Act 10 savings torpedoed: Federal regulations force school districts to spend that money or face funding cuts

Dan Benson & Julie Grace: Savings that Wisconsin taxpayers could have realized through implementation of Act 10 in 2011 — sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single district — were lost because federal regulations penalize school districts that find ways to spend less money. The Oostburg School District in Sheboygan County, for example, […]

Wisconsin Act 10, Outcomes, Spending And Rhetoric

Molly Beck: A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Act 10 has been an “undisputed victory for Wisconsin taxpayers.” “Wisconsin’s declining union membership since the passage of right-to-work legislation only reflects that workers now have the ability to make their own decision about the costs and benefits of union membership,” said spokeswoman […]

Wisconsin Act 10 to go National?

Dave Umhoefer: “If you really want to drain the swamp, as Trump says, that would be a way to do it,” Walker said in an interview. Walker added: “It’s the work rules, the seniority, all those things. If they could tackle that in a similar way to what we did, long term it would be […]

2011’s Act 10 helped Madison diversify its teaching staff

Chris Rickert: An increasingly diverse Madison School District student body will see at least 55 new teachers of color next year — a major increase in minority hiring from the year before. If those concerned about the district’s long-standing racial achievement gaps are looking for people to thank for this improvement, they might as well […]

Doug Keillor leads MTI in a post-Act 10 world

OGECHI EMECHEBE: At the direction of the Legislature, the UW System recently created the new Office of Educational Opportunity to oversee the creation of charter schools in Madison and Milwaukee without oversight from local school districts. How do you react to that? I’m opposed to the concept. I find it objectionable that the state has […]

Commentary on Wisconsin’s Act 10

Mitch Henck video. Molly Beck: The bill that later became Act 10 launched the largest protests ever in Madison, including a temporary occupation of the Capitol; legislative chaos highlighted by Democratic senators fleeing to Illinois to forestall a floor vote; and Walker’s historic recall victory. The days, weeks and months after Walker’s Feb. 11, 2011, […]

Madison Schools Should Apply Act 10

Mitch Henck: This is Madison. I learned that phrase when I moved here from Green Bay in 1992. It means that the elites who drive the politics and the predominate culture are more liberal or “progressive” than backward places out state. I knew I was in Madison as a reporter when parents and activists were […]

Madison school officials, MTI say claims regarding union dues, teachers’ rights don’t belong in Act 10 lawsuit

Pat Schneider: The conservative legal group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has brought suit against Madison’s public schools through a plaintiff who does not have standing to bring the “scandalous” allegations of violations of teachers’ rights included in its complaint, school district officials claim in a court filing. Plaintiff David Blaska, a conservative blogger, […]

Act 10 was no mistake; in fact, it should be expanded

Edmund Henschel & Russell Knetzger In its Sept. 17 editorial about Gov. Scott Walker’s second term agenda, the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board said, “Act 10 was a mistake” (“Gov. Scott Walker’s second term? Same as the first,” Our View). Act 10 virtually ended collective bargaining for many, but not all, state and local public employees. […]

Madison School Board Member & Gubernatorial Candidate Mary Burke Apologizes to Neenah’s Superintendent over Act 10 Remarks

The Neenah Superintendent wrote a letter to Madison School Board Member & Gubernatorial Candidate Mary Burke on 19 September. Ms. Burke recently apologized for her Act 10 remarks: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has apologized to the superintendent of the Neenah school district for comments she made on the campaign trail. Burke had been citing […]

Commentary on Wisconsin’s Act 10

Dave Zweiful: Last Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal carried a front-page story about a new phenomenon in our public schools that’s a fallout from Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 — the teacher as “free agent.” According to some, Act 10’s virtual destruction of teachers unions unleashed good teachers from the shackles of their union contracts so […]

A teacher ‘marketplace’ emerges in post-Act 10 Wisconsin; Remarkable

Molly Beck: “The great irony is that Act 10 has created a marketplace for good teachers,” said Dean Bowles, a Monona Grove School Board member. Fellow board member Peter Sobol said though the law was billed as providing budget relief for school districts and local government, it could end up being harder on budgets as […]

Wisconsin Gubernatorial candidate Act 10 Commentary

Matthew DeFour: Mary Burke, who has already been endorsed by more than a dozen of the state’s largest private- and public-sector unions, said she supports making wages, hours, benefits and working conditions mandatory subjects of bargaining for public employees. She called the annual elections, the prohibition on requiring union dues of all employees, and a […]

Kenosha School Board settles lawsuit over Act 10 dispute

Erin Richards: Kenosha schools and the teachers union were at odds over the issue of automatic dues deduction for non-union members. Supporters of the contract argued the agreement and terms within it, such as the provision for automatic dues deduction, were legal because of the Colás decision. Kenosha Unified spokeswoman Tanya Ruder explained the School […]

Walker’s Act 10 Devalues Teaching in Wisconsin

Steve Strieker, via a kind Michael Walsh email: My first teaching contract 19 years ago at a Midwest Catholic high school grossed $15,000. My retirement benefits consisted of a whopping $500 401K. Cutting into my take-home pay was a $1500 annual premium for an inadequate health insurance plan with a high deductible and 80-20 coverage […]

