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Act 10 — former Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011 law cutting benefits and curbing collective bargaining for most public employees in Wisconsin — has contributed to the ongoing shortage of teachers in the state, according to multiple analyses.

The combined effect of Act 10’s passage with long-term market trends including declining compensation and the loss of teachers’ autonomy raised the percentage of teachers leaving the profession to 10.5% after the 2010-11 school year, compared to 6.4% pre-Act 10. The bulk of teachers who immediately exited were older and left to claim their retirement benefits, which were set to be cut under Act 10.

However, the long-term effect of Act 10 on the teacher shortage remains unclear. In 2015-16, for example, the pace of teacher attrition dipped below pre-Act 10 levels in Wisconsin.

Teacher shortages are occurring nationwide. One study placed the number of teacher vacancies at over 36,000 nationally and 2,565 in Wisconsin.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Center for American Progress: Attacks on public-sector unions harm states: How Act 10 has affected education in Wisconsin

Spectrum News: Teacher shortage part of Act 10 fallout

Wisconsin Policy Forum: Stay in school: An update on teacher workforce trends in metro Milwaukee Teacher shortages in the United States

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Jacob Alabab-Moser / Wisconsin WatchFact Checker

Jacob Alabab-Moser joined as Wisconsin Watch’s fact checker in September 2022, as part of the effort by The Gigafact Project in partnership with different state-level news outlets to combat misinformation in the 2022 midterm elections. Jacob has several years of experience as a fact checker and research assistant at a variety of organizations, including at The Gigafact Project. He holds a BA from Brown University and is pursuing a MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science.