You had two excellent op-eds yesterday focusing on public sector union reforms in Wisconsin or Act 10—a great model for every state. The first touched on the decline of union membership in right-to-work states like Wisconsin where, thanks to Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10, “Union membership has fallen by 40% or about 136,000 workers in Wisconsin since public unions lost their monopoly bargaining power in 2011,” explains the WSJ. And the other op-ed points out that when states start paying more to teachers who actually improve student learning as opposed to paying them based on how many years they’ve been tenured, a crazy thing happens—students learn more and good teachers get paid more. What’s not to like?
The 2011 Wisconsin law, known as Act 10, limited collective bargaining to base wages while letting school districts negotiate pay with individual teachers based on criteria other than years on the job and education level. Some districts like Green Bay have used the law to reward teacher performance while others such as Racine have adhered to seniority-based salary schedules.
Prior research on Washington, D.C.’s teacher-tenure reforms and merit pay has found that financial incentives improved the performance of highly rated teachers while dismissal threats led to attrition among ineffective ones. Student achievement has risen as a result. Act 10 provides an opportunity to evaluate how changes in contract negotiations affect teaching quality.