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Back to the Past: The Fiscal Threat of Reversing Wisconsin Act 10



Will Flanders:

Among the key findings of this report:

  • Student-teacher ratios have not been negatively affected by Act 10. The number of students per teacher in Wisconsin has stayed relatively constant at about 13.2 students per teacher.
  • The decrease of public sector unions has stabilized. While there was a substantial decline in the number of unions in the immediate aftermath of the passage of the law, recent declines have been far more moderate.
  • Restoring collective bargaining for teacher salaries could cost districts and the state nearly $650 million annually. This number is based on the difference in the rate of growth in teacher salaries observed from 2001-2011 compared to 2011-2021.
  • Eliminating employee contributions to retirement would cost districts and the state about $422 million annually. Based on inflation-adjusted comparison of retirement spending in 2009 versus 2022.
  • Eliminating employee contributions to healthcare would cost districts and the state about $560 million annually. Based on inflation-adjusted comparison of healthcare spending in 2009 versus 2022.
  • Numbers are conservative estimates of the total cost. This study does not take into account the costs to municipalities from repeal, nor the salary costs for non-teachers.
  • An end to Act 10 would likely lead to tough decisions for districts. One Superintendent we spoke with said that ending Act 10 would likely lead to a need for larger class sizes, cuts to popular programs, and an inability to offer higher compensation for high-demand teaching positions.

Few single pieces of state-level legislation have garnered as much attention and controversy in the 21st Century as Wisconsin’s Act 10. Passed by Republican Governor Scott Walker over the strong objections of Democrats, 3 the legislation introduced several important reforms to public sector unions around the state. Twelve years later, the legislation remains controversial. Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewiczelected to the Court in 2023—has said that she believes the legislation may be unconstitutional, 4 giving new hope to those who would like to see the law off the books. In November, seven unions representing teachers and other public sector workers filed a lawsuit with that goal. 5 But what would an overturn of the legislation mean for Wisconsin and its taxpayers?

In the last decade, WILL and others have conducted extensive research that helps to answer that question. In this paper, we review the existing work on what Act 10 has meant to the state and provide updated data in some of the areas we’ve examined previously. In the end, we find that overturning Act 10 could have a devastating effect on Wisconsin taxpayers, as well as the budgets of local school districts.

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Wisconsin’s Act 10, Flexible Pay, and the Impact on Teacher Labor Markets: Student test scores rise in flexible-pay districts. So does a gender gap for teacher compensation.




Wisconsin’s Act 10, Flexible Pay, and the Impact on Teacher Labor Markets: Student test scores rise in flexible-pay districts. So does a gender gap for teacher compensation.



Barbara Biasi

Using employment records on all public-school teachers in Wisconsin linked to individual student information on achievement and demographics from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, I first document how teacher salaries changed in flexible-pay and seniority-pay districts in the aftermath of the reform. After the expiration of districts’ collective bargaining agreements, salary differences among teachers with similar seniority and credentials emerged in flexible-pay districts, but not in seniority-pay districts. Before the passage of Act 10, such teachers would have been paid the same. These newly emerging differences are related to teachers’ effectiveness: Teachers with higher value-added (individual contributions to the growth in student achievement, as measured by standardized test scores) started earning more in flexible-pay districts. This finding is striking considering that school districts in Wisconsin neither calculate value-added nor use it to make any human-resources decisions. School and district administrators appear to be able to identify an effective teacher when they see one.

Does Flexible Pay Attract Better Teachers?

Changes in teachers’ pay arrangements after the expiration of the collective bargaining agreements changed teachers’ incentives to stay in their district or to move, depending on the teachers’ effectiveness and the pay plan in place in their district of origin. Because flexible-pay districts compensate teachers for their effectiveness and seniority-pay districts only reward them for seniority and academic credentials, teachers with higher effectiveness should want to move to flexible-pay districts, whereas teachers with lower effectiveness and higher seniority should want to move to seniority-pay districts.

The data confirm these hypotheses. The rate of cross-district movement more than doubled after Act 10, with most moves occurring across districts of different type (flexible-pay vs. seniority-pay). Teachers who moved to a flexible-pay district after a collective bargaining agreement expired were more than a standard deviation more effective, on average, than teachers who moved to the same districts before the expiration; these teachers also had lower seniority and academic credentials and enjoyed a significant pay increase upon moving. The effectiveness of teachers moving to seniority-pay districts, on the other hand, did not change. and these teachers did not experience any change in pay.

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WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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The late 1990’s Milwaukee pension scandal is worth a deep dive as well.

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More.

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Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Legal Motion to Defend Wisconsin Act 10 on behalf of Public-School Employee



WILL:

WILL Client, Kristi Koschkee, stated, “Act 10 is pro-taxpayer and pro-freedom. This legislation provides public employees like me the freedom to not participate in unionization, or be compelled to finance or support political speech I do not agree with. It’s critical that we stand up for this law and not undo the years of positive results produced for Wisconsin.”

Our Client: WILL Client and Defendant, Kristi Koschkee, faces significant harm if Act 10 were to be somehow repealed or scaled back. Ms. Koschkee is a public-school district employee who values the benefits the Legislature provided her via Act 10.

Koschkee does not want her local union interfering with her relationship with her employer by bargaining on subjects beyond those permitted by Act 10 or entering agreements that last longer than a year. She supports requiring unions to rectify annually, does not want to have her decision to abstain from a union certification vote work in the union’s favor, and does not want to be pressured into participating in recertification elections. Ms. Koschkee also opposes allowing unions to access employee wages directly through payroll deductions.

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Notes and links on Act 10.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Wisconsin Act 10 Savings Total $16.8 Billion Since 2012



MacIver:

Wisconsin has gotten mighty used to multi-billion budget surpluses over the past 12 years, something that was unimaginable before the passage of Act 10.

Rich Government Benefits Were Bankrupting Wisconsin 

Back in 2010, the state was facing an immediate $127 million budget shortfall and a $3.6 billion structural deficit going into the next budget cycle. Gov. Scott Walker correctly identified bloated public sector union contracts as the main culprit. Despite the left waging what we would today call a weeks-long “insurrection,” Walker and the Republican-led legislature passed a package of reforms that instantly turned around the state’s financial situation.

Bringing Government Benefits Closer In Line With The Taxpayers Who Finance Them 

Act 10 required government employees to pay 12.6% of their health insurance premiums (still less than half the usual contribution of private sector workers toward their health insurance) and half of the contributions made towards their own pensions. Previously, they paid nothing; state taxpayers picked up both the employer and employee match. For perspective, the average private sector worker pays 17% of their health insurance premiums for single coverage and 28% for family coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Act 10 also limited what public-sector unions could negotiate for. These changes were meant to give state and local governments more flexibility to identify potential savings and keep their budgets balanced. It had an immediate impact.

Much more ion Act 10, here. Further background: the Milwaukee Pension Scandal




Act 10 and ongoing political battles



Bill Lueders

The issue has come up in a different form before. In 2011 La Follette, at the direction of a Dane County judge, refused to publish the passed version of Act 10, the state law kneecapping public employee unions. The state Supreme Court, then as now dominated by conservatives, ruled that the judge had exceeded her jurisdiction in putting a hold on the law, meaning there was nothing to preclude La Follette from publishing the bill. Two years later, the Legislature passed a bill that stripped the secretary of state of the power to delay publication of new laws.

Loudenbeck’s campaign did not respond to an inquiry for this article asking whether she believes the statute cited by Schroeder gives the secretary of state legal authority to deny an election result by refusing to sign and whether she would have sought to use this authority to block the 2020 election result.

The third GOP contender for secretary of state on the Aug. 9 ballot, Daniel Schmidtka, also did not respond to the same query. He declares on his website that the “mission” of his campaign is “abolishing the Wisconsin Election Commission and returning oversight and certification of elections to the Secretary of State.”

Much more on Act 10, here.




Even after Act 10, state employees still pay roughly half for their platinum health insurance of what taxpayers pay for basic health insurance in the real world



MacIver

It’s been 11 years since Wisconsin Republicans led by Gov. Scott Walker passed collective bargaining reform, and the savings to taxpayers have been piling up ever since.

Known as Act 10, the reforms were designed to permanently solve a financial crisis throughout Wisconsin’s public sector. State government alone was facing a $3.6 billion deficit in its next budget. The situation was even worse for local governments (including school districts). Act 10 required all public employees to begin making contributions towards their own health insurance and pensions.

Using the same methodology that we have always used and the same public data sources, we estimate Act 10 has saved Wisconsin taxpayers at least $15.3 billion statewide at the state and local level since 2011.




Act 10 at 10



Johnny Kampis:

Unions, he says, were more concerned about protecting the pensions of the old membership than in the future benefits for new members. “They weren’t fighting for the little guy. They were fighting for themselves.” 

Among the proudest accomplishments in Act 10, Walker told us, was the fight for schoolchildren. Act 10 was about a lot more than money. It made teaching a meritocracy again, he says. “They can put the best and the brightest in the classrooms and keep them there.”

Those interested in Act 10 should become familiar with the earlier Milwaukee Pension Scandal.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Wisconsin act 10 and competitive teacher compensation



Ameillia Wedward and Will Flanders:

As Act 10 reaches its second decade, the 2011 collective bargaining reforms continue to prove their value to K-12 education in Wisconsin. But this does not mean that the reforms are no longer controversial, or that opponents of the law have given hope of a repeal. In such an environment, it is important to continue to highlight the ways in which public sector union reform has mattered for Wisconsin.

