New teacher pay schedule delayed after Racine educators voice opposition

Photo from REA-REAA Unity Facebook page.

The Racine Unified School Board failed to approve a new pay schedule for educators after more than 100 people packed into a meeting this week to protest it.

Educators said the proposed new pay schedule did not provide enough incentive for continued professional development or future salary reassurances.

The Racine Journal Times quoted Pam Harris, a 41-year teacher, as saying that the new pay plan would fail to attract new teachers to the district.

“We can’t survive without young, new teachers … why should young people go to college and come out with loan debt and know that they’re going to make approximately 40 percent less than many other professions?” she asked.

Racine Educators United President Angelina Cruz presented the board with a petition signed by more than 800 people asking the district to provide a budget “that attracts and retains the best and brightest public education workers to work directly with RUSD students and families.”

“Rather than metal detectors and the further criminalization of black and brown students, we should hire more social workers and psychologists,” Cruz said. “We should provide professional development and trauma informed care, culturally relevant pedagogy, racial bias training, and we should desegregate our schools, particularly our middle school.”

She also called for reducing high-stakes standardized testing and eliminating top-heavy administration.

“Instead we should look at attracting and retaining the highest quality and experienced educators to work directly with our kids,” she said. “We should ensure that the very least of students are receiving the most.”

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Tied vote means no new Unified teacher pay scale — yet

RACINE – Following 14 months of planning and discussion, a tied vote on Racine Unified’s new pay scale means the process will drag on even longer. The board room was bursting at the seams during Monday’s School Board meeting, as more than 100 teachers packed in to protest the new pay schedule.


Spotlight on Locals: Beaver Dam Education Association

WEAC Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen presents the WEAC Strong Local Affiliate Certificate to members of the Beaver Dam Education Association (BDEA). Pictured from Left to Right are Ali Bohl, Kris Schumacher-Rasmussen, Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, Lisa Schleicher, Mark Lefeber, Jen Vinz, Betsy Ramsdale, and Glen Milleville. 

By Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, WEAC Vice President

“Communication and outreach are keys,” Lisa Schleicher, President of the Beaver Dam Education Association (BDEA), told me when asked about the success of the BDEA. “We readily share information with our building representatives from our six elementary buildings, middle school, high school, and alternative school. It is important to keep people knowledgeable at all levels of our association. We work to ensure that our home email addresses are up to date and that we are sharing information on our BDEA Facebook page because if our members aren’t informed of the work that we are doing, it can all fall apart.”

Kris Schumacher, middle school art teacher and past president of the Beaver Dam Education Association, echoed that sentiment saying, “Constant communication is so important between BDEA leaders and our members. It is also important among our group of leaders who reach out to each other often. We are also actively engaged with the BDEA Facebook page. We use this as a space for communication about relevant events and professional articles on education from local, state, and national perspectives. We also share out information from attending our local school board meetings. We work to educate our members on how to be an active member and how to get involved on the district level.”

Lisa said, “Last year, we needed to quickly mobilize when the BDEA was made aware of a substantial school schedule change right before summer break began. Since this change would impact our students, families, and members for the following school year, the Beaver Dam Education Association educated parents and members about the proposal. In response, over twenty people spoke at the school board meeting, putting this change on hold for a year and allowing more conversation to find a solution that was a better fit for the school district.” 

There were other victories that resulted from this organizing work. Lisa shared: “A parent advisory committee was formed that continues to meet with the district superintendent, and a candidate for the local school board also emerged.” Again, showing that the BDEA is not only lifting up its members’ voices, but also helping parents and members of the community find their voices to keep their schools strong for students and families.

Kris also pointed to the BDEA’s organizing success last year saying, “Our local was able to reconnect on advocacy, working with parents for shared goals and opportunities for students. We also have been advocates on the legislative front hosting a BDEA member meet-and-greet with Elisha Barudin, candidate for State Assembly back in September.”

As far as successes, Betsy Ramsdale, Beaver Dam Education Association’s president-elect, shared, “Our recertification election results have been excellent with 82% of our colleagues supporting the Beaver Dam Education Association and our work.” Betsy also highlighted the supportive members in the BDEA and their ability to quickly mobilize. 

Lisa is planning to retire at the end of this school year, and she shared with me that Betsy, the vice president and also the president-elect, is ready to step in as the next president.  “The BDEA is in good hands considering Betsy’s experience as an organized leader who motivates others and has served 10 years in the district,” Lisa said. Again, demonstrating the strength of the BDEA in having other educators who are stepping into smaller roles and attending trainings to ensure that there is a team of leaders working together on behalf of the students and members in their community.  

Betsy said, “While I am new to this role, I am continuing to learn. Attending the WEAC Organizing Institute for Anchor Locals in January was a great opportunity to meet and learn from other leaders across the state. I want to keep learning and growing as a leader.”

Lisa’s advice to other local leaders across Wisconsin: “Keep one-to-one conversations going with members and potential members. When people know you, know what you represent, who you represent, then they understand what the union can do. That’s how they learn to join with us.”

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

Sign up now for Every Teacher a Leader training June 25-26 in Madison

WEAC is a co-sponsor of Every Teacher a Leader training June 25-26 in Madison.  Teacher leaders are the heart of successful schools. Every Teacher a Leader promotes, supports, and grows teacher leadership and voice. Develop your ideas and meet others who can support you along the way. Register by March 29!

