UW-Eau Claire education student says she is fearful, and we’re not doing enough to stop school violence

In a column published by Education Week, UW-Eau Claire education student Rachel Badura – a member of WEAC Aspiring Educators – opens up about her fears of facing school violence as a future teacher.

“As it is right now, I have to grasp that I could be asked to carry a weapon while I’m standing in front of my students,” she writes. “As it is right now, I have to seriously consider the fact that my body might become a shield if it means the difference between a child’s life or death. And I have to think about the fact that we are a nation so divided on this issue that almost nothing is being done to prevent more school shootings.”

‘I Am Scared to Walk Into a Classroom’: A Preservice Teacher on School Violence

First Person I still remember my very first lockdown drill. My 4th grade teacher explained that when an announcement came over the intercom system, we were to get up from our desks and move to a corner of the room as she shut off the lights and locked the door.

WEAC leaders, members participate in Day of Action Against Gun Violence in Schools

WEAC members and WEAC leaders joined with educators and community members throughout the state Friday to send the message that Enough is Enough when it comes to gun violence in schools. WEAC President Ron Martin and Secretary Treasurer Arlene Braden (top photo) donned “Enough” T-shirts and then headed to a rally at the State Capitol. WEAC Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen joined the Tomahawk Education Association and community members Friday morning during a school walk-in to support safe public schools (bottom photo). Similar activities were taking place Friday throughout the state and nation. Find out more about the Day of Action Against Gun Violence in Schools and comment on Facebook and on Instagram.

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Madison teachers march to Capitol to continue students’ call for gun reform

MADISON, Wis – On Friday morning, dozens of teachers marched from East High School to the state capitol to continue the demand for stricter gun laws. Last month, hundreds of students made the same march, calling on Wisconsin lawmakers to pass gun reform legislation following the Parkland, Florida, shooting that killed 17 people.

Students gather at Milwaukee County Courthouse on 19th anniversary of Columbine shooting

Students from Greendale and Shorewood schools gathered Friday at the Milwaukee County Courthouse to advocate for gun control on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. Lena Abukhamireh, 17, said she helped organize the walkout through Greendale High School Students for Change, which was created following the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.

19 Years After Columbine, Students Walk Out To Stop Gun Violence

At schools across the country today, students are getting up from their desks and walking out when the clock strikes ten. They’re participating in the National School Walkout, part of the movement that has taken hold among students to call for action to end gun violence.


Call for Student Art Submissions for Milwaukee “March for Our Lives”

Obama School of Career and Technical Education student and Milwaukee March for Our Lives organizer Marvell Reed holds a sign at a press conference at Homestead High School announcing the day and time of the march (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in which 14 students and 3 educators were killed and 14 others were wounded, students and educators have been the most outspoken advocates for ensuring that all students have the support to learn, starting with school communities that are safe from gun violence.

A student works at the Milwaukee Art Build for Public Education that took place in the Riverwest neighborhood and ws organized by MTEA members last February (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association members are organizing a Saturday of art to fight for schools that are safe from gun violence. We choose our students, not guns.

The Art Build will take place Saturday, March 17 from 10:00am-6:00pm in the art ed. room in the basement of the UWM Kenilworth Square Building.


The community is invited to join us and our students in making banners, posters, and other pieces in preparation for the Milwaukee March 24 “March for Our Lives – Milwaukee.”

Art for the “March For Our Lives” march in Milwaukee

Students and educators from MPS are encouraged to submit designs for either the poster or the banners.

MTEA is sponsoring this one-day art build. The plan is to screen print 2,000 posters with the message: “Protect Students, Not Guns” and to paint banners with the slogan “Never Again.” Students and educators from MPS are encouraged to submit designs for either the poster or the banners.

Specifics for the screen-printed poster:

• Size: 12.5″ x 19″ (can be a horizontal or vertical composition)
• One-color design. (It can printed in any color but please submit a one-color design)
• Text should read: Protect Students, Not Guns
• Leave space in the lower right corner for the MTEA logo to be added.
• Things to consider: Bold designs, bold images, bold text are best read in a crowd and by the camera.

Specifics for the banners:

• Banner designs will be projected and painted.
• Text can be: Never Again or Protect Students Not Guns
• Banners will be horizontal compositions. Around 4′ tall by 8′ long.
• Banners will be painted so best if the design is 1-3 colors max.

