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The War on Teachers is Working Precisely as Intended


I know the labor beat is mostly Erik’s domain, but this story about the impact of Scott Walker’s war on teachers is personal for me.

In the five years since Act 10 was passed, median salaries for teachers in the state have fallen by 2.6% and median benefits declined 18.6%, according to an analysis of state administrative data by the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund.

In addition, 10.5% of public school teachers in Wisconsin left the profession after the 2010-2011 school year, up from 6.4% the year before. The exit rate remains elevated, at 8.8%.

As a consequence, the report found, Wisconsin’s educational workforce is less experienced: Teachers had an average of 13.9 years experience under their belt in the 2015-2016 academic year, down from 14.6 years in 2010-2011.

Teachers aren’t just moving out of the state or out of the field entirely. A higher percentage of teachers are also moving to other districts: From 2015 to 2016, the percentage who did so jumped from 1.3% to 3.4%, according to the report.

“In a climate right now where we see the only way an educator could get a pay raise is moving to another district, that’s a natural outcome,” said Christina Brey, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, which represents grade school employees.

That’s particularly difficult for rural districts, which can’t afford to pay more to retain good teachers. The report found that teachers in rural areas werethe most likely to move districts, and the average level of experience among teachers in those areas had fallen the most: One out of four rural teachers had taught for fewer than five years in 2015-2016, up from 17.6% in the year before Act 10 passed.

“Rural schools oftentimes are seen as starting grounds, where newer teachers can put in a year or two before moving to a wealthier area where they can get a pay raise,” Brey said.

I grew up in rural Wisconsin, was educated in its public schools, and did all of my degrees in the University of Wisconsin system. I spent many days in the winter and spring of 2011 freezing my ass off outside the Wisconsin state capital as part of the Act 10 protests. We knew then that it was going to be disastrous not just for our unions, but for our teachers and schools. Scott Walker, the king of viciousness and mendacity disguised as dopey banality, knew it too. The fact that he ratfucked one of the nation’s best public education systems should make him a pariah. Instead it made him a presidential candidate.

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