New research out this month conducted by Barbara Biasi, professor at the Yale School of Management, does just that. She examines whether rewarding high-quality teachers with higher pay correlates to teacher proficiency thus, increasing student achievement rates in the long run. The results are convincing.

Prior to Act 10 in Wisconsin, collective bargaining kept public school teachers confined to strict pay schemes—favoring seniority instead of work ethic or student outcomes. Using data on Wisconsin teacher workforce both before and after the passage of Act 10 (2007-2015), Biasi found that some districts took advantage to implement pay schemes that reward teacher quality over the number of years they’d worked in the district in the wake of the law. Others did not, and were content to stick with the way pay had worked for generations. Biasi found that effective teachers gravitated toward districts where they could be rewarded. And in turn, using value-added measures of student outcomes, she saw that these districts experienced higher rates of student growth than districts that stuck with outmoded systems of pay.




Commentary on the benefits of Wisconsin Act 10



Rick Eisenberg & Will Flanders

However, the left is still working to say otherwise, so two prevalent myths deserve to be dispelled. The passage of Act 10 and “right-to-work” legislation — which gave employees in Wisconsin the same freedom to choose whether to be in the union as is enjoyed in 26 other states — did not increase income inequality or harm education in Wisconsin. In fact, close to the opposite is true.

Let’s consider income inequality first by looking at a common measure of the gap between the rich and the poor — the Gini coefficient. It attempts to represent, with a single number, the difference between the poorest and wealthiest individuals in a particular area. State-level Gini coefficient data collected by a Sam Houston State Economics professor shows that Wisconsin’s hasn’t changed much in terms of income inequality before or after Act 10. Indeed, the state has remained more equal than the average across the United States. In other words, the claim that labor union reforms have increased inequality is patently absurd based on the data.

Contrary to popular understanding, Act 10 did not restrict the rights of unions to advocate for their members. It did, however, restrict their ability to insist upon collective bargaining — a system in which the government is obliged to negotiate with its employees. While this may sound innocuous, in practice it allows unions to influence government decision-making in a way that citizens with competing interests — say, taxpayers — may not. Under collective bargaining, public employee unions exercise outsized power on public decision making. For example, while parents across the country became more interested in opening schools following the growing consensus that it was safe to do so, teacher unions fought to prevent it. Research from our organization and others found that COVID-19 played little role in school reopening decisions — what mattered was whether there was a strong union in the area.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration




Wisconsin ACT 10 Outcomes



CJ Szafir:

  1. Billions in savings for taxpayers: Since 2011, Act 10 has saved taxpayers over $13 billion, according to the MacIver Institute.   

  1. The sky didn’t fall on public education.  A study from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, which I co-authored, showed that Act 10 had little or no impact on student-teacher ratios, the number of licensed teachers, school district spending on teacher salaries, and teacher experience. Especially as Wisconsin compared to other states that didn’t enact collective bargaining reform.

Further analysis by WILL showed that districts that embraced Act 10 actually had an uptick in math test scores.

Much more on Act 10, here.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.act 10




Ongoing Commentary on Wisconsin’s Act 10, no mention of tax base variation



Scott Girard:

Take the Madison Metropolitan and Richland school districts as an example. In 2010, MMSD’s average salary was $52,022 with average benefits worth $23,536. The Richland School District, about 60 miles away, had an average salary of $45,799 but benefits worth $28,040, on average.

In the 2019-20 school year, MMSD’s average salary had risen to $60,556 with benefits about the same, at $23,376. That overall compensation increase of 11.1% still lagged the 20.7% inflation over the decade.

In Richland, while the average salary grew to $48,868, the average benefits remain well below what they were a decade ago, now at $23,767. Average total compensation in that district, then, has fallen from $73,839 to $72,632 without taking inflation into account.

Madison’s (property, income and subsidy) tax base is quite different than Richland, fueled by substantial back door federal taxpayer electronic medical record subsidies.

Redistributed Wisconsin taxpayer funds (local property taxes, redistributed federal taxpayer funds and various “grants” comprise a substantial portion of K-12 budgets):

Richland school district (1,211 students):
2010-2011: $10,165,666.73

2019-2020: $11,656,628.31 (14.66% increase)

Richland County Median Household Income (2019): $51,947

Madison school district (26,151 students, including 4k):
2010-2011: $78,310,738

2019-2020: $88,296,683 (12.75% increase)

Dane County Median Household Income (2019): $73,893 (42% > Than Richland)

Finally, K-12 school districts have received substantial new redistributed federal taxpayer (and borrowed) funds through recent legislation.




Mulligans for “Act 10”?



Patrick Marley and Molly Beck:

Republican legislative leaders immediately rejected the full proposal because of provisions within it that would roll back policies they enacted under a Republican governor.

“He’s not serious about governing, he’s serious about politics,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told reporters after the budget address.

Vos said the budget proposal was full of “poison pills” that Evers knew would be opposed by Republicans and would likely be ignored while writing the next state budget plan.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, expressed a similar view, writing on Twitter that Republicans would “set Evers’ bad budget aside.”

Meanwhile, Evers concluded his speech by asking GOP lawmakers to end the seemingly permanent standoff between them.

“There’s no time for false promises of hope and prosperity with empty words that you know full well won’t match your actions,” Evers said. “You can disagree with me if you want, but don’t punish the people we serve so you can settle a score no one but you is keeping.”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When asked about Act 10, I often suggest that interested parties explore the Milwaukee pension scandal. Successful recall elections lead to the first Republican County Executive in many, many years – Scott Walker.

A few links, just before Act 10 require contemplation, as well.

2009 “an emphasis on adult employment” – retired Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman, speaking at the Madison Rotary Club..

2010, WEAC: Four (State) Senators for $1.57 million (!)




Study: Act 10 leads to improvement in Wisconsin math testing results



Noel Evans:

Math test scores in schools across Wisconsin have been steadily improving, according to a new study.

The study from The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), “Keeping Score: Act 10’s Impact on Student Achievement,” attributes the rise in scores, particularly in the math scores of students from kindergarten through high school, to changes enacted under Act 10.

Approved by state lawmakers in 2011 and signed by Gov. Scott Walker, Act 10 focused on a wide-range of policies to alleviate deficits in the state budget. From an education standpoint, Act 10 cut back the collective bargaining powers of public-sector unions in the state, including teacher unions.

Notes and links on Act 10.




Commentary on Wisconsin Act 10



When asked about Act 10, I often suggest that interested parties explore the Milwaukee pension scandal. Successful recall elections lead to the first Republican County Executive in many, many years – Scott Walker.

A few links, just before Act 10 require contemplation, as well.

2009 “an emphasis on adult employment” – retired Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman, speaking at the Madison Rotary Club..

2010, WEAC: Four (State) Senators for $1.57 million (!)

Recent words:

Brian Reilly:

Former Walker chief of staff Keith Gilkes, who also ran Walker’s successful 2012 recall campaign, argued that Act 10’s influence on Wisconsin’s political landscape has waned in the years since its passage, replaced by the increasing nationalization of politics.

“Yes, Act 10 was impactful in its time. But with time and distance, we’ve moved away from that,” Gilkes said. “We are moving more into a nationalized set of elections where the president is on the ballot for the midterms too. The president is now on the ballot in every election.”




Governance: How Police Unions Became Such Powerful Opponents to Reform Efforts (Act 10)



Noam Scheiber, Farah Stockman and J. David Goodman:

Over the past five years, as demands for reform have mounted in the aftermath of police violence in cities like Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and now Minneapolis, police unions have emerged as one of the most significant roadblocks to change. The greater the political pressure for reform, the more defiant the unions often are in resisting it — with few city officials, including liberal leaders, able to overcome their opposition.

They aggressively protect the rights of members accused of misconduct, often in arbitration hearings that they have battled to keep behind closed doors. And they have also been remarkably effective at fending off broader change, using their political clout and influence to derail efforts to increase accountability.

While rates of union membership have dropped by half nationally since the early 1980s, to 10 percent, higher membership rates among police unions give them resources they can spend on campaigns and litigation to block reform. A single New York City police union has spent more than $1 million on state and local races since 2014.

Related:

Act 10

Four Senators for $1.57M

An emphasis on adult employment“.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration




Chicago’ teacher contract shows why Scott Walker got it right (with act 10)



David Blaska:

[The contract] will boost Chicago teacher compensation — already among the highest in the nation … to nearly $100,000. (By contrast, the median Chicago household earns $52,000.)

Teachers will now be permitted to bank an incredible 244 sick days (up from 40) and claim full pension credit for those days upon retirement, creating new demands on a teetering pension system.

The deal keeps teachers’ retirement contribution at just two percent of annual salary while slashing health care copays.

The contract will cost up to $1.5 billion over the next five years, in a city whose debt burden is already a staggering $119,110 per capita.

Act 10.




Federalism, local governance, influence and how we arrived at Wisconsin ACT 10



Rachel Cohen:

Meanwhile, a top priority for labor has been sitting quietly on Pelosi’s desk and, unlike USMCA, already commands enough support to get it over the House finish line. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act would be the most comprehensive rewrite of U.S. labor law in decades. It would eliminate right-to-work laws, impose new penalties on employers who retaliate against union organizing, crack down on worker misclassification, and establish new rules so that employers cannot delay negotiating collective bargaining contracts. Introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., in May, it already has 215 co-sponsors in the House and 40 in the Senate.

Wisconsin Act 10

2010: Influence and money: WEAC $1.57M for four (state) senators

2009:

To make matters more dire, the long-term legislative proposal specifically exempts school district arbitrations from the requirement that arbitrators consider and give the greatest weight to revenue limits and local economic conditions. While arbitrators would continue to give these two factors paramount consideration when deciding cases for all other local governments, the importance of fiscal limits and local economic conditions would be specifically diminished for school district arbitration.

