Public hearing to be held on Teacher Protection Act as critics slam bill as unfair
MADISON, Wis. — State lawmakers are circulating a measure designed to protect teachers from assaults in their classroom. The so-called Teacher Protection Act was written by the head of the assembly’s education committee, Republican State Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt from Fond du Lac.
The act would require police officers to report violent incidents involving students to their schools and would allow teachers to initiate suspension actions against students.
According to the most recent data from the Department of Education, Wisconsin has the highest percentage of teachers being attacked by their students.
Twenty-five percent of teachers have reported being attacked in the past year. Proponents of the bill say it will help teachers feel more safe in the classroom, allowing them to focus on what really matters: teaching.
“They need to get on top of these behavior issues with kids at a younger age then they do right now,” Thiesfeldt explained via phone to News 3 on Wednesday. “By the time high school comes around, it’s too late.”
But critics argue the bill will disproportionately affect black students and only worsen the problem of moving students from classrooms into the criminal justice system.
Madison Teachers Incorporated released this statement, saying, “We believe the best solutions for addressing disruptive behaviors and school safety come from teachers, parents, and students being empowered to act on these matters in their local schools.”
“We tried to find a proper balance where their privacy rights are respected, while we also need to respect the fact that other students and teachers have the right to safety,” Thiesfeldt added. “It’s the old constitutional argument that you have the right to swing your fists as long as you want, but as soon as it touches someone else’s nose, your rights need to take a backseat.”
The public will get a chance to learn more about this bill Thursday at 8:30 a.m. A public hearing will be held at the State Capitol, room 415, on the Teacher Protection Act. A counselor, parent, and a school board member will speak about the potential effects of the bill.