central Education Association (SCEA). Randy will be retiring.

Rising Star Awards

WEAC has a Rising Star award for members who are standouts in union activism, and here are our recipients this year:

Casey Silkwood, an Early Career Educator who is a Building Representative from MTEA. She was a Tri-Chair for the Early Career Educator Taskforce and has demonstrated strong leadership and a passion for unionism.

Curtis Kadow, Co-President of the Cudahy Education Association. He participated in the NEA Leadership Summit where he excelled, and continues to become more active in his Local and Region.

WEAC Scholarships

WEAC also awarded scholarships to four children of WEAC members who are planning to pursue careers in education. The winners are:

Kyra is winner of the Kathy Mann Scholarship for minority students.

Cunningham, Dickinson, Watson Staff Award

WEAC Executive Director Bob Baxter presented the 2019 Cunningham, Dickinson, Watson staff awards to WEAC Media Relations Officer Christina Brey and Membership Coordinator Patti Westphal.

Christina Brey

Brey, he said, oversees leadership communications and newsletters across our internal platforms. She also tracks and analyzes legislation, runs WEAC’s alerts and Action Network system, represents WEAC at the Progressive Table, leads national communications and organizing trainings, manages national grant programs, leads member and potential member polling projects and handles all media inquiries.

Westphal, who has been WEAC’s Membership Coordinator for over 30 years, is “reliable, hard-working and conscientious,” Baxter said.

More photos:

With schools ‘at the tipping point,’ educators ask legislators to ‘do the right thing’ and pass Evers’ budget

As the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee concluded its statewide budget hearings Wednesday in Green Bay, educators continued to encourage legislators to “do the right thing” and support Governor Evers’ budget plan that supports children, public schools and our dedicated teachers and education support professionals.

“Today, I urge you to fully support the components in the governor’s budget designed to improve public education,” said Green Bay special education teacher Justin Delfosse, who is president of the Green Bay Education Association. “That includes the complete package of funding increases, preparation time for teachers, and repeal of online alternative education preparation programs for Wisconsin teacher licensure that do not require any hands-on classroom training.”

Delfosse noted that since the passage of the anti-public education law called ACT 10 in 2011, colleges of education have seen a dramatic decrease of student enrollment in teacher education programs. “This has led to a serious teacher shortage in Wisconsin, particularly in hard-to-fill positions such as special education, ESL, and bilingual,” he said.

“I tell you this because Green Bay Area Public Schools, and schools around Wisconsin are at a tipping point. Wisconsin has neglected funding for public education for too long. Wisconsin has fallen to 33rdin the country in terms of paying teachers.”

Delfosse said that students and their families “depend on us, and we are depending on you to be a part of the solution.”

“The solution,” he said, “includes funding increases outlined in the budget in front of us, and it comes with using some of that funding to restore educator pay so professionals who dedicate themselves to teaching can provide for our families and make this a career instead of a stop along the way to a family-supporting job.

“As a teacher, I go above and beyond for my students,” Delfosse said. “I’m asking you to do your part for all students in Wisconsin because our children deserve this investment.”

In addition to testifying in person when possible, such as Delfosse did, educators, parents and supporters of public education have been sending emails and submitting testimony to the committee in support of Governor Evers’ budget. Brad Klotz, a Lake Mills band teacher, communicated with the committee through a video which he posted to Facebook.

Klotz said he is concerned that as Wisconsin teachers salaries continue to fall – dropping already from 18th to 33rd among the states – that “motivated educators such as myself” will leave the profession or the state, adding to the challenges created by a growing teacher shortage.

“There is a way to fix this,” he said. “Legislature of the State of Wisconsin, we are looking to you to do the right thing here … and pass Governor Evers’ budget.”


Educators and supporters of public schools continue to advocate for school funding increases

Educators continued to advocate for public education this week as the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee held hearings on the state budget.

Educators and supporters of public education testified at those hearings, submitted written testimony and shared their thoughts through letters to their legislators and in letters submitted to local media throughout the state. There are plenty more chances to get involved in the state budget:

  • Monday, April 15: Joint Finance Committee hearing, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., University Center – Riverview Ballroom, UW-River Falls.
  • Monday, April 15: Governor’s Budget Listening Session, 6-7:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:15 p.m.), UW-Superior, Yellowjacket Union1605 Catlin Ave., Superior. REGISTER HERE!
  • Tuesday, April 16: Governor’s Budget Listening Session, 5 p.m., Chippewa Valley Technical College – Business Education Center, Student Commons, 620 W. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire.
  • Wednesday, April 24: Joint Finance Committee hearing, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., University Union – Phoenix Rooms, UW-Green Bay.

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This week’s budget hearings
On Wednesday, supporters of public education packed a Joint Finance Committee hearing in Oak Creek, speaking in favor of Governor Evers’ proposals to increase general public education funding as well as special education funding.

