A new report on Act 10 and its impact on teachers fails to do a proper analysis, according to Will Flanders, director of research at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL).

“This hardly qualifies as a ‘study,'” Flanders said in an email reply to RightWisconsin. “It is simply a reporting of summary statistics with no analysis.”

The liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) claims their new study, “Attacks on Public Sector Unions Harm States: How Act 10 Has Affected Education in Wisconsin,” shows “that since the passage of Act 10, teachers have received far lower compensation; turnover rates have increased; and teacher experience has dropped significantly.”

“Rather than encouraging the best and brightest students to become teachers and to remain in the field throughout their career, the law appears to have had the opposite effect by devaluing teaching and driving many teachers out of Wisconsin’s public schools,” CAP claimed their study showed.

“While a spike in retirements in the immediate aftermath of Act 10 is shown, our much richer analysis from last year showed that the effects on teacher experience were minimal—about .75 years less on average,” Flanders said. “Additionally, there has been no impact on student/teacher ratios.”

Flanders said the reported teacher shortage in Wisconsin – and nationally – actually began before the passage of Act 10 in 2011. “The number of teachers in the state has actually increased in the years since Act 10,” Flanders said.

The following chart from the 2016 WILL report supports Flanders’ criticism of CAP’s conclusions, showing an increase in the number of teachers since 2012 after the initial wave of retirements.

In addition, Flanders said while the impact on overall teacher experience from the initial spike in retirements was statistically significant, it was too small to likely have an impact on educational out comes.

“The effect was statistically significant, but substantively very small at less than 1 year,” Flanders said. “While teacher experience can have an impact on performance, the small decline found here is unlikely to have made a substantive difference.”

CAP also listed as a negative impact of Act 10, “interdistrict moves,” which they define as “when a teacher leaves one Wisconsin district to teach at another the next school year.” According to the CAP report, the number of interdistrict moves have increased “from 1.3 percent before the passage of Act 10 to 3.4 percent at the end of the 2014-15 school year.”

The complaint echoes a complaint made by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers at a conference last year.

“In addition, especially in this part of the world, and I know you don’t want to hear it, after Act 10, the ability of districts to poach other teachers,” Evers said to over 300 attendees of the Wisconsin Public Education Network conference at Wauwatosa East High School. “I know that, probably I’m sure that, others don’t want to hear it as poaching. It’s the wild west out there.”

However, Flanders said competition for good teachers is good for teachers. “The work of {Stanford University economic researcher Barbara} Biasi suggested that Act 10 has created an environment in which high quality teachers have the opportunity to move to higher paying positions,” Flanders said. “This has created a marketplace for teachers, whereby effective teachers feel less moored to a particular school and more willing to take advantage of opportunities elsewhere in the state.”

Act 10 was passed by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2011 to end collective bargaining over benefits and work conditions for public employees, including public school teachers. In addition to the $5 billion in cost savings for taxpayers since its enactment, school districts are now free to use different compensation models such as merit pay to attract high-performing teachers.

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