Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Was Act 10 Necessary?

New analysis by bipartisan expert on good government explodes the myths about Walker’s signature achievement.

By - Jun 16th, 2015 11:51 am
Wisconsin Capitol Protests. Photo by Patti Wenzel

Wisconsin capitol protests during the passing of the controversial Act 10. Photo by Patti Wenzel

Few people can claim to have two state government commissions named after them. Donald Kettl can. Kettl was appointed in 1996 by Governor Tommy Thompson to serve as chair of a Blue Ribbon Commission on Campaign Finance Reform. In 1999, he was again asked by Thompson to head up a Blue-Ribbon Commission on State-Local Partnerships for the 21st Century. Both were bipartisan commissions whose findings were often cited as those of the “Kettl commission.”

Kettl was then a professor at UW-Madison and is now at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. He has a resume that doesn’t quit, including writing books about politics and government, consulting for various federal departments and writing a column for Governing magazine, “Potomac Chronicle.” So it’s of considerable interest that Kettl has written a long, wonky feature for the Washington Monthly, entitled “Scott Walker’s Real Legacy,” that looks at the rationale for Act 10, which largely eliminated public employee unions, and what that also might tell us about Walker as president.

Kettle examines each of Walker’s justifications for Act 10. For starters, as Walker told Fox News’ Chris Wallace at the time. “We’ve got a $3.6 billion budget deficit. We are broke.” Closing that deficit can’t be done, he insisted, “with the current collective bargaining laws.”

But Kettl notes two studies, one by George Washington University political scientist John Sides which found that states with larger unionized workforces do not have larger budget deficits. “A follow-up study by… the University of California, Berkeley, added collective bargaining to Sides’s calculations and got the same result: states where unions had strong collective bargaining rights did not have bigger deficits than states without such protections.”

In fact, Kettl notes, “other states also closed large budget deficits” in 2011 without crushing public unions. “Some, like Connecticut and Rhode Island, did so by winning large labor concessions, but through old-fashioned hard bargaining…. Indeed, early in the negotiating process with Walker, union leaders said they would concede to his demands for higher employee contributions to pensions and health care if he would drop his insistence on gutting collective bargaining.”

Walker also “appealed to basic fairness,” Kettl writes, arguing “that government workers, through their unions, were extracting pay and benefits that average taxpayers… could never expect and shouldn’t be forced to pay for.” In fact, Kettl notes, a 2012 study found that, “compared to private-sector employees, state and local government employees are undercompensated by 5.6 percent, with the gap smaller for local government employees (4.1 percent) than for state employees (8.3 percent).” Kettl also cites other studies showing that any “overpayment” of public employees compared to private employees that does occur is for the less educated government employees, who tend to be paid the same or more than comparably educated private sector employees.

Thus, if Walker’s goal was to equalize private and public compensation, he should have targeted less educated employees. “The jobs of police and fire fighters have entry requirements of a high school education, compared with at least a bachelor’s degree for teachers,” Kettl notes. “But the firefighters and police officers were exempt, while teachers took the brunt.”

Kettl concedes that Wisconsin’s teachers’ unions were “especially successful in getting many districts to pay the teachers’ share of contributions to the state pension system, to the tune of more than 6 percent of their salaries.” But he notes various studies which show that “many other factors besides union bargaining determine teachers’ salaries, and they often count much more.”

Kettle notes Walker’s other justification for targeting teachers unions is because without seniority and tenure, districts “can hire and fire based on merit” and “pay based on performance.” But Kettl compares the strength of teachers unions in states as determined by the conservative Thomas Fordham Institute and the K-12 achievement results “as ranked by Education Week in its annual survey” and find little relationship between weaker unions and higher achievement.

Kettl also notes that “not a nickel” of the $3 billion Walker saved by reducing employee benefits went to shore up the state’s pension fund, because “he inherited the nation’s strongest state pension system, with 99.8 percent of its obligations funded.” Indeed, Kettl notes, studies also show there is no correlation between the strength of public sector unions and underfunded state pensions. “It turns out that elected leaders, regardless of their state or party, are good at finding ways to underfund their pension systems, since doing so takes pressure off today’s budget while pushing the pain off into the future.”

So if the policy reasons for crushing public unions don’t hold up, why did Walker insist on this? Here, Kettl, who knows Wisconsin well, and was Mr. Bipartisan policy wonk here, notes the influence of the 1998 race for state senator which decided which party would control the senate, and was won by Democrat Jon Erpenbach. The race became a battle between the campaign coffers of the state teachers union, WEAC, and the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, and WEAC won. After that, he notes, “the fight between WEAC and the WMC became a blood feud,” and when the Republicans swept the governorship and both houses of the legislature in 2010, the stage was set for the Republicans to deliver “a knockout blow to WEAC.”