Among them was Greendale High School teacher Zach Geiger, who said he is concerned about attracting and retaining qualified teachers who provide quality education to all students. 

“I started my career five years ago and have seen teacher after teacher leave the profession in search of careers with more predictability, respect, and adequate compensation,” he told the Joint Finance Committee. “Most of these teachers were in their first five years, and I am afraid that this trend is lowering students’ access to teachers who have developed their practice over years.”

Geiger said he is also concerned at the amount of public school funding that is being allocated for private school vouchers and independent charter schools. 

“This should concern all of us because I believe public schools build successful communities of educated citizens,” he said. “The investments in education proposed in this budget are necessary to stop the damages that public education has withstood in the past eight years and re-establish teaching as an attractive profession and Wisconsin education as a point of pride.”

At an earlier hearing in Janesville, WEAC Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen said our public schools “are struggling to find teachers—substitute teachers, regular education teachers, special education teachers.”

“We’ve neglected funding for public education for too long,” she said.  “Wisconsin has fallen to 33rd in the country in terms of paying teachers. We need to increase state funding by 1.4 billion over the next two years — with a $200 per-pupil funding level for 2019-20 and $204 for 2020-21.  

“My local community passed a referendum last fall — in an attempt to solve the budget shortfalls in pay and in deferred maintenance,” Wirtz-Olsen said. “The state must do its part for allstudents in Wisconsin because our children deserve this investment. I encourage you to pass the People’s Budget – investing in our public education system, criminal justice reform, healthcare. These are the first steps to a brighter future in Wisconsin.”

La Crosse teacher Jon Havlicek submitted a column to the La Crosse Tribune providing a firsthand account of how school funding shortcomings impact his classrooms daily.

“As a Spanish teacher at Central High School for the last 21 years, I can tell you that the state has underfunded public schools for over a generation,” Havlicek wrote. ” In particular, the state has reneged on its promise to cover 66%, or two thirds, of the cost of special education services in our public schools. This cost continues to grow, as more and more students are identified as needing more support.  While private schools can and do exclude many students who need special support, public schools must not and do not shirk our duty to provide the best education we can, for ALL students.  

 “However, the state commitment to special education funding has dropped almost every year, to the point where it stands at about 25% today, far short of the promised 66%,” Havlicek wrote. “Governor Evers, in his People’s Budget, has called on the legislature to pass a budget that moves toward fulfilling the state’s obligation to these students and their families. He also campaigned on a promise to significantly increase general school funding, to make up for the stripping of support that our students and families have suffered over the last eight years.

“We can keep the world class education system we have here in Wisconsin,” he concluded, “but we need to fund it properly.”

WEAC Secretary-Treasurer Kim Schroeder, a fourth-grade teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools, asked Joint Finance Committee members to be open-minded and supportive of public schools rather than just saying Governor Evers’ budget is “dead on arrival.”

For those legislators who refuse to be open-minded, Schroeder said, “Stop. Stop saying you care about education. Stop saying you care about parents.  Stop saying you care about the children of this state. We don’t believe you anyway.”

“What matters are actions. We are tired of the false rhetoric. We are tired of you playing politics with the future of our students.  

“We are watching. The parents are watching.  And, most importantly, the students are watching.”

All 18 WTCS recertifications are successful

All 18 recertification elections in Wisconsin Technical College System locals were successful this spring, according to results from the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC). Recertification votes were successful for:

Blackhawk Technical College Education Support Professionals, Blackhawk Technical College Faculty Federation, Fox Valley Technical College Education Support Personnel Association, Fox Valley Technical College Faculty Association, Gateway Educational Support Personnel, Gateway Technical Education Association, Lakeshore Technical College Education Association, Madison Area Technical College Full-Time Teachers Union, Madison Area Technical College Paraprofessional and School-Related Personnel, Milwaukee Area Technical College Full-Time Faculty, Milwaukee Area Technical College Paraprofessionals, Milwaukee Area Technical College Part-Time Faculty, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Educaton Support Specialists, Waukesha County Technical College Educational Support Professionals, Western Technical College Paraprofessionals and School-Related Employees, Western Technical College Faculty and Non-Teaching Professionals, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Support Staff, and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Teachers.

The law requires 52% of all eligible unit members (not just those voting) to vote yes for the recertification to pass. The WTCS locals are a mixture of WEAC and WFT affiliated locals.

Click here to open a PDF file with voting result details.

Educators ask Joint Finance Committee to support public education funding increases and measures to attract and retain quality teachers

Advocates of public education testified in Janesville Friday at the first of four state budget hearings by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, expressing strong support for Governor Evers’ proposals to increase public education funding and to attract and retain quality educators.

“Wisconsin’s professional educators, like myself, are locked into an unfair and unrewarding economic system,” said Janesville social studies teachers Steve Strieker.

