Walker's Wisconsin: Worst Place to Teach in America

 Five years after Governor Walker “dropped the bomb” on public employees, teachers across Wisconsin continue to suffer catastrophic consequences to their teaching careers.  At the five year anniversary of Act 10, many Governor Walker supporters such as the Journal Sentinel and Gannett newspapers are writing stories that re-write the devastating history of Act 10 and Wisconsin’s collective attacks on the teaching profession since 2011.  These stories minimize, sometimes even trivialize the effects of a law, borne out of jealousy and even hatred towards public school teachers in Walker’s Wisconsin.

At Teaching in Wisconsin, we call “Bullshit” on these attempts to sanitize the anti-teacher history of Walker’s Wisconsin. 

  • Act 10 was not a “bump in the road” for the teaching profession.   
  • Teachers won’t “recover” from this law in a few years. 

 

No more Bullshit Lies about Act 10.  Here’s what Act 10 did (and continues to do) to teachers in Wisconsin:

  • Act 10  directly cost thousands of teachers their careers. Thousands of teachers were laid off, non-renewed or outright terminated in the five years since Governor Walker made it easier to fire teachers in Wisconsin than in any other state in America. Five years after Act 10, across Walker's Wisconsin teachers are still losing their careers on the basis of just one parent complaint.

 

  • Act 10  has cost mid-career teachers hundreds of thousands of dollars in future career earnings and benefits.  The majority of teachers in Wisconsin with 10-25 years of experience have had their salaries frozen at their 2011 earnings. Most have not had any salary increases, let alone increases to keep up with inflation. Most mid-career teachers’ take home pay is still 10-15% lower in the 2016-17 school year  than before Governor Walker passed Act 10.

 

  • Act 10 cost younger teachers with under 10 years of teaching experience $500,000-$1,000,000+ in career earnings. Teaching is no longer a profession in Wisconsin; Governor Walker turned teaching into a dead end job with little salary advancement. Over 90% of newer teachers will earn a maximum career salary no more than $10,000 above their starting salary.  Many teachers will never earn more than $45,000 in rural areas or $55,000 in urban areas over a 30-40 year career.  Hint to Gannett Newspapers (Appleton Post Crescent) : This is WHY so many 3-5 year teachers are fleeing the profession and/or Walker’s Wisconsin.

 

  • Following his election in 2011, Governor Walker’s “bomb”, Act 10, rolled back over 50 years of improvement in teachers’ compensation and working conditions.  Throughout his campaign for Governor, Scott Walker repeatedly attacked the pay and benefits of all public employees, especially teachers as being overly generous. Aided by tens of millions of dollars in advertising that pounded Wisconsin’s public school teachers as “lazy, stupid, overpaid, parasites, rich, moochers, uncaring, thugs”, Governor Walker was elected Governor.

 

  • Educational policy in Walker's Wisconsin is driven by HATRED for teachers. Especially in RED, Republican voting cities and counties, public school teachers are literally hated by a majority of Scott Walker supporters.  This unending hatred for teachers has been the driving force behind the flight of thousands of experienced teachers from classrooms across Walker's Wisconsin, either to retirement, to another profession, or to states where teachers are not the most despised members of their communities.

 

 We have dedicated this website to telling the real stories of how the unending hatred towards teachers that Governor Walker cultivated and continues to nurture has impacted the working conditions and lives of teachers in Wisconsin.

 

Unlike university professors or newspaper reporters whose source of information is to ask school districts about what they have changed since Act 10, we source our information for this website from contributors who have lived the hatred towards teachers that Governor Walker legitimized. Many of our contributors are former union leaders that watched 50+ years improvement in wages and benefits evaporate with the expiration of collective bargaining agreements on July 1, 2011.  Contributors to this site have actually experienced teaching conditions since July 2011; they have witnessed the many changes and even atrocities that teachers across Wisconsin have endured since Act 10. They contribute to this website because they want every future teacher to understand the many ways Act 10 has made Walker’s Wisconsin the worst place to teach in America. Our website gets the information that school districts don’t want anyone to find out about how they have treated their teachers in the wake of Act 10.

 

Browse this website to learn:

 

  • Which Districts Have the WORST Records for Job Security.  Learn which SE Wisconsin school pursued termination of a 20 year veteran teacher on the basis of ONE parent complaint.  Located in a Republican stronghold, the Superintendent of this district publicly destroyed this teacher’s reputation on right wing talk radio while preventing the teacher from defending herself due to a district imposed gag order as a condition of suspension. 

