State Views: WEAC works to make things better for students

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Betsy Kippers
Wednesday, September 4, 2013

There's an energy that takes hold about this time every year, an excitement each of us embraces. It's a new school year. Whether or not we have children heading back to class, we all share in the promise that public education offers our youngest citizens—a promise for the future.

Wisconsin teachers and education support professionals are especially excited for the new year. As a 30-year teacher who has devoted my career to children with special needs, I'm also thrilled to be the newly elected president of our state's largest union of educators.

The Wisconsin Education Association Council is a collective voice that has worked for more than 100 years, and will work for generations more, to improve our profession as educators and prepare our children for the jobs of tomorrow.

We have members in every one of the state's 424 school districts. That's as grass roots as you can get. It's what makes our union unique—hometown educators who band together for their students.

Union is about joining with others to become a larger voice for our shared mission of supporting our neighborhood public schools. Our members expect more than an organization in name only. They want to belong to an association within their community that is responsive to local needs. They want to be part of something that moves public education forward and shares their passion for helping students reach their full potential.

Our union does not sit on the sidelines as a passive observer. It is actively involved with everything that defines the education profession. It amplifies the voices of Wisconsin educators on the issues they care about, from funding to vouchers to professional development. We bring educators together to improve their lives and those of the children they teach. Our members belong because they want to join other educators in engaging at the local, state and national level to improve public education and educators' working conditions—which are students' learning conditions.

Our union is also about advancing the profession. That's why WEAC is leading the pack in training members about a new, more comprehensive way to gauge teacher effectiveness to ensure every child has a top-notch teacher at the head of the class. Our members continue to sound the call for higher standards for students and teachers. WEAC is at the forefront in providing resources for educators to meet and exceed requirements for licensure and offering a network of mentors for teachers to achieve National Board Certification, the highest achievement in the teaching profession.

So, while things are rapidly changing when it comes to the education landscape in Wisconsin and beyond, one thing will never change. Hard-working Wisconsin educators will continue to strengthen public education and will stand up for solutions that result in improved student learning. Those dedicated educators will always find a home with WEAC, an organization that shares their values.

Welcome back to class, Wisconsin.

Betsy Kippers is a Racine teacher and newly elected president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state's largest teachers union. She can be reached at BetsyKippers@weac.org.

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