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DPI ends license program

By By M.D. Kittle

Wisconsin Spotlight | Oct. 21, 2022

MADISON — As Gov. Tony Evers and his fellow liberals decry a teacher shortage
in Wisconsin’s schools, the Department of Public Instruction “arbitrarily and
secretly” removed another pathway to get good teachers in the classroom,
according to state Rep. Barb Dittrich.

A DPI official calls the lawmaker’s charge “blatantly false,” but acknowledges the
pathway has been removed.
Dittrich, an Oconomowoc Republican, says her office has discovered that DPI
Superintendent Jill Underly nixed “Licensed Based on Equivalency,” a program
that allows professionals with expertise in a specific area or those who already
have had equivalent teaching experience to apply for and receive a teaching
license.

DPI’s website notes the “License Based on Equivalency (LBE) pathway is no
longer available to new applicants effective August 1, 2022 due to changes in PI
34” — the state administrative Code for teacher education program approval and
licensing.

“This comes at a time where I have heard for my entire four-year tenure in the
Legislature that our state has a shortage of teachers. This is coupled with the fact
Underly is requesting billions in new funding with her latest budget proposal,” the
lawmaker said.

Underly has called for a $2.4 billion increase in funding for a public education
system that has received a historic infusion of cash over the past several years,
including $2.4 billion in federal COVID aid schools have been able to use for so
much more than pandemic purposes. At the same time, standardized testing
scores show Wisconsin students falling behind faster.

DPI communications director Abigail Swetz accused Dittrich of making “blatantly
false” statements.

“The entire process of removing this pathway was transparent, and the legislature
was informed about its discontinuation,” Swetz said. “It is unfortunate that Rep.
Dittrich has chosen to inject fear into a difficult situation like our current one of
teacher shortage.”

She added that the change is “an instance of government working to make a
process more flexible, more simplified, and easier for applicants to navigate, which
means they are able to get into the classroom faster.”

The pathway was eliminated because of the Legislature’s 2018 overhaul of
Wisconsin’s administrative code for teacher education program approval and
licensing, according to DPI. It was a redundancy under the new system, and
applicants may now become licensed under simpler processes, the agency
asserts.

But Dittrich said DPI’s claims appear to be “completely unfounded.”
Dittrich said the change is another gift from Underly to the teachers union and its
members that dumped a lot of money into her election campaign.

“To few people’s surprise, it would appear that Jill Underly and Tony Evers have
tried to secretly cater to the teachers union in this state while truly neglecting the
great educational needs of our students,”

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