An emphasis on adult employment.

Fiscal Indulgences




Wisconsin Act 10 and Union Recertification



Will Flanders and Lauren Tunney:

Act 10 shook the status quo for public employee unions in Wisconsin. And when workers get a say in the future of their union, the number of public employee unions in Wisconsin continues to shrink,” said Will Flanders, research director for the Milwaukee-based free market think tank. The report is titled, Democracy in the Workplace: Examining Union Recertification in Wisconsin Under Act 10.

Much more on Act 10, here.

Related: WEAC – $1,570,000 for four senators.




Act 10 litigation continues



Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty:

Today, on behalf of a public school teacher who has refused union membership, attorneys at WILL have filed a motion to intervene in the latest lawsuit over the 2011 collective bargaining reform law (“Act 10”). This month, labor unions revived a dormant lawsuit in federal court to bring against the Evers Administration arguing that key provisions of Act 10 are unconstitutional.

Yesterday, the Evers’ Administration indicated that they will defend the law. But WILL’s client has a direct, distinct interest in the lawsuit because, if successful, it would restore union collective bargaining rights and overturn a number of provisions of Act 10 that protect her legal and First Amendment rights.

Much more on Act 10, here




Commentary on Wisconsin Act 10



CJ Safir and Collin Roth

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mystery “The Adventure of Silver Blaze,” the dog that didn’t bark reveals the greater truth. The same might be said of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’s first state budget proposal. Derided by critics as a “liberal wish list,” Mr. Evers’s budget proposes to expand Medicaid, freeze school choice, overturn right to work, fund Planned Parenthood, add more than 700 government jobs, increase spending by $7 billion, and raise taxes by more than $1 billion

Much more on Act 10, here




Wisconsin Act 10 Commentary: Madison schools are near the low end of what districts now require for teacher health insurance premium contributions, at 3 percent,



Mark Sommerhauser:

Wisconsin school districts ratcheted up health care costs on teachers and other employees after the state’s Act 10 collective bargaining changes, with the average district now requiring teachers to pay about 12 percent of their health insurance premiums, newly released data show.

Madison schools are near the low end of what districts now require for premium contributions, at 3 percent, according to the data, released by Gov. Scott Walker’s Department of Administration.

It’s the first time the state has released a comprehensive look at teacher health care costs in all 422 of the state’s public school districts after the 2011 enactment of Act 10.

And it’s one more example of the far-reaching scope of the law — in this case, how it paved the way for state and local workers to pay much more for benefits. The 2017-19 state budget required the Department of Administration to collect the data, which is from the 2017-18 school year.

Barry Forbes, associate executive director for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, said the figures show health care costs for school district employees generally matching “what greater society is experiencing now.”

U.S. health care spending grew 4.3 percent in 2016, reaching $3.3 trillion or $10,348 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for. More. Families in high-deductible plans must pay more than $2,600 out of pocket, $4,332 on average, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Once workers have surpassed their deductibles, they pay an average $24 copay for a primary care office visit, $37 for a specialty care office visit, and $308 for a hospital admission. Sep 22, 2015

“Unsustainable” benefit costs.




Commentary on Act 10



Patrick Marley and MRy Spicuzzi:

“People think that unions are useless today, that we’re dinosaurs,” Bryce said in 2015, according to the book. “Well, how did that happen? We let it happen. The labor movement has become lazy, because it’s something that’s been handed to us.”

Bryce, a Democrat running for GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan’s congressional seat, said unions need to take bolder measures and raised the prospect of engaging in a general strike, according to “The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics,” a forthcoming book by Dan Kaufman.

The book focuses on Act 10, the 2011 law that all but ended collective bargaining for most public workers in Wisconsin. It also details what supporters call the state’s right-to-work law, which was passed in 2015 and ended the ability of unions and private employers to reach labor deals that require workers to pay union fees even if they didn’t belong to unions.

Much more on Act 10, here.




Democrats say they would repeal Act 10 if they unseat Scott Walker



Patrick Marley:

The Democrats running for governor are pledging to end GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s union restrictions, while Walker is promising to veto any changes to Act 10 if he wins re-election and Democrats take control of the Legislature.

Act 10 — adopted amid massive protests shortly after Walker took office in 2011 — brought the governor national attention and helped fuel his brief presidential run.

The measure all but ended collective bargaining for most public workers and required them to pay at least 12% of their insurance premiums and half the contributions to their pensions. The changes saved state and local taxpayers — and cost public workers — billions of dollars.

Democrats view the law as a move by Walker to hobble organizations that have long backed Democrats in elections.

The nine Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in the Aug. 14 primary said they would seek to reverse Act 10, while Walker touted the savings it has brought to taxpayers.

“The far-left Democrats who want to undo it will open the door to massive property tax increases or reductions in school staffing — or both,” Walker spokesman Austin Altenburg said in a statement. “Scott Walker will not let that happen and will continue to support reforms that put more resources in the classroom to improve the education of our students.”

Walker would veto any attempt to change Act 10, Altenburg said.

Much more on Act 10, here.




Wisconsin labor unions file lawsuit over Act 10, saying it violates free speech



Sarah Hauer:

The filing argues that Act 10 is “a content-based restriction infringing on (the unions’) rights to free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” It says the law infringes upon association rights “to organize as a collective bargaining unit by increasing costs and penalties through its recertification and fair share provisions.”

Under Act 10, public-sector unions must win, every year, support from a majority of employees in the bargaining unit, not just a majority of those voting in the certification election.

“Act 10 is constitutional and it will be upheld as it has been in the past, regardless of the outcome in Janus,” Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said.

Local 139 comprises people who perform construction, maintenance and repair work for public employers within Wisconsin. It’s headquartered in Pewaukee with other offices in Madison, Altoona and Appleton. Engineers in Local 420 operate and maintain physical plant systems and buildings in the state for public utilities and schools. Local 420 has offices in Green Bay and Oak Creek.

Much more on Act 10, here.




2018 Wisconsin Election: Act 10 Commentary



Molly Beck:

The polling also showed 60 percent of public sector employees favor returning to collective bargaining, compared with only 39 percent in the private sector. Nearly 70 percent of union members favor bargaining, while only 38 percent of non-union members support it. Those polled in the city of Milwaukee and Madison media markets favor collective bargaining while the rest of the state, to different degrees, do not, Franklin said.

Timing the message
“(Focusing on Act 10) would be a good primary tactic but for the general election, I don’t think so,” said Joe Heim, a longtime political science professor at UW-La Crosse. “By the general election, the union people and anybody who opposes Act 10 would know exactly where they are going. If you are trying to get some crossover supporters who generally think Act 10 was not a bad idea, but don’t necessarily like Walker, reminding them of that time is not a good idea.”

Republicans have touted how the law saved state and local governments billions of dollars, though that’s based mostly on provisions of the law separate from bargaining that required public employees to contribute to pension and health insurance premiums. Democrats say it has contributed to a statewide teacher shortage, though school districts are facing shortages across the country.

“You don’t need to remind anyone of it,” Heim said. “Time to move on and I would hope the Democrats are smart enough to look forward.”

A spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin did not respond to a request for comment on whether the issue will be prominent in the 2018 campaign.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Walker’s campaign cited Act 10 as the catalyst for a “Wisconsin comeback” that resulted in $5 billion in savings to local governments.

“The extreme Democrat candidates running in the wide-open field for governor have a choice: raise taxes to pay for undoing the governor’s reforms, or accept that he fixed the financial crisis their party created,” spokesman Brian Reisinger said.

Much more on Act 10, here.




Post-Act 10 teacher workforce stabilizes, but exodus of younger teachers troubling, study says



Annysa Johnson

According to the report released Friday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Forum, Wisconsin still has fewer teachers than it did before Act 10, which curtailed collective bargaining for public school teachers and most other public employees. However, overall turnover has diminished, and the supply of new teachers is sufficient to fill those slots, the report says.

Still, the report noted a troubling trend: a rise in the number of teachers who leave the profession before retirement age, particularly in the first five years.

In Wisconsin and especially Milwaukee, the departure of teachers in their 20s, 30s and 40s is growing steadily and accounts for the largest share of teacher turnover, according to the study — a trend that over time could put a greater pressure on teacher demand than that already created by shortages in the teacher pipeline.

Much more on Act 10, here.




Attacks on Public-Sector Unions Harm States: How Act 10 Has Affected Education in Wisconsin



David Madland and Alex Rowell:

This issue brief examines the impact of the law on Wisconsin’s K-12 public education system and state economy. While this brief focuses on Act 10’s impact on Wisconsin teachers based on the data available, the same forces driving changes in the teaching workforce can also affect the broader public sector.3 Proponents of Act 10 insisted that reducing collective bargaining rights for teachers would improve education by eliminating job protections such as tenure and seniority-based salary increases. As Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) argued, “We no longer have seniority or tenure. That means we can hire and fire based on merit, we can pay based on performance. That means we can put the best and the brightest in our classrooms and we can pay them to be there.”4 However, the facts suggest that Act 10 has not had its promised positive impact on educational quality in the state.
The authors’ analysis using data collected by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) finds that since the passage of Act 10, teachers have received far lower compensation; turnover rates have increased; and teacher experience has dropped significantly. Importantly, the harms from Act 10 extend beyond public-sector workers to all Wisconsinites, as current research suggests that student outcomes could be negatively affected by the law as well. Rather than encouraging the best and brightest students to become teachers and to remain in the field throughout their career, the law appears to have had the opposite effect by devaluing teaching and driving many teachers out of Wisconsin’s public schools.

