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New Study: Effect of Act 10 on Teacher Pay in Wisconsin

A new UW study details the impact of Act 10 on teacher salaries in Wisconsin. (Catherine Yeulot/
A new UW study details the impact of Act 10 on teacher salaries in Wisconsin. (Catherine Yeulot/
October 31, 2016

MADISON, Wis. – The passage of Act 10 in 2011 essentially outlawed public employee unions, and has had a huge impact on teacher salaries in school districts everywhere in Wisconsin.

But until now, there has been no formal study of how the districts dealt with the issue of teacher compensation after the teachers unions were abolished.

Steve Kimball is principal investigator for the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, which has just completed such a study. He says the purpose was not to recommend policy, but to inform the policymakers.

"Act 10 is extremely controversial, and still is, and compensation is, and what we wanted to do is just provide a descriptive analysis or expose’ of what some districts have been doing on teacher pay in order to just share the information," Kimball states.

Kimball says there has been considerable talk about teacher compensation changes in the state, but very little solid information on what is actually happening. He says he hopes the study will help school districts understand what's going on across the state, and that it will provide topics for consideration about teacher pay and evaluation.

According to Kimball, the study showed that each district studied took a unique and localized approach to teacher compensation, and that there is no one size fits all answer.

"Trying to build aspects of their compensation systems to recognize and reward teachers that go above and beyond just the classroom teaching, but support other teachers through being a lead teacher, mentor teacher, master teacher, et cetera," he states.

One of the effects of Act 10 has been teacher recruiting battles among districts, and the struggle for districts to replace teachers who have been lured to other districts with higher pay and more benefits.

Kimball says this demonstrates that teacher pay studies need follow-up.

"This one certainly should be,” he stresses. “I think we have a bigger puzzle here in Wisconsin, and nationally, in terms of the evolving field of teaching. And compensation is one piece of trying to understand it and we need to understand what the impacts of these changes are."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI