Commission’s misguided recommendations on school safety undermine civil rights and dishonor the victims of violence, NEA president says

From the National Education Association

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos created the Federal Commission on School Safety that was supposed to address gun violence in our schools and recommend actions schools should take to keep our students safe. Instead, their commission announced Tuesday that it recommends stripping students’ of civil rights protections, which seek to prevent racial disparities in student discipline. Although the report does not endorse the DeVos idea that teachers should be forced to carry firearms in school, it does recommend pressuring educators to possess dangerous firearms in our schools.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:

“Instead of the Federal Commission on School Safety taking its charge seriously — addressing gun laws in this country and putting supports in place for students after the horrors of Parkland, Marshall County, Santa Fe and the countless other school shootings that have occurred this year — Betsy DeVos and the commission are doing the exact opposite. The recommendations do little to make students safer in our nation’s public schools. They are dishonoring the memory of the students and educators who have lost their lives.

“More to the point, today’s announcement is further proof that we cannot count on Betsy DeVos to protect students’ civil rights. Her decision to rescind critical federal guidance meant to address racial disparities in school discipline undermines the safety and dignity of students and educators in our public schools.

“Schools should continue to advance responsible and fair discipline policies and practices because they are best for students, the learning environment and meet legal obligations to address discrimination. Educators, schools and school districts must continue to enforce anti-discrimination laws. Period.

“Betsy DeVos’ U.S. Department of Education is using the commission to pursue her agenda to dismantle students’ civil rights protections — an agenda that affects our most vulnerable students the hardest. We do not need the appearance of safety; we need real solutions that create safe schools and address the underlying root of school violence. We need strategies to create positive, supportive learning environments and prevention efforts that end the hardening and over-policing of our public schools.

“The commission’s recommendations were decided in a vacuum without any real input from the real education experts — America’s teachers and school personnel working in public schools. We do not need more guns in schools. Students deserve real solutions that will keep them safe — that is what our students have asked of us. It is shameful that the Trump Administration is using the real risk of gun violence in our schools to strip vulnerable students of their civil rights, while doing nothing to keep all our students safe.”

Read more:

DeVos To Rescind Obama-Era Guidance On School Discipline

A federal commission led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recommends rescinding Obama-era guidance intended to reduce racial discrimination in school discipline. And, DeVos says, it urges schools to “seriously consider partnering with local law enforcement in the training and arming of school personnel.”

WEAC members continue to provide budget feedback to Governor-Elect Evers

WEAC member Rick Erickson of Bayfield (above) leads a discussion during Monday’s state budget listening session hosted by Governor-Elect Tony Evers. The Superior hearing was one in a series designed for the governor-elect to hear from citizens about what they would like to see in the state budget proposal he will present to the Legislature in January. WEAC members were also well-represented at earlier hearings in Green Bay and Wausau. Other scheduled hearings are today (Tuesday) in La Crosse and Wednesday in Milwaukee, although they have waiting lists.

WEAC has created another opportunity for educators to have their opinions and ideas voiced to the new administration – WEAC’s Feedback Form:

What are your top priorities for the incoming governor?
Click here to complete our online form!

This form will be active throughout the budget and legislative session this winter and spring. WEAC member Amy Traynor serves on the governor-elect’s transition team, and will be sure your thoughts and ideas are brought forward as plans are made for Wisconsin’s new direction.

Janesville EA members help deliver groceries to needy families and individuals

Janesville Education Association members took leadership roles over the weekend in the School District of Janesville’s Bags of Hope event, delivering groceries to needy families and individuals. The event provided approximately two weeks of groceries to 350 families and students who qualify for free lunch. The Janesville Education Association posted the photos below on its Facebook page.

Read more:

‘Bags of Hope’ brings holiday groceries to hundreds of Janesville families

JANESVILLE, Wis. – The Dollar General warehouse in Janesville was busy with work on Saturday morning as hundreds of volunteers packed food as a part of the 10th annual Bags for Hope event. The event, put on by the School District of Janesville, delivers roughly two weeks of groceries to 350 families of students in the district who qualify for free lunch.

62 WEAC members earn National Board Certification in 2018

Sixty-two WEAC members recently joined the ranks of Nationally Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) in Wisconsin, and 26 renewed their certification. Known as one of the top honors in the profession, NBCTs are assessed by their peers on 5 core propositions of accomplished teaching. WEAC is the state leader in providing candidate support; WEAC supports include intensive summer Jump Start training, monthly in-person cohorts, an online prep course, virtual mentors, and a winter writing retreat.

