Three years after Republican Governor Scott Walker & his Majority in the Wisconsin Legislature in the Wisconsin Legislature cut BILLIONS of dollars of state aid for public schools, public school teachers across Wisconsin have had their futures turned upside down. Many school boards and superintendents have capitalized on the Act 10 law to eliminate improvements to teachers' lives and working conditions.
Post Act 10 Wisconsin is one of only a few states in America without a state tenure law or civil service protections against unjust termination. Across Wisconsin, each day nearly 100,000 teachers toil in overcrowded classrooms wondering if they will be the next teacher fired or non-renewed for the slightest infraction of newly-created workplace rules, or simply because their administrator doesn't favor them. In many districts, teachers continue to lose benefits, career salary progressions, and rights to preparation time. No one knows when the compensation cuts and increasing workload will end in Walker's Wisconsin.
As working conditions rapidly deteriorate for teachers in school districts across Walker's Wisconsin, thousands of teachers have already made the choice to leave the profession or leave the state of Wisconsin to teach in states where teachers are valued as professionals and compensated accordingly. Though definitely in the minority, there ARE school districts in all parts of Wisconsin that still value the contributions that teachers make and treat teachers as professionals with professional compensation.
The massive post Act 10 changes to the lives and futures of teachers across Wisconsin have been ignored by the pro-Governor Walker mainstream media conglomerates that control the news in Wisconsin. Both Gannett Media and the Journal Broadcasting Group have been huge supporters and cheerleaders for Governor Scott Walker, supporting all of his actions, including the demonization and vilification of public educators in Wisconsin.
With the complicity of the mainstream media in Wisconsin intententionally NOT reporting the aggressive roll backs of fifty years of improvements in teaching pay and working conditions, many school boards and school district administrators across Wisconsin have cut teacher compensation and benefits with impunity knowing that their words and actions towards teachers will not be reported on by a compliant anti-teacher media that is supportive of Governor Walker.
In February 2014, the team that created this website will be aggressively telling the story, district by district, of the severe impact to teachers' lives and future that have resulted from Act 10.
Local teacher union leaders across Wisconsin are completing detailed surveys that will provide the data to compare critical attributes of every school district in Wisconsin. We hope that this website will be used not only by teachers seeking employment but also by parents and businesses to identify school districts that respect and compensate teachers as professionals. Throughout 2014, we will be using the survey data to spotlight some employment and compensation trends revealed in the returned surveys.
"Get Old-Get Fired Districts" Some Wisconsin school districts have been aggressively firing, non-renewing, or laying off experienced teachers and then replacing them with younger teachers. Veteran teachers with 10,20, even 30 years of experience are being terminated, non-renewed, or laid off in school districts across Wisconsin. Many of these teachers have excellent employment histories, including strong performance reviews throughout their entire careers.
In cases where an employer has terminated or non-renewed a teacher for performance reasons, many employers are NOT giving the teacher the opportunity or support to improve their performance. The first time the teacher is made aware of a performance issue is when the teacher is being terminated or non-renewed.
With the elimination of collective bargaining in 2011, Walker's Wisconsin is returning to the employment practices of the 1940's and 1950's where older teachers were routinely terminated, non-renewed, or laid off to make an opening for the daughter of the school board member who just earned her teaching degree or the wife of the banker who needs a teaching job. The Teaching in Wisconsin Research team will be spotlighting the school districts that have engaged in such negative employment practices.
"Dead-End Districts" The most glaring examples of "dead-end" districts are school districts where the starting salary is $30,000-$35,000 per year and a ten year veteran teacher earns $42,000 per year, due to a lack of any clear, predictable salary progression. Some "dead-end" districts offer a relatively high starting salary to recruit new teachers, but have no predictable salary structure in place, leading to salary stagnation with career maximum salaries of only a few thousand dollars more than the entry level salary. These districts have made the decision to become "training districts" that recruit newly graduated teachers that stay for a few years before moving on to districts offering career salary schedules.
"Men Are Worth More Than Women Districts" Some school districts are returning to the compensation practices of the 1940's and 1950's where male teachers earn more than female teachers, because of practices like paying make dominated positions more than positions mostly occupied by women.
"Divide and Conquer Districts" Some school districts have made severe reductions to the compensation and benefits of veteran teachers and transferred that money to increase salaries or provide bonuses to recruit beginning teachers. Many of these districts have made severe cuts to post-retirement benefits for teachers only a few years from retirement, causing irreparable harm to the teachers who have devoted their entire careers to educating the children in that community. In some districts, veteran teachers whose compensation and benefits have been cut by thousands of dollars are forced to serve as mentors to newly hired teachers that have received large pay increases in order to retain them as employees.
We hope to have the first 50 school district pages on the site by early February 2014. Our goal is to have a district page for every school district in southeastern Wisconsin ready on February 1st, 2014. We are collecting surveys from districts across Wisconsin, and will add the new district pages as fast as possible. To receive updates when new district pages are added, please sign up for email notifications at the bottom of this page.
In addition to providing information about Teaching in Wisconsin through this website, we are developing a volunteer list to provide speakers for any group wishing to learn of the disastrous effects of Act 10 to the future of every teacher in Wisconsin. We have already been contacted to speak to the next generation of teachers at several Schools of Education across Wisconsin. We do not want to turn down any request to tell the true story of how Teaching in Wisconsin has changed since the election of Scott Walker as Governor. If you enjoy speaking to groups, especially the next generation of teachers in Wisconsin, please consider volunteering to join our team.
If you would like to volunteer to help us tell the story of Teaching in Wisconsin, either through public speaking engagements or helping out with the website, please send us an email through the information section of this website.