Things to consider:

Bold designs, bold images, bold texts are best read in a crowd and by the camera.

Deadline for the art submissions: Wednesday, March 14th
by 6:00pm. Please email designs to nicolaslampert23@gmail.com

Photo credit: Joe Brusky


Arming teachers is not the solution to school violence, WEAC President Ron Martin says

WEAC President Ron Martin told WTMJ TV in Milwaukee Thursday that arming teachers is not the solution to school violence. “I think there’s some danger in creating legislation or policy that allows educators to carry guns in our public schools or even private schools for that matter,” Martin said.

He said policy-makers need to listen to students who are calling for common-sense gun laws in the wake of the deadly Florida school shooting.

“Our kids are telling us what needs to happen and we need to listen to them. We need to listen to them and take their advice.”

NEA: Parents, educators ‘overwhelmingly reject’ idea of arming school staff

In response to comments Wednesday by President Trump, NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said bringing guns into schools “does nothing to protect” our students and educators from gun violence.

“Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms,” Eskelsen García said after Trump, in a listening session at the White House, proposed to arm teachers and school staff in an attempt to prevent mass shootings.

“Parents and educators overwhelmingly reject the idea of arming school staff. Educators need to be focused on teaching our students. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that,” Eskelsen García said.

“We owe it to the students and school personnel who’ve lost their lives at schools and on campuses across the country to work together so that we can thoughtfully and carefully develop common sense solutions that really will save lives.”

Also on Wednesday, the  Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association issued this statement:

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Meanwhile, just days after the tragic school shooting in Florida, Wisconsin Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum)  began circulating a proposal called the Private School Carry Act. The bill would allow anyone with a concealed-carry license to carry a gun on school grounds, and, if the school board passes a policy, those guns could be concealed-carried into buildings. Under the proposal, if a school district doesn’t allow it and someone forgets they have a gun strapped to their ankle or other part of their body, the penalty is decreased to a forfeiture, instead of the current felony.

Legislative Update – September 20 – Committee backs bill to repeal gun-free school zones

Bill to repeal gun-free school zones passes Senate committee vote
The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety has approved SB 169, a bill to repeal Wisconsin’s “gun-free school zones” statute. The bill was met with heated debate at a public hearing in May and many news outlets have editorialized against it. The bill would allow people to carry concealed guns without getting training or state permits and in some cases bring them onto school grounds.

Updated resources explain what’s in the Wisconsin Budget
The Wisconsin Budget Project has summaries that explain in plain language what the budget would mean for schoolchildren, parents of young children and college students.

Take action now!
The proposed  $76 billion state budget is on the governor’s desk. The governor has said he will veto some measures, so this is your chance to send a letter asking him to veto bad budget provisions like restrictions on local control of school boards in referendums and the break-apart of the Racine Unified School District. Email the Governor

WEAC continues to monitor legislative activity and the impact on educators and working families. Look for our updates and encourage your colleagues to sign up for them as well. Direct your questions to communications@weac.org.


Bill promoting gun education in schools meets with resistance

A bill that would allow schools to offer on-site gun education classes is meeting with considerable resistance from educators and others who believe it would pose a safety issue in schools and take time away from other important curriculum.

“I think we are all aware of the proliferation of death and injury because of the accessibility of guns in our society,” State Representative Sondy Pope (D-Mount Horeb) said in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article. “I don’t see a reason to introduce guns to students in school. I think it’s inappropriate.”

Representative Ken Skowronski (R-Franklin), the lead sponsor of the bill, says its purpose is to promote gun safety and to boost participation in trap shooting. Classes would be optional, but the bill would require school superintendents to develop curricula.

The topic has generated considerable controversy on the WEAC Facebook page, including these comments:


Legislative Update and Action Alerts – May 25

Current WEAC Action Alerts

Tell your legislators to make public school funding a priority in the budget


Ask your senator to protect the WRS

Legislative Update

The Joint Finance Committee has the UW on its mind today, as it sorts out whether to support the governor’s budget proposal for a 5 percent tuition cut or hold steady at a continuation of a tuition freeze. The panel delayed voting Tuesday on the issue. The JFC is also taking up the governor’s proposal to adopt a performance-based funding model at the UW System, looking to add $42.5 million that campuses would split based on how they perform on certain criteria.