Much more on Act 10, here.




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, experienced a “huge reduction in expenses for the special education fund” following the passage of Act 10, says Kristin DeBruine, the district’s business manager.

Special education programs, however, are funded with federal as well as local tax dollars — and full, ongoing federal funding continues only if local and state funding remains constant or increases from year to year.

In order to avoid a federal funding cut, the Oostburg district spent the Act 10 savings in other ways, including almost $60,000 to install an elevator in its middle school. At the time, and to this day, the school does not have any students who use wheelchairs. So the elevator sits largely unused, DeBruine says.

While installing the elevator also helped the district meet federal disability compliance rules, “We would not have put it in without the required use of the money, as it is only used for after-school activities, and the cost would not have allowed us to do it otherwise,” DeBruine says. “That simply just doesn’t make sense at all.”




How Act 10 contributes to teacher shortages — and how it doesn’t



Alan Borsuk::

But there is a lot more at work than Act 10 when it comes to attracting and keeping people in teaching.

The roots of the shortages were showing up before 2011. For example, it was already getting challenging to find math and science teachers.

The number of people in college-level programs to train teachers has fallen sharply, but the drop began before Act 10. And, the percentage declines in some other states, where there was no Act 10, are higher than in Wisconsin.

It is hard to pin down numbers of how many veteran teachers have quit or retired early because of Act 10. Some years, in some places, turnover has been high. But teachers quit for many reasons.

Much more on Act 10 and the attempt to reduce Wisconsin’s weak teacher content knowledge requirements.




Jury finds against retired Germantown teachers who lost benefit after Act 10



Bruce Vielmetti::

A lawyer for 90 retired Germantown teachers asked a jury Monday to award them more than $9 million in damages from their former employer, who the retirees say took their affordable long-term care insurance in a political power play after passage of Wisconsin’s Act 10 law.

The district’s attorney urged jurors to reject liability under all three of the plaintiffs’ theories. “They ignored it (a warning that the insurance plan could terminate) and now they want to blame the school district,” Kevin Pollard said.

The lawyers’ closing arguments came after a weeklong trial, but it took the jury just an afternoon to decide the district owed nothing to the retirees.

The district added the benefit in 1998 but terminated its contract with WEA Trust in 2012. By then, the plaintiffs had been paying their own monthly premiums toward a paid-up policy after 30 years. Some came up with lump sums of $35,000 to $40,000 to pay up the policies, but 46 others did not, and forfeited about $200,000 in premiums for no coverage.

The retired teachers saw the right to continue paying the group-term rates as a vested benefit yanked out from beneath them.

Much more on Act 10, here.




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 Myranda Tanck. “Senator Fitzgerald maintains that the heart of this issue is a simple matter of individual freedom.”

Nationally, according to Thursday’s BLS report, about 14.6 million workers were members of unions in 2016 — down by 240,000 members, or 0.4 percent, from 2015. By comparison, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, or 17.7 million workers, in 1983.

UW-Madison economist Steven Deller said the level of union membership nationally has been declining for years — a trend that is likely to continue with large-scale, labor-intensive manufacturing being replaced with smaller-scale technology that requires more capital but less manual labor. Large-scale manufacturing companies tend to be unionized and their replacements are more likely not to be.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Act 10.

An emphasis on adult employment.

WEAC: $1.57 million for four senators.

K-12 Tax & Spending growth.

Madison schools 18k per student budget, up from about 15k in 2010.




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 a major, major improvement.”

Most federal employees only have bargaining rights over working conditions. Wages and benefits were not part of bargaining, unlike in Wisconsin, where until Walker’s 2011 legislation public-sector unions had full bargaining rights.

Two federal unions sounded ready to fight to hold their ground.

Trump has some good ideas, but if he targets working people after promising to “drain the swamp,” it will be the biggest bait and switch ever, said Randy Erwin, national president-elect of the National Federation of Federal Employees.

Much more on Act 10, here.




For unions in Wisconsin, a fast and hard fall since Act 10



Dave Umhoefer:

Dave Weiland, an Oconomowoc school district teacher and local union leader, thinks the state union was stuck in a 1920s mentality.

“The gravy train was running, and they didn’t see the curve,” he said.

Indeed, two years prior to Walker’s election, the path appeared to be moving in a different direction.

Bolstered by union might and money, Democrats swept to control of the state Capitol, then opened 20,000 more jobs to union representation and repealed limits on teacher compensation.

One group that got the power to organize: Home child-care workers — at a time when their industry was under scrutiny for fraud that cost taxpayers millions.

Two years later, Republicans were in charge.

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




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 put Gov. Scott Walker on their list.

Much more on Act 10.




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 allowed one person to essentially make decisions that our local community can make through school boards and allow that person to authorize who can operate a school that’s not accountable to the public but has a call on our resources. I find that offensive. It’s repugnant that they think it’s acceptable policy when I think most people in Madison would say it’s unacceptable policy.

The best defense is a good offense and having our public schools be the best public schools we can is certainly one of the strong directions that we need to emphasize. We’re fortunate to have really good schools in Madison but I think we need to do even more to bring in staff voices and parent voices into the schools to have the public own them even more. If we see proposals coming in for non-public charter entities, we can actively organize an opposition to those sorts of things if we’re concerned as a city that we don’t want to have our public dollars controlled by non-public entities without any oversight.

There have been mixed reactions to the district’s new Behavior Education Plan. What have union members said about the BEP?

Much more on Madison Teachers, Inc., here.




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, announcement were among the most dramatic in Wisconsin’s history.

Years later, Act 10 continues to influence the state’s political, economic and social landscape. And it will continue to reverberate years into the future.

Today, the Wisconsin State Journal explores five impacts of Act 10 on the five-year anniversary of its introduction.

Much more on Act 10, here.




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 fighting over whether to have “Sarah Has Two Mommies” posters in a grade school library. Concerned parents weakly stated at a public hearing that first-graders were too young to understand sexuality of any kind.

Activists at the public meeting said the children needed to understand tolerance. One conservative parent said: “Why don’t we vote by secret ballot?” An activist said, “No, we want a consensus.”

The Madison School District official who was presiding agreed, and the controversial posters stayed on the library walls. This is Madison.

Now we have the Madison School Board. It has been historically run by the teacher’s union. The same was true after Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 was passed, strictly limiting collective bargaining for public employees.

Three weeks before the state Supreme Court would rule on the constitutionality of the law, the union-owned School Board rushed through a teacher’s contract that largely ignored Act 10. Unlike any other school district in the state, the contract made sure Madison teachers were not required to share the cost of their health insurance premiums. Unlike any other school district, Madison collects union dues from teacher paychecks for its leader, John Matthews.

By the way, I would not want him in a dark alley with me.

The problem is the Madison School District has a projected budget shortfall for 2015-2016 of $12 million to $20 million, according to last week’s State Journal. About $6 million could be saved by making aggressive health care costs, including requiring staff to contribute toward insurance premiums, renegotiating contracts with health care providers, and making plan changes. That’s according to Michael Barry, assistant superintendent of business services.

In fact, the district spends about $62 million on employee health care costs, which are expected to grow by 8.5 percent next school year. Shockingly, Madison School Board member Ed Hughes said: “If we’re talking about taking not a scalpel, but a machete to our programs given the cuts we’ll make because we’re the only school district in the state that’s unwilling to ask employees to contribute to their health insurance, I think that would be an impression that we would deservedly receive ridicule for.”

Even board member Mary Burke said: “We would be irresponsible to the community where basically 99 percent of the people pay contributions to health care” if the board made up the savings with cuts to staff and heath care.

So now what? The contract expires in June 2016. Conservative blogger David Blaska sued to force Madison to live under Act 10. A local judge ruled last week Blaska did have standing as a taxpayer to carry out his lawsuit as he is joined by The Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty.

Madison teacher’s union leader John Matthews said by making employees contribute to health care premiums, the district is effectively asking them to pay for iPads and administrators. Huh?

Todd Berry of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance told me 90 percent of state cuts to education were covered by savings offered to school districts under Act 10 by changing work rules, by employee contributions to retirement and health insurance premiums, and by altering health plans.

That might fly for the rest of the state, but then again, this is Madison.

Much more on benefits and the Madison School District and Act 10.

A focus on “adult employment“.




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, “is not a teacher in the district nor an employee of the District and he therefore lacks both standing and a factual basis on which to assert those allegations,” school officials say in their answer to a lawsuit brought last month against the Madison Metropolitan School District, the Madison School Board and labor union Madison Teachers, Inc.

In pleadings filed in Dane County Circuit Court last week, school officials and the union asked the court to strike portions of the complaint referring to union dues, fair share payments and other issues regarding employees, calling them “immaterial, impertinent and scandalous.”

WILL, not Blaska, is actually the “party in interest,” or entity that would benefit from the suit, Madison public school officials assert.

The lawsuit filed last month challenges the legality of labor contracts for Madison teachers and other school district employees that were negotiated and entered into after the 2011 enactment of Act 10, Gov. Scott Walker’s signature legislation curtailing the collective bargaining power of public employees.




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.

It was not a mistake and should be followed up with Act 10.2 and Act 10.3. One would address the expensive early retirement feature included in the Wisconsin pension plan for all state and local public employees, and the other would bring in police and fire personnel, left out in Act 10. Police and fire together amount to about 60% of most local budgets, leaving only 40% covered by Act 10.

