Actions Have Consequences: One Teacher Takes Action Post-Act 10

For many public employees, Act 10 truly was a bomb dropped squarely in their laps. Act 10, Gov. Scott Walker’s so-called “Budget Repair” bill, was less about repairing a hole in Wisconsin’s budget and more about crippling a political enemy of Republicans – Wisconsin’s public employee unions. In the wake of Act 10, many public employees, including those who may not have been overly political previously – began to take action to defend against Gov. Walker’s attack on public employees. One such public employee was Brad Klotz, a teacher in the Lake Mills School District. Klotz, a 13-year teacher, had been minimally involved with his local teacher’s union prior to Act 10, but as soon as he became aware of Act 10 he knew he had to mobilize and so he went to the State Capitol.

Mary Bell (right) and Brad Klotz (left)
Mary Bell (right) and Brad Klotz (left)
I recently had an opportunity to chat with Klotz (pictured, left) about how Act 10 has impacted him personally and professionally, and how it has caused him to become more politically involved. “I’m absolutely more politically involved than before Act 10,” Klotz said, noting that the opposition has been very organized and active in pushing their agenda. “We have to fight ALEC,” Klotz continued, adding that Gov. Walker is not the problem; he’s just a symptom of the larger problem of the influence of right-wing special interests on our state’s political system. Asked how specifically he’s gotten more involved since Act 10, Klotz said that he’s gotten more involved in his union, having run for a leadership position on the regional layer of the educator’s union, and he also added that while he typically voted only in presidential years, he has become a more consistent and committed voter, voting in midterm and local elections as well.

“We’re engaging members in a number of different ways” said Klotz, outlining that he and other teachers have done canvassing to encourage their fellow educators to not only vote, but to get involved politically. “We’ve written 400 member to member postcards and made phone calls to our members for get out the vote efforts,” Klotz added, saying that he and other educators were also working to engage education chapters at colleges to get future educators more involved as well. Klotz did note there have been some challenges in organizing and mobilizing his fellow educators, adding that while his efforts to organize and mobilize his fellow educators have been “met with a lot of positivity,” new demands placed on educators as a result of new education initiatives being rolled out have left many educators burdened and more difficulty to mobilize due to demands on their time and energy.

Klotz also added that a lot of effort has gone into building up the teacher’s union locally by aggressively registering new teachers to join the union and then by getting those teachers involved. He noted teachers have been interviewing candidates for the local school board, attending school board meetings, and engaging the school board to discuss how best to stay “ahead of the curve” when it comes to educating students.

Klotz said the financial impact Act 10 has had on his family has been steep, noting that he and his wife (also a teacher) have seen their take-home pay shrink by $700 per month each. However, while Klotz mentioned the financial impact Act 10 has had on he and his wife (not to mention so many other educators and other public employees), it became clear his primary motivation for getting more involved was the negative impact Act 10 has had on his school district and school districts across the state. Noting an explosion in the number of retirements of school district staff since 2010, Klotz noted that in the first six months of 2011 nearly 5,000 school district employees throughout Wisconsin retired, while in all of 2010 just over 2,500 school district employees retired.

Asked about his biggest concern for educators in the next few years, Klotz cited the possible expansion of voucher schools. Efforts to expand voucher schools statewide were not successful during the last legislative session due to opposition from Republicans like Sen. Mike Ellis, but with the possibility of newer, more extreme conservative Republicans like Howard Marklein being elected to the State Senate to replace more moderate Republicans, the statewide expansion of voucher schools could become a reality. “Republicans want a check in every backpack,” Klotz said, adding that a statewide expansion of voucher schools would lead to more money being taken out of the already shrunken pool of money allocated to the state’s public school system. Klotz right noted that voucher schools have a 20-year record of not producing better educational outcomes than traditional public schools, and he noted that in some cases taxpayer money paid to voucher schools has been blatantly stolen.

While I’ve only shared Brad Klotz’s story in this post, I know his story is not unique. No doubt there are hundreds – if not thousands – of public employees who have decided to get more involved and engaged in the political process as a result of the outright assault on public employees through the “divide and conquer” policies of Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican allies in the legislature. What’s more Brad Klotz’s story of how Act 10 has affected him financially is absolutely not unique. The policy of “divide and conquer” employed by Republicans in Wisconsin has left many Wisconsinites believing that this state’s public employees are enemies of taxpayers, when the truth is actually much different. Public employees helped make Wisconsin a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family, and public employees are your friends, relatives, and neighbors.


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17 thoughts on “Actions Have Consequences: One Teacher Takes Action Post-Act 10

  1. This man is in the process of destroying education in Wisconsin and in the process and by his very actions is also taking Wisconsin’s economy right along with it. It will take years to restore Wisconsin to what it was after what this man has done in just 4 years. If Walker is given another 4 years Wisconsin may never make it back!

  2. You never know these days, but are you sure its Mary on the right and Brad on the left?

    1. Denis,

      I’m sure that “it’s” is short for it is or it has.

      “Its,” is the possessive form of it.

      1. John, I have some lint in one of my sweaters. Or is it sweater’s? Care to knit pick for me?

          1. Yep. Of course, I was kind of nitpicking on the photo thing. I was trying to be funny. You it seems are trying to be a douchebag. And succeeding.

      1. It’s your blog. Ya I probably shouldn’t have called him a douchebag. That said, I think it is kind of obnoxious to point out grammatical or other unimportant errors. By the way, what do you mean by trolling? Serious question.

        1. Denis, you wrote: “That said, I think it is kind of obnoxious to point out grammatical or other unimportant errors.”

          Do you mean like this, that you wrote? “You never know these days, but are you sure its Mary on the right and Brad on the left?”

          1. Ya, kind of. Though my intent, if that matters, was a light hearted jab about gender being a matter of choice. Would you admit that being the grammar police is generally considered poor internet etiquette?

  3. Great post. Irrespective of whether Mary Burke or Scott Walker wins on Tuesday, the future of teaching in Wisconsin is going to be determined by true LEADERS like Zach Klotz.

    The bitter anti-teacher attacks of the last 4 years have given us a chance to see who the REAL leaders are (Zach Klotz) and who the pretenders were; the teachers who claimed to be pro-union, but have now cowered into their classrooms, not continued their membership in the union, and even worse, have become management snitches who work to sabotage the efforts of the union to improve teaching and working conditions for all teachers.

    Thanks to Scott Walker and all the paid for Koch Whores in Wisconsin, teaching conditions in Wisconsin have been set back 60 years, back to the time when the Zack Klotz’s would immediately be fired, then Blacklisted from ever getting a job in Wisconsin again.

    Only when there are hundreds, then thousands of teachers like Zach Klotz will working and teaching conditions for teachers in Wisconsin return to the levels enjoyed by teachers in 48 other states in America.

    Thank you to EVERY Zach Klotz out there who is fighting for teachers and public education in Wisconsin. We need a lot more Zack Klotz’s to turn the tide of HATRED towards teachers in Wisconsin.

  4. It is a great article. It speaks the truth. My husband is a state employee, 30 years. He has lost over $500.00 per pay check. Mr. Walker and Co. has thrown us into poverty along with many others and could care less. I can tell Walker is getting nervous. He is whining about the news coverage or lack of news coverage on Mary. He looks like he wants to cry all of the time. He is a liar and a crook. He is really just plain dumb and there is no other way to say it. I have lived in Wisconsin all of my life, a long time, and never have I seen the likes of this guy or the kind he runs with. Please vote him out. Mary is very intelligent and knows about which she speaks.

    By the way I enjoy your articles. They are very good. Is there any way I can post to Facebook?

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