Wisconsin must demonstrate that we value our teachers, Governor Evers writes

In a column released Wednesday, Governor Tony Evers says Wisconsin must do better in demonstrating that it values its teachers.

“We must … recognize that part of supporting our kids in the classroom means supporting the educators who teach our kids,” Evers writes.

“Wisconsin pays our public school teachers less than the national average, which makes it harder to recruit and retain talented educators. According to recently-released data, Wisconsin has fallen to 33rd in the nation for average teacher pay. Teacher salaries in our state are some of the lowest in the Midwest. Teachers moving across the border to Illinois or Michigan can see pay bumps of $10,000 or more.

“That’s just not good enough, folks.

“As we continue to fight for the resources our schools need to invest in our kids, we must do everything in our power to ensure that educators know the work they do is valued and that they mean something to our kids and the people of our state.”

Read the governor’s entire column, published by the Capital Times:

Last month, Kathy and I escaped Madison for a weekend and celebrated our 50th high school reunion back in Plymouth.

We got to catch up with friends, attend the homecoming parade and football game, and tour the new multi-purpose facility and fitness center at the high school.

While I was in town, I also sat down for an interview with two high school students. They asked me everything from my favorite memory of Plymouth High School (starting at the school when it was brand new) to my thoughts on Greta Thunberg’s advocacy on climate change (I think she is an incredible human being and appreciate her work). The students also posed the question: “What is the biggest change you’ve seen in Wisconsin in the last 50 years?”

It might sound hokey, but here’s what I told them — what stands out for me is that a whole bunch hasn’t changed. Being back in our hometown was an important reminder of how important our kids and our schools are to our communities. And kids are as good and smart and dedicated now as they were when I was in high school.

That’s why after spending my career fighting for our kids, I decided to run for governor. Because I believe what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state.

Since taking office, I have traveled the state listening to the people of Wisconsin, and at every stop, I saw educators and heard folks say how important their local schools are.

That’s why I proposed a bold budget with significant investments in education, including a commitment to return to two-thirds funding and a $600 million increase in special education, among other important priorities.

Now, I know this is not quite where the final budget ended up. We didn’t get everything we all wanted. And, quite frankly, no one was more disappointed than I was by what Republicans did to the budget we put together.

But I wasn’t going to negotiate against what we were able to give our kids with the budget we were sent, knowing that our kids could have ended up with less in the end.

And I sure wasn’t going to let our kids, our educators and our schools become bargaining chips by going back to the negotiating table when it would hurt them the most.

So, at the end of the day, I went back to that fundamental creed: that what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state.

And that’s why I’m proud of where we ended up and what we were able to do with the budget we were given.

We provided $95 million in special education categorical aid — the first increase in a decade.PauseCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time0:00Stream TypeLIVELoaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00Fullscreen00:00Mute

We provided nearly $330 million in state general aid — the largest increase since 2005.

We also doubled state support for school mental health programs to help our kids in need.

And finally, through my vetoes, we were able to increase per-pupil state categorical aids by nearly $100 million over the next two years.

Our budget was a down payment on important priorities, but there is more work for us to do.

I said I wanted to return to our state providing two-thirds funding for our schools, and we have to get that done. And, yes, we increased special education aid, but we’re nowhere close to where we need to be, and we have to do more.

We must also recognize that part of supporting our kids in the classroom means supporting the educators who teach our kids. Wisconsin pays our public school teachers less than the national average, which makes it harder to recruit and retain talented educators. According to recently-released data, Wisconsin has fallen to 33rd in the nation for average teacher pay. Teacher salaries in our state are some of the lowest in the Midwest. Teachers moving across the border to Illinois or Michigan can see pay bumps of $10,000 or more.

That’s just not good enough, folks.

As we continue to fight for the resources our schools need to invest in our kids, we must do everything in our power to ensure that educators know the work they do is valued and that they mean something to our kids and the people of our state.

Because, by golly, I can tell you that our educators mean something to our kids. I see it in every classroom I visit. And I heard it straight from one of those two students who asked me what’s changed since I graduated. She told me that her favorite thing about Plymouth High School is her teachers. That she appreciates how she can talk to them even about things that happen outside of school. That they make her feel like she is important and that she is the future.

As I said, a lot has changed in the last 50 years, but our values have stayed the same. We work hard, we cheer for the Packers, Brewers and Bucks, we look after our neighbors, and we care about our communities.

That’s why it’s time to get serious about investing in our kids, our schools and our educators, because what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state.