“The support that I received from WEAC was so instrumental that I do not believe I would have passed without it. It’s hard to believe that it was all free to WEAC members,” said Sarah Schnuelle a recently certified NBCT and educator in Jefferson.

If you’re interested in information on becoming Nationally Board Certified please click here or e-mail nbctsupport@weac.org.

2018 New NBCTs

TAMMIE ALEKNA
HOLLY BAUKIN
MEGAN BERGER
MOLLY BILSE
JILL BOECK
CARLA BONSIGNORE
KATHERINE BONTEMPO
BARBARA BORRE
RACHEL BURKEL
NATALIE COOK
SAMANTHA CRUZ
ANNMARIE DAHL
ANDREA DINNDORF
TRACY DOBKOSKI
AMANDA DOHMS
EMILY DRAIN
VIRGINIA ELSEN
BRENDA ERDMAN
MARY ANN FEUTZ
KARLY FRISCH
MARGO GOFF
ERICA GRETEBECK
SARAH GREY
LAURA GROCHOWSKI
MATTHEW HARMON
ANITA HARRISON
KATHRYN HATLESTAD
KARI HEDEMAN
SARAH HILL
ANDREW HOLDMANN
CHRISTINE HUMBERG
EMILY INSTENES
ABIGAIL KEAN
AMY KLEIN
AMY KLINE
LEIGH KOHLMANN
ERICA KOHLMEYER ZENKE
CHRISTINA LADURON
DIANA LEHNHERR
DAWN LEMIRAND-POEPPING
ELLEN LINNIHAN
ANDREW LIPSKI
ANN MARCHANT
SARA MCKITTRICK
JESSICA NARLOW
CORYNN NORDSTROM
ERIN PETERS
SUSAN PETERSON
KEVIN PODEWELTZ
JESSICA REED
JEAN ROBINSON
SHANON RODENBERG
LINDSAY RUDEBUSCH
AMY SCHAEFER
SARAH SCHNUELLE
LEXA SPETH
HEATHER STERNITZKY
DIANA STRATTON
MICHAEL TAMBLYN
DAVID WALKER
NATHANIEL WEISS
JOSIE WIESER

2018 NBCT Renewals

DANA ACAMOVIC
CHRISTINE AHRENS
CATHERINE ANDERSON
M GILLIAN ARBUCKLE KING
EMILY CHERONE
JAMI COLLINS
MOLLY COUGHLIN
MARY FASSBENDER
RACHEL GROVE
THOMAS GRUNDER
ELLEN GRUNDER
JAY JOHNSON
ERIN KRASE-MINCHK
ANN KRONCKE
ANDY KRUGER
REBECCA LETTER
PAUL MAJORS
CHERYL MIRACLE
KAREN REHORST PORRAS
JENNIFER SECOR
KIMBERLY SERENE
MARY SILVA
NICHOLAS SIREK
KATHRYN STEEDMAN
KIMBERLY TRENDEL
THERESE URBEN

We apologize if we missed you. If so, please send an e-mail to nbctsupport@weac.org.

Spotlight on Locals: Reedsburg Education Association

WEAC Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen presents Reedsburg Education Association President Rachel Burkel with the WEAC Strong Local Affiliate Recognition Certificate. They are joined by Reedsburg Education Association leaders (left to right) Corrine Fish, Ann Schmitt, Chris Christensen, Debbie Schell, Trista Henke, Sarah Speich, and Jenny Fish.

By Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, WEAC Vice President

Trista Henke, seventh-grade social studies teacher and Reedsburg Education Association past president, told me, “The strength of the Reedsburg Education Association is its foundation. Labor conflicts between the Reedsburg School Board and the Reedsburg Education Association dating back to the 1960s and 1970s built the base of our union. Leaders before me, like Bill Gronley and Joe Ketter, deserve credit for building this solid foundation. Now, it’s up to us to keep it strong.”

“We stay strong as a local because we support each other,” said Ann Schmitt who has had many roles in the district in her 28 years there, but currently serves as an interventionist; she is also the Reedsburg Education Association’s current treasurer. “While we may not be the largest local in Wisconsin, we continue to support one another, which keeps us strong,” Ann told me.