Wisconsin Democrats are pressing the budget panel to restore UW funding and fund two years of free college education through the Fund the Freeze campaign, which calls on legislators to restore $210 million to the UW System budget in each of the next two budgets to pay for an ongoing freeze of UW tuition and fund two years of free college education. The JFC last week rejected a Democratic proposal to make technical colleges tuition-free, with the JFC co-chair saying, “Free college? News flash for you: Bernie Sanders lost. We don’t just get things for free in this country. We work for them.”

Transportation is still a big question mark in the budget deliberations, and the governor held a news conference today on the topic.

More Legislative Updates:

  • Referendum Restrictions. A hearing is scheduled Tuesday for one of six bills introduced to limit school boards from using referendums to provide for their students. SB 187 would require a school board to include specific financial information in a resolution and in the referendum question to exceed the school district’s revenue limit by issuing debt. That includes the total amount of debt to be issued, the total amount of interest and related debt service costs to be incurred, and the sum of the principal, interest, and related debt service costs. The practice of using an operational referendum to issue debt is small, but the move would result in a complicated ballot question.
  • Guns in elementary, middle and high schools. SB-169 and companion bill AB-247 would allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, background check, or training (also lowering the minimum age and opening the door for guns in schools). A Senate committee hearing is scheduled May 31.
  • Military Service & WRS. AB-62 would add military service as credible service under the WRS. An amendment was offered this week requiring participating employers to contribute an additional percentage of earnings to reflect the shared cost of granting creditable military service.
  • Career and Technical Education Grants. SB-127, relating to career and technical education incentive grants, had a public hearing by the Workforce Development, Military Affairs and Senior Issues. The companion bill is AB-192.
  • Penalties for making school gun threats. SB-82 and companion bill AB-111 would make it a crime to intentionally convey any threat or false information concerning an attempt to use a firearm to injure or kill a person on school property, on transportation provided by a school, or at an event sanctioned by a school. A person who is convicted of the crime would be guilty of a Class I felony.

Coming Up:

Don’t see something in the wrap-up? Looking for more information? Contact Christina Brey.

Legislative Update – March 30

Bills circulating would limit school referenda

As voters prepare to weigh in on 65 local school referendums across the state, lawmakers are circulating six bills for co-sponsorship that would limit school boards’ abilities to go to voters to support neighborhood public schools. Among the provisions of the proposed bills, school districts that pass operating referendums to exceed revenue limits would have equalized aid reduced by 20 percent of the referendum amount – and they’d have to list that as part of the referendum question on the ballot.

Senator Duey Stroebel is co-author of all but one of the bills. According to the Wheeler Report, Stroebel said he is frustrated with the current system in which locally elected school boards work within their communities to meet student needs. The number of referenda statewide has been growing over the past six year, mostly the result of severely reduced state funding for students. But Stroebel blamed construction companies, which he believes are pushing schools to build. Stroebel said, “I am tired of being a high tax state, and I’m especially tired of pushing for lower taxes and limited spending only to have the efforts undone in school referenda.”

The bills being introduced are:

  • LRB-0871 Electors of common and union high school districts may vote upon an initial resolution to raise money through a bond issue only at the school district’s annual meeting. Prohibits a common and union high school district from voting on a resolution to exceed a revenue limit for a school district at a special meeting.
  • LRB-0811 School referendum must be scheduled for the spring election or the fall general election (First Tuesday in April, or the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November).
  • LRB-0470 School boards may seek approval for a revenue increase limited to five years.
  • LRB-0829 General school aid penalties of 20% would be assessed for increasing a school district’s revenue limit by referendum, and allows a school board to rescind revenue limit increases approved by referendum.
  • LRB-0868 DPI would be required to provide matching funds for deposits that a school board makes to a long-term capital improvement trust fund.
  • LRB-2629 A school board would be required to include the total amount of debt to be issued, the total amount of interest and related debt service costs to be incurred, the sum of the principal, interest and related debt service costs in a resolution adopted by the board.

Joint Finance Committee public hearings
The Joint Finance Committee begins budget hearings next week in Platteville on Monday and at State Fair Park near Milwaukee on Wednesday, following a week of speculation as to whether the budget-writing panel will work off the governor’s budget proposal or start from scratch.

Governor threatens veto
Later in the week, after legislators were briefed on the governor’s plan for the next transportation budget, the governor took to Twitter defending his no-new-tax plan, saying, “Let’s be clear. I don’t support spending less on K-12 education than what’s in my budget and I will veto a gas tax increase.”

‘Act 10’ provision pushback
With legislators during agency briefings asking questions about an item in the governor’s budget proposal to require districts to prove they are “following Act 10 provisions” in order to receive funding for students, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards has requested the Joint Finance Committee remove that from the budget. In reality, most districts take a different approach to health insurance for their employees, including higher deductibles and co-pays that compound the massive decrease in household income for educators. This is bad for the economy, complicated, and very specific to local communities – all very good reasons legislators should stay away from micromanaging school boards.

The Week in Review

March 30

  • Department of Public Instruction agency briefing. The Joint Finance Committee met with the DPI as part of a week-long budget briefing schedule with state agencies.

March 29

  • Concealed carry legislation. Dave Craig and Rep. Mary Felzkowski began circulating a bill providing for constitutional carry in Wisconsin. The bill being circulated later Thursday will eliminate the need for a concealed carry permit, in most cases. According to the co-sponsorship memo, “The bill allows for the concealed carry of a firearm without a license anywhere in the state by a person who is legally allowed to carry a firearm and simplifies state law while reducing the cost to citizens who choose to protect themselves and their families.” Read the Legislative Reference Bureau Memo

March 27

  • Child labor laws. The Joint Finance Committee took up AB 25, which would eliminate the requirement that minors aged 16 or 17 obtain a child work permit, which are now required for those under age 18. Those under 16 would still need to obtain a work permit, and the law would not change existing state law on the maximum hours or times of day minors under 18 could work.
  • Broadband grants. SB 49 would alter the eligibility criteria for broadband expansion grants and the funding.  The grants, which are used to increase broadband access and capacity, now place a priority on projects that include matching funds, public-private partnerships, and areas with no service providers, among other things. The criteria that the grants promote economic development would stress job growth or retention, expansion of the property tax base or improvement of the overall economic activity in an area. Also, the criteria on pertaining to areas with no broadband service providers would be deleted. Instead, priority would be given to areas not served by a provider offering Internet service that meet two criteria, including a new standard for upload and download speeds. The bill also would transfer $6 million from the universal service fund and $5 million in fed money in DOA’s federal e-rate appropriation to the grant program. It also would repeal current limits of no more than $1.5 million in grants being issued in a year.

The Week Ahead & Beyond

April 3

April 4 (Election Day)

  • The Senate will be in session. Bills they are scheduled to take action on include:
    • SB49 – broadband
    • SB62 – school board salaries

April 5

Don’t see something in the wrap-up? Looking for more information? Contact Christina Brey.

Opposition building to ‘guns in schools’ proposal

concealed_carry_guns_300x300pxParents and public school officials are beginning to take a stand locally against a legislator’s plans for allowing guns in schools. About 60 people attended a Whitefish Bay School Board meeting this week to oppose the idea, and several school boards have adopted resolutions opposing the planned legislation.

State Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) has said he will introduce a bill to allow guns in schools. Specifically, the bill initially will allow licensed gun owners to carry weapons on the grounds of private schools (because it is politically “an easier fit” to focus on private schools). However, Kremer said he expects to follow up with similar bills applying to public schools and college campuses.

According to North Shore Now:

The possibility of guns in schools has prompted school boards across the state to speak up. The first in the North Shore suburbs is the Whitefish Bay School Board, which adopted a resolution on December 14 opposing any legislation allowing guns in schools. The Nicolet School Board adopted a similar resolution the following night.

The Shorewood School Board on December 13 agreed to adopt a resolution at its next meeting. The Fox Point-Bayside School Board is expected to approve a resolution on December 20.

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North Shore districts speak out against guns in schools

Whitefish Bay – On the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, more than 60 people came to a Whitefish Bay School Board meeting to oppose possible legislation that would allow guns in schools. No legislation has been formally introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature, but state Rep.