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Wisconsin Budget Brings Lifetime Licenses For Teachers

State Budget Eliminates Professional Development Renewal Requirements

Teacher in a classroom
Susan Haigh/AP Photo

Wisconsin teachers that hold professional or master licenses now have lifetime educator licenses. The recently-passed state budget eliminated the professional development requirements educators had to complete to renew their licenses.

To keep lifetime licenses valid, teachers have to be teaching and submit a background check every five years.

Prior to the state budget, professional development requirements varied for educators depending upon their license type, but they included things like taking six credits of undergraduate or graduate course work or completing a Professional Development Plan.

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There are three types of teaching licenses in Wisconsin:

  1. Initial educators license for first time teachers
  2. Professional educators license for educators who have completed five or more years of teaching
  3. Master educator license, which is an optional 10-year license

Teachers holding the initial educator licenses won’t be automatically given lifetime licenses. They will receive a three-year provisional license, and after six semesters of teaching, they can apply to the state Department of Public Instruction for a lifetime license.

Wisconsin Education Association Council President Ron Martin said he’s concerned about the, “dumbing down of the teaching profession,” and while busy teachers do need some requirements taken away, this isn’t the right one.

“We’re highly qualified people. We take in people’s most precious possessions — their children — every day,” Martin said. “And for us at WEAC, it’s incredibly important that there’s a highly qualified educator in every single classroom in the state of Wisconsin.”

Martin said WEAC and other educators weren’t consulted about this change.

“This is an example of them (politicians) not caring about kids because we know the single greatest factor contributing to a child’s success in the classroom is the teacher,” he said.

Teachers who meet the requirements can now consider themselves licensed for life. DPI’s website said any licensing changes could take weeks to put into effect.