by Lydia DePillis, November 17, 2017 -- Britta Pigorsch was a sophomore in a high school outside of Madison, Wisconsin, when Act 10 passed the state legislature in 2011.
She already knew she wanted to be a teacher. But the legislation, which gutted collective bargaining rights for public sector unions and slashed their benefits, galvanized her further.
"It angered me," said Pigorsch. "I thought: Well, I could either not go into education, or I could go into education and be a voice that stands up for it."
Now 22 years old and soon to receive her teaching certificate from the University of Wisconsin, Pigorsch faces a vastly changed landscape.
Along with diminished leverage with school boards, teachers have seen lower pay, reduced pension and health insurance benefits and higher turnover as educators hop from one district to another in search of raises, a new report finds.
With the Supreme Court preparing to hear a case that could make paying dues to unions voluntary for public sector employees -- like they already are in right-to-work states -- Wisconsin's experience could soon confront teachers across the country as well.
In the five years since Act 10 was passed, median salaries for teachers in the state have fallen by 2.6% and median benefits declined 18.6%, according to an analysis of state administrative data by the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund.
In addition, 10.5% of public school teachers in Wisconsin left the profession after the 2010-2011 school year, up from 6.4% the year before. The exit rate remains elevated, at 8.8%.
As a consequence, the report found, Wisconsin's educational workforce is less experienced: Teachers had an average of 13.9 years experience under their belt in the 2015-2016 academic year, down from 14.6 years in 2010-2011.
Read more: money.cnn.com/2017/11/17/news/economy/wisconsin-act-10-teachers/index.html