Current Events: Wisconsin Protests

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As promised I will bring up several issues and topics related to the recent events in Wisconsin.  Keep in mind I have been following the events from the distance.  I may not have all the facts straight, and if I don’t please correct me.  I also have not done a ton of research on this and am going by reports of several trusted people, a colleague being one of them.  This is my opinion all based on my limited knowledge of the situation.  Disclaimer ended.

Encouraging Unions Lying Teachers & Sympathetic Doctors
It is a well established fact in this whole scenario that teachers are using their sick days as a method of political protest, as well as marching on the capital.  Unions are also encouraging this behavior and doctors are writing fake sick notes to protect the teachers.  This is lying and should not be an acceptable behavior of anyone, especially public unions that are providing an essential service to the community.  Unions that encourage this behavior should lose their power to collectively bargain.  Teachers who do this should be fired, in violation of the contract.  Doctors who do this should lose their medical licenses.  What are we teaching our students with this behavior, that its okay to lie for your own benefit?

A sick out is a recognized way of protesting and striking in a union.  It is seen throughout U.S. history, but all of these were done by unions in private industry.  The police, firemen, teachers and other government workers who are their to provide a vital service to the people do not have the right to do this.  If education is a right that must be provided to the citizens by the state, then the people who provide that service have no right to strike unless their is a danger to their health or safety.  If I was a citizen of Wisconsin and my students school was closed because teacher’s called in sick to protest, I would not side with the teachers.  Its your job to provide this service.  You are paid to be in the classroom teaching my children, not protesting at the capital.

Students as Political Props
The teachers who say they care about the education of their students are using them as political props.  By refusing to go to work they are depriving them of their state provided right to a K-12 education.  They are trying to make a point of their importance by refusing to do the job they were contracted and hired.  They are using students are political props.  Check out this link for a local story on student protests.  You be the judge.  Other schools have brought their students to the capital and the students have no idea of why they are there.  If I could find the link I would post it.

Public Unions & Collective Bargaining
If a public union is going to collectively bargain it should be with the people who pay their paychecks, the citizens, not the politicians.  These negotiations should be open to the public so the citizens can have input and a say in how their tax dollars are spent.

Fleeing Democrats & Uncompromising Parties
The Democrats who fled the state should be hunted down and compelled into attendance at the state capital.  Just because you loose a vote does not mean you can just run away.  What would the media have said if the Republican Representatives and Senators in the U.S. Congress had fled Washington, before the Health Care Reform vote?  They pulled this crap in 1999 during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, too.

The union members are protesting but they have offered no alternative.  The Democrats in the state also have not offered an alternative to this budget.  I love how bipartisanship is out of the mouths of Democrats and Republicans only when they are in the minority, but when they are in the majority they push all this crap legislation down our throats.  Both sides are guilty of this.

Loss of Benefits
The union teachers are not losing benefits.  They are just being asked to contribute to the benefits they receive.  Everyone in private industry must contribute to their  health insurance and to their retirement, why should public employees be any different?

Shared Sacrifice
We are in the worst economic recession, hell lets call it what it is, depression since the great crash of 1929.  Everyone needs to make sacrifices to survive.  Families are cutting back because their losing wages or jobs.  Governments are needing to cut back.  Public employees need to cut back.  We all have to share in the sacrifice for the common good.  Expecting a pay raise every year for nothing more than surviving is not shared sacrifice.

Here is one problem in Wisconsin, only teachers are being asked to sacrifice.  A colleague of mine told me that the only public unions that are being asked to contribute to their health insurance and retirement is the teachers.  Why?  Because the other public employees unions contributed to the current governor’s election campaign.  That is not equal protection under the law or shared sacrifice.

Teacher Pay in Wisconsin

The Pendulum
Over the last few years I have seen a disturbing trend.  Since 2006, and election of Democratic Party majorities in the House, Senate and many state governments, we have moved steadily to the far left in how government works.  This goes even as far back as the election of George W. Bush and the creation of No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D.  The election of 2010 showed a dramatic shift in the politics moving back to the right.  This is dangerous for both sides.