Diminished in wake of Act 10, 2 teachers unions explore merger

Erin Richards:

acing reduced membership, revenue and political power in the wake of 2011 legislation, Wisconsin’s two major state teachers unions appear poised to merge into a new organization called Wisconsin Together.
The merger would combine the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers union, and AFT-Wisconsin, a smaller union that includes technical college, higher education and state employees, according to new draft documents.
At the same time, a national educators group that promotes itself as an alternative to unions — and has the backing of some conservative-leaning organizations — is picking up new members in Wisconsin.
The developments underscore the changing landscape for Wisconsin teachers unions since the passage of Act 10, which limits collective bargaining and makes it more difficult for unions to collect dues.
After Act 10, WEAC has lost about a third of its approximately 98,000 members and AFT-Wisconsin is down to about 6,500 members from its peak of approximately 16,000, leaders of both organizations have reported.
According to their most recent federal tax filings, WEAC collected about $19.5 million in dues in 2011, and AFT-Wisconsin collected about $2 million. Both have downsized staff and expenses.
The initial governance documents of Wisconsin Together, which include a transition document, constitution and bylaws, have been posted on AFT-Wisconsin’s website for members of both organizations to peruse. A final vote on whether to merge will be taken at a special joint assembly in Green Bay on April 26.

Act 10: “Attorney General to Public Employees: We Will Crush You”

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF):

Last Monday’s Supreme Court hearing, scheduled for 90 minutes, went almost four hours, given numerous comments and questions from the Justices – all seven participating to some degree. The resultant responses caused tension, such as Attorney General Van Hollen’s response to Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s comment, “aren’t the parties’ arguments like ships passing in the night?” Van Hollen retorted that the two ships, “… are on a collision course” and “the State has a bigger ship and we shall win!”
As The Progressive editor Ruth Conniff wrote of the exchange, “That pretty much sums up the Walker Administration’s attitude toward the teachers, janitors, clerks, and municipal employees it seeks to disempower through Act 10. The state is bigger and stronger, Walker, Van Hollen, and their allies argue, and will not be deterred by public outcry, mass protests, or even the courts.”
MTI legal counsel Lester Pines, when presenting the Union’s argument resurrected the ship analogy, telling Van Hollen that, “The Titanic was a big ship too, compared to the relatively small iceberg that caused it to sink.” Pines added that the administration’s Act 10, like the Titanic, has hit an iceberg, and that the iceberg in this case is the Wisconsin Constitution.
In his argument, Pines told the Court that the fundamental argument came down to Constitutional rights. Pines’ claim led to Van Hollen claiming, “There is no constitutional right to collective bargaining.”

MTI’s Act 10 Case before Supreme Court Today (Recently)

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeannie Bettner Kamholtz:

In February 2011, Governor Walker, as he described it, “dropped the bomb” on Wisconsin’s public employees, the birthplace of public employee bargaining, by proposing a law (Act 10) which would eliminate the right of collective bargaining in school districts, cities, counties, and most of the public sector. Collective Bargaining Agreements provide employment security and economic security, as well as wage increases, fringe benefits, and as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Holmes said many years ago, an effective voice for employees in the workplace. Unions had achieved these rights and benefits in a half-century of bargaining. Ostensibly proposed to address an alleged budget shortfall, the Governor’s proposed Act 10 not only called for reductions in economic benefits for public employees (e.g. limits on employer contributions toward pensions and health care), but prohibited public employers from bargaining with nearly all public employees over any issue, other than limited wage increases, under which no employee could recover losses due to the increase in the Consumer Price Index. For example, under Act 10, teacher unions can no longer bargain over issues of school safety, class size, planning and preparation time, and health insurance; educational assistants can no longer bargain over salary progression, insurance coverage or training; clerical/technical workers can no longer bargain over work hours, vacation benefits or time off to care for sick children; and state workers can no longer bargain over whistle-blower protections. The intent of the Governor was to silence public employees on issues of primary importance to them and those they serve, and to eliminate their political activity. His stated extreme, no compromise, “divide and conquer” approach was to gain full power over employees. That resulted in MTI members walking out for four days to engage in political action. Soon thereafter thousands followed MTI members, resulting in the largest protest movement in State history.
MTI legally challenged Walker’s law and in September, 2012, MTI, represented by Lester Pines, and his partners Tamara Packard and Susan Crawford, prevailed in an action before Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas, wherein Colas found that most of Act 10 is unconstitutional. In ruling on MTI’s petition, Colas agreed that Act 10 is unconstitutional as it violates MTI members’ freedom of association and equal protection, both of which are guaranteed by the Wisconsin Constitution. This enabled MTI to bargain Contracts for its five (5) bargaining units for 2014-15. MTI’s are among the few public sector contracts in Wisconsin for 2014-15.

Pushing back against Republican lawlessness over Act 10

Ruth Conniff:

When Dane Country Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas held officials in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration in contempt this week, he was pushing back against a level of unchecked lawlessness by this administration that is “practically seditious,” says attorney Lester Pines.
Colas had already ruled a year ago that parts of Act 10 — the law that ended most collective bargaining rights for most public employees — were unconstitutional. This included Act 10’s requirement that unions hold annual recertification elections. But commissioners at the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission decided to ignore that decision. They went ahead and prepared for recertification elections for more than 400 school district and worker unions in November.
“The commissioners knew full well” they were flouting the court, Colas said, despite their cute argument that the word “unconstitutional” applied only to the specific plaintiffs in the case — teachers in Madison and city workers in Milwaukee.
As John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., put it, Colas’ decision “is one of the most important decisions not only in public-sector labor history, but also in democracy.”
The principle here is simple. If a law is unconstitutional on its face, it’s unconstitutional in every case. That has always been understood in Wisconsin courts. And, Judge Colas pointed out, the Walker officials understood it, too.

