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Wisconsin Education Association Council

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The Wisconsin Education Association Council began in 1853 as a statewide educational organization of teachers and administrators. In 1972, the organization changed its name to the Wisconsin Education Association Council and it is now the primary teachers union in Wisconsin. Later, WEAC expanded its membership to education support staff, as well as UW, technical college and State of Wisconsin education and information professionals. WEAC is a member of the National Education Association (NEA).

WEAC is involved in the Wisconsin Way, a group pushing for change in Wisconsin's economy. WEAC listed school funding reform, health care reform, professional development and licensure, and the closing of achievement gaps as its legislative priorities for 2011-2012.[1]

About

The union advocates that schools need to gather more funding from the state instead of local resources and drive the new funding towards programs that help special needs, low-income and English learners. WEAC would also like to see a financial assistance program developed for technical colleges.[2]

For health care reform, the union has stated its support of government sponsored health care for every Wisconsin resident.[3]

WEAC would like to see full funding for the new teacher licensure system, also known as PI 34, describing the current $1.3 million in reimbursements as "inadequate."[4]

In order to close achievement gaps, WEAC is also advocating increasing the cost-per-pupil funding for SAGE, which helps fund the 15:1 teacher student radio, from $2,250 to $2,500.[5]

Members

WEAC membership includes:[6]

  • 66,376 teachers, counselors and library media specialists in public K-12 schools.
  • 16,530 education support professionals—secretaries, teacher aides, bus drivers, custodians, cooks—employed in public K-12 schools.
  • 3,691 faculty and support staff in the Wisconsin Technical College System.
  • 9,242 active retired members.
  • 2,084 university students who are studying to be educators.
  • 750 education and information professionals who are employed by the state and work in the Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Technical College System, State Historical Society, at other state schools and libraries, and in state prisons and other institutions, including the Centers for the Developmentally Disabled.

Finances

According to the 2009 WEAC 990 tax form, the WEAC brought in $25,094,155 in revenue in 2008. The organization spent $11,030,890 in liabilities in 2008, leaving a net gain of $14,063,265 (about 56% of the revenue).[7]

In 2009, the WEAC brought in $25,856,102 and spent $10,554,666 in liabilities, leaving a $15,301,436 net gain (about 59% of the revenue).[8]

The organization gathered $23,458,810 of the total revenue from membership dues in 2009. The remainder of the revenue came from the National Education Association ($1,419,819), "interest on notes" ($89,203), annual convention ($86,297) and legal fees and settlements ($52,966).

The organization awarded 13 individuals with grants in 2008, according to the 2009 990 form, totaling $18,850.[7]

Legislative agenda

Healthcare

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker proposed a bill which would have school districts optionally join the state employees’ health insurance plan.[9] Walker said the bill would save $68 million a year for Wisconsin school districts, and $224 million for local governments.[9] WEAC was against the bill and said that it would fight its implementation.[9]

Political Action Committee

WEAC’s Political Action Committee is Winnebagoland UniServ, which lobbies on behalf of the WEAC.[10]

In the courtroom

Suit against virtual school

In 2007, the WEAC brought a lawsuit against Wisconsin Virtual Academy, the largest of the state’s 15 virtual schools. The state appeals court ruled that the online academy was operating in violation of open enrollment, charter school and teacher licensing laws.

Advocates for virtual school successfully lobbied the state legislature to change the law so virtual schools could continue operating despite the court ruling. The deal struck included establishing a 5,250 cap on open enrollment students.[11]

Intervening in campaign finance ruling

In late 2010, the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to hear an original action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of new campaign finance rules which regulate campaign advertising and other political communications. The Court gave permission to the WEAC to intervene in the case.

"We look forward to a full airing of the issues in this case," said Kevin J. Kennedy, director and general counsel of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. "We also look forward to a resolution of all the litigation in this area so candidates, organizations and the public may benefit from greater certainty in Wisconsin's campaign finance rules."

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board put into effect the rules in the case based on the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC and Citizens United v. FEC.[12]

Health insurance

The WEAC started a not-for-profit health insurer, the WEA Trust, which is open to the union's members and recently became a part of the state health insurance plan.[13]

See also

External links

References