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.

OR

SUBMIT YOUR TESTIMONY
BY EMAIL NOW!

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.

Legislative Update: Education committee to take up student privacy and more

The Assembly Education Committee will hold public hearings on three bills at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 4, at the state Capitol. On the docket is a bill to expand student information schools can release to the public, safety drills and including arts opportunities in school report cards.

To weigh in on any of these bills, use the WEAC Action Alert!

CLICK HERE NOW TO SEND AN EMAIL
TO THE ASSEMBLY EDUCATION COMMITTEE

  • Pupil Information (AB53 / SB57). Expands pupil information allowed to be disclosed by a public school to include the names of parents or guardians. Under current law, the information that may be included in “directory data” that may be disclosed to any person (as long as a public school notifies families of the categories of information and informs families an opt out procedure) includes pupil name, address, telephone, date/place of birth, major field of study, activity/sport participation, attendance dates, photographs, weight and height as member of athletic team, degrees/awards, and most recent school attended. School districts may include all, some or none of the categories to designate as directory data.

  • Safety Drills (AB 54 / SB56). Allows the person having direct charge of the public or private school to provide previous warning of any of these drills if he or she determines that is in the best interest of pupils attending the school. Currently, no advance notice is allowed.

  • Arts Opportunities (AB67 /SB64). Requires the Department of Public Instruction to include the percentage of pupils participating in music, dance, drama, and visual arts in annual school and school district report cards. The DPI would include this information for each high school and school district, along with the statewide percentage of pupils participating in each subject. This information would not be allowed in evaluating school performance or district improvement.

To weigh in on any of these bills, use the WEAC Action Alert!

CLICK HERE NOW TO SEND AN EMAIL
TO THE ASSEMBLY EDUCATION COMMITTEE

 

Addressing mental health needs is a key element of school safety, Martin says

WEAC President Ron Martin (right) joined Attorney General Josh Kaul (to his right) and other education and law enforcement officials this week in releasing a set of school safety and security policy documents. (Photo provided by the Attorney General’s Office.)

Attorney General Josh Kaul announced this week the release of the Wisconsin School Threat Assessment Protocol and Wisconsin Comprehensive School Security Framework, providing educators and partners a comprehensive set of policies that support school safety efforts.

WEAC President Ron Martin joined Kaul and law enforcement and education officials in announcing the framework at a news conference in the West Allis – West Milwaukee School District.

“The Wisconsin School Threat Assessment Protocol and Wisconsin Comprehensive School Security Framework will be incredibly beneficial for schools, and specifically for educators and administrators,” Martin said.

Martin said there is a need to focus on school safety as means of preventing incidents. 

“A significant part of prevention is recognizing and addressing the mental health needs of students and staff,” he said. “While we strengthen our response and recovery capabilities, we must also strengthen our capacity to identify and address mental health issues and create a positive and healthy learning environment for the entire school community.”

The Wisconsin School Threat Assessment Protocol provides schools access to a threat assessment process developed by subject matter experts from Wisconsin, and reviewed by the National Threat Assessment Center, a division of the United States Secret Service. School Threat Assessments can be applied as an early intervention tool to help identify students that may need additional resources or support, in order to prevent them from committing violence. The use of a school-based threat assessment and team is recommended by the U.S. Department of Education and United States Secret Service.

“Keeping our schools safe is a priority for the U.S. Secret Service.  We appreciate the opportunity to have worked with the Wisconsin Office of School Safety on this initiative, which will greatly enhance prevention efforts in the state,” said Dr. Lina Alathari, Chief of the National Threat Assessment Center at the U.S. Secret Service. “We remain committed to furthering this partnership, and we applaud the Wisconsin Department of Justice for recognizing the importance of threat assessment and early intervention.”

The Comprehensive School Security Framework provides a comprehensive set of policies, practices, and procedures to help guide local efforts to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from violence. The framework provides best practices for preventing violence through climate and culture, student engagement, school policies, and physical structure. The framework also provides guidance on assessing potential violence indicators and diverting identified hazards before violence takes place. When violence occurs, the framework addresses how proper planning, preparation and training can minimize the severity of the incident and help the school recover more quickly.

“These resources provide critical policies and tools to keep our students, families and staff physically and psychologically safe,” said Trish Kilpin, a school social worker in Greendale. “These materials provide the framework to develop, improve, and implement best practices in threat assessment. Systems guidance is provided to increase the collective capacity of school and community members to recognize the risk factors and warning signs that indicate when further stabilization and support of an individual is necessary. These materials empower and support threat assessment teams to make decisions, mitigate threat, and take actions, and are in the best interest of our schools and community.”

Each of these guides were developed in partnership with educators, law enforcement, and mental health professionals, including the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, Wisconsin School Psychologists Association, Wisconsin School Safety Coordinators Association, Wisconsin Safe and Health Schools Center, U.S. Secret Service, and many others.

“The Comprehensive School Security Framework and the School Threat Assessment Protocol each provide school districts throughout the state important tools in ensuring the safety of their students and staff,” said State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor. “The framework is an easy to use, proactive resource for districts developing a comprehensive school safety plan. Plans developed using this framework will be based on the most recently identified effective practices. The School Threat Assessment Protocol also provides a methodical approach for districts to use in evaluating and responding to potential threats making sure they are neither ignored nor handled in a one size fits all manner. When districts use this protocol, they will find they are not just identifying threatening behaviors but also the underlying causes of the behavior.”

The Office of School Safety is also holding a school threat assessment conference in Lake Geneva this week. More than 250 educators and law enforcement from around the state will receive training from state and national exerts on how to establish a comprehensive safety framework in schools. Topics at the conference include threat reporting, school-based threat assessments, and interviewing children with disabilities, information sharing, and training from the National Association of School Psychologists on the effects of trauma in a critical incident.

