Friday, January 27, 2023

Pupil Access to Harmful Materials in Library Databases Bill Introduced in Wisconsin

Senator Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) and Representative Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) have introduced Senate Bill 10, which requires public libraries and schools to take steps to limit student access to harmful materials in library databases. It would also require schools to notify parents about classroom materials that may be offensive. 

In a memo to legislative colleagues, the bill authors argue that the legislation is needed because "children are being exposed to sexually explicit and psychologically damaging material through library databases via innocent books searches."

The bill requires public libraries and schools to do one of the following:

1. Equip each computer to which a pupil or minor has access with software

that will limit the pupil's or minor's ability to gain access to harmful material.

2.  Purchase Internet connectivity for each computer to which a pupil or minor

has access from an Internet service provider that provides filter services to limit

access to harmful material.

3. Develop and implement by January 1, 2024, a policy that establishes

measures to restrict pupils and minors from gaining computer access to harmful


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Governor Evers to Propose $50,000 in Funding for School Library Interns in State Budget

Governor Evers delivered his fifth State of the State address on Tuesday evening before a joint session of the Legislature. You can read a copy of the address here or watch it here

During the address, Evers highlighted the following initiatives he plans to undertake in his 2023-25 state budget, which will be released on February 15, 2023. Included in his priorities related to workforce, is a $50,000 proposal to provide stipends to school library interns.

Full initiatives of interest to WEMTA can be found below.

Education and Student Mental Health 

  • Historic investments in education, including $20 million for literacy-related programming

  • $50,000 for stipends for school library interns

  • Making it easier for schools to hire retired teachers and staff 

  • $9.4 million for stipends for student teachers and interns  

  • $5 million for "grow your own" initiatives to recruit teachers

  • $2 million to provide stipends for teachers who oversee student teachers or interns

  • $270 million for student mental health 

Friday, December 9, 2022

Governor Evers Announces Budget Listening Session!

Governor Evers is once again holding listening sessions to gather input from Wisconsinites as he works to develop his next state budget. You must sign up to attend. 

This is a great opportunity for WEMTA members to advocate for school librarians, especially the need to address the staffing shortage, protecting the Right to Read and helping policymakers understand the role of school librarians in literacy. 

Budget Listening Session in Kenosha
Tuesday, December 13, at 5:30 p.m. 
Register to attend here

Virtual Budget Listening Session 
Wednesday, December 14, at 6 p.m. 
Register to attend via Zoom here

Budget Listening Session in Green Bay 
Tuesday, December 20, at 5:30 p.m. 
Register to attend here

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

BCPL Announces Record $52 million Common School Fund Distribution for 2023!

The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) announced on November 17 that the 2023 Common School Fund Distribution will be a record-breaking $52 million. 

WEMTA President Tina Birkett spoke during a press conference held to announce the amount. News footage of the press conference can be seen here

“We are grateful for the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands’ commitment to our public school libraries. The funding provided by the Common School Fund ensures that Wisconsin school librarians and media specialists can provide the resources necessary to deepen student learning, strengthen reading comprehension and foster information and digital literacy,” said Birkett.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Federal Right to Read Act Introduced

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) have introduced the federal Right to Read Act (H.R. 9056 and S.5064).  


  • the Act defines effective school libraries to mean ones that are staffed by at least one full-time certified school librarian; 
  • creates a Right to Read for students;
  • requires states and school districts to affirm the first amendment rights of school libraries;
  • requires the federal government to collect data on school libraries; 
  • expands certain ESEA grant activities to include digital and information literacy activities 
  • requires ESEA state plans to ensure equitable access to effective school libraries;
  • provides $500 million for literacy grants and $100 million for innovative approaches to literacy grants that could be used to support school libraries 

If you want to go deep:

The Act does the following:

  • Defines an "effective school library" to mean a library that is:
    • staffed by at least one full-time state-certified school librarian;
    • is otherwise adequately staffed to be open to students before, during and after the school day; 
    • has a sufficient collection of curated up-to-date digital and print materials and technology, including openly licensed educational resources;
    • provides appropriate facilities for maintaining and providing equitable access to materials, technology, connectivity, and library and literacy instruction;
    • provides regular professional development for teachers, school librarians, and other educators;
    • provides opportunities for collaboration between classroom teachers and school librarians, and 
    • implements nationally recognized standards of practice 
  • Requires the National Center for Education Statistics to annually collect data on school libraries, including:
    • the number and percentage of elementary and secondary schools that employ at least one full-time state-certified school librarian
    • the number and percentage of schools that have a dedicated school library facility 
  • Defines the "Right to Read" as "all students have access to linguistically and developmentally appropriate, evidence-based reading instruction; effective school libraries; family literacy support; culturally diverse and inclusive materials; reading materials in the home; and the freedom to choose reading materials."
  • Creates liability protections for school librarians and teachers related to the Right to Read
  • Requires state and local educational agencies to make assurances to the federal government that they understand the importance of the First Amendment protections in school libraries as centers for voluntary inquiry and the dissemination of information and ideas 
  • Adds school librarians to the multidisciplinary teams required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to review state plans 
  • Adds requirements to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that each state plan must:
    •  describe how the state will work to ensure that low income children, minority children, children with disabilities, and English language learners are not disproportionally enrolled in schools that lack an effective school library
    • the measures that the state educational agency will use to evaluate and publicly report the progress with respect to ensuring access to an effective school library 
    • how the state educational agency will provide assistance to local educational agencies and individual schools in supporting digital literacy and information literacy skills development 
    • include assurances that all teachers, school librarians and paraprofessionals working in a program supported with Elementary and Secondary Education Act funds meet applicable State certification and licensure requirements
    • include assurances that the state educational agency has a policy protecting the right to read
  • Adds requirements to the ESEA that local educational agency plans must:
    • include school librarians in their development 
    • describe how the local educational agency will support and improve effective school libraries by supporting the work of the State-certified school librarians to ensure that students have equitable access to such libraries 
    • describe how the local educational agency will assist schools in developing effective school libraries to provide students an opportunity to develop digital literacy and information literacy skills and improve academic achievement
    • describe the policies the local education agency has in place to protect the right to read 
  • Provides $500 million for comprehensive literacy state development grants
    • requires states to work with the state library administrative agency in developing their application. 
    • applications must also include a needs assessment that analyzes literacy needs across the state, including high quality print materials and effective school libraries  
    • states could use up to 5% of grants funds received to carry out activities that include providing technical assistance to eligible entities in the development of effective school libraries, which could include the development of a statewide office 
  • Provides $100 million for innovative approaches to literacy grants 
    • adds "increasing the number of state-certified school librarians supporting students in high need schools" to the list of eligible activities 
  • Allows states to use ESEA grant funding on activities:
    •  supporting and improving effective school libraries that involve collaboration with state-certified school librarians
    • developing, improving and implementing mechanisms to assist local educational agencies and schools in effectively recruiting, hiring and retaining state-certified school librarians
    • providing training to school librarians, teachers and school leaders on how to leverage effective school libraries for academic achievement, digital literacy, information literacy, and student and family engagement 
  • Updates criteria for state use of ESEA Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants funds to include:
    • supporting local educational agencies to offer well-rounded experiences to all students, including digital literacy and information literacy activities and programs, including those provided through an effective school library 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Governor Evers, State Superintendent Underly Release K-12 Funding Plan

 Governor Evers and State Superintendent Underly kicked off the new school year by announcing their K-12 funding priorities for the next state budget. The high-level plan would result in a $2 billion increase to K-12 education, including:

  • $10 million for literacy-related programming. This work would focus on implementing evidence-based reading instructional practices. 
  • $240 million for a permanent Get Kids Ahead student mental health program with the goal of making sure that all schools have one full-time staff person focused on mental health. 
  • Provides an un-specified amount of funding for school nutrition services, including free meals to all students who qualify for free and reduced meals. 
  • $5 million for a Do the Math Initiative to help districts start a financial literacy curriculum 
  • $20 million for an Out-of-School Grant Program to increase access to community and school-based before and after school programming
  • Making it easier for schools to rehire retired teachers to address staffing shortages 
  • Increases revenue limits by $350 per pupil in 2022-23 and by $650 per pupil in 2023-24, along with $800 million to hold the line on property taxes
  • Increases per pupil aid by $24 per pupil in 2022-23 and by $45 in 2023-24
  • $750 million increase for special education aid, which would lead to a 60% reimbursement rate by the end of the biennium 

The Department of Public Instruction will release their full 2023-25 state budget request later this month. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Stage is Set for November's BCPL Races

Thank you to all WEMTA members who went out to vote on Tuesday in the Fall Primary! We hope that you found our BCPL Candidate guide helpful, and we will re-issue it for the General Election in November. 

Here is what the races for the BCPL officers--Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer--look like for November. 

Attorney General

Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney (R-Fond du Lac) defeated former State Representative Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) by just 3,522 votes to claim the Republican nomination for attorney general. Toney will take on current Attorney General Josh Kaul (D-Madison) in November. 

Secretary of State

Secretary of State Doug La Follette (D-Madison) easily survived a primary challenge from Dane County Democratic Party Chair Alexia Sabor (D-Madison), 62%-37%, to keep his bid for a 12th term alive. 

State Representative Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) won the three-person Republican Primary with 48% of the vote in a race that focused heavily on giving the Secretary of State's office the power to oversee elections. 

State Treasurer

This is the only BCPL race without an incumbent since current Treasurer Sarah Godlewski (D-Madison) gave up the seat to run in the Democratic Primary of U.S. Senate, which she ultimately withdrew from before Election Day. 

Fitchburg Mayor Aaron Richardson (D-Fitchburg), who also works in the Oregon School District's tech department,  defeated radiologist Dr. Gillian Battino (D-Wausau) by about 9,000 votes to secure the Democratic Nomination for Treasurer. 

Attorney John Leiber (R-Cottage Grove) defeated Orlando Owens, an aide to U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, 66%-33%, to win the Republican primary.