Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saying Goodbye To Quality Teachers in Wisconsin

Wisconsin high school teacher Christine Kiefer was working on a master's degree and had been teaching math for 10 years when Gov. Scott Walker eliminated collective bargaining for public workers as part of his budget-balancing efforts. She was forced to abandon her master's degree because of state funding cuts. But getting a masters degree is the only way for a teacher to get promoted . . . and faced with increasing class sizes (due to other budget cuts), Kiefer told the school board she was resigning:

 "Here's my problem: When I started, I had all these incentives to improve and now I am completely stuck.  I have no master's degree, I have no way to increase my salary and there are no incentives in place for improving my practice. Others in my department and in this school make a lot more money than I do and I produce the same, quality results."

I love teaching kids and I love the kids' families and I love my colleagues and I love Whitefish Bay, but I cannot wait any longer.  I can't stay at a job that sacrifices all my time for my own family—at least two hours every school night and between six to 12 hours every weekend—time after the bell rings, time that produces such good results when there is no good faith effort on the part of the district to pay what I am worth, to pay me what you would probably have to pay an equivalent replacement for me." 

Christine Kiefer isn't the only Wisconsin teacher to leave in the wake of the damage Scott Walker has done to the state education system—retirements skyrocketed after the Governor's changes were implemented. But, as Laura Clawson of the Daily Kos has documented, Scott Walker's budget repair bill isn't the only bad policy pushing dedicated teachers out of the classroom.

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