Act 10: Wisconsin Employment Relations Commissioners in Contempt of Court

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter via a kind Jeanie (Bettner) Kamholtz email (PDF):

Collective bargaining was restored for all city, county and school district employees by a Court ruling last week through application of an earlier (9/14/12) Court decision achieved by MTI. Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas found that Governor Walker’s appointees to the WERC, James Scott and Rodney Pasch, were in contempt of court “for implementing” those parts of Act 10 which he (Colas) previously declared unconstitutional, which made them “a law which does not exist”, as Colas put it.
The Judge told Scott & Pasch to comply with his finding of unconstitutionality or be punished for their contempt. They agreed to comply.
Judge Colas made his ruling on unconstitutionality on September 14, 2012. MTI was represented by its legal counsel, Lester Pines.
In the contempt claim, in addition to MTI, Pines represented the Kenosha Education Association and WEAC. The latter was also represented by Milwaukee attorney Tim Hawks, who also represented AFSCME Council 40, AFT Wisconsin, AFT nurses and SEIU Healthcare, in last week’s case. Also appearing was Nick Padway, who partnered with Pines in representing Milwaukee Public Employees Union Local 61 in the original case.
Judge Colas specifically ordered the WERC to cease proceeding with union recertification elections, which in his earlier ruling were found to be unconstitutional. Act 10 mandated all public sector unions to hold annual elections to determine whether union members wished to continue with representation by the union. Act 10 prescribed that to win a union had to achieve 50% plus one of all eligible voters, not 50% plus one of those voting like all other elections. The elections were to occur November 1.

WILL Develops Website to Help Teachers Exercise their Rights under Act 10

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty:

Today, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty – along with Education Action Group – have launched a website that will make it easier for teachers in Wisconsin to exercise their rights. A new website, TeacherFreedom.org, helps teachers opt out of their public unions.
After filling out a short questionnaire on the website, an opt- out letter is automatically created. The teacher then must mail the signed letter to his or her union officer. “TeacherFreedom.org serves as a tool to enable teachers to leave their union if they so choose,” explains Rick Esenberg, WILL President and General Counsel.
“Under Act 10, teachers can resign from their labor union and choose to stop paying union dues, saving money in the process. For the first time, teachers are free agents and not bound to the rigid union employment rules,” he continued.

Act 10 Subject to Further Judicial Ruling, WERC Chastised

Madison Teachers, Inc., via a kind Jeannie Bettner email:

MTI prevailed last year in a Circuit Court decision in which Judge Juan Colas found much of Act 10, what Governor Walker referred to as his “bomb” on public employee unions, to violate the Constitution. That decision is on appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the Walker administration and his appointed Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission has simply thumbed their nose at Colas’ ruling and vowed to continue forcing unions to conduct annual elections, wherein a union is decertified if it does not receive 50%+1 of those eligible to vote, not just 50%+1 of those voting as in every other election.
In a September 17, 2013 ruling, Judge Colas told Governor Walker and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission’s commissioners that a Circuit Court decision, while they may not like it or agree with it, is precedential and must be followed throughout the State. Colas said, “The question here is not whether other courts or non-parties are bound by this court’s ruling. It is whether the defendants are bound by it.” WERC was a named defendant in MTI’s suit, so as all defendants to a lawsuit are, and in a case in which the statute was found facially unconstitutional, they (WERC) are barred from enforcing Act 10 under any circumstances, against anyone.

K-12 Governance Post Act 10: Kenosha teachers union is decertified; Madison Appears to Continue the Status Quo

Erin Richards:

The union representing Kenosha teachers has been decertified and may not bargain base wages with the district.
Because unions are limited in what they can do even if they are certified, the new status of Kenosha’s teachers union — just like the decertification of many other teachers unions in the state that did not or could not pursue the steps necessary to maintain certification in the new era of Act 10 — may be a moral blow more than anything else.
Teachers in Milwaukee and Janesville met the state’s Aug. 30 deadline to apply for recertification, a state agency representative says. Peter Davis, general counsel for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, said the Milwaukee and Janesville districts will hold recertification votes in November.
To continue as the recognized bargaining unit in the district, 51% of the union’s eligible membership must vote in favor of recertification, according to the controversial Act 10 legislation passed in 2011.
With contracts that were in place through the end of June, teachers in the three large southeastern Wisconsin districts were protected the longest from the new legislation, which limits collective bargaining, requires unions to hold annual votes to be recognized as official entities, and mandates that teachers and other public employees pay more out-of-pocket for their health care and retirement costs.
…..
“It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification, so I don’t think the KEA is an outlier or unique in this,” Brey said.
She added that certification gives the union scant power over a limited number of issues they’d like a voice in.
Sheronda Glass, the director of business services in Kenosha, said it’s a new experience for the district to be under Act 10.

Terry Flores

Contrary to some published media reports, however, the union did not vote to decertify.
In fact, no such election was ever held, according to KEA Executive Director Joe Kiriaki, who responded to a report from the Conservative Badger blog, which published an article by Milwaukee radio talk show host Mark Belling, who said he had learned that just 37 percent of the teachers had voted to reauthorize the union.
In a prepared statement, Kiriaki criticized the district for “promoting untrue information” to Belling.
Union chose to focus on other issues
Kiriaki said the union opted not to “jump through the hoops,” such as the recertification requirement, created by Act 10, the state’s relatively new law on collective bargaining.
The law, among other things required the annual re-certification of unions if they want to serve as bargaining representatives for teachers and other public workers. It also prohibits most public employees from negotiating all but base wages, limiting them to the rate of inflation.
Kiriaki cited a ruling by a Dane County Circuit Court judge on the constitutionality of Act 10, saying he believed it would be upheld.

