After 16 months of strife, and seemingly endless recall elections, the final vote was cast in Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker retained his position and can serve out the remainder of his term. Meanwhile, a total of three Republican State Senators were recalled, changing power in the Senate from a 19-14 edge for the GOP to a 17-16 advantage for the Democratic party.
But, some questions linger....
1. Who will be teaching Wisconsin children 5-10 years from now?
- The hubbub started with Gov. Walker asking public employees (primarily teachers; firefighters and police were exempted) to increase their contributions to health care and pensions without an increase in pay. The unions negotiated a tradeoff of a wage freeze for better pensions and health care.
- Not only is pay stagnant, there is some concern that given how pay is defined in the Act that eliminated collective bargaining rights, teachers may face as much as a 30% pay cut to accompany those increased benefit contributions.
- Many of the most experienced teachers retired before Walker's rules went into effect for the 2011-2012 academic year. Class sizes have increased in many districts. Many adjunct/substitute teachers had to be hired. Quality is impacted.
- Morale has already been negatively impacted; do you think many teachers were emboldened by Tuesday's election results? Will the stress be significant enough for many to simply throw in the towel and look elsewhere?
- If I'm 18 years or younger, I've just spent 16 months watching my teachers being vilified; referred to as "thugs" and "parasites." Am I going to be rushing into college and declaring my major as elementary or secondary education?
- If I am completing my education degree, will a Wisconsin school be my first or even second job choice?
3. If I am a business looking to relocate, or currently operating in Wisconsin, will there be long-term concerns about the educational preparedness of the workforce 10 years down the road? Will whatever tax incentives provided to locate here be enough to counteract the likely increased training costs that will be borne by the organization?