Wisconsin was the first state in the Union to allow public employees to bargain collectively, and, by the 1970s, unionization was showing its worst feature. That feature was, and will always remain, that unions cannot resist the temptation to try to control both sides of the bargaining table. They do this by being politically active in electing union-sympathetic public officials and in de-electing taxpayer sympathizers. The state teachers union was the first to consistently apply this power both in local and state elections and was very effective at both levels.

Wisconsin, having first created public collective bargaining, rightfully should be the first state to remove it. Indiana was slightly earlier, but the Indiana public at referendum put it back in place. That action, and the current race for Wisconsin governor, shows just how much unions are fighting to regain this power.

Early public employee unions recognized that public employee strikes did not sit well with the public. In exchange for removing the right to strike, unions were given arbitration, a power that likely gained more for unions than striking. The problem with arbitration is it becomes an averaging of the surrounding lowest and highest wages.

As the wealthier tax bases raise their wages and benefits, over time the lower tax base communities rise to the previous average of the higher base. If they both can rise faster than inflation, which they have done by a ratio of 2.5-3 to 1, in only a few successive contract periods the lower tax base pay equals the former high base levels.

Much more on Wisconsin Act 10, here.




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 the district as an example of negative effects she says have been caused in Wisconsin schools by the law known as Act 10 that effectively ended collective bargaining for teachers.

District administrator Mary Pfeiffer said Friday that Burke reached out to her on Wednesday and apologized by phone. Pfeiffer says Burke agreed not to use Neenah as an example again.

Neenah Superintendent Dr. Mary Pfeiffer’s letter to Mary Burke, via a kind reader (PDF):

Neenah Joint School District
410 South Commercial Street
Neenah, WI 54956
Tel: (920) 751-6800
Fax: (920) 751-6809

Burke for Wisconsin
PO Box 2479
Madison, WI 53701
September 19, 2014

Dear Ms. Burke,

On behalf of the Neenah Joint School District I would like to express my disappointment regarding your use of our District as an example of your perceived negative impact of Act 10 on education as reported by John McCormack in the Weekly Standard and at least one additional news publication in the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

In your position as a Madison school board member, I’m sure you’ve seen that Act 10 has created a variety of challenges for school districts across Wisconsin, but I’m sure you’ve also seen plenty of positives as well. It is unfair and misleading to claim that Act 10 is the primary reason why one specific candidate chose to accept a position in Minnesota over an opening in the Neenah Joint School District. There are many reasons why candidates choose to work in other districts and certainly some effects of Act 10 may factor into those decisions. However, to make a blanket statement that Act 10 is the reason why teachers are leaving school districts in Wisconsin (in this case the Neenah Joint School District), especially by citing only one candidate’s decision to go elsewhere, is an unfortunate exaggeration at best.

We are extremely proud of our schools in Neenah and incredibly proud of the staff we have assembled both prior to and since the passage of Act 10. We have never settled with an inferior candidate to fill a position and will never do that to our students or families.

Since you have not reached out to me to learn more about our District, I will provide to you some data points that you might find revealing about why we continue to be a high performing District in Wisconsin.

Since Act 10, we have faced, and met, the difficult challenges necessary to support student learning while retaining our excellent staff.

we have significantly reduced an unsustainable $184 million unfunded liability regarding our Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB). Meanwhile, we still provide all of our most veteran employees a $100,000 retirement benefit. New employees are also provided OPEB benefits and that is something most districts have eliminated. As you are aware, this is in addition to the state retirement benefit.

we have reduced class sizes and increased the number of our certified staff.

we have had no certified staff (teacher) layoffs since Act 10.

our school board has supported pools of dollars for 2% salary increases (above the CPI) and 2% one-time stipend awards every year for all employee groups for a total of4%.

over the past two years, 57 certified staff members have received a $5,000 or more increase in their salary.

more than 33% of certified staff received a 3% or higher salary increase in 2013-14,

with 6% of them receiving a 6% increase or higher.

our insurance costs are the lowest in our area.

we have no long-term debt.

our mill rate remains the lowest in our area at $8.53 and a decrease for the third consecutive year.

I respectfully ask that you stop using Neenah as an example of the negative ramifications of Act 10. This request has nothing to do with my personal feelings or political stance. It is about a dedicated staff that is proud to work in Neenah. I would be p1eased to speak with you further about this issue.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mary Pfeiffer ~
Superintendent of Schools
Neenah Joint School District
Copy: Neenah Joint School District Board of Education Members

Act 10 notes and links.

Neenah plans to spend $80,479,210 for 6,226 students (DPI) during the 2014-2015 school year, or $12,926 per student (PDF Document). Ms. Burke’s Madison School Board plans to spend more than $15,000 per student during the same period, 16% more than Neenah.

Plenty of Resources“.




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 they can now peddle their expertise to districts that can come up with a better deal.

In fact, the story informed us, teachers with expertise in special disciplines like technology and engineering are being offered bonuses, higher salaries and better fringe benefits to jump ship — apparently sort of a mini-version of what Prince Fielder did to the Brewers a few years back.

Some districts are able to offer higher salaries to those with expertise in hard-to-fill positions because Act 10 has freed up money that had been going to teachers under union contract for pensions and health benefits.

Notes and links on Act 10, here.




Act 10 Bites Again: MTI Recertification Elections to Commence this Fall



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

Governor Walker’s signature legislation, the 2011 anti-public employee, anti-union Act 10, which took away nearly all the bargaining rights of public employees, is once again on the front burner for those represented by MTI. MTI had initially challenged the legislation and gained a Circuit Court decision from Judge Colas that Act 10 was unconstitutional. This ruling allowed MTI and the MMSD to bargain Agreements for the 2014-15 and 2015- 16 school years. Now that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has overturned Judge Colas’ decision and upheld Act 10, certain portions of Act 10 are now applicable to MTI, specifically the Act 10 requirement that public sector unions undergo a certification election to determine whether the union will maintain its status as the “certified representative” of the workers covered by the union. Under Act 10, this will have to be done each year.

Given the above, MTI has filed petitions with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) for recertification elections for each of MTIs five (5) bargaining units (Teachers, Educational Assistants, Supportive Education Employees, Security Assistants and Substitute Teachers). The elections will be conducted in November, 2014.

Unlike political elections which require that the prevailing candidate win the majority of votes cast, Act 10’s recertification elections require a public sector union to win 51% of all eligible votes in order to remain the certified agent. This means that “non-votes” are considered “no” votes. If this standard were applied to any United States political election, with low turnout rate, no candidate would be seated (for example, Governor Walker won only about 30% of all eligible votes during the 2012 recall). Fortunately, the experience has been much different for union recertification elections in Wisconsin. During recertification elections held in 2013, over 500 local Unions representing over 56,000 teachers, secretaries, aides, bus drivers, custodial workers and other school employees resulted in a 70% turnout statewide. And an overwhelming 98% of those voting, voted to recertify their Union. But even knowing this, MTI needs every vote possible.

Much more on Act 10, here.




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 districts develop compensation models that combine their desire to reward good teachers and the need to keep them. Knowing how many teachers each year will attain the leadership responsibilities and certifications that result in added pay will be difficult.

Monona Grove is developing a career ladder to replace its current salary schedule. The new model is still being drafted by a committee of district administrators, school board members and teachers, but its aim will be to reward “increased responsibility, leadership, ‘stretch assignments’ and other contributions to the district and school missions,’ ” according to the district.

“We thought we could do better,” Monona Grove School District superintendent Dan Olson said, adding that the message to parents is that with the new model, “we’ll be able to keep our good teachers.”

Bowles said the process should result in a district being a place that might not offer the highest pay in the state, but be a place teachers want to work.

“ ‘Attract and retain’ is one of the goals on that list, and in my judgment that does not boil down to” just salary, he said. “It’s also, ‘This is a place I hope you want to be,’ and our kids will benefit from it.”

Ironically, Madison rates not a mention….

Act 10 notes and links.




In wake of (Wisconsin) Act 10, school districts changing teacher pay formulas



Edgar Mendez:

The goal in Wauwatosa was to better attract and retain top-flight educators; the method was to change the way teachers are compensated.

A new compensation model, approved in February, calls for teachers to earn anywhere between $40,000 and $80,700 a year, based largely on their performance.

But teachers had concerns: Would principals alone determine the initial salary they’d start at in the new model? Did years of service matter at all anymore? Or was everything based on performance evaluations?

Those concerns still linger as Wauwatosa and other Wisconsin districts roll out new teacher compensation models this fall, thrusting the issue of teacher pay back in the spotlight.

The new compensation models are a result of Act 10, the legislation passed three years ago that limited collective bargaining and allowed districts to untether themselves from salary schedules in union contracts that called for pay increases based solely on years spent teaching and on higher-education credits.

Some districts, such as Hartland-Lakeside and Cedarburg, were early adopters of new performance-based models resembling what people often see in the private sector.

But many more districts are debuting new models this year. The timing coincides with a new statewide educator evaluation system rolling out this year.




Commentary on the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Recent Act 10 Decision



Janesville Gazette:

Is it good policy? Perhaps Act 10 was an overreach with its union-busting provisions, but it addressed a fiscal need in Wisconsin and the school districts and municipalities that receive state aid.

Public employee benefits had become overly generous and burdensome on employers, and Act 10 addressed that by requiring employees to contribute their fair shares. The result has saved the state and local governments millions of dollars. Those savings have helped those local governments address state aid cuts and ongoing budget challenges.

Now that the legal questions surrounding Act 10 are resolved, let’s move forward with a clear understanding that the law is here to stay and that public employers and employees still must work together to ensure that quality workers continue to provide quality services.