“Our membership is just over 50%,” Trista said, “and there is room for us to grow as a local association.” The Reedsburg Education Association recognizes that membership growth requires trained leaders, and they have taken advantage of free trainings offered by WEAC by attending WEAC’s Organizing Institute for Anchor Locals last January. They are building plans for their future and finding ways to create membership growth.

As far as successes for the Reedsburg Education Association go, Trista said that maintaining their seat at the table is important.  Trista shared, “We continue to meet monthly with our administration to discuss our needs and concerns, and they listen.”

Ann echoed that sentiment saying, “We have a good relationship with administration and our school board. They listen to us. And while we don’t always see eye to eye, they hear us. Many of our members who teach here, also live here. Many of us grew up in this community or nearby. We care about our students and this community.”

Another strength of the Reedsburg Education Association is its connection to the community. During recent flooding, Ann said, “The members volunteered their time in the areas surrounding Reedsburg by helping local businesses and the library in filling sandbags and removing books and other items before the waters rose. This led to much less damage in many areas.”

“In our area, the school is the core of the community,” Ann added, “and it extends out from there. Our teachers are known and recognized in our community as an integral part.”

Read all of Peggy’s ‘Spotlight On Locals’ columns at weac.org/Spotlight.

Lindsey Guenther of Tomah is latest WEAC Badger Red for Public Ed winner!

Lindsey Guenther

Congratulations to Tomah teacher Lindsey Guenther, the latest winner of our WEAC Badger Red for Public Ed promotion! The honor goes to WEAC members in appreciation for their dedication to students. Recipients are treated to a UW Badger athletic event.

Lindsey will get VIP treatment at the November 30 UW Badger hockey game against Penn State at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Lindsey is entering her seventh year of teaching at LaGrange Elementary school in Tomah. She is a fourth grade teacher and works with a variety of students each and every day.

“I became a teacher mainly because I wanted to pay tribute to the efforts of all of my amazing teachers in the past,” Lindsey says. “Growing up, I had several teachers who made things hands-on and exciting. I have a similar approach to how I do things. I make sure I show my compassion for the topic and the relevance to history or everyday life and try to tier learning for my students.”

Lindsey shared the picture below of herself and her students from this past October when they were able to take a self guided tour of the State Capitol and meet their state representative, Nancy VanderMeer.

Lindsey was nominated by parent Nicole Renaud and colleague Kathleen Schoot.

Nicole said: “We had the pleasure of having Lindsey as our 4th grade teacher. My daughter is autistic and that year was a huge transition year for us, and Lindsey consistently went above and beyond to make sure that my daughter was prepared the best possible way for everything. She made social stories, extra directions and prepped alternative things for her when she didn’t have to. She did it all with a smile on her face, even when my daughter would be struggling and having a difficult time. We are thankful for her and the impact she had on us. She made a very difficult transition year bearable, and we can’t thank her enough.”

Kathleen said: “Lindsey is a fantastic teacher! She is SO enthusiastic about learning! She guides students to learning, each in their own individual way. She is loving and sets boundaries that each student is aware of to ensure each child has the right to learn in his/her own way. She adjusts learning material for all sorts of special needs students and just for those who need that little extra reassurance of their potential. She is very positive and happy. Every time you walk past her classroom someone is laughing with excitement!”

Visit weac.org/badger to nominate yourself or another deserving educator for a chance to win a drawing for Wisconsin athletic events throughout the school year.

WEAC locals are successful in 98% of recertification elections

Ninety-eight percent of 2018 fall recertification elections for WEAC locals passed, according to results released by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission. In all, 229 of 234 elections were successful.

The overwhelming support for local unions mirrors similar results in recertification elections since 2011.

“In the local associations holding recertification elections, educators show tremendous support for the union,” said WEAC President Ron Martin, a middle school teacher. “Unions play a very strong role in their local schools and partner to ensure the best for students.”

Recertification is a hoop created by the Legislature to limit employee rights. It requires that an association interested in being named the district “bargaining agent” pay for an annual election and the threshold for victory is half of the eligible voters voting yes, plus one. That’s a bar even the American president doesn’t have to reach to be elected. All educators, union members and non-members, vote in recertification elections and, if an educator does not vote, the state counts it as a vote in opposition.

Local associations across Wisconsin determine whether they will seek recertification based on their own unique circumstances. Whether or not a local chose to participate in recertification, and whatever the outcome of the vote, it’s important to stress that the union still exists. The union exists anywhere educators unite collectively to improve their schools for their students, expand their professional skills, and advocate for shared interests like school safety and opportunities for all children. No legislation can take away that right.

