State education officials have some reservations about legislation introduced earlier this week, which backers say is designed to protect teachers from students who may turn violent in the classroom.
The so-called ‘Teacher Protection Act‘ from Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) more clearly spells out the rights teachers have if they are the victim of an attack by a student, while it also gives them the ability to have more information about violent incidents involving students and offers new protections that can remove a student from class. “It’s about school safety not just being for kids,” the Fond du Lac Republican says.
The Department of Public Instruction has some concerns about the proposal, which spokesman Tom McCarthy says runs counter to a lot of the current efforts to address the issue. Those efforts focus more on community involvement and making sure schools have the resources to improve outcomes for students. “This is kind of a step in the opposite direction,” McCarthy argues. “This is kind of like back to the arming teachers conversation and the Teflon textbooks conversation,” he says.
While Thiesfeldt cites figures showing one in four Wisconsin teachers have reported being the victim of violence or the threat of it in the last 12 months, McCarthy says legislation is not the answer. “This is an issue of some very small problems that are very real and should not be discredited…but it’s not something that requires the Legislature to come in and be heavy-handed, and undo the work of a lot of very engaged and caring people.”