Sly Podcasts – Madison Teachers, Inc. Executive Director John Matthews.

Alan Borsuk:

With freedom comes responsibility.

This is one of the important lessons most parents hope their children learn, especially teenagers. OK, you got a driver’s license. You’re hot about all the things you can do. But there are an awful lot of things you shouldn’t do, and won’t do if you’re smart.

So what will teens learn from school leaders all across Wisconsin in the next few years? I’m hoping they’ll learn that with freedom comes responsibility, and I’m even somewhat optimistic that, overall, they will. That won’t be universally true. There are always the kids who just can’t resist flooring it when the light turns green.

But in most school districts, the freedom school boards and administrators were given in 2011, when Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the legislative majorities won the battle of Act 10, has been used with restraint and good judgment. A lot of superintendents and principals, and even teachers, are seeing pluses to life without the many provisions of union contracts.

I don’t want to overstate that — there are also a large number of teachers still feeling wounded from the hostility toward educators that was amped up by the polarizing events of 2011. Many teachers are anxious about how the greater freedoms their bosses now have to judge, punish and reward will be used. There also remain serious reasons to worry about who is leaving teaching and whether the best possible newcomers are being attracted to classrooms.

David Blaska:

More mystifying is why The Capital Times would do a story focusing solely and entirely on that minority dissent. (“Act 10 is ‘textbook’ example of unconstitutionality.”) Can’t expose its tender readers to the majority opinion, apparently.

Local government here in the Emerald City has done its best to evade the law, extending union contracts into 2016. County Exec Joe Parisi likes to say the union has saved the county money. At the very least, AFSME costs its members dues. There is nothing to prevent county managers from working cooperatively with employees to determine best practices. That is Management 101.

Ditto the teachers union, plaintiff in the just-decided Supreme Court case. The teachers union — as we argued in “Hold your meetings where there is beer” — runs the County Board. Now Mary Burke’s complicity with succoring MTI — she’s got their endorsement — becomes the lead issue in the governor’s race.

If you are a Madison public school teacher who doesn’t want to make fair share payments, let me know. We’ll bring suit. Post a private message on Facebook.

Much more on Act 10, here.




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 ban on automatic dues collections “nothing more than heavy-handed attempts to punish labor unions” and said she would work to repeal those provisions.

She said she would have used the collective bargaining process to achieve the pension and health insurance contributions that helped balance the state budget. But she does not want to reset the law to before Act 10, when state employees could pay no more than 20 percent of health insurance premiums and could bargain with employers to cover their full pension contribution.

Burke also agreed the way contract disputes were settled for decades needed to change, but disagreed with eliminating interest arbitration. She said the factors used in the process should allow for “effective, efficient and accountable government workforce and institutions,” though she didn’t offer a specific plan for reinstating it.

The Walker campaign responded that Burke’s position on Act 10 “mirrors her willingness to concede to unions as a Madison School Board member, and is yet another example of how she would take Wisconsin backward.”
Unions weigh in
Rick Badger, executive director of AFSCME Council 40, which represents many Dane County-area municipal employees, said some of his members are unhappy Burke won’t promise to repeal the law entirely. But they like that she expressed interest in listening to different points of view, whereas Walker never responded to requests to meet after he was elected.

“She’s made it clear she’ll sit down with us,” Badger said. “After what employees went through over the past three years, it’s great to hear someone say, ‘Your concerns still matter.’ ”

Much more on Wisconsin Act 10, here.




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 Board negotiated with the unions and signed the agreement on Nov. 12 only after receiving notice from the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission in October that the unions were still the certified collective bargaining representative of the teachers.

Legal rulings after that agreement resulted in WERC then informing Kenosha that the unions were not, in fact, certified collective bargaining representatives at the time, Ruder said.

That meant the union didn’t actually represent the employees in November when the collective bargaining agreements were reached, Ruder said.

Much more on Act 10 here.

Locally, Madison continues to automatically deduct union dues from teacher paychecks.




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 on remaining family medical bills.

Money aside, I was a good Christian soldier. I taught a full load with 3 or more preps, moderated the school newspaper, ran the service program, coached baseball, drove the school bus to athletic events, and volunteered for all kinds of school activities.

Considering money, I was a naive Christian soldier. I did not think finances mattered all that much. After growing up on the lower rim of the middle class, the $15 grand I grossed in my first year of teaching felt like a million dollars. When the family budget tightened as college loans came due and the family grew, I practiced my own personal “no excuses” policy and doubled down on work by milking cows in the evening and on weekends, painting houses in the summer, and working a variety of odd jobs. While many Americans were “moving on up” during the 1990’s, my wife (also an educator) and I shuffled funds around trying to survive on less-than-professional pay.

In these conditions, my teaching suffered. My professional goal of getting my masters degree by age 30 came and went. I recycled the same lesson every year. Innovation was limited to what I could concoct late at night or each morning before school. I was a resourceful teacher, but not a developing educator.

In the midst of this mess, one of my kids became seriously ill. She did a few tours in the hospital before some highly skilled and professionally-priced specialists got a handle on her condition. The medical bills mounted. Things became desperate.

So I made a desperate move. I sold my soul and left teaching for a year. I searched for funds in other fields. In the midst of this despair came some soul-saving, professional advice from my brother teaching in Wisconsin. He coaxed my wife (also an educator) and I to move to his neck of the woods, where we could earn professional pay and benefits by teaching in Wisconsin’s public school system.

Much more on Act 10, here.




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 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.




NIH scientists made $710M in royalties from drug makers — a fact they tried to hide



Adam Andrzejewski

Almost all that cash — $690 million — went to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), the subagency led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, and 260 of its scientists.

Information about this vast private royalty complex is tightly held by NIH. My organization, OpenTheBooks.com, was forced to sue to uncover the royalties paid from September 2009 to October 2021, which amounted to $325 million over 56,000 transactions.

We had to sue a second time, with Judicial Watch as our counsel, to pry open this new release.

Payments skyrocketed during the pandemic era: those years saw more than double the amount of cash flow to NIH from the private sector, compared to the prior twelve combined. All told, it’s $1.036 billion.

It’s unclear if any of the Covid vaccine royalties from Pfizer and Moderna, the latter of which settled with NIH by agreeing to pay $400 million, is even included in these new numbers. NIH isn’t saying.

Citizen Free Press

Dr. Robert Redfield was CDC director under Trump.

He was known to be a covid Vaccine truthteller, even back then.

This is a fantastic clip with Chris Cuomo.

——

2021.

Deeper dive.

Nicholas Kristof:

In retrospect, many of us in the journalistic and public health worlds were too dismissive of that possibility when she and others were making the argument in 2020.

NIH omertà – Debbie Dingel.




Civics: “Rapid relative wage growth at the bottom of the distribution counteracted nearly 40% of the four-decade increase in aggregate 90-10 wage inequality.”



David Autor, Arindrajit Dube and Annie McGrew:

Rapid relative wage growth at the bottom of the distribution reduced the college wage premium and counteracted nearly 40% of the four-decade increase in aggregate 90-10 log wage inequality. Wage compression was accompanied by rapid nominal wage growth and rising job-to-job separations—especially among young non-college (high school or less) workers. Comparing across states, post-pandemic labor market tightness became strongly predictive of real wage growth among low-wage workers (wage-Phillips curve), and aggregate wage compression. Simultaneously, the wage-separation elasticity—a key measure of labor market competitionrose among young non-college workers, with wage gains concentrated among workers who changed employers. Seen through the lens of a canonical job ladder model, the pandemic increased the elasticity of labor supply to firms in the low-wage labor market, reducing employer market power and spurring rapid relative wage growth among young noncollege workers who disproportionately moved from lower-paying to higher-paying and potentially more-productive jobs.




K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: What $100,000 Is Actually Worth in the Largest U.S. Cities – 2023 Study



Smart Asset:

Key Findings

$100K goes furthest in Memphis. The city may be known as the “Home of the Blues,” but Memphis’ low cost of living surely won’t make you sing them. A $100,000 salary is worth more here ($86,444) than in any other city in our study after subtracting taxes and adjusting for the cost of living.

Texas cities dominate the top 10. Thanks to no state income tax and the low cost of living, the Lone Star State looms large in our study. Seven out of the 10 cities in our top 10 are located in Texas. After deducting taxes and adjusting for the cost of living, a $100,000 salary on average is worth $77,885 across the 10 Texas cities that we analyzed in our study.

Oklahoma City has the lowest cost of living. A $100,000 goes a long way in the Sooner State’s largest city, considering that the cost of living is only 83.2% of the national average – the lowest out of all 76 cities in our study. A $100,000 salary is worth $84,498 in Oklahoma City after adjusting for the cost of living.

In New York City, $100K amounts to just $35,791 when you consider taxes and the cost of living. Taxes and cost of living take a big bite out of a $100,000 income in the Big Apple, which ranked last in our analysis. After adjusting for those factors, $100,000 is worth just $35,791.




Wisconsin Science Festival returns, offering more than 100 free activities



Kayla Huynh:

The Wisconsin Science Festival is taking over the state Thursday through Sunday, with 170 events in more than 30 counties, including Madison. 

The activities, from interactive science experiments to conversations with prominent scientists on topics like psychedelics, Chilean astronomy and animal development, are happening both virtually and in-person. 

Laura Heisler, program director at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the Morgridge Institute for Research, said the festival is aimed at engaging those of all ages in science. The festival is “a way of having fun with science,” she said, and is especially targeted toward people who don’t often get the chance to interact with the field.