Interestingly, Madison School District & Madison Teachers to Commence Bargaining. Far more important, in my view is addressing Madison’s long standing, disastrous reading results.
In my view, the unions that wish to serve their membership effectively going forward would be much better off addressing new opportunities, including charters, virtual, and dual enrollment services. The Minneapolis Teachers Union can authorize charters, for example.
Much more on Act 10, here.
A conversation with retired WEAC executive Director Morris Andrews.
The Frederick Taylor inspired, agrarian K-12 model is changing, albeit at a glacial pace. Madison lags in many areas, from advanced opportunities to governance diversity, dual enrollment and online opportunities. Yet we spend double the national average per student, funded by ongoing property tax increases.
An elected official recently remarked to me that “it’s as if Madison schools have been stuck in a bubble for the past 40 years”.

Madison lawyer battling voter ID, Act 10 says ‘facts still matter’

Bill Glauber:

ines helped spearhead the legal challenge against Act 10, which curtailed collective bargaining for most public sector workers. In a case involving Madison Teachers Inc. and Public Employees Local 61 in Milwaukee, a Dane County circuit judge struck down portions of the law.The case now goes to the state Supreme Court.
In another case involving Pines and Madison Teachers Inc., a Dane County judge struck down a portion of a law that gave Walker the power to veto rules written by the state schools superintendent. The case is now before the 4th District Court of Appeals in Madison.
Pines, representing the League of Women Voters, successfully argued in front of a Dane County judge that the state’s voter ID law violated the Wisconsin Constitution. The decision was overturned by the 4th District Court of Appeals, and the league has petitioned the Supreme Court to review the ruling. The voter ID measure remains on hold because of a ruling in a separate case.
“I believe that my law firm — because of the position we’re in and because of the work we’ve done — has disrupted the (Walker) agenda by using appropriate means and calling on the third equal branch of government (the court) to stop the majoritarian and authoritarian impulses of this Legislature,” he says.
The outcome of the cases is far from certain. But one thing is clear: Pines will keep up the fight.

Much more on Act 10, here.

Commentary on Wisconsin Act 10, Madison Teachers “Base Wages” and “Step Increases”

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeannie Bettner email:

Base wages, in all MTI/MMSD Collective Bargaining Agreements, have not increased since the passage of Act 10 in 2011. Act 10 also removed the benefit for the members of all MTI bargaining units of the District paying the employee’s share of the mandated deposit in the Wisconsin Retirement System. This in itself caused a 6.2% reduction take-home wages. MTI had negotiated in the early 1970’s that the District pay the WRS deposit. This part of Act 10 caused a loss in earnings of $11.7 million last school year and another $12.9 million this school year for District employees.
All employees do not automatically move up on the salary schedule each year. Members of the clerical/technical bargaining unit, for example, receive a wage additive based on months of service. These “longevity” payments begin at the 49th month of service, with the next one beginning at the 80th month of service.
There are similar increments between the increases in longevity payments. Last year, 199 individuals remained at the same salary, while this year, there were 70 who received no increase in wage.
Members of the educational assistant and school security assistant bargaining units, for example, receive a longevity increase after three years of service, but not anotheroneuntilafter12yearsofservice. Lastyear,282 individuals remained at the same salary, while this year there were 321 who received no increase in wage.
The teachers’ salary schedule requires that a teacher earn six credits each four years and receive his/her principal’s recommendation to be able to cross the salary barrier. This is at each four-year improvement level. For incentive levels, beginning at level 16, one progresses only every two years, and then only if he/she earns three credits and receives his/her principal’s recommendation. Last year, 941 individuals remained at the same salary, while this year, there were 701 who received no increase in wage.

Related:

Madison Schools’ Budget Updates: Board Questions, Spending Through 3.31.2013, Staffing Plan Changes.

Neenah teachers sue to restore early retirement benefits cut after Act 10

Bruce Vielmetti:

A group of veteran Neenah teachers has sued to restore early retirement benefits that could amount to $170,000 each.
The suit was expected since February, when the School Board denied a group of teachers’ demand to restore them to the original early retirement deal eliminated last year after Act 10.
The named plaintiffs are six “distinguished teachers,” but the suit, filed Monday in Winnebago County Circuit Court, seeks to represent a class including more than 250 teachers who had been eligible to participate in the former early retirement plan.
Their attorney, Charles Hertel, said Neenah Joint School District administrators used the plan for years to recruit teachers, and to induce them to accept lower-than-market salaries. Many teachers’ retirement planning was based on the expectations of the later payouts, he said.
The lawsuit asserts four claims: that the district must be held to promises on which teachers relied, that cutting the plan amounts to unjust enrichment for the district and negligent misrepresentation and strict responsibility.
The suit seeks compensatory damages, costs and enforcement of the retirement plan.

