Two Takes On Proposal To Protect Public School Teachers

Air Date:
Heard On The Morning Show
Police car at high school
A police car sits outside Green Bay East High School Friday, Sept. 15, 2006, in Green Bay, Wis. Morry Gash/AP Photo

A Republican state lawmaker has introduced a bill that he says would protect teachers and restore discipline in classrooms. State Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt explains what the Teacher Protection Act would do and why he claims it’s necessary. We also talk with WEAC President Ron Martin about why he says the bill “misses the mark” and his call to enforce existing law.

According to federal government data, Wisconsin had the highest percentage of teachers in the nation who reported being physically attacked by students during the 2011-12 school year at 11.3 percent. The national average was 5.8 percent. The state was third in the percentage of teachers who reported being threatened with injury by students at 13.7 percent.

“Too many of our teachers operate daily in an environment where violence and threats of violence from students are all too common,” Thiesfeldt said in a statement, “and students go with little or no disciplinary action from school administration.”

Under the Teacher Protection Act, teachers could remove a student they deem dangerous, unruly or disruptive from the classroom for up to two days. Police would be required to notify a school when a student commits a felony or violent misdemeanor. Schools would have to inform police of physical assaults or violent crimes against teachers within 24 hours of being notified. In addition, teachers would have the power to terminate their contracts if they’re victims of a violent crime or physical assault.

In an online post, WEAC President Ron Martin insisted that the bill infringes on student privacy rights, fails to address the handling of students with special education needs, and will disproportionately affect students of color. Rather, he highlights WEAC’s Educator Protection Principles, which calls for including verbal abuse as a violent act, providing training to defuse potentially violent situations, ensuring each school has a violence prevention policy, and more.

Do you support or oppose the Teacher Protection Act? Are you a teacher who’s been assaulted or threatened by a student? How worried are you about violence where you teach? Let us know at 1-800-642-1234 or You can also tweet us @wprmornings or post on the Ideas Network Facebook page.

Episode Credits

  • Kate Archer Kent Host
  • Bill Martens Producer
  • Jeremy Thiesfeldt Guest
  • Ron Martin Guest