WILL Press Release | Five Years After Act 10: New WILL Study Reviews New Marketplace for Teachers in Wisconsin

 In Education Reform, Press Releases, WILL News

Most comprehensive study to date of effect of historic reforms on classrooms, teachers

June 21, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty has released a new report that studies how Act 10 has impacted the new marketplace for teachers in Wisconsin after five years of implementation.  The study is the most comprehensive analysis yet on the effect of the law on classroom sizes and teacher pay, benefits, experience, and race.  The findings show that the claims that Act 10 would have dire consequences on the education workforce were greatly exaggerated.

Facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit in the winter of 2011, Governor Scott Walker proposed controversial legislation to close the budget gap and provide local levels of government the policy tools to manage personnel costs – including school districts. Coupled to reductions in state aid, Act 10 allowed for cost containment measures to reform collective bargaining, allow local levels of government to seek higher employee contributions to their pensions and healthcare, and encourage competitively priced healthcare benefits.  These tools saved Wisconsin taxpayers over $5 billion.

But have these savings had a significant effect on the education workforce in Wisconsin?  The WILL study, co-authored by Dr. Marty Lueken of the Friedman Foundation, Dr. Will Flanders and CJ Szafir of WILL, uses data from the Department of Public Instruction and U.S. Department of Education to answer that very question.  Their main analysis features a “differences in differences” approach that compares education workforce data in Wisconsin with surrounding states – Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan – to determine whether the teacher workforce is affected by Act 10 or national trends.

Some of the findings include:

  1. When compared to neighboring states, Act 10 had no significant impact on the number of students per school teacher.  Put another way, changes in classroom size did not differ significantly from changes in neighboring states.
  1. When compared to surrounding states, we did not find any significant effect by Act 10 on school district spending on teacher gross salaries (incl. bonuses, some pay for performance, and stipends).  We did find an effect by Act 10 on base salaries.  We suspect that this reflects the new marketplace for teachers post-Act 10 where districts are moving towards pay-for-performance, bonuses, and stipends, as described in a previous WILL study.
  1. There was little difference in the change in average teacher experience before and after Act 10.
  1. There was little difference in the change in racial makeup of the teaching workforce before and after Act 10.
  1. Wisconsin’s teacher decline began well before the implementation of Act 10.

The rest of the findings, executive summary, and report can be found here.

Critics of Act 10 – then and now – have claimed that Wisconsin teachers would destroy the teaching profession.   This report shows that some of those claims were exaggerated or have not materialized.

WILL President Rick Esenberg, “It has been five years since Act 10 has been implemented into law and, given its significance, it is worth reflecting on its impact on Wisconsin.  This study adds to that debate by providing a serious look at how Wisconsin’s education workforce has been effected by Act 10.”

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