Act 10 will hurt state, education in long run

Retired High School Teacher Rose Locander:

The public schools in Wisconsin are some of the best in the country. Over the years, businesses have moved into this state knowing their employees will be able to feel confident sending their children to the local public schools.
What will happen as the years go by and the public schools in this state lose their ability to meet the expectations of excellence in education? Exactly what will attract businesses to this state when the public schools are no longer quality schools? Are we going to woo companies with the promise of our wonderful weather?
Too many of us have taken our public schools for granted. From early childhood through high school, we have become used to well-trained, dedicated teachers, quality educational programs, identification and early intervention of learning issues and a host of other resources found only in the public schools. We expect this of our public schools, but with Act 10, these opportunities that were of great value to all of our children will continue to disappear.

Related: www.wisconsin2.org

After Act 10, WEAC sees hope in local teacher advocacy

Erin Richards:

Unions actively reorienting themselves – even in states without Act 10-like legislation in place – are mobilizing teachers around curriculum and instruction issues. That could mean organizing teachers to champion what’s working best in the classroom by bringing new ideas to the school board, or working to get the community to support specific practices.
It means working more collaboratively, and offering solutions.
But collaboration can break down over ideological differences regarding what’s best for kids. Or teachers.
For example, while WEAC has supported a statewide evaluation system for educators in recent years, it has resisted emphasizing test scores in such evaluations. Others argue that robust data on test-score performance can say a lot about a teacher’s quality and should be used to make more aggressive decisions in termination or promotion.
Asking teachers to take a more active role in their union could also become an additional stress.

Related: WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators.

ACT 10 Ruled Null & Void

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter:

MTI’s September 14 Circuit Court victory, in which significant portions of Governor Walker’s union busting legislation (Act 10) were found to be unconstitutional, has gained world-wide attention.
Recognition has been noted twice in The Wall Street Journal, along with articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, in Great Britain, and numerous newspapers throughout Wisconsin. It has also been the subject of daily TV and radio coverage. Announcement of the decision received a standing ovation at the Fighting Bob Fest, and at the Osaka, Japan Social Forum. Public employees in Osaka are suffering from Act 10-like legislation.
MTI Executive Director John Matthews hailed Judge Colas’ decision as restoring the basic rights of collective bargaining to Wisconsin’s public employees. He said, “This is the ticket to restoring employees’ equal voice in the workplace, and the means of assuring justice for those not only represented by MTI, but by numerous other Wisconsin public sector unions.” MTI has requested that the Madison Metropolitan School District timely engage in collective bargaining with MTI to establish contract terms for MTI’s five (5) collective bargaining units, for the 2013-14 contract term.
The State has asked Judge Colas to stay (delay) implementation of his decision pending appeal.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Executive Director John Matthews on the achievement gap, Act 10 and Scott Walker

Pat Schneider:

CT: What about the training and capabilities of Madison school teachers and how they deliver in the classroom day to day — is there room for improvement there?
JM: Well, there’s always room for improvement — there’s room for improvement in what I do. I can only say that the Madison School District has invested all kinds of things in professional development. One thing teachers tell us if they have time to work together, they can make strides. I found early in my career if I’m having a teacher identified as having a performance problem, ask the principal who is the best at doing what they want this teacher to do. Then you go to that teacher and say: “You have a colleague who needs help, will you take them under your wing?” I don’t have access to any of what they talk about, management doesn’t have access to that — it’s been a remarkably successful venture.
CT: In discussion of the achievement gap in Madison I’ve heard from African-American parents up and down the economic spectrum who say that their children are met at school with low expectations that really hamper their performance.
JM: I’ve heard that too. The Madison School District has an agreed-upon mandatory cultural course that people have to take. But there are people in society who don’t like to be around other races. I don’t see that when teachers are together. And we have a variety of people who are leaders in MTI — either Asian or Indian or black — but there are people who have different expectations from people who are different from them.
CT: Does the union have a role in dealing with teachers whose lowered expectations of students of color might contribute to the achievement gap?
JM: The only time MTI would get involved is if somebody was being criticized for that, we’d likely be involved with that; if someone were being disciplined for that, we would be involved. We’ve not seen that.

More Act 10 Enabled Changes Approved by Milwaukee Public Schools

Mike Ford:

In other words, MPS had a surplus of teachers because older teachers were not retiring so as not to lose state pension benefits. Hence, a second pension to offset any loss was created. However, since 1982 the early retirement penalty for teacher has been reduced or eliminated, turning the second pension into an additional benefit which MPS states it had “no intent to establish.”
The survival of the second pension long past its justifiable usefulness is a result of a collective bargaining process that rarely gives back established benefits (see, for example, MTEA’s 2011 rejection of concessions that would have saved teacher jobs). Former MPS superintendent Howard Fuller, school choice advocate George Mitchell, and former WPRI staffer Michael Hartman did a good job documenting in a 2000 book chapter (see figure one) the dramatic growth of the MPS/MTEA contract from an 18 page document in 1965 to a 232 page document in 1997. The most recent published contract? 258 pages.

Much more, here.

THE BAD OLD DAYS OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: Why Act 10 Was Necessary for Wisconsin Public Schools

Steve Gunn, Victor Skinner:

Not so long ago, the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), the state’s largest teachers union, sported the motto, “Every child deserves a great school.”
The irony of that motto was not lost on school administrators, particularly in more recent years, as they struggled to balance budgets while local WEAC unions refused to accept financial concessions that would have helped maintain quality programming for students.
In school district after school district, layoffs have occurred, class sizes have increased and student programs have been cut, partially because many
unions refused to accept temporary pay freezes, or pay a bit more toward their own health insurance or pension costs.
This was happening all over the state, even before Gov. Scott Walker was elected and his biannual budget slowed the rate of state aid to schools.
The problem is not difficult to understand. Most public school administrators tell us they spend between 75-85 percent of their total budgets on labor costs, mostly for salaries and benefits for union teachers. If a budget crisis hits and spending cuts are needed, school boards will logically look at the biggest part of the budget.
But under the old collective bargaining system, local teachers unions had broad legal power to reject cuts in labor costs, and frequently did so. With 80 percent of the budget often untouchable, school boards had little choice but to cut from the 20 percent that has the most profound effect on students.
Something is definitely wrong with that picture, if you believe that schools exist primarily to benefit children.