Kettl overlooks some abuses of government benefits in Wisconsin, notably the obscene Milwaukee County pension plan, but the county is not part of the state system. And in any event, as he notes, reductions in compensation of public workers could easily have been achieved without eliminating collective bargaining rights.

As I wrote, back when Act 10 was proposed,  Gov. Thompson had greatly reduced teacher compensation by passing school cost controls and eliminating compulsory mediation arbitration for teacher contracts, which resulted in teacher salaries dropping from near the top among states to a rank of 23rd, with salaries at 93 percent of the average nationally. Thompson did this at a time of divided government. With control of both houses of the legislature, Walker could have instituted any number of state changes to drive down compensation without eliminating unions. Walker’s real goal was to kill the prime funder of democratic campaigns, WEAC and other public employee unions, while protecting the public safety unions that typically support Republicans.

Given the popularity of Walker’s crackdown on public unions among Republicans (and nearly half of independents according to some polls), he may propose the same approach for federal employees. But the situation at the federal level is radically different, Kettl notes: “unions at the federal level don’t have much clout. They represent only 19 percent of all federal employees (compared with 42 percent of local government employees and 30 percent of state government employees across the nation)” and “have no right to bargain over wages; Congress sets federal pay through appropriations. Federal employees don’t have the right to strike, and never have. (The 1981 air traffic controllers’ strike was illegal under federal law…)”

If anything, Kettl contends, “the biggest problem with federal employees is that there’s not nearly enough of them… the size of the federal workforce today remains about what it was in 1960. Meanwhile, the U.S. population has more than doubled, the federal budget has quadrupled in real terms, and the number of pages in the Federal Register has grown fivefold.” As a result the federal government has relied instead on outside contractors, and “year after year the GAO and other watchdogs document countless programmatic breakdowns and billions of dollars in cost overruns.” The “egregious backlogs for appointments at some Veterans Affairs hospitals” is just one of the many problems caused “by too few federal employees,” he notes.

In Wisconsin, meanwhile, we now have a proposal to reduce the requirements for teachers to just a high school diploma for some courses. It’s a sign that there is a shortage of teachers in the state. At UW-Milwaukee, the campus is losing talented faculty and the federal research dollars they attract, and that was before the move to eliminate tenure. The reality is that Wisconsin is not an island and talented teachers and professors can look for jobs beyond its borders. The long-term impact of the Walker revolution on the state’s education system and economy is worrisome, but at least open to argument. The impact of Act 10 on the Democratic Party and chief funders, however, is crystal clear: they’ve been decimated.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.

More about the ACT 10

Read more about ACT 10 here

Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

85 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Was Act 10 Necessary?”

  1. Will says:

    I really dont have a problem with the idea of unions, but in reality they just became a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party. Dems give unions inflated benefits, unions vote for Dems. Everybody else suffers. The last sentence of this article proves the point.

    “The impact of Act 10 on the Democratic Party and chief funders, however, is crystal clear: they’ve been decimated.”

  2. PMD says:

    Unions don’t just vote for Democrats (though yes more union members are Democrats than Republicans). For example, in 2008 37% of union members voted for McCain. And a Gallup poll from 2010 reveals that 24-27% of union members identify as Republican (versus 40-46% who identify as Democrats).

  3. Will says:

    I would say thats about the % I was expecting. I just view unions the same as I view corporations. Way too much lobbying power so they get inflated benefits which the rest of us have to pay for. God forbid you try and take these benefits away, next thing you know people are getting bused in from god knows where crying poor.

  4. SteveM says:

    Interesting commments Will, but the recipricol is the Republickers Party is now the mouth piece for WMC and Koch Industries. And it’s any particular party that’s being decimated, it is the rest of the state. Answer this, who is benefitting from this slash and burn path to the Whitehouse?

    Imagine if the President had really dropped the hammer on the banks in 2008 and held them accountable for misdeeds like Walker convinced his base that he did with the public unions. I suspect we may have been better off now. But then again that depends on your definition of “we.” Teachers, and recall signers, are apparently now persona non grata.

  5. PMD says:

    And in this state anyway the GOP seems to have strong support from law enforcement unions (see Act 10 exemptions).

  6. SteveM says:

    So, Bruce, the short answer to the question for many is, “No, but it sure felt good at the time.” Right?

