The Wire

Scott Walker's Other Message to Teachers

Scott Walker was quick to use National Thank a Teacher Day today as an excuse for some election year pandering to educators. But Walker’s other messages to Wisconsin teachers have been far from affectionate. Did Wisconsin teachers feel appreciated when Scott Walker signed into effect the largest education cuts in the state’s history? What about when Walker limited their collective bargaining rights and forced them to pay more for their retirement and health care? Walker has even been called out for demonizing teachers.

Background: Scott Walker’s Other Message to Teachers

Walker Demonized Teachers

Headline: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Unfairly Demonizes Teachers. [US News and World Report, 2/18/11]

  • Jamie Stiehm: Walker’s Business “Is To Demonize And Demoralize” Teachers… “With Their Pensions And Healthcare As Fair Game.” According to a column by Jamie Stiehm published in US News and World Report, “Skating on thin ice, Gov. Scott Walker has evinced not a shred of human sympathy as he calmly goes about his business, which is to demonize and demoralize state workers. It’s all part of a larger pattern. First it was public school teachers that got the broadsides, snide suggestions they aren’t up to snuff. Now it’s state public workers, with their pensions and healthcare as fair game. These people are public servants who should not be shrugged off so lightly and rudely.” [US News and World Report, 2/18/11]

Walker Implemented The Largest Cuts To Education In Wisconsin’s History

Walker Cut $800 Million In State Aid To Schools. According to Bloomberg, “When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker championed a law restricting collective bargaining for most public employees, he gave school districts cost-cutting tools. He also took away something: $800 million in aid.” [Bloomberg, 2/2/12]

PolitiFact: True That “Walker Had Made The Biggest Cuts To Education In Wisconsin’s History”. According to PolitiFact, “State Democratic Party claim: The party sought to undercut Walker’s announcement on the surplus and tax cuts. It pointed out in a news release during his speech that Walker’s first budget cut nearly one billion dollars from public schools and our technical college system that provides critical job training programs. ‘That number is on target, we said in 2012 when rating True former gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk’s statement that Walker had made the biggest cuts to education in our state’s history.’” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/23/14]

Walker Cut Teachers Benefits

Under Walker Teachers Were Required To Contribute More To Pensions And Healthcare. According to Bloomberg, “And for every district that says it has benefited financially as teachers contribute more toward retirement and medical care, others say they have lost, according to a survey by the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators. […]The Wisconsin law requires public employees to pay 5.8 percent of their salaries for pension benefits and 12.6 percent of the premiums for health care, which Walker said would give schools greater financial flexibility.” [Bloomberg, 2/2/12]

Signed Limits On Collective Bargaining

Walker Limited Collective Bargaining For Teachers. According to the New York Times, “Although the measure exempted police officers and firefighters, it limited collective bargaining for teachers and most local government workers so that only wages could be negotiated, omitting other matters, such as vacation days and sick leave, that had long been part of bargaining agreements.” [New York Times, 11/11/13]

Walker’s Law Limited Collective Bargaining For Teachers And Most Local Government Workers So That Only Wages Could Be Negotiated. According to the New York Times, “The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments on the constitutionality of a 2011 law that all but eliminated collective bargaining for most public employees. The law, which prompted large protests and thrust the Republican administration of Gov. Scott Walker into the national spotlight, has divided the state along partisan lines for more than two years. […] Although the measure exempted police officers and firefighters, it limited collective bargaining for teachers and most local government workers so that only wages could be negotiated, omitting other matters, such as vacation days and sick leave, that had long been part of bargaining agreements. It also required annual recertification elections for bargaining representatives and prohibited municipal employers from deducting union dues from employee paychecks.” [New York Times, 11/11/13]

Walker’s Policies Resulted In 2,312 Fewer Wisconsin Teachers, Larger Class Sizes

Walker’s Act 10 Led To School Districts Cutting 2,312 Positions And Contributed To A Statewide Increase In Average Student-To-Teacher Ratios. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “To offset that cut amounting to $451 million in the first year, Walker and lawmakers eliminated through the Act 10 legislation most collective bargaining for teachers and most other public workers and then required most public employees to pick up at least half the required contributions to their pensions. […] The study found that, through layoffs or simply not filling vacancies, districts statewide cut 2,312 positions, or 2.3%, last year, up from 1,519 positions, or 1.5%, the previous year. Those staff cuts accounted for about $79 million of the overall benefits savings. They also contributed to a statewide rise in average student-to-teacher ratios to 14.4, up from 14.1 in 2011 and 13.9 in 2010.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/12/12]