Impact of an act: New report finds big benefits in WI’s Act 10

MD Kittle:

While there is no disputing the divisiveness and political bitterness Act 10 has created, the law that redefined collective bargaining in Wisconsin has made a dramatic difference for the state’s financially struggling school districts, according to a report slated for release this week.
But superintendents tell Wisconsin Reporter they worry about the long-lasting emotional scars left by the contentious reform battle.
Wisconsin school districts have realized significant savings either through the implementation of collective bargaining changes or the threat of them, according to an analysis by the Michigan-based Education Action Group Foundation, known as EAG, a nonprofit research organization promoting school spending reform.
The pointed report, titled “The Bad Old Days of Collective Bargaining: Why Act 10 Was Necessary for Wisconsin Public Schools,” devotes plenty of its pages to applauding the collective bargaining reforms led by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, but it backs up the assertions with some telling numbers.

2011 Closeout – Was Act 10 ALL Bad?

sp-eye:

We’re in duck and cover mode…purely from the title of this entry.
But, you know what, folks? Whether you are a Walker devotee or a Walker detractor, you have to admit that EVERYTHING that Act 10 did was not bad. Yes, at its heart, Act 10 was a heinous attempt to cut public employees down at the knees. That was neither right nor fair. You can argue whatever you like, but the fact remains that for these scorned public workers, benefits were improved over the years IN LIEU OF salary increases. Rightly or wrongly so, that is what it boiled down to. Publicly, governors declared victory by giving public employees only modest raises (1-2%) each year. In some years, they got nothing. Quietly, however, behind the scenes, they negotiated with the unions to pick up the tab for a greater percentage of benefits…or offered another few days of annual leave(vacation).
This didn’t happen overnight, people! This process developed over the past 25-35 YEARS! We know of many examples of private sector workers who took a job with in the public sector at a substantial demotion in terms of pay. These workers made a choice to do so in exchange for enhanced job security. Again…be it right or wrong, that’s what they did. It took many of these workers 10 years or more to be earning the same salary they did when they left the private sector. But it was a choice, and they were OK with their choice.
Don’t tell us that the private sector is struggling. Certainly, many private businesses and employees have suffered since the economic crisis which began over 3 years ago. But many are faring much better. We are hearing of BONUSES being given this holiday season. Public employees have never and WILL never hear of such a thing. We also know many private sector employees that have good to excellent health and retirement benefits.

Wisconsin Act 10 Enables Milwaukee Public Schools to Address Its Unfunded Liability

Mike Ford:

Wednesday I wrote about some of the ways collective bargaining can have a monetary cost. Last night the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) provided an example of how its reform has given local governments a path to financial stability. The MPS board, reports Erin Richards in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, approved by a vote of 6-3 a set of reforms projected to reduce the district’s post-retirement benefit liability by $900 million over the next thirty years.

The ages of distraction Busy, distracted, inattentive? Everybody has been since at least 1710 and here are the philosophers to prove it

Frank Furedi The rise of the internet and the widespread availability of digital technology has surrounded us with endless sources of distraction: texts, emails and Instagrams from friends, streaming music and videos, ever-changing stock quotes, news and more news. To get our work done, we could try to turn off the digital stream, but that’s […]

107 cancer papers retracted due to peer review fraud

Cathleen O’Grady: The journal Tumor Biology is retracting 107 research papers after discovering that the authors faked the peer review process. This isn’t the journal’s first rodeo. Late last year, 58 papers were retracted from seven different journals— 25 came from Tumor Biology for the same reason. It’s possible to fake peer review because authors […]

Creativity Is Much More Than 10,000 Hours of Deliberate Practice

Scott Barry Kaufman: Creative products, by definition, are the antithesis of expertise. This is because creativity must be original, meaningful, and surprising. Original in the sense that the creator is rewarded for transcending expertise, and going beyond the standard repertoire. Meaningful in the sense that the creator must satisfy some utility function, or provide a […]

10 Years of Assessing Students With Scientific Exactitude

Michael Winerip:

In the last decade, we have emerged from the Education Stone Age. No longer must we rely on primitive tools like teachers and principals to assess children’s academic progress. Thanks to the best education minds in Washington, Albany and Lower Manhattan, we now have finely calibrated state tests aligned with the highest academic standards. What follows is a look back at New York’s long march to a new age of accountability.
DECEMBER 2002 The state’s education commissioner, Richard P. Mills, reports to the state Regents: “Students are learning more than ever. Student achievement has improved in relation to the standards over recent years and continues to do so.”
JANUARY 2003 New York becomes one of the first five states to have its testing system approved by federal officials under the new No Child Left Behind law. The Princeton Review rates New York’s assessment program No. 1 in the country.

