"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Civics Lesson for the Day in Wisconsin: Teachers Call in Sick (but feel well enough to protest) and Democratic Legislators Run Away.

If you need a reason to want to reform education and to reduce the power of the unions over public education, just read the following articles here and here. They report on the 25,000 public education teachers who have not reported to work and brought students to protest the Wisconsin governor's budget proposals. Schools have had to close because of this "sickout".

Is this action "for the kids" or is it for the preservation of a system that is no longer financially sustainable? From "Have Teacher Unions Nuked the Fridge":

Furthermore, taking the kids out of classes to march with them underscores another significant concern of the public regarding education. Most of the students marching with their teachers had no idea of the finer points of Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to bring teacher pension contributions in line with the private sector, a position the union called “slavery” just a couple of months before conceding the point. Nor do they understand the budget gap that Walker faces, or the nuances of economic policy, tax burdens, and growth policies. All they know is what their teachers told them — and that speaks to political indoctrination conducted in public schools by activist teachers, and the inability of parents and communities to weed out inappropriate politicking in classrooms.

Thirty years ago, the public saw teachers as underpaid and overworked professionals trying to prepare the next generation for leadership. These days, the teachers unions are doing their best to present an image of arrogant entitlement combined with an inability to withstand scrutiny and accountability. When that $40 million failed to rescue Democrats from their midterm debacle, it may well have been a nuke-the-fridge moment that brought a dawning realization of the political albatross that teachers unions have become.

When Governor Walker attempts to do the job he was hired to do (reduce the budget so his state can pay its bills) and presents it to the Wisconsin legislature, what do the Democratic legislators do? They act as petulant as the union members and....disappear so a vote can't be taken (from "Dems on the Run: Wisconsin Senators to Leave Illinois for an Undisclosed Location"):

In a telephone interview, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) said he was upholding the rights of workers and the democratic process. He declined to give his location but acknowledged that at least one other Democrat was with him. He said that law enforcement would be able to compel him and his members to the Senate floor if they are located in Wisconsin.

“I can tell you this – we’re not all in one place,” Miller said. “This is a watershed moment unlike any that we have experienced in our political lifetimes. The people have shown that the government has gone too far . . .  We are prepared to do what is necessary to make sure that this bill gets the consideration it needs.”

The fleeing Democrats have been located in Illinois. Is this the type of behavior the state of Wisconsin deserves from its Democratic politicians in making important budget decisions? Senator Miller states "he was upholding the rights of workers" by fleeing the state capitol so discussion and a vote could not take place.

What happened to the rights of the taxpayers who are paying these public sector workers? These public sector employees are shirking their professional duties as teachers. When you hear unions saying "it's all for the children", think back on this display of pushback from the teachers union. How is this reforming education and providing a good educational foundation for public school children?

These teachers need to go back to school and study accounting: when a state is operating in a deficit, it needs to cut costs and job benefits need to be adjusted and some jobs may be eliminated. Welcome to the real world. When a private company doesn't make a profit, changes must be made or the company may cease its business operations. This is the hard lesson public sector employees are learning that private sector employees have known and keep in mind as they make business plans and budgets.

The Democratic legislators need to understand they must make decisions to benefit the state as a whole, not to protect public sector employees at the expense of the private sector. Running away so the debate and vote can't occur? Oh, please. Elected officials are supposed to be statesmen/women, not mouthpieces for special interests.

1 comment:

  1. As a Washington State Teacher I pay 29% of my health care costs and 49% of my monthly retirement contribution. If the figures I have seen in the media are correct, Wisconsin is asking far less and I seriously doubt that this is what is motivating Wisconsin's teachers to storm the capital.

    Unions do a lot more for teachers than bargain for wages and benefits. They protect teachers who are willing to tell the truth about poorly designed reform curricula and practices that are forced on them by administrators championing ever changing fads.

    Without the protection of unions, many teachers would be forced to suppress their experience and knowledge and adopt whatever whim some administrator found in the latest book they read over the summer.

    Without unions teachers would have no protection when they refused to lower their standards or give passing grades to failing students to make the pass rates look better.

    Washington teachers grumbled but kept on doing their jobs when the governor took the $200 million given by the Obama administration to save education jobs and put it in the general fund.

    Washington teachers grumbled but kept working when the legislature took away pay raises to teachers that were specifically approved by a majority of the voters.

    Washington teachers understand that economic times are tough and they have to share in the burden of these tough times.

    But if the governor of this state ever tried to take away their union rights and protections like the governor of Wisconsin is doing, you would be seeing the same scenes at our capital that you are now seeing in Wisconsin.


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