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A Move To Eliminate Teacher Standards in Wisconsin

PHOTO: A proposal being considered by the Wisconsin state legislature would essentially eliminate teacher licensing standards in the state. The proposal, which is part of the state budget package, is opposed by nearly every education and teachers' organization in the state. Photo credit: U.S. Navy
PHOTO: A proposal being considered by the Wisconsin state legislature would essentially eliminate teacher licensing standards in the state. The proposal, which is part of the state budget package, is opposed by nearly every education and teachers' organization in the state. Photo credit: U.S. Navy
June 1, 2015

MADISON, Wis. – The proposed Wisconsin state budget is unquestionably hard on public education in Wisconsin.

On the heels of the proposed reductions in financial support, there's now a Republican proposal to virtually eliminate the standards for becoming a licensed teacher in Wisconsin.

Scot Ross, executive director of the advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, says even a high school dropout could be hired as a teacher under the plan, and he calls that unacceptable.

"The Republicans want to take the skilled, licensed, qualified teachers out of the classroom and replace them with whoever walks down the street, basically, and turns in a resume," Ross asserts.

Education professions statewide have decried the move to gut teacher standards.

"Teaching is a profession, it is an art, and we should not just respect our teachers,” Ross stresses. “But we should respect our taxpayers, and most importantly our students, who are going to be educated by these folks."

Republicans defend the move by saying it will give more flexibility in hiring for rural schools.

Ross says supporters of the proposal have not been able to name a single school district that has asked to be given permission to hire a high school dropout to be a teacher.

"One of the advocates for rural schools came out and said, 'We didn't ask for this, so we don't know why this is happening,’” he relates. “The last thing we need to do is then take the barrier for having qualified teachers away."

The measure, which was adopted by the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee, must still pass both houses of the legislature and be signed by the governor before it would take effect.

Ross says the state cannot afford to gut teacher standards, for many reasons.

"We think that in the long run it's going to cost the state of Wisconsin not just tax dollars, but much more: its future workforce," he states.


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI