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Sep 8, 201511:51 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Wisconsin classroom refugees fleeing for Germany

(page 1 of 2)

Our liberal-progressive-socialist acquaintances preach end times due to Republican misrule but the predicted Armageddon never seems to arrive. Funny how that works.

Their latest scare tactic is that, post-Act 10, teachers are bailing out of Wisconsin classrooms like Syrian refugees. (“Will teachers desert Wisconsin?” hopeful teachers unionistas ask/allege.)

Well, the aggregate number of teachers statewide did fall slightly, and student-teacher ratios rose a bit.

“But those changes started in 2009 — during the depths of the recession — and did not dramatically accelerate after Governor Walker signed Act 10 in 2011,” finds the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

It’s still too early to tell if Act 10 will have any long-term effects on education in Wisconsin. But so far, at least, it doesn’t seem to have changed much beyond perception. Teacher experience levels are barely below where they were five years ago and about the same as they were 10 years ago. The average teacher salary in Wisconsin remains just slightly above the middle of the pack, and Wisconsin is not losing ground when looking at changes over the last decade. …

There’s early evidence that some Wisconsin districts are changing their compensation plans to offer retention bonuses, supplemental pay, or higher pay for teachers who take on additional responsibilities.

Taken together, these data suggest that Wisconsin’s Act 10 may have pushed some government workers to retire immediately, but once the public outcry died down, the public sector labor market more or less returned to normal. We certainly haven’t seen the enormous drain of teacher talent that some predicted.

One more indicator: four years after Act 10, Wisconsin high school students rank second in the nation in their composite ACT college admission scores this year, tied with Iowa and a tick below Minnesota. (More here.)


Old to new | New to old
Sep 8, 2015 12:40 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

dave obviously isn't a member of a rural school board. He knows not of the trouble we are having getting STEM teachers to teach at a small school, let alone the problems retaining good teachers. Smaller districts in rural areas, hamstrung by the artificial constraints placed on them by the current governor and legislature, are pinned between revenue caps and drastically decreasing state aids. We just lost 2 teachers to larger districts that got into a bidding war for their services. They even paid the penalty for breaking the contract with us. It's great for teachers in subject areas with few new grads, but it is a terrible time for small districts that don't have the tax base of suburban schools.

Sep 8, 2015 01:20 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

A few points worth addressing:

1. The Fordham Institute is among the crowd that brought you Common Core. Just thought you should know that.

2. Why are ACT scores #2 in the nation? You believe it's due to Scott Walker's tireless stewardship of the state's educational system, no doubt. But what if it's about 4-year old kindergarten? Or Sage schools (a program that directed extra funding to schools that kept class sizes low, long ago done away with by Walker of the 39% approval rating)? Or the types of coordinated planning seen in many schools thanks to collaboration time achieved through collective bargaining?

3. A tick below Minnesota. I think I'll try to use it as a selling point for friends considering a move to the upper Midwest: Join us in Wisconsin where we're just a tick below Minnesota! This "We're Number TWo (Just a Tick Below Minnesota)!" foofaraw is completely without context. I prefer to view the rankings provided by the ACT itself, rather than Walker's PR shop. Find them here:

Note that only 73% of Wisconsin students even take the ACT. I wonder what the score would be if 100% took it. Would Walker be touting the number then?

Sep 8, 2015 02:57 pm
 Posted by  Mrbillsbrain

I'm somewhat amused by the comments. The disappointment that the Education Sky did NOT fall is really galling to the union loyalists. Have you considered dropping anonymous comments? I realize you may love to see the Liberal mind twisting in the wind, or you magazine simply prefers to keep comments open to all.
IN fairness to anon Sept 8 12:40 PM he/she makes a valid point. However the rural schools have been facing this same drain to the larger districts for decades, so the question is, "has the teacher loses been much worse since 2010, the same, or better?

Sep 8, 2015 03:01 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

No one knows what all the repercussions will be but what I do know is that it takes time for people to change careers especially experienced teachers that have invested a lot of time and education in their careers. After 10, 20 or 30 years, it may mean they need to take time to prepare themselves for a new career. It is my opinion that teachers will leave as they are able to find other opportunities. My spouse is a teacher and so are a number of our friends that live in different parts of the state... not all would I describe as liberal but none would describe themselves as happy campers. When teachers, just like people that work in business, are unhappy, administrators will find out, just like business managers already know, that the best leave first.

Sep 8, 2015 03:16 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

Anonymous at 01:20 PM: "...foofaraw is completely without context. I prefer to view the rankings provided by the ACT itself, rather than Walker's PR shop."

The source was the WI Department of Public Instruction, Tony Evers, superintendent of public instruction.

Sep 8, 2015 06:54 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous


While rural schools have always lost some teachers to larger districts never before have districts gotten into bidding wars for good teachers. Act 10 changed the whole landscape with compensation based on the individual rather than the union contract. That is good for teachers (to a point), but creates chaos with a small school pay plan. The suburban schools will always win as they have greater resources at their disposal.

Sep 9, 2015 12:43 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

You're right, Dave. Evers is totally independent and not at all susceptible to framing Wisconsin's test scores in the most glowing light possible. Carry on with your "morning in Wisconsin" operetta.

Sep 12, 2015 08:42 am
 Posted by  Anonymous


Everything is just fine in Wisconsin schools after Act 10 huh??? Just because Wisconsin teachers have not left their jobs in droves doesn't mean that all is well!!!!! Teachers have to feed their families too.

But if you think Act 10 hasn't affected teacher morale in a negative way visit any Madison school for a day and join the teachers during their lunch break if they have one (20 minutes). You may have to stand on playground or in the lunchroom with the kids. Ask them how they feel since Act 10. Happy employees make for productive employees regardless of the endeavor..............Madison is lucky to have such dedicated teachers under the circumstances.........

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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