Contact Settings and Risk for Transmission in 3410 Close Contacts of Patients With COVID-19 in Guangzhou, China : A Prospective Cohort Study



Lei Luo  1 , Dan Liu  2 , Xinlong Liao  1 , Xianbo Wu  2 , Qinlong Jing  1 , Jiazhen Zheng  2 , Fanghua Liu  1 , Shigui Yang  3 , Hua Bi  1 , Zhihao Li  2 , Jianping Liu  1 , Weiqi Song  2 , Wei Zhu  1 , Zhenghe Wang  2 , Xiru Zhang  2 , Qingmei Huang  2 , Peiliang Chen  2 , Huamin Liu  2 , Xin Cheng  2 , Miaochun Cai  2 , Pei Yang  2 , Xingfen Yang  2 , Zhigang Han  1 , Jinling Tang  4 , Yu Ma  1 , Chen Mao  2:

Results: Among 3410 close contacts, 127 (3.7% [95% CI, 3.1% to 4.4%]) were secondarily infected. Of these 127 persons, 8 (6.3% [CI, 2.1% to 10.5%]) were asymptomatic. Of the 119 symptomatic cases, 20 (16.8%) were defined as mild, 87 (73.1%) as moderate, and 12 (10.1%) as severe or critical. Compared with the household setting (10.3%), the secondary attack rate was lower for exposures in health care settings (1.0%; odds ratio [OR], 0.09 [CI, 0.04 to 0.20]) and on public transportation (0.1%; OR, 0.01 [CI, 0.00 to 0.08]). The secondary attack rate increased with the severity of index cases, from 0.3% (CI, 0.0% to 1.0%) for asymptomatic to 3.3% (CI, 1.8% to 4.8%) for mild, 5.6% (CI, 4.4% to 6.8%) for moderate, and 6.2% (CI, 3.2% to 9.1%) for severe or critical cases. Index cases with expectoration were associated with higher risk for secondary infection (13.6% vs. 3.0% for index cases without expectoration; OR, 4.81 [CI, 3.35 to 6.93]).




10 facts about school reopenings in the Covid-19 pandemic



Anna North:

America’s largest school district, New York City, brought some 300,000 students back for in-person learning on Tuesday, even as Covid-19 rates in the city began to tick up. Meanwhile, schools in Miami announced a return to fully in-person learning this month, after a disastrous rollout of online education earlier in the fall. Then there are schools from Kentucky to New Jersey that have switched from in-person to remote learning in recent weeks due to Covid-19 cases.

Like everything about the response to the coronavirus in America, school reopenings have been a patchwork, with states and districts each following their own guidelines — some informed by public health guidance, some less so. As millions of Americans try to make decisions about their children’s education, or their own work as teachers or school staff, they face a terrifying lack of information: There’s no nationwide data on the number of Covid-19 cases in K-12 schools.

Still, we are starting to get a picture — or perhaps a rough sketch — of what education looks like in this time — helped along largely by data collection efforts by the New York Times and the Covid-19 School Response Dashboard.

We are beginning to have a sense of how common Covid-19 is in schools that have reopened, and what schools are doing to reduce the spread of the virus. We know that rates among staff are markedly higher than those among students — not a surprise given previous evidence that adults are more likely to contract the virus, but significant nonetheless. And we know that, at least for now, hybrid learning models employed in many districts to make schools safer have not completely eliminated the risk.




University Of Maryland To Restructure, Terminate Contracts Of 100 Faculty Who Can ‘Recompete’ For Their Jobs



Emma Pettit:

The global campus, which used to be known as the University of Maryland University College, serves tens of thousands of students and is one of the nation’s biggest players in distance learning. The institution focuses on educating adult students and veterans.

The new structure is necessary, Smith said, to prepare for the rest of the 21st century, as employer and adult-learner needs evolve, and to prepare for challenges to come, before it’s too late.

“Most colleges wait until they’re really in the soup,” Smith added. “We’re not even close to the soup.”

But some faculty members said that they and their colleagues had been stunned by what they considered an unwelcome and jarring announcement. It was devastating for some people who no longer felt secure in their employment, said three faculty members who spoke to The Chronicle on the condition of anonymity, because they did not want to harm their job prospects or their reputations.




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 difficult to do when we’re plagued by FOMO, the modern fear of missing out. Some people think that our willpower is so weak because our brains have been damaged by digital noise. But blaming technology for the rise in inattention is misplaced. History shows that the disquiet is fuelled not by the next new thing but by the threat this thing – whatever it might be – poses to the moral authority of the day.




A new record: Major publisher retracting more than 100 studies



Retraction Watch

Springer is retracting 107 papers from one journal after discovering they had been accepted with fake peer reviews. Yes, 107.

To submit a fake review, someone (often the author of a paper) either makes up an outside expert to review the paper, or suggests a real researcher — and in both cases, provides a fake email address that comes back to someone who will invariably give the paper a glowing review. In this case, Springer, the publisher of Tumor Biology through 2016, told us that an investigation produced “clear evidence” the reviews were submitted under the names of real researchers with faked emails. Some of the authors may have used a third-party editing service, which may have supplied the reviews. The journal is now published by SAGE.

The retractions follow another sweep by the publisher last year, when Tumor Biology retracted 25 papers for compromised review and other issues, mostly authored by researchers based in Iran. With the latest bunch of retractions, the journal has now retracted the most papers of any other journal indexed by Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters. In 2015, its impact factor — 2.9 — ranked it 104th out of 213 oncology journals.




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 are often asked to suggest potential reviewers for their own papers. This is done because research subjects are often blindingly niche; a researcher working in a sub-sub-field may be more aware than the journal editor of who is best-placed to assess the work.

But some journals go further and request, or allow, authors to submit the contact details of these potential reviewers. If the editor isn’t aware of the potential for a scam, they then merrily send the requests for review out to fake e-mail addresses, often using the names of actual researchers. And at the other end of the fake e-mail address is someone who’s in on the game and happy to send in a friendly review.

Fake peer reviewers often “know what a review looks like and know enough to make it look plausible,” said Elizabeth Wager, editor of the journal Research Integrity & Peer Review. But they aren’t always good at faking less obvious quirks of academia: “When a lot of the fake peer reviews first came up, one of the reasons the editors spotted them was that the reviewers responded on time,” Wager told Ars. Reviewers almost always have to be chased, so “this was the red flag. And in a few cases, both the reviews would pop up within a few minutes of each other.”




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 new interpretation. This constantly raises the bar of what is considered useful, and puts immense pressure on creators to find new meanings. Finally, creative products must be surprising in that the original and meaningful creative product must be surprising not only to oneself, but to everyone. This is exactly how the United States Patent Office evaluates new applications. Original and meaningful ideas that could have been created by any expert in the field are considered “obvious” and are therefore unpatentable. Creative products– such as the discoveries of Galileo and Leeuwenhoek– are surprising to everyone, novices and experts alike.




Only 1 in 10 education reforms analysed for their impact, finds OECD report



The Conversation:

Only a tenth of education reforms carried out around the world since 2008 have been analysed by governments for the impact they have on children’s education.

A new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) think-tank looked at 450 education reforms carried out by its 34 member countries between 2008 and 2014. It found that only one in ten of these reforms were scrutinised for impact.

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s director of education and skills, said it was “more the exception than the rule” for education policies to be evaluated by governments. “If we want to improve education outcomes we need to have more systematic and evidence-based approach to reforms”, he said.




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 skills, teaching students how to recognize the condition of the waters seems an ever more difficult task. Yet, for all the doomsaying of some observers, including some of my fellow conferees here, I prefer to be optimistic, to think that with a little coaching we all have in us the makings of champion freestyle surfers on that great ocean of data, knowing just where to look for tasty waves and a cool buzz, to quote the immortal Jeff Spicoli, and knowing too just where the riptides are.




Researchers plan to retract landmark Alzheimer’s paper containing doctored images



Charles Piller:

Authors of a landmark Alzheimer’s disease research paper published in Naturenormal in 2006 have agreed to retract the study in response to allegations of image manipulation. University of Minnesota (UMN) Twin Cities neuroscientist Karen Ashe, the paper’s senior author, acknowledged in a post on the journal discussion site PubPeer that the paper contains doctored images. The study has been cited nearly 2500 times, and would be the most cited paper ever to be retracted, according to Retraction Watch data.

“Although I had no knowledge of any image manipulations in the published paper until it was brought to my attention two years ago,” Ashe wrote on PubPeer, “it is clear that several of the figures in Lesné et al. (2006) have been manipulated … for which I as the senior and corresponding author take ultimate responsibility.”

After initially arguing the paper’s problems could be addressed with a correction, Ashe said in another post last week that all of the authors had agreed to a retraction—with the exception of its first author, UMN neuro-
scientist Sylvain Lesné, a protégé of Ashe’s who was the focus of a 2022 investigation by Sciencenormal. A Naturenormal spokesperson would not comment on the journal’s plans.

“It’s unfortunate that it has taken
2 years to make the decision to retract,” says Donna Wilcock, an Indiana University neuroscientist and editor of the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementianormal. “The evidence of manipulation was overwhelming.”




“notably the leeway to employ ineffective practices”



Douglas Carnine:

To fill this void, our 84 volunteer experts are creating guidance for decisionmakers in the form of evidence-based resources. These are being vetted, curated and organized based on scientific research and on data from high-performing schools, districts and states that consistently produce strong results, especially for marginalized populations. These resources, focused on academic achievement and social-emotional well-being, could become the basis for specific education policies, programs, and practices. They will be accessible on our website, distributed through collaborating partner organizations and promulgated through convenings with education agencies.