“Working conditions and professional pay have declined. A teacher shortage looms with the continued exodus of colleagues. Teacher training is being gutted and fast tracked for easy licensure. Precious public school monies have been diverted to mostly less-needy private school students in the form of vouchers. And public school funding has been slashed. This situation stinks for public school teachers, as well as the parents, and students we serve,” Strieker said.

Others testifying Friday included WEAC Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, WEAC Secretary-Treasurer Kim Schroeder and Lake Mills teacher Brenda Morris.

These and other educators asked the committee to support measures proposed both by Governor Evers in his state budget plan and by the Legislature’s own Blue Ribbon Commission on school funding. They include increased special education funding, predictable revenue cap increases and salary increases to attract and retain teachers.

Other hearings scheduled are:

  • Wednesday, April 10, Oak Creek Community Center, Oak Creek.
  • Monday, April 15, University Center – Riverview Ballroom, UW-River Falls.
  • Wednesday, April 24, University Union – Phoenix Rooms, UW-Green Bay.

Find out more about the state budget at weac.org/budget.

Lake Mills teacher Brenda Morris testifies before the Joint Finance Committee (above). WEAC Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen poses with WEAC members outside the hearing (below).

Legislative Update – JFC hears from State Superintendent

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction testified on its proposed 2019-21 budget in front of the Joint Finance Committee today, Wednesday, April 3.

The DPI budget proposal, which would increase public school funding by $1.4 billion, is a move toward restoring what’s been cut over the past eight years. Democratic legislators on the committee and State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor stood their ground on the need to increase funding for students while Republican JFC members repeatedly knocked the proposal.

While the JFC is holding hearings on the governor’s budget proposal, they’ve made clear they are considering they’ll ignore his proposal altogether and instead introduce their own budget. Given public sentiment to reinvest in education, Republican leaders have said a funding increase is on table but have questioned how much money that would include – and how it would be divided between public and private voucher schools. Republican members of the JFC did point out the funding for education in their last budget, which did not restore funding they had cut previously but marked the first time they hadn’t made cuts in many years. They also spoke out against capping voucher enrollment.

Key points from the hearing:

  • “…the focus of our budget — and my agenda as Wisconsin’s state superintendent — is educational equity. Educational equity is providing each child the opportunities they need to achieve academic and personal success. It’s about fairness.” – State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor
  • “…taxpayers probably can’t afford it.” – Luther Olsen, Senate Education Committee Chairman
  • “This budget to me obviously indicates a real true investment in K-12 education, but it also underscores how much we haven’t been paying in the past budget.” – Sen. Jon Erpenbach

Some examples of how the budget advances fairness in education:

  • Increases investment in student mental health by $63 million. State support remains far short of demand and this budget significantly expands school-based services, pupil support staff, and mental health training. One in five students faces a mental health issue, and over 80 percent of these students going untreated.
  • Invests in early childhood education. All Wisconsin students benefit from full-day 4K, and there are 3K grants for the five largest school districts. To eliminate achievement gaps, Wisconsin will finally address learning deficits early. All children deserve access to high quality, developmentally-appropriate, early learning environments – no matter where they live or what their family circumstances are.
  • Establishes after-school program funding. $20 million in aid to fund after-school programming provides more children opportunities for high-quality, extended learning time.
  • Creates Urban Excellence Initiative. Multiple strategies tackle achievement gaps in the five largest school districts that educate 20 percent of all Wisconsin students.
  • Addresses the needs of English learners. Extra support, including an increase of the state reimbursement rate from 8 percent up to 30 percent by 2021, will help this population achieve academic success.
  • Funds special education for the most vulnerable students. This budget ends the decade long freeze on primary special education aid with a $606 million investment to increase the state’s reimbursement rate from 25 percent to 60 percent by 2021.

JFC takes up transportation

Along with the DPI, the Joint Finance Committee took up the governor’s proposed transportation budget. Prevailing wage and an increase in the gas tax were among questions the committee members posed to Transpo Secretary Craig Thompson. Here are the key points:

  • While Republican members of the JFC said they doubt the guv’s proposed 8 cent/gallon increase would be offset by the elimination of the minimum markup, Dems said the gas tax increase would build a path to a long-term plan to fund roads.
  • Thompson said the governor’s plan to reinstate prevailing wage will save money over time, ensure there are qualified workers on the job, and increase competition, but Republicans on the committee expressed firm desire not to bring it back – having just eliminated it.

Bills We’re Watching

  • Character Education (AB 149 / SB 138). The Assembly version of this bill was introduced Wednesday. This authorizes the Department of Public Instruction to award grants to school districts for teachers, pupil service professionals, principals, and school district administrators to participate in professional development trainings in character education. Under the bill, DPI is authorized to make these grants for 24 months.