  7. Kyle says:

    PMD, Union members may vote a variety of ways, but Union spending does not. In the 2014 election cycle, SEIU spent $23,482,602 on Democrats and Liberals, but $0 on Republicans and Conservatives. AFT was a bit more fair, they spent $19,658,548 on Democrats and Liberals, but $51,000 on Republicans and Conservatives.

    Obviously there are lopsided contributors on both sides, but there is a reason that some Unions are seen as mouthpieces for the Democrats.

  8. Will says:

    @Steve some generalizations your gonna have to clear up before I answer.

    ” Republickers Party is now the mouth piece for WMC and Koch Industries”
    How so, specifically?

    “who is benefitting from this slash and burn path to the Whitehouse?”
    when you say slash and burn, what exactly are you referring to?

    “Teachers, and recall signers, are apparently now persona non grata.”
    There used to be a lot of goodwill stored up for teachers and other govt employees because of their roles in society, but I would say its all been squandered by greed, specifically the greed of the union leadership continuing to ask for more and more into perpetuity irregardless of the current economic climate for the rest of us private sector schlubs. Recession? What recession? These “poor teachers” arent poor at all, they are actually quite over paid and therefore taking from those who are actually in need. I have 0 sympathy for teacher unions and actually resent them when they keep crying poor while others are ACTUALLY struggling

  9. PMD says:

    What’s your point Kyle? I didn’t say anything about spending.

  10. PMD says:

    Will are you saying hating on teachers is fine because the unions are (in your mind) bad? Is that really fair? And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, anyone who thinks teachers are overpaid has never been a teacher and has no idea what they are talking about.

    Also, hate on teachers all you want, but we should all fear a decline in education majors in the state. Don’t we all benefit from and want excellent educators in our schools?

  11. Kyle says:

    PMD, you’re right. You did just provide links and clung to Will’s use of the word “vote”, while ignoring the actual substance of his statement. You nitpick quite well.

  12. PMD says:

    I was never a nitpicker until I started posting comments here.

  13. Gee says:

    Will: Explain, then, your rationale of union-hating that turned into teacher-hating aimed then and again now at UW faculty — who never have been unionized, because they were banned by law from collective bargaining, well before (for decades before) Act 10.

    So, why didn’t Act 10 exempt UW faculty, since they were not unionized?

    And why did Act 10 exempt police and firefighters, with two of the strongest unions?

  14. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Unions and feds have ruined education with their dumb programs and work rules. Kids at MPS in 3rd grade cannot read.
    Next, why should public employees get better salaries, pensions, health, dental, vet,days off, holiday, sick days, vacations, and you cannot fire them. We are their employers and we do not get that kind of remuneration.

  15. PMD says:

    When I worked in MPS, several teachers at my school were fired.

  16. old baldy says:


    Did you even read the article? Note the references cites for the below average pay WI teachers and public employees received pre-Act 10. And are you inferring what with the “vet” claim. Dog/cat health care?

  17. Tom J. says:


    Ever asked yourself why you don’t get all those things and whose fault that is? Maybe if you had a union that looked out for your interests…

  18. Gee says:

    Well, ol’ WCD, I am a state employee but, as old baldy notes my salary is well behind what my education, expertise, and experience would merit in the private sector here or in comparable positions in other states. As for pension, I pay for my pension, so no one is stopping you or anyone from paying what I pay for their pensions. As for dental insurance, we do not get that, unless we also pay extra for that. As for “vet.,” I have no idea what the h*ll you mean. As for holidays, sick days, vacations — I presume that you mean paid holidays, paid sick days and paid vacation days, and I do not get any of those, either. (I do celebrate Christmas and some other holidays, but I am not paid for them . . . although I often am working on those days and even on Christmas, because grades, for my hundreds of students, often are due only a couple of days later.).

    By the way — you must have left this off of your list of grievances — by state law, I also do not get unemployment compensation in the months that I do not work, because the state terms us to be “seasonal employees.” So, my employer — the state — pays nothing into that fund for me.

    And I am not your employee, because you do not sign my paycheck or supervise me. I am employed by the state, and that is what is on my paycheck, and I am under the supervision of other state employees paid to do so. If you do not understand the difference, read up on that.

    That said, I do feel that I work for (in another sense of the word) the taxpayers of Wisconsin; after all, I am a taxpayer, too. So, I also feel gratitude for the four in five Wisconsinites who value what I do. You are not one of them. But your ignorance and ingratitude do not stop me from working d*mn hard for the rest of them, because I was raised to be grateful for being a Badger, and I hope to help to raise them that way, too.