SPECIAL NEEDS SCHOLARSHIPS: Myths and Facts about Wisconsin’s AB 110

Disability Rights Wisconsin (78K PDF), via a kind reader’s email:

Special interests in Washington DC have hired expensive lobbyists who also represent large corporate interests including, General Motors and Proctor & Gamble to try to pull the wool over the eyes ofparents ofchildren with disabilities. They allege that their interest is, “To advocate for parental options in education that empowers low and middle-income families to make choices in where they send their children to school.” (1) These high powered special interests have never approached Disability Rights Wisconsin or any other major Wisconsin disability group to learn from those of us who have been advocating for Wisconsin children with disabilities for over 30 years, to find out what really needs improvement Wisconsin’s special education system. Instead, they have set up a Facebook site which fails to tell the whole truth about the bill they promote.
This fact sheet tells the whole truth about AB 110 and its effort to dismantle special education as we know it and subsidize middle and upper income families who want to send their kids to private school ai taxpayer expense.
Myth# l-AB 110 allows parents the option to choose any other school they want their child to attend if they are unsatisfied with the special education being provided in their public school.
Fact-AB 110 has no requirement in it that forces any school to accept a child who has a special needs voucher.
Myth# 2-Since only children with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) can receive a special needs scholarship, private schools who accept them must provide them with special education and implement the child’s IEP.
Facts-AB 110 makes no requirement that private schools which accept a special needs scholarship provide any special education or implement any IEP. In fact, AB II 0 does not even require that private schools which accept special needs scholarships have a single special education teacher or therapist on their staff!

Related: Wisconsin Public Hearing on Special Needs Scholarship.

Education activist led school board
After 10-year hiatus, she joined efforts to remove controversial superintendent

Liam Ford::

Margaret V. Soucek and a small group of friends set out in the mid-1960s to help reform the Morton High School District 201 Board.
Their group, The Organization for Better Education, met with so much stonewalling and hostility from local political forces in Berwyn and Cicero that one of their candidates, Mary Karasek, considered dropping out of the race, Karasek recalled Monday. But when Mrs. Soucek heard about her friend’s wish, she wouldn’t have it.
“I thought, ‘It isn’t worth it,'” Karasek said. “But Margaret got so worked up about the fact that I withdrew, that I decided I had to [run].”
Mrs. Soucek, 86, a longtime Berwyn resident, would go on to serve as president of the District 201 Board, frequently squaring off against forces loyal to west suburban figures such as former Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese. Mrs. Soucek died Wednesday, May 21, in Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital after a heart attack.

10 Facts About US K-12 Education

US Department of Education:

The U.S. Constitution leaves the responsibility for public K-12 education with the states.
The responsibility for K-12 education rests with the states under the Constitution. There is also a compelling national interest in the quality of the nation’s public schools. Therefore, the federal government, through the legislative process, provides assistance to the states and schools in an effort to supplement, not supplant, state support. The primary source of federal K-12 support began in 1965 with the enactment of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

10 Ways to Test Facts

Gregory McNamee: We live in a sea of information, as Britannica’s Web 2.0 Forum has made plain. Sometimes that sea is full of algal blooms. Sometimes there’s raw sewage floating on it. Sometimes that sea is so choppy that it’s dangerous to enter. In a time of educational crisis, when reading and analysis are fading […]

Civics: Leaked ICE Guide Offers Unprecedented View of Agency’s Asset Forfeiture Tactics

Ryan Devereaux, Spencer Woodman: An internal handbook obtained by The Intercept provides a rare view into the extensive asset seizure operations of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, an office that trains its agents to meticulously appraise the value of property before taking it. HSI’s 71-page “Asset Forfeiture Handbook,” dated June 30, 2010, underscores the role seizures […]

Kmele Foster Gets Shouted Down by Black Lives Matter Activists After Pointing out That MLK Used Free Speech Protections—Wait, What?

Matt Welch: So the “Unsafe Space” campus speaking tour sponsored by Spiked (and hosted at least once so far in an emergency backup way by Reason) continues to generate interesting collisions between libertarian commentators and the angry campus progressives who seek to shout them down. One recent incident, while not coming close to a Berkeley-style […]

Wisconsin Manufacturers Offering High School Apprenticeship Programs

biztimes: According to a story posted on BizTimes.com, GPS Education Partners has partnered with local manufacturers to provide high school juniors and seniors with work-based education programs, in which students take courses on-site at the businesses, called “education centers,” and apply those lessons on the manufacturing floor. The non-profit is based in Brookfield, Wis., and […]

10 Types of Study Bias

Patrick Kiger:: A patient fills in a questionnaire and sleep diary before undergoing a polysomnography at a sleep center in Switzerland. What are some biasess scientists need to be aware of when conducting studies? AMELIE-BENOIST /BSIP/Getty Images Arrhythmia, an irregular rhythm of the heart, is common during and soon after a heart attack and can […]

America, Home of the Transactional Marriage

Victor Tan Chen: Over the last several decades, the proportion of Americans who get married has greatly diminished—a development known as well to those who lament marriage’s decline as those who take issue with it as an institution. But a development that’s much newer is that the demographic now leading the shift away from tradition […]

Why didn’t electricity immediately change manufacturing?

