State News

Report: Wisconsin’s teachers are less experienced, lower paid since Act 10

Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 10 into law in 2011.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

Wisconsin teachers are less experienced and leaving the profession at higher rates since the passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 legislation, according to a recent report from a left-leaning think-tank.

The Center for American Progress, which published the report, stopped short of claiming Act 10 as the cause for changes seen by Wisconsin educators; however David Madland, a co-author of the report told Education Week that the "data clearly shows there's a before-and-after change as Act 10 goes into effect."

In 2011, Act 10 weakened public unions and stripped teachers of collective bargaining rights. The bill was aimed at balancing the state budget and was met with heavy pushback from the Wisconsin Education Association and other public sector groups in the state.

Wisconsin schools saw a sharp increase in teachers leaving the profession after Act 10 went into effect, with 6.4 percent of teachers exiting in the 2009-’10 school year to 10.5 percent in the year after the legislation passed, the report said. In 2015-’16, the most recent school year with available data, Wisconsin teachers exited the field at a rate of 8.8 percent.

Teachers have also seen a decline in benefits since Act 10. Median salaries and benefits for teachers have fallen at least 12.6 percent, or about $11,000, since the bill's passage, according to the report. However, Wisconsin schools have faced budget cuts in recent years, which may have contributed to this decline.

Even so, the report’s authors say changes in compensation, turnover rates and exit rates appear to be higher in Wisconsin than in other states that have seen similar budget cuts.

Since the passage of Act 10, the report said, Wisconsin teachers are less experienced. In the first five years after the legislation was passed, the percentage of teachers in the state with fewer than five years of experience went from 19.6 percent to 24.1 percent.

According to the authors of the report, Act 10 has influenced the quality of students education in Wisconsin.

“When the quality of public jobs is lowered, it becomes more difficult for state and local governments to hire and keep high-quality and experienced employees,” the report said.

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