  19. jhs says:

    WCD, instead of your insistence to drag everyone else down to your level of benefits, it might be more profitable to advocate raising everyone else’s benefitsn to a higher level. Or are you the kind of person who takes pleasure in others suffering?

  20. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Gee, time to look for another job. If Doyle had not destroyed the state by overspending and if you had elected a president that could build a job base you would not have to do that. I worked all kinds of seasonal jobs that did not have nay benefits when I was in school.

  21. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    I am tired of people who have gold plated salaries, benefits and cannot be fired, who all they do is whine all day. didn’t you mother love you?

  22. Observer says:

    I’d like to thank all the teachers who helped make me the adult I am today. I could never hope to repay you but know that I do appreciate all you’ve done.

  23. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    I love many of my teachers. Some nuns were incredible and many in public school, but that is separate argument from the fact that public employee unions screwed the taxpayers to the wall on insurance, salaries and benefits. Teachers compared to nurses with the same education are way over paid for hours worked. MPS kids in third grade cannot even read and in many other cities.

  24. Observer says:

    Besides teaching me how to diagram a sentence, my nuns taught me how to always pay my taxes on time.

  25. Marie says:

    It sounds like the push for privatizing government is often more costly:

    …If anything, Kettl contends, “the biggest problem with federal employees is that there’s not nearly enough of them… the size of the federal workforce today remains about what it was in 1960. Meanwhile, the U.S. population has more than doubled, the federal budget has quadrupled in real terms, and the number of pages in the Federal Register has grown fivefold.” As a result the federal government has relied instead on outside contractors, and “year after year the GAO and other watchdogs document countless programmatic breakdowns and billions of dollars in cost overruns.”

    One huge expansion in private contractor has been in response to 9/11. There may be less accountability, and of course those companies, unlike government, has to build in a profit. A niece works as a social worker for a for-profit company and they are encouraged to just treat clients as “units” to be processed so the company can get their cut. Humans as widgets…

    Government employees makes easy scapegoats. Unfortunately, Walker has done little to foster a healthy economy and his union busting has made it worse in many ways. As noted, the unions had made most concessions before he exacted a pound of flesh…

  26. tim haering says:

    As long as the roots are not severed, all is well — and all will be well — in the garden. Y’all are takin him far too seriously.

  27. Justin says:

    Excellent article once again Bruce. As with any article about whether Act 10 was necessary, this article has unleashed the usual torrent of teacher bashing comments from those who live to HATE public school teachers. For the past 5 years, every educational policy decision in Wisconsin has been made with the backdrop of expressions of HATRED against public school teachers all across Wisconsin.

    As Bruce hypothesized, five years of non-stop HATRED directed at public school teachers is taking a toll on the number of folks who are willing to continue to endure the abuse of teaching in Wisconsin. According to information from the WASB, the total number of teacher graduates from all schools of education in Wisconsin is less than 40% of pre-Act 10 levels. Yes, there are severe shortages of math, science, technical education, special education teachers in all areas of Wisconsin. Yesterday was the final day for teachers to turn in their contracts for next year.

    Each week, the number of fulltime teaching vacancies listed on WECAN increases. Today, nearly 2500 full time teaching vacancies exist in Wisconsin. This year, there are less than 5 students graduating from schools of education in Wisconsin that are trained to teach either physics or chemistry. Three of those graduates have already accepted teaching positions in MINNESOTA ! There are 27 vacant teaching science teaching jobs on WECAN looking for teachers certified in physics or chemistry. For many districts, the only way they can fill these jobs is to poach a teacher from another district.

    I am in the twilight of a long teaching career in Wisconsin. By the time I retire, Act 10 will have cost me over $100,000 in the form of reduced salary and benefits. Each year, I see an increasing number of great teachers(mostly science, math, tech ed, and computer science) at my high school leave the profession to return to private industry. They are sick of being publicly scapegoated by Governor Walker and his Stand With Walker supporters for all the economic problems of Wisconsin. In leaving the “gravy train” of public education, they are doing what is best for their families and leaving teaching for the greater financial benefits of private industry.

    It saddens me to see so many great teachers, especially the younger ones who really have the special gift of teaching leaving the profession due to the negative treatment of teachers common in Wisconsin today. America needs these teachers in the classroom. Young teachers need to understand that just because they are HATED and treated like dirt in Post Act 10 Wisconsin, that isn’t the case in many states in America, like Minnesota.