Just as the maritime safety standards improved safety and saved lives, the EAC is committed to constraining the use of non-evidence-based programs that cause waste and even harm. For example, Reading Recovery, an  intervention targeted to lowest-achieving first graders, has been used with 2.4 million students at an estimated cost of $10,271 per child, which has resulted in total expenditures of $2.5 billion. But, as noted in the Hechinger Report, “Reading Recovery students subsequently fell behind and by fourth grade were far worse readers than similar students who hadn’t had the tutoring, according to a [December 2022] follow-up study. The tutoring seemed to harm them.”

 Even the much-touted reading initiative that moved Mississippi from the lowest-performing state on fourth-grade NAEP reading scores to 21st in the nation, may have serious flaws. EAC co-founder Kelly Butler, CEO of Mississippi’s Barksdale Reading Institute, worries that not all components of the state’s education system are being held to the same level of accountability, which can undermine sustainability.

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More.




Lessons from school districts that tied pandemic-era tutoring contracts to student achievement



Jill Barshay:

Schools spend billions of dollars a year on products and services, including everything from staplers and textbooks to teacher coaching and training. Does any of it help students learn more? Some educational materials end up mothballed in closets. Much software goes unused. Yet central-office bureaucrats frequently renew their contracts with outside vendors regardless of usage or efficacy.

One idea for smarter education spending is for schools to sign smarter contracts, where part of the payment is contingent upon whether students use the services and learn more. It’s called outcomes-based contracting and is a way of sharing risk between buyer (the school) and seller (the vendor). Outcomes-based contracting is most common in healthcare. For example, a health insurer might pay a pharmaceutical company more for a drug if it actually improves people’s health, and less if it doesn’t. 

Although the idea is relatively new in education, many schools tried a different version of it – evaluating and paying teachers based on how much their students’ test scores improved – in the 2010s. Teachers didn’t like it, and enthusiasm for these teacher accountability schemes waned. Then, in 2020, Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research announced that it was going to test the feasibility of paying tutoring companies by how much students’ test scores improved. 




“The conflict between the bureaucratic, managerial priorities of school administrators and the moral ideals of teachers has characterized my seventeen-year teaching career”



Jeremy Noonan:

It is also a major reason why teachers are fleeing public schools. The public school accountability system, by relying solely on quantitative metrics like graduation rates to gauge educational quality and to evaluate administrators, frustrates teachers’ ability to truly teach and care for their students and look out for their long-term well-being. 

The first shock to me was the “make-up work” policy. My school let students skip assignments and miss deadlines until the end of the semester, then let them do the work at the last minute to avoid a failing grade. When I objected, stressing the importance of personal responsibility, the assistant principal replied, “Is it your job to teach chemistry or to teach responsibility?” She didn’t care to hear my answer: “Both.”

Next came the “curving” practice, which dictated that I convert a raw score on a test by multiplying the square root of it by ten. Hence, a score of forty-nine, an F, would be “curved” to seventy, a C minus. When I refused to curve grades, the principal had my department chair make the changes covertly. When I found out, I objected once again, and the principal rebuked me for “denying these children the opportunities all of us had.”

These were both cases of what Michael Polanyi calls “moral inversion”: a presumed moral duty to do immoral actions. This tacit duty to the immoral means that teachers who exercise integrity by refusing to go along with these policies are perceived as the bad guys. Never would an administrator acknowledge the bureaucratic purpose of these policies, which was to keep the wheels turning and money flowing. A failing student is a wrench in the system. He lowers the graduation rate, and the school looks bad. The bureaucracy rationalizes that the students will be better off with a diploma. But if they aren’t learning, their futures are being compromised.  

My next moral conflict with administrators put me in a position to blow the whistle on a practice called “online credit recovery” (OCR). I was teaching the two-year Theory of Knowledge course in the International Baccalaureate program, a kind of honors school-within-a-school. Top students in the school could enroll, and so could students from nearby schools who wanted vigorous college prep. 

——

Literacy momentum stalls in Wisconsin (DPI): Why would Wisconsin’s state leaders promote the use of curriculum that meets “minimal level” criteria, instead of elevating the highest-quality

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The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

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In fact, more than $44 billion in FOREIGN gifts have been disclosed under the Higher Education Reporting Act since 1986.



Adam Andrzejewski

Here is just a sample of our findings: 

  • $10.3 billion given by Qatar ($5.2 billion), Saudi Arabia ($3 billion), United Arab Emeritus ($1.3 billion) and Kuwait ($800 million) dwarfed China who gave $2.8 billion.   
  • During the past 40 years $1 of every $4 of foreign gifts into U.S. colleges and universities flowed from these four countries.
  • Are these countries buying seats in our elite schools? Our auditors found millions of dollars in restricted gifts paying the tuition bills for their students.  

Columbia, Harvard, Yale and other elite universities are turning out graduates who believe that open antisemitism and the championing of terrorism are forms of “social justice.”




“Planned Parenthood seeking an original action ruling from the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCoW)”



WILL

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has filed a response to a case brought by Planned Parenthood seeking an original action ruling from the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCoW) that would create a constitutional right to an abortion in Wisconsin. WILL believes ruling in favor of Planned Parenthood would embroil SCoW in the same mess of policy questions that Roe v. Wade created.  

As WILL has stated before, Wisconsin’s duly elected legislature and governor should go through the normal legislative process and create policy to govern abortion.  

The Quotes: WILL Deputy Counsel, Luke Berg, stated, “There is no right to an abortion in Wisconsin’s Constitution. No judge, justice, or lawyer should be creating policy for Wisconsinites out of thin air. Reversing Roe v. Wade through the Dobbs decision rightfully placed the abortion issue back where it should have been all along—in the halls of state legislatures. That’s where the debate and conversation must remain.”  

Where Would the Court Draw the Line? If the Wisconsin Supreme Court were to agree with Planned Parenthood, what would happen next? For example, would the prohibitions on abortions after viability, Wis. Stat. § 940.15, or after the unborn child can experience pain (defined in the statute as 20 weeks), Wis. Stat. § 253.107, also be unconstitutional? How about partial-birth abortions, very late term abortions? None of those prohibitions are challenged or at issue in this case, but if this Court constitutionalizes abortion, it will have to answer these questions sooner or later.  

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Choose life.




Civics: “found that fact-checking organisations, including the Global Disinformation Index, were labelling political opinions, particularly those on the Right, as disinformation”



Archie Earle:

UnHerd was targeted by the GDI, which said that a place on its “dynamic exclusion list” of publications was merited due to the site having “anti-LGBTQI+ narratives” and being “anti-trans”, equating widely-held views on gender to disinformation.

Kathleen Stock, an UnHerd columnist highly commended at last night’s Press Awards, was labelled a “prominent gender-critical feminist” by the GDI and used as an example of disinformation.

Despite his criticism of the GDI, it was reported in 2023 by the Washington Examiner that Musk had partnered with the companies affiliated with the index to tackle disinformation on X.

The site has been widely praised for the success of the flagship “Community Notes” feature, which allows users to rate the accuracy of posts on the platform and combat disinformation internally, leading to notes on politicians as well as high-level organisations.




Former Webster teacher reunites with 100 past students to watch eclipse



Sarah Taddeo:

Patrick Moriarty sat expectantly in a plastic chair in his Brighton driveway at 3:20 p.m. on Monday as the sky darkened, the moon slipping in front of the sun behind a blanket of clouds. 

“How do you guys like this?!” he said to the crowd surrounding him, who weren’t neighbors or coworkers but about 100 former students of his from decades ago. A chorus of oh’s and ah’s arose from the group, one commenting on the 360 sunset effect still visible even in the dark while another tried quickly to turn off their brightened cell phone screen. 

It was a pinnacle moment for the former Webster science teacher, who’d spent over a decade sharing his passion for all things celestial with 14- and 15-year olds, and telling them to meet him in 2024 for the total solar eclipse bound for Rochester. 

Moriarty, now 68, never thought a bunch of them would actually show up at his Brighton home for the occasion. 




K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: How Far $100 Goes at the Grocery Store After Five Years of Food InflationK-12 Tax & Spending Climate:



Stephanie Stamm and Jesse Newman:

Prices for hundreds of grocery items have increased more than 50% since 2019 as food companies raised their prices. Executives have said that higher prices were needed to offset their own rising costs for ingredients, transportation and labor. Some U.S. lawmakers and the Biden administration have criticized food companies for using tactics such as shrinkflation, in which companies shrink their products—but not their prices.




Happy 110th birthday to Norman Borlaug, a great American credited with saving a billion lives



Jarrett Skorup:

Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of an article from Dec. 15, 2009, written shortly after Dr. Borlaug passed away. It features a new introduction and is written to honor the man who would have been 110 years old on March 25, 2024. 

In the winters, I spend my time officiating high school wrestling. Last year, while going through my pre-meet duties, I noticed a wrestler with the last name Borlaug. I asked him if he knew who Norman Borlaug was and was delighted to learn that wrestler was his great-nephew.

Wrestling must be in the family blood, because Norman Borlaug was an accomplished high school and college wrestler who helped expand the popularity of sport at the high school level in Minnesota. (He also worked as a referee). He was inducted into the  National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

The coach of Borlaug’s great nephew, a high school civics and history teacher, overheard our conversation and asked, “Who’s Norman Borlaug?”

That’s a typical response whenever I mention him. In fact, I didn’t learn of him until after completing my college degree. It’s a shame how few people know the name or the remarkable achievements of the man who took action to feed the world’s population at a time when much of the scientific establishment believed we were on the verge of an inevitable global famine.




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