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Report blames ACT 10 for Wisconsin teacher crisis

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(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s state superintendent of schools is calling the latest look at the state’s teacher shortage a crisis.

The Department of Public Instruction released a report this week that says 40% of new teachers don’t last six years in the classroom, and 30% of wanna-be teachers never even make it into a classroom.

“This report shows what we’ve known for some time now: our education workforce is in crisis,” State Superintendent Jill Underly said. “Wisconsin’s kids are suffering from losing quality teachers. Solving this challenge starts with upholding the state’s responsibility of funding our public schools. We have the resources, and we owe it to our kids to do more.”

Underly said Wisconsin’s teacher shortage is most desperate when it comes to special ed teachers.

She is blaming Act 10, which changed how teachers can negotiate salaries and benefits more than a decade ago. The DPI report says teacher compensation has fallen 19% since 2010.

“It’s shocking we’ve allowed teacher compensation to decline in real terms. Not only do our teachers need to be paid appropriately, but they need to be respected and supported by our communities. Under my leadership, the DPI will continue fighting for our students, our families, our educators, and our public schools,” Underly added.

DPI’s report comes at the same time as another look at Wisconsin’ teaching landscape that says Act 10 saved taxpayers billions of dollars and paid high-performing teachers in the state more.

“First and foremost, Act 10 limited the scope of salary negotiations to base pay, preventing unions from negotiating salary schedules and including them in collective bargaining agreements. This allowed school districts to set pay more flexibly and without unions’ consent, in principle detaching compensation from seniority and credentials,” the research from Barbara Biasi states.

Biasi’s work hints that better performing teachers were able to use the flexibility of Act 10 to get paid more, or switch districts. While lower performing teachers largely stayed put, or left teaching altogether.

“Teachers with higher…contributions to the growth in student achievement…started earning more in flexible-pay districts. School and district administrators appear to be able to identify an effective teacher when they see one,” Biasi wrote.

CJ Szaafir with the Institute for Reforming Government said research backs up what conservatives have said for years, that Act 10 is a win-win for Wisconsin kids and Wisconsin taxpayers.

“Non-partisan analysis confirms what Wisconsin taxpayers know: Act 10 gave public school districts the freedom to reward the best teachers they have and drive student achievement,’ Szafir said in a statement. “Rolling those reforms back would be costly to school districts, high-performing educators, and, most of all, students.”

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