    All of my student teachers the last 5 years are now teaching in Minnesota. I encourage all the young teachers in my school district to leave Wisconsin ASAP if they want to make teaching a career. A young teacher who leaves Wisconsin for Minnesota will earn an additional amount of at least 1 million dollars in salary alone than they would if they stay in Wisconsin, plus have better benefits, better working conditions, better living conditions, etc…

    Increasingly, I have been invited by education professors in schools across Wisconsin to speak to the education students about the dramatic difference in their futures if they pursue teaching careers in Wisconsin versus other states in the Midwest and the remainder of America. I want these future teachers to be able to afford to live a middle class lifestyle and stay in the teaching profession; something that they will never be able to do if they pursue a teaching career in Wisconsin. Young teachers leaving Post Act 10 Wisconsin will earn at least 1 million dollars and up to 3 million dollars in salary alone. Those kind of number make most young teachers seriously question whether to leave Wisconsin.

  28. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    One long whine, God you people are incredible.

  29. folkbum says:

    This is what whining sounds like:
    “Why should public employees get better salaries, pensions, health, dental, vet,days off, holiday, sick days, vacations, and you cannot fire them. We are their employers and we do not get that kind of remuneration. … I worked all kinds of seasonal jobs that did not have nay benefits when I was in school. … public employee unions screwed the taxpayers to the wall on insurance, salaries and benefits.”

    Whine on, Bob. Whine on.

  30. Can it get any worse in Wisconsin? I guess the answer to that question is it can always get worse. I mean at this point we’re only restricting local taxpayers’ freedom to self govern their community schools. Politicians are only restricting citizens’ freedom to new knowledge? Corporations are only restricting academics’ freedom to have research agendas through monetary “donations” to our politicians.

  31. John says:

    Another fantastic analysis, Bruce.


  32. old baldy says:


    Just a little correction to your nonsensical statement: Thompson started the spending spree that Doyle inherited. But then that bit of knowledge wouldn’t fit with your world view. Willful ignorance on your part.

  33. PJ says:

    Reading this article is like looking at a painting that has half of the colors removed. VERY disappointing. *unsubscribe*

  34. PMD says:

    WCD why do you think teachers are overpaid? What would be a fair salary for a 1st year teacher? Right now I believe it is $39,000 in MPS. What should it be? What about a veteran teacher, someone with 15 or 20 years of teaching experience? What should their salary be?

    Also, you can have your opinions, but quit peddling lies. Teachers can be fired. I worked with several who were fired.

  35. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Thompson left office with the best record of anyone in our history. Almost a million new jobs compared to Doyle’s losses of 13,000. Budgets balanced, everything in good shape. CHOICE schools to finally give kids a chance in bad cities, welfare reform and too many other things to mention.
    It is the ultimate con game to take money from poor kids(student) and give the money to overstuffed, over paid, underworked profs. Reverse Robin Hoods , that is what the left, mostly white, male, liberal, racists..

  36. SteveM says:

    @Justin…I’d like to follow up on that research. Please provide sources. Thank you!

  37. PMD says:

    I’d love to know if supporters of Act 10 are concerned at all about the decline in education majors in the state. Don’t you worry that we are going to see a decline in the number of quality educators here? What happens to our schools then?

  38. Casey says:

    @WCD “is the ultimate con game to take money from poor kids(student) and give the money to overstuffed, over paid, underworked profs”…
    How is this so? As a fiscal conservative you out of all people should be well aware that poor people, especially poor people with kids, don’t pay income tax. I by no means consider myself poor and we were refunded nearly all of our 2014 state and federal withholdings.

  39. PMD says:

    Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but the idea that the UW system is overflowing with overpaid and underworked professors seems ridiculous. Aren’t there a record number of adjuncts teaching these days? And either way, I know a lot of college professors. In addition to the obvious like preparing curriculum’s, teaching courses and grading student work, all of them also serve on university committees, advise students in formal and informal capacities, work on books and/or other scholarly publications, promote their discipline or school on social media, plan and host special events, and supervise graduate assistants and/or other students/staff (and I’m sure there are things I am forgetting). They are incredibly dedicated and work extremely hard. It’s insanely stupid and insulting to just lump them all together as lazy, overpaid buffoons.

  40. Casey says:

    PMD- I’m about one click to the right of supporting Act 10 (I do think Walker should’ve gone about it in a completely different way and not act so unilaterally). If teachers’ salaries are not competitive they will leave to greener fields which very well could lead to a decline in the quality of education. I would hope (I know that’s a risk…) that the state would then have to contribute more to school boards to make their districts more appealing. In the meantime I would assume much of the waste and inefficiencies would be eliminated especially on the administrative side of things.
    Question for Justin – what was the compensation difference for WI educators to MN educators in 2008?

  41. PMD says:

    But even if administrative waste and inefficiencies are improved, what good is that if the quality of the teachers is lacking? It’s what’s going on in the classrooms that really counts. And the teachers are already leaving. It’s not an if at this point. It is happening.

    In 2008 the average teacher salary in Wisconsin was about $47,000.

    That same year in Minnesota the average was about $49,000.

  42. PMD says:

    I also think it’s interesting that Walker’s own child attends the University of Wisconsin. He didn’t go to a Christian university or a college out of state. Why is that? Because it’s a first-class institution of higher learning. That might change soon though.

  43. AG says:

    The amount of money the state and local municipalities saved from being able to get off the WEAC healthcare plan alone made ACT10 worth it.

    By the way, most conservatives do not hate teachers or think they’re overpaid… they believe some of the benefits were out of whack though and at the time of the recession that public sector employee’s should unfortunately take the same types of cuts that people in the private sector were taking at the time. Sure, there’s a few that believe they’re over paid… but like WCD, they have to really bury themselves in some extreme sources to come to that conclusion. Most of them just hate the teacher unions and consider THEM to be greedy and overpaid.

  44. PMD says:

    If the quality of education in the state plummets, will those cost savings still make ACT 10 worth it?

  45. AG says:

    If I get into a car accident today will my commute to work have been worth it?

  46. PMD says:

    I don’t think that’s a very good analogy.

  47. Justin says:

    The organization that I am a part of (all volunteers) has collected data on changes to teacher compensation, benefits, and working conditions from about 70 southeastern Wisconsin school districts in the 4 years since Act 10.

    State funding for public schools in Wisconsin is lower than it was when Governor Walker took office. Any increases in school funding since Act 10 have been directed at private and voucher schools, not public schools.

    In 2008, teacher compensation and benefit levels were about even between most Midwestern states, including Wisconsin and Minnesota. Some Wisconsin cities had higher maximum teacher salaries, but Minnesota teachers in general had better benefit packages, including health insurance and district paid post retirement benefits. Like most public employees across America, Minnesota teachers essentially had frozen salaries and benefits during the recession years of 2008-2011. As Minnesota’s economy has recovered, and is now destroying Wisconsin’s economy by every comparison, teacher salaries have begun to rise again, just as all worker salaries have increased.

    Act 10 has turned the teaching profession in Wisconsin into a “dead-end job”. With BILLIONS of dollars in continued reduced funding since 2011, most school districts in Wisconsin have eliminated any career ladders giving teachers higher pay for increased skills and teaching effectiveness. Many districts have implemented pay plans whereby the starting salary is $25,000 to $40,000 and the top salary a teacher can EVER expect to earn is no more than $50,000.

    A starting teacher in most Minnesota districts will earn about the same salary as in Wisconsin, but with 15-20 years of experience and additional education or a Masters degree or a Doctorate can expect to earn career salaries of $60,000-$75,000. Some districts in SE Wisconsin actually have stipulated in their salary plans that only 4% of the teachers in the district will ever make more than $52,000 during their careers. ( Big money for WCD and the other teacher HATERS out there)

    In addition to speaking to future teachers, soon the results of nearly 2 years of research that we have done will be available for everyone to see on the Internet. Future teachers, and those just seeking another job will be able to see which school districts are good places to work (there are some left in Wisconsin) and which school districts have a 50% or higher turnover rate.

    Four years after Act 10, there is still a LOT of teacher HATRED in Wisconsin. Teacher union hatred is politically correct TEACHER hatred. (Who do you think is in teacher unions-space aliens? ) Since Act 10, I have collected literally scores of videos of teachers being attacked and insulted by the Stand With Walker crowd in all kinds of venues. Those attacks on teachers continue today. Just two weeks ago, a school board member in Spooner (where the school district administration is treating teachers like dirt) was recorded saying ” (terminating teachers) is just like flushing sh$% down the toilet”. Or the school board member in Burlington who was upset over low WKCE scores and said, “I think we ought to line up all the teachers (in this district) and beat them with a 2X4 until they do their jobs right”.

    With this level of teacher hatred in Wisconsin, the young teachers have NO hope for a middle class future and compensation to match the skills and talents they possess. When I speak to the future teachers, (or mentor current ones) I provide many video examples of evidence showing how the majority of mainstream Wisconsin residents (like WCD) “respect” teachers, and then give them more information about other states where teachers are not only in high demand, but where they will be compensated and treated as professionals.