The complete election results are posted on the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission website.

A new era supportive of public education and educators is about to begin, Evers says in phone call to WEAC members

Governor-Elect Tony Evers personally thanked WEAC members for the critically important role they played in helping him win this month’s “watershed” election that will change the way Wisconsin state government treats public schools and educators.

“The hard work of the campaign is over. The hard work of governing and making sure that we are being supportive of the people who work in the schools begins now in earnest,” Evers said during a Tele-Town Hall conversation with WEAC members throughout the state. All WEAC members were invited to participate in the phone call last week.

“I can’t thank you enough for all the good work you have done to get us this far, to get us through eight years that have been exhausting, exacerbating and frankly demoralizing for the people who work in our schools and work with our kids. Those things are over. The issue of making sure that we value the people who work in our schools, that will never be a problem for me. I did it as State Superintendent and I will do it as governor of the State of Wisconsin.

“Survive we will. Thrive we will,” Evers said.

Evers said his top priority as governor will be “to make sure that educators have the resources they need and have the policies in place” that lead to quality public education. And, he said, it is important that educators have a voice in making decisions. “I give you my pledge,” he said, “that we’ll be working with your leadership and you personally if you want to be involved in any way possible.”

The governor-elect asked educators to keep advocating for public education and to work to support the budget he will be presenting to the Legislature early next year. That budget will include a large increase in public school funding, additional money for programs that serve students with disabilities, and increased funding for after-school, 4-K, mental health and English learner programs.

“It’s going to take your efforts across the state of Wisconsin to get our budget passed,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with you all. I certainly appreciate your support and guidance in the past. Now we’re in a position where we’re going to govern.”

Listen to Governor-Elect Tony Evers’ message to WEAC members:

With a new record for approving referendums, Wisconsin residents sent a strong message in 2018 that they support their public schools

Wisconsin residents made it very clear in 2018 that they stand behind their public schools and will do whatever it takes to support them. After years of state funding reductions by the Republican Legislature and the about-to-be-former Republican governor, voters went to the polls in droves to make up for the lack of state funding by approving a record number of local school referendums (in addition to electing educator Tony Evers governor). According to a new report by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, voters this year signed off on a record $2 billion-plus in debt and revenue increases for local schools. The approval rate was 90 percent, the highest on record. Read more on the WEAC News From Around the Web Topic Board. You can sign up for WEAC news alerts at weac.org/subscribe.

Public education champion Tony Evers is Wisconsin’s new governor!

State Superintendent Tony Evers, a staunchly pro-public education Democrat, is Wisconsin’s new governor, defeating incumbent Republican Scott Walker, long known for his attacks on public schools and educators.

WEAC President Ron Martin applauded WEAC members for their hard work in helping to elect Evers.

“Today is filled with possibilities and opportunities, leading us to a better future,” Martin said in a video message to members. “This victory belongs to you. But more importantly, it belongs to our kids.”

As State Superintendent, Evers has proposed increasing public school funding by $1.4 billion, has said he will freeze the school voucher program as a first step toward its eventual phase-out, strongly supports community schools that help meet the needs of students and families in the local community, and plans to place in statute requirements for teacher voice to be part of all education-related decision and policy-making initiatives.

“We have lots of work to do now,” Martin said. “We have a partner who’s willing to listen to us, and we need to be there to provide the kind of advice and support that he will need to lead this state.

“We had a part in this victory, and I couldn’t be more proud of the WEAC members who participated. The work you did will not go unnoticed,” Martin said.

“And now we go back to our classes and we do what we do every single day, and that’s make life better for students. And you can count on WEAC to be there to support you, so you can focus on your students.”

In other statewide races, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin easily won re-election over Republican challenger Leah Vukmir, while Democrat Josh Kaul was narrowly leading incumbent Attorney General Brad Schimel with 99 percent of the vote in. Secretary of State Doug La Follette was re-elected, and Sarah Godlewski was elected State Treasurer. Republicans came out of the election holding majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

Read more:

Tony Evers defeats Scott Walker in Wisconsin’s governor’s race

After upending Wisconsin politics and infuriating liberals across the country, Gov. Scott Walker narrowly lost his bid for a third term to Tony Evers.

Tony Evers beats Scott Walker to win Wisconsin governor’s race in nail-biter

Democrat Tony Evers has won the Wisconsin governor’s race in a stunning upset of two-term Republican incumbent Scott Walker.