Gov. Walker, head of Teachers' Union discuss education in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE -- Tuesday, September 4th marked the first day of school for most Milwaukee-area students, and Gov. Scott Walker welcomed students back to class Tuesday morning -- along with the head of Milwaukee's teacher's union. It's been a year-and-a-half since the first protests over Gov. Walker's collective bargaining reforms.

Protests were sparked in March 2011 by Gov. Walker's collective bargaining reforms.

Tuesday, Gov. Walker, MPS officials and Bob Peterson -- the head of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association greeted students at Gilbert Stuart School on Milwaukee's north side.

"Our teachers understand their collective bargaining rights were taken away and that really jeopardizes our ability to work collectively with the school board and the district to negotiate school improvement plans," Peterson said.

Gov. Walker says he believes over time, unionized teachers will have a better understanding of the collective bargaining changes and why he pushed them.

"I've talked to a number of teachers around the state who appreciate the fact that now they have a more direct connection with their principals and their classroom and I talked to members who feel good about the future prospects of pay-for-performance," Gov. Walker said.

Peterson agrees performance should be a factor, but says MPS was already improving its teacher evaluation system before the state got involved.

"We piloted nine schools last year with the teacher evaluation program. It's very similar to what the state has laid out. This year, we're gonna be piloting it in 42 schools. It's not just about one particular change. It's about a series of changes that push true reform, which ultimately is in the best interests of our kids," Peterson said.

Gov. Walker and Peterson agree education in Wisconsin is improving. They also agree there's still more work to do. Over a year after the protests in Madison, they still disagree on whether collective bargaining reform is helping the state get there.