  48. Casey says:

    Is wanting to beat an employee with lumber because they’re not meeting performance expectations really hate? Are those low test scores because of lack of funding or lack of skill?
    Please once you have that web page put together share the link because we’re all interested in seeing and hearing these accounts ourselves.

  49. PMD says:

    Casey if low test scores is because of a lack of teaching skill, you should be very afraid of the effort to lessen teacher licensure standards.

  50. Casey says:

    PMD – sincere question: what is the logic behind lowing the licensing standards?

  51. AG says:

    PMD. The sky is not falling.

  52. AG says:

    Justin, you never did tell us about these speaking engagements of yours. Last we guessed we were at what… 2 events of 5-50 people or something like that?

    You sir, do more harm in attracting more teachers than a crazy old fart like WCD can.

  53. PMD says:

    The bill’s sponsor says it’s to help rural districts, but rural districts says they didn’t ask for it and don’t support it.

    AG, didn’t say it was. I do think there are reasons to be concerned though.

  54. Justin says:


    No I help keep teachers IN the profession, just not in Wisconsin. America needs great teachers. Most states, other than Wisconsin, value teachers. I help talented young people who truly have the “calling” and personality for teaching to find the good places to teach in Wisconsin or find another state where their services are valued.

    I am getting weary of seeing the large number of great teachers reject their “calling” to be a teacher and go back to the private sector to earn a professional salary and compensation package so that they could start a family. After my presentation, these future teachers know that they STILL can live a middle class lifestyle with professional compensation, a career ladder, and most importantly, community respect. They just can’t do it in most areas of Wisconsin.

    As to the number of young teachers I speak to, I guess you will have to hypothesize on how many speaking engagements I have done or will do. If you have a scientific bent, my bookings for the upcoming year are changing according to a (y=e x) function. Now, is that more or less than the 2014-15 school year? Hmmm….

  55. Jeremy says:

    Act 10 was necessary for teachers and is also needed for Public Safety. The compensation formula is unsustainable unless you want to continue to raise taxes every single year. Already compensation for fire and police consume half of all municipal budgets. It’s absurd that an entire sector have no responsibility to their own retirement benefits.

    As for the decline in education, people will go where they are going to be paid more. If that happens to be private voucher schools, then so be it. At this rate everyone will be able to use a voucher to pay for schooling so it will all balance out again. As a recent undergraduate student and continuing masters student my opinion is that adjuncts are better professors. They provide more useful, relevant value to my tuition than tenured faculty who haven’t had another job in over a decade.

  56. Casey says:

    Young man….it might suprise you that not too very long ago that the norm was to get a job (union or not) and to keep it for decades if not for your lifetime. People tend to become more skilled the longer they’re in a position. I find nothing wrong with a teacher not having another job in over a decade, do you?

  57. Observer says:

    Gee Jeremy, what with “Already compensation for fire and police consume half of all municipal budgets” doesn’t strike you as odd that they are exempt from Act 10?

  58. AG says:

    Observer, why is that odd? I’m pretty sure everyone, both sides of the aisle, know police/fire were exempt b/c the right needed their support.

  59. Gee says:

    Jeremy, you are incorrect and/or uninformed on almost every point in your post. As a grad student, you need to work on research skills.

  60. Observer says:

    AG, I wish emoticons were available so I could insert a big smiley face. I’m thinking that Jeremy didn’t realize the absurdity of what he had just written.

  61. Kyle says:

    Justin is back! Can I play the game?

    You wrote y = e x. I should assume that you mean y = e * x, but I’ll allow that you might have meant y = e ^ x.

    If we assume multiplication, there’s no way to go from a whole number to another whole number, but we can get close. That would mean you’d have 2.72 times the speaking arrangements. Based on prior conversations, I’d guess you’ve gone from 3 last year up to 8. Congrats!

    But… using e as a coefficient is unusual and not precise. It’s far more common to use it with x as the exponential. Once again, we’re going to run into a whole numbers issue. The only way I can see it working out is if you had 0 last year and 1 this year. In which case, I suppose congratulations are in order, but I hope your day job is going well.

    Is your website ready yet? I’d still like to learn more!

  62. Kyle says:

    PMD, I love that site! I want to be a Walkerville teacher, where your starting salary is also your average salary over your 30 year career. Must be nice to have the job security necessary to never get any raise based on your evaluations but still not get fired.

    Also, BILLIONS! No reference of time frame, but the all caps is REALLY convincing! Now I definitely want to learn more.

  63. Casey says:

    I sure hope that isn’t. There’s a lot of information with out any references or data to back it up. Especially the Walkerville vs Badgerville comparison.