Gov. Tony Evers: What’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state

Last month, Kathy and I escaped Madison for a weekend and celebrated our 50th high school reunion back in Plymouth. We got to catch up with friends, attend the homecoming parade and football game, and tour the new multi-purpose facility and fitness center at the high school.

Advocacy by Eau Claire educators leads to postponement of school board action on proposed benefit changes

At a meeting packed with nearly 100 members of the Eau Claire Association of Educators and supporters, the Eau Claire School Board voted unanimously Monday night not to cap health and dental benefits at the current 2018-19 rates and postponed changes to other post-employment benefits (OPEB) for the time being.

Many educators at the meeting spoke out against the proposed changes.

The Eau Claire Leader Telegram reported that ECAE President Mark Goings told the board that while he understands the district faces budget challenges, punishing educators is the wrong way to go.

“You are being asked to balance the books in a system that’s rigged against us,” Goings said. “Staff is the greatest cost, but staff is also the district’s greatest asset.”

The Leader Telegram also quoted Dan Wilson, a special education teacher in the district:

“We have been there for the district,” Wilson said, “but will the district continue to be there for us? If reasonable changes need to be made, then take the time to get all the facts and the data and the information. Then at that point, let’s talk about it.”

The teacher pay gap is growing: Teachers are now paid 18.7% less than comparable professions

The teacher pay gap is growing, according to a  new analysis, and teachers nationwide are now paid 18.7% less than people in comparable professions. That is an increase from 17% three years ago.

“The erosion of teacher pay relative to that of comparable workers in the last couple of years — and in fact since 2008 — reflects state policy decisions (mainly tax cuts) rather than the result of revenue challenges brought on by the Great Recession,” according to the analysis by the the Economic Policy Institute.

The EPI said the teacher wage penalty — how much less teachers make than comparable workers — grew from 5.5 percent in 1979 to a record 18.7 percent in 2017. The wage penalty was fairly stable from 1979 to the mid-1990s but then grew into the early 2000s. After some variability in the mid-2000s, the increasing teacher wage penalty continued to grow from 2010 through 2017, rising from 12.1 to 18.7 percent — driven by a particularly large increase in the wage penalty for female teachers.

The analysis noted that while teacher benefits are still generally higher than benefits in other professions, they are also declining and do not begin to make up for the loss in salary. The total teacher compensation penalty was a record-high 11.1 percent in 2017 (composed of an 18.7 percent wage penalty plus a 7.6 percent benefit advantage), it said.

The EPI offered two analyses. In the first, public school teacher wages were compared to wages of workers with comparable education, experience, and other characteristics, resulting in the 18.7% pay gap estimate. To break down comparisons by states, the analysis was more limited, comparing public school teachers with other college graduates by education level. In that second comparison, the national pay gap was 23.8%, and the pay gap for Wisconsin teachers was 22.2%.

“If the policy goal is to improve the quality of the entire teaching workforce, then raising the level of teacher compensation, including wages, is critical to recruiting and retaining higher-quality teachers,” the EPI analysis concludes. “Policies that solely focus on changing the composition of current compensation (e.g., merit or pay-for-performance schemes) without actually increasing compensation levels are unlikely to be effective. Simply put, improving overall teacher quality, preventing turnover, and strengthening teacher retention requires eliminating the teacher pay penalty.”

Read entire analysis:

The teacher pay penalty has hit a new high: Trends in the teacher wage and compensation gaps through 2017

Teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Colorado have raised the profile of deteriorating teacher pay as a critical public policy issue. Teachers and parents are protesting cutbacks in education spending and a squeeze on teacher pay that persist well into the economic recovery from the Great Recession.

Read more in The Guardian:

Teacher pay drops 5% in last decade – despite better qualified staff

American teachers are getting paid less – even though they are better qualified than ever, new research has found. Teacher salaries are down by nearly 5% compared with before the Great Recession – and it’s not because teachers are younger or less educated, according to the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution.

 

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College ESS Local wins recertification election, second time around

A new recertification election has proven successful for the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Educational Support Specialists Local. The initial recertification election in April failed by 2 votes. However, the unit experienced voting difficulties in the first 24 hours of the voting period April 5-6. All of the Social Security numbers were incorrectly entered into the AAA database, but were corrected on the second day of voting. However, some people who reported having difficulty subsequently did not log in to vote. The union challenged the outcome and a new voting period was approved. The new election for the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Educational Support Specialists Local was held May 18 – June 7, and this time certification was easily approved, with 125 yes votes of 187 eligible voters. Congratulations, NWTC Educational Support Specialists! This means 18 of the 19 WTCS recertification elections this spring were successful! Read more.

