Action Alert:  Too Many Students with Disabilities are Taught by Teachers with Little Experience: Now is Your Time to Weigh in on Teacher Licensing

Currently, the state allows emergency licensing for special education teachers, leaving many students with disabilities in classrooms with ill-prepared teachers. In fact, the number of emergency-licensed special education teachers is the highest for any teacher category in Wisconsin and has grown by nearly 3 times since 2012. Emergency licenses for early childhood special education teachers is the second highest group and has grown by more than three times. These teachers are often assigned to the most restrictive classrooms with children who have the most significant needs; they often lack the training and support to provide appropriate education to children.

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is currently changing teacher licensing rules and they are requesting feedback from families and other stakeholders. You can read the rule here: http://dpi.wi.gov/policy-budget/administrative-rules/pi-34  or http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/chr/all/cr_17_093

Here are some highlights of the rule change:

  • A Tier I license now includes licensing for special education teachers. Staff do not need to meet all the teacher training requirements; license can be renewed for three years.
  • An emergency license now will be converted to a Tier I license; it is unclear if past years of service count toward the maximum three years.
  • Short Term Substitute teacher licenses only require an associate degree. The person can teach for 45 days; needs no additional requirements to teach special education.
  • Special Education Program Aide License does not require any professional development in understanding IEP’s, how to work with students with disabilities, use of positive behavior strategies, use of de-escalation strategies, or modifications/accommodations.
  • The professional misconduct will now provide better protections for children. Families will now be able to request an investigation; the State Superintendent may investigate, reprimand, suspend or revoke a license.

What can you tell DPI?

  • How teacher licensing and emergency licensing (including required teacher training) has impacted your child.
  • What you like in the rule and don’t like and what you would change.
  • What special education teachers and aides need to be prepared to teach your child.

A one-page summary, and details about how the proposal is posted at https://dpi.wi.gov/policy-budget/administrative-rules/pi-34    The rule is available at the following links http://dpi.wi.gov/policy-budget/administrative-rules/pi-34  or http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/chr/all/cr_17_093.  Written comments can be made via the Department’s form for submitting comments at https://goo.gl/forms/DnTvOXf6LW3vMAVt2 or send any testimony by email to adminrules@dpi.wi.gov, or by mail to the Department of Public Instruction, Attn: Carl Bryan, P.O. Box 7841, Madison, WI 53707. Public comments on the proposed rules must be received no later than January 31st, 2018. See document here.