Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) is a left-of-center teachers’ union representing teachers and other public-school employees in Wisconsin. The union was formed in the 1970s and is an affiliate of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union. The union frequently advocates for left-leaning policies in Wisconsin.
The union endorses candidates for public office and has a state political action committee that raised more than $1 million during the 2020 election cycle, donating over $700,000 to left-leaning groups and politicians including the Greater Wisconsin Committee PAC, Wisconsin Progress PAC, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and Governor Tony Evers (D).  
The Wisconsin Education Association Council traces its roots to the mid-1800s as a training and educational organization for Wisconsin teachers. The organization was transformed when Wisconsin recognized collective bargaining for public employees in 1959, a significant development in the history of public employee unions as the state was the first to do so. In 1972, the organization changed its name to the Wisconsin Education Association Council and later expanded its membership from teachers to organize public school support staff as well as faculty and staff from state technical schools.  
The Wisconsin Education Association Council operates several member services and activism programs. One program operated by the union is the WEA Academy, a training program for teachers that offers classes in “restorative practices” in schools, “Creating LGBTQ+ Inclusive Schools,” and “the Science of Happiness.” 
Political Stances and Activity
The Wisconsin Education Association Council lobbies for a variety of left-leaning policies at the state and local level. While many of the policies supported by the organization are related to public schools, such as opposing school voucher programs and advocating for more government spending on public schools, the union also endorses stances on left-leaning policies that are not directly related to schools, such as redistricting.   
During the 2021 state legislative session in Wisconsin, the union reliably supported pro-union and other left-leaning pieces of legislation and opposed many bills passed by the Republican-led state legislature. The union opposed the legislature’s back to school COVID Plan (AB-1), which was vetoed by Governor Evers and included a requirement that a two-thirds majority of a local school board would be needed to move from in-person instruction to closed schools. 
The union also opposed bills passed by the Republican-led Wisconsin state legislature in 2021 that would expand school voucher programs by widening the income eligibility, and allow open enrollment and unlimited applications to various school districts for students in the program. The measures were vetoed by Governor Evers. 
The union also opposed measures limiting transgender athletic participation, opposed prohibiting employers from providing diversity, equity, and inclusion training, and opposed restricting school boards from closing school buildings. 
Educators for Fair Maps
One advocacy program of the Wisconsin Education Association Council is Educators for Fair Maps, which engages union members in the legislative redistricting process with the intent of creating maps that are favorable to Democratic candidates. The union has hosted trainings on redistricting for its members and expresses support on its website for Governor Evers People’s Maps Commission as well as the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition, a left-leaning coalition of groups such as the Center for Media and Democracy, ACLU Wisconsin, Citizen Action Wisconsin, Common Cause Wisconsin, The Wisconsin AFL-CIO, the Fair Elections Project, and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.  
The Wisconsin Education Association Council is active in political advocacy and campaigns. The union is closely aligned with Democratic Party candidates and committees in Wisconsin and its recent endorsements have been almost exclusively in favor of Democratic or left-aligned candidates. In 2021, the union endorsed left-leaning candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly, who won the April 2021 election.  
The Wisconsin Education Association Council operates a political action committee that is a significant funder of political campaigns and Democratic Party committees in Wisconsin. The WEAC PAC raised over $1 million during the 2020 election cycle and dispersed over $700,000 to campaigns and committees. Notable contributions during the 2020 campaign included $250,000 to the left-leaning Greater Wisconsin Committee PAC; $143,500 to Badger State Research Inc.; $75,000 to Banc One WI PAC; $25,000 to the Wisconsin Progress PAC; $24,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin; and $18,000 to Democratic-aligned State Supreme Court Justice Jill Karofsky. Other groups supported by the PAC were the Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Committee and the Wisconsin Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee. 
The WEAC and its political action committee have both long supported Governor Tony Evers (D), the former State Superintendent for Public Instruction, donating $50,000 to his 2022 reelection campaign in 2020 and $25,000 in 2021.  
The Wisconsin Education Association is led by President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, who took over as union president in 2021 when former president Ron Martin was elected to the National Education Association’s executive committee. Wirtz-Olsen is a high school art and English teacher and a member of the Marshfield Teacher’s Association. 
Kim Schroeder is the vice president of the union. He is a fourth grade teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools and is a former president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA).
The union’s executive director is Bob Baxter, who previously was the executive director of the Kenosha Education Association and worked for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). 
John Stocks, the board chair of the left-leaning funding collaborative the Democracy Alliance and former executive director of the National Education Association, is a former executive director of the Wisconsin Education Association Council.