Democrats propose $100 billion for schools and to boost educator salaries while safeguarding bargaining rights

In the wake of teacher unrest throughout the nation, Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a plan to direct $100 billion toward public schools and educators’ salaries while safeguarding their right to bargain collectively through their unions on salaries, benefits and working conditions.

Democrats said their plan would be paid for by revisiting the Trump tax cuts for the top 1%. “Instead of allowing millionaires, billionaires and massive corporations to keep their tax breaks and special-interest loopholes, Democrats would invest in teachers and students,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

“That teacher pay has fallen so far behind matters a great deal, and not just to teachers themselves but to all of us,” they said. NEA President Lily Eskelsen García participated in a news conference to announce the plan.

 

 

Read more:

Dems want to scrap tax cut for rich to fund teachers’ raises

WASHINGTON – Congressional Democrats want to give a big salary bump to teachers and pay for it by canceling the tax cut for the nation’s top 1 percent of earners. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday are expected to propose giving states and school districts $50 billion over a decade for teacher raises and recruitment.

Democrats Just Rolled Out A School Funding Plan To Address Teacher Walkouts

As more and more teachers protest their states’ funding cuts, Democrats in Congress say they have a plan to restore school spending and boost teacher pay. On Capitol Hill on Tuesday, party leaders joined teachers’ union officials to promote a slate of policies aimed at addressing the growing number of teacher walkouts that have shaken up statehouses across the country.

Democrats have a better deal for teachers and our kids, too: Chuck Schumer & Nancy Pelosi

CLOSE Democrats would invest in teacher pay, modern classrooms, special ed and low-income schools, and pay for it all. We’d also protect collective bargaining. For the better part of the 20th century, being a teacher in America meant being a part of the middle class.

WTCS recertification elections overwhelmingly successful

Seventeen of this year’s 19 recertification elections in Wisconsin Technical College System locals were successful, according to results from the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC). Recertification votes were successful for:

Blackhawk Technical College Education Support Professionals, Blackhawk Technical College Faculty Federation, Fox Valley Technical College Education Support Personnel Association, Fox Valley Technical College Faculty Association, Gateway Educational Support Personnel, Gateway Technical Education Association, Lakeshore Technical College Education Association, Madison Area Technical College Full-Time Teachers Union, Madison Area Technical College Paraprofessional and School-Related Personnel, Milwaukee Area Technical College Full-Time Faculty, Milwaukee Area Technical College Paraprofessionals, Milwaukee Area Technical College Part-Time Faculty, Waukesha County Technical College Educational Support Professionals, Western Technical College Paraprofessionals and School-Related Employees, Western Technical College Faculty and Non-Teaching Professionals, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Support Staff, and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Teachers.

The two other recertification elections failed by the narrowest of margins. Northcentral Technical College Faculty Association received 50.3% of the vote, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Educational Support Specialists received 50% of the vote. The law requires 52% of all eligible unit members (not just those voting) to vote yes for the recertification to pass. The WTCS locals are a mixture of WEAC and WFT affiliated locals.

Agreement ends West Virginia strike, gives teachers 5% raise

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement, in reaction to Tuesday’s agreement that will allow West Virginia to attract and retain the best educators for West Virginia students.

“I am so proud of West Virginia educators and the West Virginia Education Association, without whom the West Virginia Senate would not have honored the agreement to give educators, school support staff and all public employees a 5 percent raise. They have stood in solidarity and made their voices heard to demand recognition of their professionalism and dignity because they know attracting and retaining the most caring and competent educators for West Virginia students is essential to their state’s success.

“While this is a good first step, West Virginia will need to make additional changes to ensure they can recruit the best educators in the future. Even with this raise they remain 43rd in the country for teacher pay, and unless the task force charged with addressing the health care system is successful, the victory will be short lived. It is important that the task force confront the serious challenges facing the state’s Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA) and generate solutions that are fair, equitable, and do not balance shortfalls on the backs of public service workers like educators, librarians, or state employees. I have complete faith in the educators of West Virginia to continue making their voices heard and ensure the task force is successful.

“Students, parents, administrators, school superintendents, community and faith leaders, and a bipartisan effort from lawmakers were also essential to reaching this agreement, and we can’t thank them enough for the outpouring of support they provided our educators over the past two weeks.

“This is a great day for West Virginia’s students and its future.”

