Five years ago, weeks after a narrow victory in the 2010 election, Governor Walker began a legislative blitz to destroy quality public education in Wisconsin. Governor Walker's #1 Target: PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS. For over 20 years prior to to Walker's election as Governor, Wisconsin public school teachers had been routinely demonized by conservative talk radio stations across Wisconsin as the "enemy" of economic prosperity in Wisconsin.
Teachers were attacked continuously by the "mainstream' media as "freeloaders", "greedy", "overpaid", and "lazy". For nearly 20 years, students in Wisconsin's public schools had scored #1 or #2 in the nation on ACT tests. Yet the "mainstream media" in Wisconsin always found a negative story to write trashing and demeaning the quality of teachers and public education in Wisconsin. Right wing supporters of the Republican anti-public education agenda spent millions of dollars in negative advertising on conservative talk radio shows.
The end result of all that negative media is that Walker became Governor at a time when hatred for teachers had become deeply woven into the societal fabric of Wisconsin.
As Governor Walker launched his legislative blitz (or as he called it, "dropping the bomb") to repeal collective bargaining rights for teachers, years of relentless attacks on teachers had made it socially acceptable among many Wisconsinites to refer to teachers as "freeloaders", "moochers", "parasites", " money grubbing whores" and "union thugs" in casual conversation. Even today, in 2016, many Wisconsin residents still use these terms on a routine basis when talking about teachers in Wisconsin.
By sowing a deep disrespect for teachers into the social fabric of Wisconsin, conservative supporters of Governor Walker paved the way for the successful attacks on teachers and public education. Though Walker never campaigned on what would become Act 10, (except to billionaire Republican donors), the deep disrespect for teachers in Wisconsin made passage of Act 10 unstoppable. Governor Walker's Act 10 repealed nearly 60 years of improvements in working conditions for teachers and all public employees. Only the police and fire unions who had made large donations to Walker's campaign for Governor were exempted from Act 10.
Besides making teachers Public Enemy #1 in Wisconsin, Governor Walker has cut BILLIONS of dollars in funding for K12 public education. Most of that money has been diverted to fund massive tax cuts for his corporate supporters and millions of dollars in "job creation" grants to his campaign donors through the WEDC, which Walker personally controlled until 2015. No state in the Midwest has made larger cuts to public education than Walker's Wisconsin. While decimating public education through BILLIONS of dollars in funding cuts, Walker has allocated millions of state tax dollars in public aid to private and parochial schools through an ambitious school voucher program with zero accountability. Five years of battering by Republican rule has shaken the foundations of Wisconsin's once excellent public schools at both the K12 and University levels.
The lethal combination of Act 10 and BILLIONS of dollars in funding cuts for public education resulted in thousands of teachers losing their jobs in Wisconsin. Thousands more teachers have fled the ugly working conditions prevalent in Post Act 10 Wisconsin by either leaving the teaching profession or leaving Walker's Wisconsin for states where disrespect for teachers is not deeply woven into the social fabric of the state.
Faced with a severe teacher shortage, school districts across Walker's Wisconsin are recruiting teachers from across America. We think that before accepting a teaching position in Wisconsin, these teachers should know of the devastating effects of Act 10 on teachers' lives and careers.
More importantly, we think that EVERY teacher in America should know the devastation that Governor Walker and his Republican allies have wrought on the lives and careers of teachers in Wisconsin. What happened to teachers in Wisconsin in beginning in 2011 could be repeated in YOUR state when years of vicious attacks on teachers are not rebutted, and when teachers themselves do not become actively involved in the political process by voting and encouraging their friends to vote for political candidates who support the right of every child in America to receive a free and appropriate public education. Voting in every election matters, from your local school board, to the Presidential election in 2016. This is especially true in states like Wisconsin where Republican elected officials have enacted laws to make it much more difficult to vote.
We hope that all teachers who visit our website will find the information presented here valuable and useful in deciding where to begin or continue your teaching career. Best wishes to all teachers for a successful teaching career.