Spotlight on Locals: Eau Claire Association of Educators

WEAC Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen delivers the WEAC Strong Local Affiliate certificate to Mark Goings, President of the Eau Claire Association of Educators (ECAE), joined by ECAE Building Representatives (left to right) Heidi James, Nick Sirek, Amy Traynor, and Brian Wiltgen.

By Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, WEAC Vice President

“Our committed members care about our kids and their colleagues,” Heidi James, a Special Education Teacher and ECAE Building Representative, told me when I asked her what makes the Eau Claire Association of Educators strong. “Members in our buildings trust us.”

Dawn Marcott, ECAE Building Representative, said, “We love our students, and we want to provide a great education for them.” And, when I asked Dawn about recent victories of the ECAE, she cited “our work to add in an additional personal day as a trade from one of our sick days. This has been really helpful in giving flexibility to educators.”

Brian Wiltgen, ECAE Building Representative and Summer Organizer, working to grow the local association, told me, “Our continued success in membership growth has made us stronger.”

Brian is proud of the ten percent membership increase over the past two years. “And we aren’t stopping now,” Brian told his fellow Building Representatives at their meeting this week as the team planned ways to reach out to potential members, including informing them about a recent proposal to make significant changes to employee’s post-retirement benefits. “Our building representatives have honest, one-to-one conversations with potential members about what we have done and how we are improving education for students and our colleagues,” Brian said.

“I am proud of our educators because they spoke up at our school board meeting. It was important that as school board members discussed our retirement benefits, that they be able to look into the eyes of those potentially affected. They saw the passion and commitment that our members have for the students in Eau Claire,” ECAE President Mark Goings said to the ECAE Building Representatives this week. This level of advocacy is part of what makes the ECAE a strong local affiliate. “We also grow strong, committed school board members here in Eau Claire. School board members who work to do what’s best for students and will work with us.”

Heidi offered a little advice to any local leaders who are struggling when she said, “Find out what other educators in your school building or school district care about by sharing a quick survey. Then, take action on what matters most to these colleagues, which will energize and mobilize them to join in.”

ECAE Building Representative and NEA Alternate Director Nick Sirek’s advice to other local leaders is, “We can’t give up. The work is too critical, and even if the tasks seem daunting, our work is too important to our students, our public schools, and our communities.”

Thanks to the Eau Claire Association of Educators for engaging in this important work.

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

Washington Post says Walker’s assault on public education ‘could be coming back to bite him’

In an analysis of the Wisconsin governor’s race, the Washington Post says state residents are not buying Scott Walker’s ironic claim that he is the ‘education governor,’ and instead recognize that he has severely cut public school budgets and worked to undermine respect for educators.

“Though the election is still a few weeks away and anything can happen, (Democrat Tony) Evers has been leading in recent polls, and Walker’s efforts to recast himself as the ‘education governor’ don’t appear to have convinced his critics. His education ‘reform’ agenda could be coming back to bite him at a time when interest in supporting public education in Wisconsin seems to be growing among many residents at the local level,” the article states.

The article notes that Evers has been a teacher, principal and superintendent and is now in his third term as Wisconsin’s superintendent of public instruction.

Evers, it says, “has called for much more funding for public schools and has been critical of the state’s voucher programs, which use public money for private and religious school funding. He is seen as a threat by supporters of the ‘school choice’ movement.”

The article concludes: “Voters will soon decide whether Walker’s record is good enough to give him a third term, but if they decide against him, his education agenda will have played a big role.”

Read the entire article:

Analysis | Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s assault on public education could be coming back to bite him

This was the beginning of a July news story in the Capital Times in Madison, Wis., about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign for a third term as a Republican governor: When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker started branding himself “the pro-education governor,” one of his Democratic opponents said he “thought it was a joke from The Onion.”

Rivers Falls educator Maggie Watson uses personal touch to advocate for her union

River Falls educator Maggie Watson, a member of WEAC Region 1, displays one of the handwritten posters she created for each district staff workroom explaining the benefits of an active union. Maggie says a handwritten poster will always get teachers’ attention in a way that printed advertising won’t.

– Thanks to the Region 1 Connections newsletter for sharing this great photo

NEA Today: Why We Are Red for Ed

This spring, educators, joined by students, parents, and community members, donned crimson shirts and took to their state capitols with a message: Our students deserve better than tattered textbooks and leaky ceilings. Educators deserve better than bottom-of-the-barrel pay and having to pay out of pocket for basic classroom supplies.

The team at NEA Today took a look at how moments in several states across the country turned into a national movement we call #RedForEd, and how that movement will propel us to the ballot box and beyond.

The walkouts in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina were a siren call across the nation. And importantly, people are listening.

Check out the new NEA Today feature: “Why We Are Red for Ed.” While you’re there, take the #RedForEd pledge and join millions of voices fighting for our nation’s public school students and educators.

It is now up to each of us to help the #RedForEd movement continue. We must deliver pro-public education voters and candidates to the polls this fall. In the long term, we must protect the nation’s public schools and transform our unions.

Madison’s Michael Jones is latest winner of the WEAC-UW Badger Red for Public Ed honor

Congratulations to Madison teacher Michael Jones, the latest winner of WEAC’s 2018 WEAC-UW Badger Red for Public Ed honor! The honor goes to WEAC members in appreciation for their dedication to students. Recipients are treated to a UW Badger athletic event. Michael will be honored at the UW Volleyball game October 21 at the UW Fieldhouse.

Michael, a WEAC and Madison Teachers Inc. member, is a Special Education teacher, entering his 10th year in the profession.

“I’ve been a proud union member for each of those years and am currently with the 8th graders at Black Hawk Middle School  in Madison,” Michael says. “I love what I do, I love the students and families I get to work with, and definitely I love my colleagues, all of whom I consider friends. I’m very lucky to be where I am and with the people I get to work with.”

Madison teacher Kerry Motoviloff nominated Michael, saying “He is a leader for ALL students lifting them at their toughest moments with grace and care.”

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.