Action by WEAC members leads to withdrawal of proposal that threatened teacher rights

Due to the efforts of WEAC members, a proposal to seriously threaten teacher rights won’t move forward, the state education agency announced Thursday. Thousands of WEAC members answered the call to action to provide testimony on proposed changes, which included the licensure system as well as sweeping revisions to teacher discipline procedures. While WEAC collaborated on the system changes to support the goal of easing the teacher shortage, our members determined the discipline changes would push professionals away from teaching.

“WEAC members stood up in huge numbers to get involved,” said WEAC President Ron Martin. “Teachers want to partner on sound solutions to easing the teacher shortage, and this particular proposal would not have achieved that.”

South Central Wisconsin teacher Lauren Thompson, who provided testimony, thanked the DPI for listening to teachers, saying, “As an early career educator, these changes could have seriously changed my outlook on the profession. I appreciate that you took my testimony, and the testimony of teachers across the state, seriously enough to pull the changes.”

In response to the outpouring of concern from teachers like Lauren, the DPI has sent an email to WEAC, saying:

“In response to feedback from WEAC, other organizations, and the public, the department will be removing the proposed changes to PI 34 regarding professional misconduct. In its place, the department will use the current license investigation, denial, and revocation process contained in PI 34.35.”

President Martin called the announcement an example of how the union can improve the day-to-day lives of educators. “We couldn’t have achieved this without collective action. Nobody else would have brought this issue to our attention and organized educators to action,” he said. “From holding a tele-town hall for WEAC members to understand the issue, to soliciting nearly 1,000 pieces of testimony, our union made a difference.”

This is only one example of union victory when educators work together. After WEAC united to oppose a plan to end Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave, the head of a Senate committee last week indicated he won’t move ahead with the bill this session. And, a misguided proposal introduced under the guise of “protecting teachers” appears to have stalled after we stood together in opposition.

To join WEAC in our efforts for students, educators and public schools, go to www.weac.org/join.


Teacher Licensing Revisions: Need to Know

What won’t move forward: A complete overhaul of disciplinary procedures that created vague rules for teacher discipline including “boundary violations,” suspensions and revocations.

What will move forward: The portion of changes that relate to the licensure system will move forward. These changes were crafted with input from education stakeholders, including WEAC, and represent collaboration between education groups. WEAC has secured agreement from the DPI that all current license holders would have the choice to be grandfathered or convert to the new system. The proposal would:

  • Create four tiers of licensure to simplify and clarify ambiguity.
  • Create out-of-state license reciprocity.
  • Accept National Board Certification as an acceptable indicator to qualify for licensure.
  • Provide license reciprocity for speech and language pathologists/audiologists with clinical licenses, a logical step to address the educator shortage. This proposed change further illustrates that the Educator Effectiveness matrix does not fit every educator license category.
  • Provide for internships and residencies, effective methods to address the teacher shortage. The proposed changes reflect current statewide practice.
  • Increase flexibility around testing requirements for preservice educators to focus on core teaching methods.
  • Expand grade levels one can teach.
  • Create broad field licenses in science, music, ELA and social studies.
  • Allow school districts to endorse candidates for a teacher license. WEAC has achieved assurances from the DPI to ensure that the DPI or a higher education institution with a DPI-approved teacher preparation program would be involved with any license issuance, so the quality of education isn’t diminished for students.