  64. PMD says:

    I really have no idea, but some of Justin’s comments strike me as somewhat similar to what’s on that site.

  65. AG says:

    Post #61 = why I had Kyle as a tudor for my grad math… and undergad… and HS…

  66. Justin says:

    AG: Lucky Kyle was your “tudor” for math instead of English. Smile.

  67. AG says:

    Ah crap… I even fixed that once.

  68. old baldy says:


    WEAC insurance wasn’t forced on anyone. None of the 5 school districts in our county has WEAC insurance pre-act 10, nor did Green Bay, one of the largest school districts in the state. And some districts are now contracting with WEAC as they are cheaper than other insurers. Get some facts, buddy.

  69. Smitty says:

    The whole point, the real point of Act 10 was to diminish the PAC power of WEAC and other labor unions to fund democrat candidates.

  70. John says:

    Have you city slickers been following the revolt in Spooner?

    “With the early-June student walk-out, prayer gathering, and protest that drew hundreds of people wanting to stem the exodus of staff from Spooner Area School District…”

  71. Kyle says:

    John, it seems like small town elected school board members are in over their heads with a poor administrator. Hopefully they get it figured out.

  72. PMD says:

    One of those stories says there’s been turnover of 25% this year. That sounds like a lot but I don’t know how that compares to previous years. I have spoken with teachers who are afraid to complain publicly because they fear something like this will happen.

  73. Kyle says:

    I was going to speculate on what the sample size might be for that 25%. But this seems more productive:

    It’s hard to not call that much turnover troubling, but if it were this bad across Wisconsin I have to imagine we’d hear more about it. I wonder what the statewide turnover rate is.

  74. PMD says:

    I am trying to find that out Kyle. I’d also like to know.

  75. AG says:

    Old Baldy, what facts did I get wrong? There are districts that saved millions each year because of the flexibility of being able to shop around for insurance. They could switch from WEA Trust or force them to revise their bids to be competitive. Pre ACT10 there were no laws saying districts had to use WEA Trust, but because of the union collective bargaining, very few districts had the option to go out and pick their own insurance carriers and plans.

  76. old baldy says:


    And there were, and are, districts that saved very little if anything with act 10 because they had already made changes to teacher contracts. Those forward thinking districts were penalized by act 10 and the “one size fits all” way it was applied.

    Your last sentence tells it all. “very few districts had the option to go out and pick their own insurance carriers and plans” is absolute BS. .

  77. AG says:

    Old Baldy, it’s funny you call BS when the unions were often very public regarding touching the healthcare plans during negotiations and called them a red line. Theoretically a district could try to negotiate something else… but in reality that was a negotiation point that could not be touched.

    Did you or do you currently work for a teachers union? If so, please tell me how flexible you would have been with the healthcare plans.

  78. Jason says:

    They WERE NOT exclusively Democrat or a guaranteed Democrat backing until Walker decided he was God and outside interests lined his pockets to make it happen. His time and WMC is coming. What comes around goes around.

  79. Kyle says:

    Jason, in 2010 election cycle (before Walker decided he was God), NEA and AFT combined to give $22,967,392 to Democrats and $214,950 to Republicans. So you are right, the were not exclusively Democrat, but when more than 99% of your support goes one way, it might as well have been exclusive.

  80. old baldy says:


    BS is BS, no matter how you want to phrase it. None of the 5 districts in our rural county had WEAC insurance, nor did Green Bay and many of the suburbs. None were ever forced through negotiations to carry WEAC insurance. FACT.

    I have never been a teacher, haven’t been in any sort of union since 1972. But I do pay attention to local affairs, talk to my representatives, and try to keep up to date on what is going on. I talk to school board members frequently.

    So if the was a red line drawn during negotiations in your district, blame the board members and yourself (for voting them in), not those of us that were proactive in controlling benefit costs.

  81. AG says:

    Hey that’s great if your districts didn’t… over three quarters of the state’s districts did.

    And I do blame my awful awful school board for many of their choices. Luckily after ACT10 they were forced to finally make some of the changes they should have done a long time ago.

  82. old baldy says:


    I think your 75% is high.

    Do you blame yourself as well? Did you run for school board? Better look in the mirror before you start throwing out allegations easily proven false..

  83. PJT says:

    The summary : no – ACT 10 has destroyed education and the teaching profession in WI. The days of teaching being a family supporting job are over. Walker is a vindictive sociopath.

  84. TF says:

    Act 10 is one of the greatest travesties of contemporary politics, up there with Citizens United and the Indiana anti-gay law. Enough said.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us