MADISON, Wis. — According to education experts, an amendment to the 2015 state budget adopted by the Republican controlled Joint Committee on Finance in the middle of the night would eliminate almost all standards, including having graduated from high school, for teachers. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross blasted the provision as emblematic of the GOP contempt for teachers and public education and called on Gov. Scott Walker to veto the provision if it remains in the budget.
“The largest cuts to public schools in state history made by Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans were just the start of the attack on our state’s public schools as they’re now poised to axe minimal requirements that help ensure there’s a trained teaching professional in the classroom,” commented Ross. “ Gov. Walker ought to step up and tell them to knock it off.”
Republicans who control the budget writing Joint Committee on Finance offered an 29-page omnibus budget amendment on public education that was approved on a party line vote in the middle of the night. Among the provisions approved by the GOP under cover of darkness were a statewide expansion of the unaccountable private school voucher program, stripping local control and mandatory privatization of selected public schools, a private school voucher program for students with disabilities opposed by disability rights advocates, and the elimination of the state requirement that public school teachers either have a teaching degree or at least a bachelor’s degree.
Republican State Representative Mary Czaja, who has taken responsibility for authoring the provision, claimed in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article that she wanted to eviscerate state standards for the teaching profession to give school districts more flexibility. However, she was unable to name a single school district that asked to be able to hire a high school dropout to teach students.
Education professionals have ripped the gutting of teacher licensing standards. The Executive Director of the Rural Schools Alliance termed the scheme “very concerning” and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction said the measure would effectively prevent Wisconsin from maintaining teacher licensing standards.
Gov. Walker, who has expansive veto powers, has been making his views known on numerous budget topics between trips out of state but has remained mum on the issue of eliminating teacher licensing standards.
Ross concluded, “As he travels the country auditioning for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination hopefully Gov. Walker is keeping up with the news of what his legislative cronies are proposing to do to the state of which he is ostensibly still governor. It really shouldn’t be too much to ask that he make clear he agrees that to teach children in our schools you should have at least graduated from one yourself.”