Gov. Walker signs bill creating teacher license based on experience

BROWN DEER — Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill into law that creates a temporary teaching license based on experience for vocational education teachers.

The law signed at Brown Deer High School on Tuesday, March 8th creates a licensing process based on experience in noncore subjects, including agriculture, child services, food services and marketing education.

Vocational teachers hired by a school district are issued a three-year teaching license by the Department of Public Instruction. Once that license expires, DPI may issue a professional teaching license to the applicant as long as they have successfully completed the curriculum established by the school board.

Supporters say the law will help school districts offer more courses in vocational areas.

Governor Walker's office said this in a statement:

Governor Scott Walker visited Brown Deer High School (Tuesday) to highlight the positive reforms and savings related to 2011 Wisconsin Act 10.

“Five years ago when we took office, we wanted to build a stronger Wisconsin for our future generations,” Governor Walker said.  “We implemented common-sense reforms to get our fiscal house in order.  When we passed Act 10, we rightly put our taxpayers back in charge and turned a significant budget deficit into a surplus while giving local governments and school districts the tools to manage their budgets.  We will continue to look out for the best interests of our citizens and create a more free and prosperous Wisconsin for all.”

Over the past five years, the total savings from Act 10 are estimated to be over $5 billion and pension savings alone exceed $3 billion for state and local governments.  Along with these savings, local governments used the tools in Act 10 to save on long-term liabilities.

These savings not only allowed the state to eliminate a $3.6 billion deficit, they made it possible to cut property and income taxes by a total of nearly $5 billion.  Property taxes on a typical home are lower than they were in 2010 and cumulatively $1,227 lower than where they would have been if the prior trend had continued.  Additionally, over four years, income tax rate cuts have saved a median income family of four $916.  That’s real money and real savings for the citizens of Wisconsin.

These savings and new flexibilities have given Wisconsin schools the tools necessary to improve education, including the Brown Deer School District.

“Our School Board exercised exemplary leadership to create a playbook that was thoughtful and carefully implemented with input from our teachers, staff, and community,” Brown Deer School District Superintendent Dr. Deb Kerr said.  “We were able to leverage the opportunities that Act 10 provided in order to provide more targeted resources for teaching and learning while still providing fiscal stewardship for our school community.”

After Act 10 was passed, the Brown Deer School District was able to:

  • Change Insurance Plans – The Brown Deer School District changed insurance plan design and carrier, which dropped costs by more than $1 million over the last five years, or by $3.78 million compared to the trend prior to Act 10;

  • Save On Litigation Costs – Prior to Act 10, the Brown Deer School District changed insurance carriers, leaving WEA Trust.  A prohibited practice complaint was brought against them, but after Act 10 the case was dropped.  The litigation would have cost the district $50,000;

  • Gain More Input from Staff – The Brown Deer School District moved from union bargaining to shared governance.  Now, they can invite the entire staff or any group of the staff to discuss anything they want to talk about.  Previously, this would have been considered illegal bargaining;

  • Redesign Retirement Benefits – The Brown Deer School District worked with a staff committee to redesign retirement benefits, since the prior benefits were unsustainable.  Under the new design, post-employment liability dropped by nearly $5 million;

  • Award the Best and Brightest – The Brown Deer School District worked with staff to create a salary career ladder that recognizes effective teaching, rather than seniority or graduate credits;

  • Recognize Great Teachers – The Brown Deer School District used Wisconsin’s Educator Effectiveness process to ensure successful teachers are recognized and unsuccessful teachers are counseled out of the profession, which was not possible before Act 10;

  • Improve Education – Numerous changes in state law, including Act 10, allowed the Brown Deer School District to know what teachers are supposed to teach, when they are supposed to teach it, whether they are successfully teaching it, and how they can be rewarded when they are successful;

  • Reinvest Savings – The Brown Deer School District was able to levy savings from Act 10 to convince the taxpayers to renovate existing buildings and build new ones.  The district was headed down a path of raising taxes and deteriorating buildings.  Act 10 helped in turning that around, and the beautiful buildings and stable taxes are a source of pride for Brown Deer residents;

  • Keep Great Teachers – The disappearance of seniority and tenure means the Brown Deer School District can keep the best teachers, regardless of seniority.

  • Unleash Ideas to Improve Education – This free market for teachers means the best are paid what they are worth, and additionally, good information and sharing of ideas is a direct result of the movement of teachers among districts.

More information about the positive savings and reforms related to 2011 Act 10 can be found here.