 This year’s Every Teacher a Leader precedes the first annual Leading for Learning Summit, a collaboration between professional organizations to address continuous improvement, equity, educator development, and more.

Click here to find out more and click here to register by March 29.

Three dozen WEAC members honored as Kohl Foundation Teacher Fellows

Three dozen WEAC members have been selected as 2019 Teacher Fellows by the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation.

Each honoree and their school receives an award of $6,000. Kohl Teacher Fellowship recipients are educators who have been chosen for their superior ability to inspire a love of learning in their students, their ability to motivate others, and their leadership and service within and outside the classroom. In total, 304 students, teachers, and principals are being honored this year by the Herb Kohl Foundation. 

The Kohl Foundation Scholarship and Fellowship program was established by Herb Kohl, philanthropist and businessman, in 1990. To date, the Foundation has awarded $17.8 million to Wisconsin educators, principals, students, and schools. “Education is the key to the future of Wisconsin and our nation. I am very proud of the accomplishments of these students, teachers, and principals and look forward to the great contributions they will make in the future,” Kohl said.

The WEAC members honored as Kohl Foundation Teacher Fellows this year are listed below. (If you are a WEAC member or know of one who received a Kohl Teacher Fellow honor this year but is not listed below please let us know by emailing us at communications@weac.org and we will make sure we get that educator’s name added to the list of honorees.)

CESA 1

Jean Biebel, Wauwatosa 
Wauwatosa East High School, Wauwatosa 

Alexander Branderhorst, Milwaukee 
Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Milwaukee 

Raymond Duncan, Milwaukee 
Marshall High School, Milwaukee 

Erin McCarthy, Milwaukee 
Greendale Middle School, Greendale 

Kaitlynn Radloff, Milwaukee 
Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Milwaukee 

Aimie Rognsvoog, Milwaukee 
IDEAL, Milwaukee 

Chad Sperzel-Wuchterl, Milwaukee 
Reagan High School, Milwaukee 

Elizabeth Sutherland, Shorewood 
Whitefish Bay High School, Whitefish Bay 

Jill Werner, Wauwatosa 
Waukesha North High School, Waukesha 

Nancy Wisniewski, Milwaukee
Mitchell Elementary School, Milwaukee 

CESA 2

Angela Flynn, Janesville 
Turner High School, Beloit 

Matthew Flynn, Beloit 
Memorial High School, Beloit 

Julie Martin, Madison 
New Glarus High School, New Glarus 

Rachel Schramm, Madison 
Shabazz-City High School, Madison 

CESA 4

Paul Anderson, Arcadia 
Arcadia High School, Arcadia 

Tricia Gibbons, Holmen 
Logan High School, La Crosse 

Kate Hooper, La Crosse 
North Woods International School, La Crosse 

Regina Quandt, Winona 
Arcadia Elementary School, Arcadia 

CESA 5

Elizabeth Hansen, Portage 
Portage High School, Portage 

Daniel Rhode, Baraboo 
Baraboo High School, Baraboo 

Ashley Tessmer, Wisconsin Rapids 
Lincoln High School, Wisconsin Rapids 

CESA 6

Jessica Longdin, North Fond du Lac 
Evans Elementary School, Fond du Lac 

Jane Savatski, Menasha 
Berry Elementary School, Appleton 



CESA 7

Scott Christy, Green Bay 
East High School, Green Bay 

Jonathan Delray, Sheboygan 
Kiel High School, Kiel 

CESA 9

Dawn Bohm, Kronenwetter 
D.C. Everest Junior High School, Weston 

Matthew Cepress, Weston 
D.C. Everest High School, Weston 

Lori Linsmeyer, Rhinelander 
Crescent Elementary School, Rhinelander 

CESA 10

Niki Anderson, Eau Claire
Memorial High School, Eau Claire

Rebecca Omtvedt, Holcombe
Lake Holcombe Schools District Office, Holcombe

Nicholas Sirek, Eau Claire 
DeLong Middle School, Eau Claire

John Scott Thiel, Altoona 
Altoona Middle School, Altoona

CESA 11

Debra Bell, Menomonie 
Boyceville Community Schools District Office, Boyceville 

Jennifer Clemins, St. Croix Falls 
Saint Croix Falls Elementary School, Saint Croix Falls 

Suzanne Imhoff, Frederic 
Saint Croix Falls High School, Saint Croix Falls 

CESA 12

Lorie Erickson, Bayfield 
Bayfield Elementary School, Bayfield

Click here for the complete list of 2019 Kohl Education Foundation student, teacher and principal honorees.

Governor Evers visits classrooms, helps celebrate Read Across America

The day after delivering his pro-public education State Budget Address at the Capitol in Madison, Governor Evers hit the road and visited schools throughout the state, in part reading to students to help celebrate NEA’s Read Across America.

In the pictures below, he is visiting Schulte Elementary School in Racine, WEAC Region 3 member Diane Barnett’s class at Lincoln Elementary School in Appleton, and the jump rope team after-school program run by WEAC Region 4 member Mark Shuda at La Crosse’s Southern Bluffs Elementary School. Students there focus on healthy lifestyles and choices. The governor’s proposed budget – for the first time ever – creates funding especially for after school programs.

In this final picture below, Governor Evers poses with WEAC Region 4 members (left to right) Michelle Powell, Jill Schams and John Havlicek.