Learn more about the DOJ Office of School Safety here: 

https://www.doj.state.wi.us/office-school-safety/office-school-safety

Wisconsin School Threat Assessment Protocol

Wisconsin Comprehensive School Security FrameworkP

New teacher pay schedule delayed after Racine educators voice opposition

Photo from REA-REAA Unity Facebook page.

The Racine Unified School Board failed to approve a new pay schedule for educators after more than 100 people packed into a meeting this week to protest it.

Educators said the proposed new pay schedule did not provide enough incentive for continued professional development or future salary reassurances.

The Racine Journal Times quoted Pam Harris, a 41-year teacher, as saying that the new pay plan would fail to attract new teachers to the district.

“We can’t survive without young, new teachers … why should young people go to college and come out with loan debt and know that they’re going to make approximately 40 percent less than many other professions?” she asked.

Racine Educators United President Angelina Cruz presented the board with a petition signed by more than 800 people asking the district to provide a budget “that attracts and retains the best and brightest public education workers to work directly with RUSD students and families.”

“Rather than metal detectors and the further criminalization of black and brown students, we should hire more social workers and psychologists,” Cruz said. “We should provide professional development and trauma informed care, culturally relevant pedagogy, racial bias training, and we should desegregate our schools, particularly our middle school.”

She also called for reducing high-stakes standardized testing and eliminating top-heavy administration.

“Instead we should look at attracting and retaining the highest quality and experienced educators to work directly with our kids,” she said. “We should ensure that the very least of students are receiving the most.”

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Tied vote means no new Unified teacher pay scale — yet

RACINE – Following 14 months of planning and discussion, a tied vote on Racine Unified’s new pay scale means the process will drag on even longer. The board room was bursting at the seams during Monday’s School Board meeting, as more than 100 teachers packed in to protest the new pay schedule.


Wisconsin Teacher of the Year joins other top educators at ‘Teach-In for Freedom’ in El Paso

Sarahí Monterrey at the El Paso Teach-In

Wisconsin High School Teacher of the Year – and WEAC Region 7 member – Sarahí Monterrey joined dozens of other state teachers of the year and hundreds of NEA members last weekend for the “Teach-In for Freedom,” an all-day event organized by Teachers Against Child Detention (TACD) to protest the inhumane detention of children at the Mexican border and the criminalization of immigrant families.

“The Teach-In in El Paso was a powerful experience because teachers were united to be a voice for the over 10,000 children who are in detention centers across our country,” Monterrey told weac.org. “This was not a protest but rather an opportunity to educate the public about immigration policies and the effects of these policies on children. 

“It was powerful to come together with educators from across the country who shared lessons on various aspects of immigration,” she said. “There were also community organizations present who are doing tremendous work to advocate for immigrant rights, and they provided excellent resources to the public.”  

Monterrey, interviewed by PBS News Hour, said the impact of the administration’s immigration policies reaches deep into her classroom in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She said she sees effects of trauma in her classroom, with students saying they are sad, can’t concentrate or have stomach aches.

It’s very difficult for students to learn,” Monterrey said. “And it’s very hard because, sometimes, even as an educator, it’s hard to find the right words of what to say, because, sometimes, I do feel helpless.”

With support from WEAC, Monterrey traveled to El Paso to participate in the teach-in, which was led by National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning. The goal was to shed light on the impact of child detention policies on the border, which TACD calls a “moral disaster.” The teach-in focused on the harm immigrant kids experience when separated from their families, and aimed to educate the country on why these families have fled from their home countries and how Americans can welcome them legally and contribute to their ongoing care and integration. 

NEA Today also covered the event, noting that educators and others have been outraged by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of separating immigrant and refugee children as young as 18 months old from their parents.

“Detained in more than 100 government detention centers across 17 states, these children have been denied access to public education, and likely will suffer irreparable, lifelong psychological damage, educators said. The practice also violates their fundamental right to seek asylum,” NEA Today reported.

In honoring Monterrey first as the State High School Teacher of the Year and then as Wisconsin’s representative for National Teacher of the Year, the Department of Public Instruction noted that, as a child immigrant from El Salvador, Monterrey recognizes the pivotal role teachers play in students’ lives.

“The power in making students feel welcome and safe cannot be underestimated,” she said. DPI noted:

Monterrey’s work on inclusion includes the visible, “Dreamers Welcome” and “This School Welcomes You” posters. Not as visible, but just as important, are her extra efforts to ensure a curriculum that is representative of various backgrounds so students feel inspired; her work to improve family communication so parents understand they are part of their student’s success; and her outreach to ensure that English learner (EL) students have access to extracurricular activities and support to be ready for college.

Watch the PBS News Hour report on the El Paso Teach-In:

Amid immigration debate, top teachers gather to protest child detention

Some of the nation’s top teachers recently gathered in El Paso, Texas, to speak out against the government’s practice of detaining children who cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Dismissing the notion that they shouldn’t get involved in political advocacy, teachers said they see some U.S. policy and procedures as “abusive.”

Read the NEA Today report:

At the Border, Teachers Protest Detention, Separation of Children – NEA Today

On a makeshift stage in El Paso, Texas, former Texas Teacher of the Year Leslie Anaya delivered a message to the roughly 15,000 immigrant children who are held captive in federal detention centers, where they are denied an education and separated from their mothers, fathers, and anybody else who loves them.

Read more about Sarahí Monterrey:

Sarahi Monterrey named a 2019 High School Teacher of the Year

MADISON – In a surprise ceremony at her school today, Sarahi Monterrey, an English Learner teacher at Waukesha North High School, was named a Wisconsin 2019 High School Teacher of the Year. State Superintendent Tony Evers made the announcement during an all-school assembly.