 

Since 2011, literally hundreds of experienced teachers have been non-renewed or fired on the slimmest of allegations of wrong-doing. Governor Walker brags to his donors how easy he made it to fire teachers in Wisconsin.  Each year, scores of great teachers face the loss of their jobs due to non-renewal or firing based on the slimmest of allegations of wrong-doing.  Fortunately, not all school districts have behaved in such a reprehensible manner. When choosing a district to work for, learn which southeastern Wisconsin districts have a pattern of non-renewing or firing teachers without warning or the opportunity to improve.

  • Which Districts Offer Careers vs Dead End Jobs

Common Characteristics of Dead End Job Districts:

1.        Top salaries are about $10,000 higher than starting salaries.  Teachers who are primary breadwinners must leave these districts (or Walker’s Wisconsin) after 5 years in order to earn middle class professional salaries.

2.       Pay increases are based on subjective evaluations of administrators, not on clear, well-defined performance objectives.

3.       95% of the teachers will earn their highest career salary after 5-7 years of experience.

4.       There are no pay increases for additional education (Masters degrees) or expertise.

5.       Pay increases after 5-7 years of experience are often less than inflation. 

6.       Less than 5% of teachers ever earn the “top” salary in any of the new merit pay systems.

7.       For teachers entering the profession since 2011, maximum career teacher salaries in SE Wisconsin merit pay districts are between $50,000-$60,000.

8.       Teacher turnover in merit pay districts is rapidly escalating among teachers with 3-5 years of experience; possibly because they teachers are realizing that they are working in dead end jobs.

 

Common Characteristics of Career Salary Districts

 

1.       Top salaries are about double starting salaries. Career earnings potential is double or even triple that of merit pay districts. A primary breadwinner can afford to raise a family on Career District earnings.

2.       Pay increases are based on clear, well-defined performance objectives, including education and experience.

3.       Teachers may reach the maximum salary in the system after 15-20 years of experience and clearly defined educational levels.

4.       Additional educational attainment such as a Master’s degree, additional certifications, or graduate credits are encouraged and rewarded in the compensation system.

5.       In addition to the Career Salary system, all teachers earn yearly COLA.

6.       Every teacher in the district has the opportunity to earn the maximum career salary.

7.       Teachers in these career salary districts have the opportunity to earn $70,000-$80,000 career maximum salaries, competitive with teacher salaries in other Midwestern states.

8.       Teacher turnover in Career Salary Districts is significantly less than Merit Pay districts offering low paying dead end jobs.

 

  • Why We Encourage the “Five & Goodbye” Career Plan For New Teachers in Walker's Wisconsin

 

In the five years since Governor Walker scapegoated teacher compensation and benefits as the cause of all of Wisconsin’s economic problems, teachers in Walker’s Wisconsin face disrespect on a daily basis. From the parents who “flip off” teachers walking into school each morning, to the many hours of teacher bashing programs that dominate AM radio in many communities many Wisconsin teachers endure nearly constant disrespect and animosity from Republican lawmakers, school boards, and school district administrators. 

Since 2011, in this atmosphere of hatred towards Wisconsin teachers, the Educational policies and laws enacted by the Republican controlled Legislature have been punishing and punitive towards teachers.  Teacher pay increases are limited to less than inflation, and all teachers are required to meet the requirements of an Educator Effectiveness Law entailing 20-40 hours of additional paperwork and data collection each year in order to keep their jobs.

In the climate of disrespect towards teachers that has been deeply ingrained into the fabric of Walker’s Wisconsin, many of the contributors to this website feel that young teachers interested in a teaching CAREER need to make a firm commitment and have a plan in place to leave Walker’s Wisconsin.

That is why we encourage all new teachers to strongly consider the “Five & Goodbye” career teacher program that we will describe in detail on our website.

 

Despite all the hatred that has been unleashed on teachers in Walker’s Wisconsin, being a teacher is still a GREAT career IF you are fortunate enough to find one of the few school districts in Walker's Wisconsin that still treat teachers as professionals and have career compensation systems that allow teachers who are primary wage earners to support themselves and raise a family on a teacher's salary. For 90% of the teachers entering the workforce in Walker's Wisconsin, the best option to finding a great district to teach in is to leave Walker's Wisconsin for nearby Midwestern states, and states across America that still value the work teachers do and compensate teachers as professionals. Why live a life of poverty and disrespect in Walker's Wisconsin when you could double or triple career earnings by moving to a nearby state? 

All of us at Teaching in Wisconsin want the next generation of teachers to find the very best school districts to build their careers in. Good luck as you begin your journey in the teaching profession.