Read more:

West Virginia leaders reach deal to end teachers strike

West Virginia’s striking teachers cheered and applauded Tuesday as lawmakers acted to end a nine-day classroom walkout, agreeing to grant them 5 percent pay hikes that are also being extended to all state workers. A huge crowd of teachers packing the Capitol chanted jubilantly, sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and some even wept for joy at the settlement.

West Virginia lawmakers reach deal to give striking teachers pay raise

West Virginia lawmakers said Tuesday morning that a deal has been reached to deliver a 5% pay raise to teachers, according to the governor and the committee meeting on the matter. Teachers have been on strike since February 22. At a committee meeting Tuesday, state Sen.

Family’s experiences in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin illustrate impact of political climate on education, unions

In an Education Minnesota article, Sparta, Wisconsin, teacher Lauren Cody says her mother’s involvement in the union as a Minnesota Education Support Professional has instilled in her a deep appreciation of the importance of the union for educators and students.

Lauren, a fourth-grade teacher in her second year of teaching, says she joined the union because she saw the benefits the union has provided to her mom, Deb Cody, as a paraprofessional in Caledonia, Minnesota.

“My mom is active in the union, and that is what motivated me to also get involved,” Lauren said. “I have learned a lot from her experiences. I have seen her work through numerous injustices, and it has really opened my eyes to how imperative it is to be part of the union.”

The article emphasizes the negative impact of Act 10 on educators and education in Wisconsin and also the impact of similar legislation in Iowa, where Deb Cody’s son, Kalyn, teaches. Deb says the experiences of her children in Wisconsin and Iowa illustrate how critical it is that educators in Minnesota work to maintain their much friendlier environment for unions and public education.

“I feel strongly and talk often to others about the benefits of being a union member,” she said.

Read the entire article:

Education Minnesota – Minnesota Educator

As a mom, Deb Cody is of course proud of her children. As a paraprofessional, she is even prouder that two of her children became teachers. As a leader in her local union in Caledonia, Deb is nervous about losing collective bargaining rights because she sees the effect it can have on the education profession with her daughter teaching in Wisconsin and her son in Iowa.

Wisconsin Supreme Court bars access to public records created during union recertification elections

From Madison Teachers Inc.

Madison Teachers Inc. filed an action in Dane County Circuit Court in 2015 challenging the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission’s (WERC) refusal to release voter lists during annual Union certification elections. Dane County Judge Peter Anderson ruled in favor of MTI and held that the WERC was required to produce the certification voter lists requested by the Union under the Public Records Law during the election period. The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the ruling in a decision released this morning, essentially adopting a new court-made exemption to the state’s broad Open Records law.

In a blistering dissent. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley stated:

“Despite Wisconsin’s longstanding public policy favoring transparency, for the third time in three years this court continues to undermine our public records law. Yet again, this court overturns a lower court decision favoring transparency of records to which the public is rightfully entitled. Once more we must ask, ‘[w]hat has the majority achieved with its opinion grounded in speculative, abstract, and unsubstantiated fears?”’”

The decision blocks the union’s access to a public record of the employees who have voted as of the mid-point of the 20-day election period. MTI was not seeking a record of “how” employees voted (that is rightfully kept confidential), but only a list of voters who had cast a ballot.

Since Act 10 was enacted, which requires public employee unions to stand for recertification elections every year, the WERC has provided the union with the information on who has voted only after the election was over. The decision will uphold the secrecy of WERC’s recertification elections, which it conducts entirely by electronic balloting.

Historically, and under WERC’s election rules, unions have a right to observe and monitor certification elections. As a result of the Court’s decision, unions will as a practical matter have no effective way to monitor the WERC’s administration of the elections or to track voting, as they would if WERC conducted elections at a physical polling place.

The Court’s decision will have far-reaching consequences for the Open Records law and is a blow to transparency and open government.

Teachers say they are overwhelmed by constant policy changes

Nearly all respondents to an Education Week survey — 86 percent — said they had experienced new changes or reforms in the past two school years, and 58 percent said the changes are “way too much” or “too much.”

The teachers surveyed were most likely to say they’d had changes to their teacher-evaluation systems. Other common areas for reform were curriculum, professional development, and state testing.

About one-third of respondents said the amount of reform was “just about right,” but most teachers (84 percent) agreed that as soon as they get a handle on a new reform, it changes.

Read entire report in Education Week:

Majority of Teachers Say Reforms Have Been ‘Too Much’

Change is hard-particularly for teachers, who are generally taking dozens of students along for the ride. Yet the majority of teachers say they’ve faced major changes-related to what and how they teach, as well as how they’re evaluated-over the last couple of years in their schools and districts, according to a recent survey by the Education Week Research Center.