2018 Action Alert

Proposed DPI Administrative Rule Changes

In December, 2017 the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) proposed changes that, if passed, will impact the environmental education preparation teachers receive. Read on for more information and to learn what you can do…

A public comment period is coming up this month (dates and locations below) and a web-based submission is now open.


State statute 118.19(6) requires that:

In granting certificates or licenses for the teaching of courses in economics, social studies or agriculture, adequate instruction in cooperative marketing and consumers’ cooperatives shall be required. In granting certificates or licenses for the teaching of courses in science or social studies, adequate instruction in the conservation of natural resources shall be required. [emphasis added]

Current administrative rule requires:

PI 34.15(4)(b) Environmental education including the conservation of natural resources for licenses in agriculture, early childhood, middle childhood to early adolescent, science and social studies.

Proposed administrative rule states:

PI 34.022 Statutory Requirements. The conceptual framework shall identify how students meet the requirements under s. 118.19, Stats., and be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of all of the following: … ENVIRONMENT. Environmental education, including the conservation of natural resources, for licenses in science and social studies. 

What does this mean?

The proposed administrative rule removes specification for teachers with licenses in agriculture, early childhood, elementary, and middle school to receive preparation in environmental education.

Administrative rules provide further detail on how statutes are carried out. The statute is not changing.

Why is this happening

The proposed changes are an outcome of a workgroup that was convened to address the current teacher shortage. The workgroup is recommending a change in teacher licence codes which in turn impacts the administrative rules. It is possible that the removal of the specificity for environmental education preparation for certain teachers was an oversight as the group worked to align licencenture and administrative rules. However, it is still important that we raise the issue and have it resolved.

What you can do

Provide Public Comment

If you would like to comment on the proposed rule change, public comments will be accepted through hearing and an online form. These comments are evaluated by the DPI to determine if changes need to be made to the proposed rule and a report will be issued to the Wisconsin legislature summarizing the public comment received and the DPI’s response. The proposed rule then moves to the legislature, who must approve it before it can go into effect.

The DPI will conduct five hearings in January to accept public testimony on proposed changes to educator licensing rules (PI 34). In addition to the hearings, a public comment period is open until Jan. 31 with written comments on the proposed permanent rules given the same consideration as public testimony.

The hearing dates, times, and locations are as follows:

January 16, 4 to 6 p.m. — St. Norbert College, Mulva Library, Room 101, 400 Third Street, De Pere;

January 17, 2:30 to 4 p.m. — DPI Headquarters, GEF 3, Room P41, 125 South Webster Street, Madison;

January 19, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. — Milwaukee Public Schools, Auditorium, 5225 West Vliet Street, Milwaukee;

January 25, 3 to 5 p.m. — CESA 10, Conference Center, 725 West Park Avenue, Chippewa Falls; and

January 29, 4 to 6 p.m. — University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Centennial Hall, 3212 Centennial Hall, La Crosse.

Additional information is available on the Department of Public Instruction News Room website (PDF) (Text).

What might you say

You are free to tailor your message to the DPI. Here are some comments from WAEE members you may consider:

The proposed rule reduces the licenses that require preparation in “environmental education including the conservation of natural resources.” PI 34.15(4)(b)

The new PI 34.022 would require environmental education preparation for only “science and social studies.”

Extensive research shows that environmental sensitivity should be developed at a young age and that childhood experiences with the natural world have a lifelong impact. Children also gain many physical, social, emotional, and academic benefits from active, hands-on learning outside.

Early childhood and elementary educators need pre-service preparation to meet the WI Environmental Education standards, utilize the many outdoor classrooms and school forests in Wisconsin, and further the environmental literacy of our future citizens.

Wisconsin has a longstanding tradition, since 1935, of integrating environmental education preparedness into teacher training.

Many Wisconsin businesses, non-profits, and state agencies tasked with providing environmental education training will be negatively impacted.

The ask: Return the specificity to administrative rules that requires environmental education preparedness for agriculture, early childhood, elementary, and middle school teachers.


You can always contact the WAEE office or in this case, you may contact the DPI’s Environmental Education Consultant, Victoria Rydberg for further details:

Victoria Rydberg, Environmental Education and Service-Learning
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Office: (608) 266-0419 or (800) 441-4563

dpi.wi.gov/environmental-ed  | dpi.wi.gov/service-learning