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June 30, 2013

End of union contract at the Milwaukee Public Schools ushers in new era

Alan Borsuk:

A friend of mine has two signs in her office. One says, "Stay calm and carry on." The other says, "Freak out and throw things."

Both offer paths to grasping the realities of Milwaukee Public Schools as the system reaches a milestone. Sunday is the last day of the contract between MPS and its teachers union, the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association. It is, at least for the foreseeable future, the end of the teacher contract era in MPS.

The teachers' contract was a huge shaping force in MPS for roughly the last half century, setting not only pay and benefits, but lots of the operating rules for daily life. Especially in the last 15 years, as the price of health insurance and commitments to current and future retirees escalated, the contract drove the financial realities of MPS -- and the direction was rather startling.

Now, the contract is gone. What impact will that have on MPS? A few observations:

Stay calm and carry on: In many ways, not much will be different. As is true in general in Wisconsin school districts, the contract is being succeeded by a "handbook," a statement by management of what the rules of the school road will be. A lot of the provisions are in line with the past. A lot of school systems around the state have realized it's good to have some stability and to keep teachers generally feeling they are being treated with some dignity and in ways that have some rationale.

Much more on "Act 10", here.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at June 30, 2013 4:52 AM
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