Tim Harford: But given the huge investment this involved, they were often disappointed with the savings. Until about 1910, plenty of entrepreneurs looked at the new electrical drive system and opted for good old-fashioned steam.  Why? Because to take advantage of electricity, factory owners had to think in a very different way. They could, of course, […]

AUGUST 10, 2017| Disruption, Diversity, Google, Markets, sociobiology, Tenure, Travis Kalanick, Uber, University Comparing the Ideological Bubbles of Google and the Elite University

John McGinnis: oogle and our elite universities appear to inhabit the same ideological bubble and intone the same diversity mantras. And that is not surprising, because almost everyone at Google is a product of the modern university and those at its HR department the likely product of its more PC inflected half—the humanities or soft […]

Madison School Board Continues Non Diverse Governance Practices with Proposed Montessori Academy School

Amber Walker: In a 5-2 decision on Monday, the Madison School Board voted to postpone the charter approval of Isthmus Montessori Academy. The board wanted more clarity around the school’s proposed attendance area, financial and academic accountability standards at their three-year mark, and language in the proposal that asks for waivers that apply to early […]

What we learned analyzing 100 million headlines

Steve Rayson: It is difficult to overstate the importance of headlines. A good headline can entice and engage your audience to click, to read, and to share your content. In many cases headlines are the thing that is shared rather than the article. So you knew that. But do you know what makes an engaging […]

Dem Pitches Manufacturing as a ‘Cool’ Career Path

Karl Herchenroeder:: Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) argued Wednesday that America should push receptive young people toward careers in manufacturing, an industry severely rattled by the Great Recession that represents about 9 percent of the workforce. “We have to stop telling every young person that they’re going to go to college,” Cicilline said during a discussion […]

(2009) What impact do high school mathematics curricula have on college-level mathematics placement?

James Wollack and Michael Fish: Major Findings CORE-Plus students performed significantly less well on math placement test and ACT-M than did traditional students Change in performance was observed immediately after switch Score trends throughout CORE-Plus years actually decreased slightly Inconsistent with a teacher learning-curve hypothesis CORE-AP students fared much better, but not as well as […]

Wharton School to Attract Poets to Business

Kelsey Gee: Even William Shakespeare could have benefited from an M.B.A.—or so the nation’s oldest business school would like young poets to think. University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business is set to launch a new program today for undergraduates studying liberal arts, science and nursing at the Ivy League institution and looking to gain […]

10 Tips to Improve Your Mental Math Ability

George Dvorsky: Calculators are awesome, but they’re not always handy. More to the point, no one wants to be seen reaching for the calculator on their mobile phone when it’s time to figure out a 15 percent gratuity. Here are ten tips to help you crunch numbers in your head. Mental math isn’t as difficult […]

Yes, Students Still Need Econ 101

Donald J. Boudreaux In an article published recently in the Atlantic, “The Curse of Econ 101,” University of Connecticut law professor James Kwak argues against what he assumes to be the content, thrust, and effect of the basic principles course, Economics 101. He thinks it’s too simplistic. And he’s sure that in its simplicity, it […]

Chinese Father of Four Forced to Undergo Vasectomy: Case sheds light on forced sterilization, abortion quotas, and other dubious family planning practices.

Wang Lianzhang: After spending more than 10 years away from his hometown of Luokan, in the southwestern province of Yunnan, a 42-year-old man was forced by local authorities to undergo a vasectomy upon returning for the lunar new year holiday. He was taken away by family planning officials on Feb. 8, and the operation was […]

10 Billion Private Searches & Counting!

Gabriel Weinberg: At DuckDuckGo, our vision is to raise the standard of trust online, and in service of that vision, our mission is to be the world’s most trusted search engine. We are proud to say that at the end of last year, we surpassed a cumulative count of 10 billion anonymous searches served, with […]

Georgia Tech’s Model Expands Three years after its low-cost MOOC-inspired master’s degree program in computer science launched, the institute announces a new program in analytics priced at less than $10,000

Carl Straumsheim The Georgia Institute of Technology will this fall offer an online master’s degree program in analytics for less than $10,000, a new investment in the institute’s model for low-cost, online graduate education. The interdisciplinary program, called OMS Analytics, follows the blueprint the institute created with its online master’s degree program in computer science, […]

What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession

Deborah Jones Merritt: Poor employment outcomes have plagued law school graduates for several years. Legal scholars have debated whether these outcomes stem from macroeconomic cycles or from fundamental changes in the market for legal services. This Article examines that question empirically, using a database of employment outcomes for more than 1,200 lawyers who received their […]

DO LAW SCHOOLS ADEQUATELY PREPARE STUDENTS FOR PRACTICE? SURVEYS SAY

Robert Kuehn: Under ABA Accreditation Standard 301, law schools have two educational objectives: prepare their students “for admission to the bar and for effective, ethical, and responsible participation as members of the legal profession.” There has been much concern lately over declining bar passage rates, focusing attention on whether some schools are admitting students who […]

Institute for Advanced Study: The First 100 Years

Georg Dyson: In 1916, social theorist Thorstein Veblen called for the post-war institution of “academic houses of refuge… where teachers and students of all nationalities, including Americans with the rest, may pursue their chosen work.” In 1923, Oswald Veblen contacted Simon Flexner, who suggested “you might speak with my brother, Mr. Abraham Flexner,” thus bringing […]

Gut Feelings: Bacteria and the Brain

Jane Foster: As a scientist, I often find myself chatting with friends and neighbors about the latest advances in neuroscience. In the past few years I have found more and more people asking about microbiota—the microorganisms that typically inhabit a bodily organ. In the last 10 years, I’ve been one of many neuroscientists advancing new […]

About 10% of highly educated moms are staying at home

Gretchen Livingston: About one-in-ten mothers with a Master’s degree or more are staying at home in order to care for their family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data. Among mothers with professional degrees, such as medical degrees, law degrees or nursing degrees, 11% are relatively affluent and are out of […]