Like a pendulum, our politics sway back and forth.  A pendulum that goes one direction, it will got just as far in the other.  We swung to far to the left under the Democrats and we may have swung to far back to the right in 2010.  We could easily swing just as far back to to left.  The point is both sides must come together and compromise.  That is the maxim and practice by which our Constitution was founded.  This swinging back and forth will only continue to divide us, instead of doing what is in the best interest of the nation and for the individual.

I am sure I missed something in this posting.  I know I didn’t deal with all the issues and points made on my Facebook posts.  I dealt with only the pertinent issues I thought were at hand in this scenario.  Also, I am not sure this makes any difference but I am card carrying, dues paying member of the Clark County Educators Association (CCEA).  I don’t think all unions are bad, nor do I think all teachers are good.  Their are better solutions than what the governor is asking for and the public employees are demanding.

Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Class dismissed


6 thoughts on “Current Events: Wisconsin Protests

  1. Good analysis. The only minor point missing is that the change to collective bargaining affects all the unions except for police, fire and state troopers. This would mean that it limits corrections and road workers as well. I think teachers are at the forefront because there are more of them and it's a better way for media to oppose this (“Poor teachers…this hurts the students!”)

    Teacher pay: I am just slightly biased on this topic as my wife happens to teach at a parochial school. She is paid half or less what a teacher in the same position would be paid at a public school, while not having access to some of the resources (teachers aides, some forms of classroom technology, etc.) that may be present in many of the public schools around WI.

    That being said, I know teacher pay is not necessarily as “cadillac” as some would make it out to be. Some districts, so I'm told, have made some cuts already.

    I know from a co-worker whose wife is a public school teacher that the benefit cuts proposed in this piece of legislation aren't what they are opposed to. Apparently, they are scheduled to be taking cuts very similar to those when the new contract starts next school year. What they are concerned about is the collective bargaining and the requirement of only voluntary union dues collections.

    I, personally, am not opposed to the restriction on dues. Unions may have a constitutional right to assemble, but I don't feel that members should be forced to support the activities of one party over another. Unions seem to tend to support the activities of the Democratic Party (If my assumption is wrong here, please correct me. I know that some police/fire groups had supported Governor Walker in his campaign). I oppose what they stand for on reasons of social conscience (abortion, marriage, etc.) and also because of the party stance on the 2nd Amendment. The Republicans are not perfect, but if they hold to their platform, all of it, they protect the things I hold dear.

  2. Been a teacher for 12 years now. It's a job with longer hours for lower pay than any other professionals working with the same qualification requirements. I have yet to hear a successful argument for why teachers should be paid less than lawyers and doctors. Their job is just as fundamental to society.

    So tell me, if the government insists on “breaking” teachers to pay for their own misuse of public funds, tell me how they are supposed to fight back. Lets be honest, these budget shortfalls are primarily the result of the incessant need for tax breaks for the richest tax brackets. This is why the budget shortfalls are just as common in states without collective bargaining as those that do not have it.

  3. I think you are widely mistaken anonymous. The budget shortfalls are because the government feels the need to take money from one group of people and give it to another. Tax breaks for the rich do not lower tax revenues. They actually increase them, since the rich have do not have to hide their money any more to avoid being taxed. We saw this in the late 1940s with Truman, the 1960s with Kennedy, the 1980s with Reagan and the 2000s with Bush. Granted this was on the national not state level, but the premise is the same. When the government raised taxes on the rich, their are fewer rich people. Why? Because they hide their money in tax shelters instead of using it.

    I agree good teachers should be paid better. But who is to say just because you have been around longer or have a higher education than me that you are a better teacher. We need to evaluate teachers more and use those evaluations as the basis for their pay.

    The government is not breaking the unions it is just trying to lessen their power on the political process just as the democrats try to lessen the power of corporations on the political process.

  4. Then again, explain to me why there is no difference in budget shortfalls between states with strong public unions and those with no public unions.

    I question your use of Reagan and Bush as evidence. Both lead to spiralling debt for the US government. Both left office with far higher levels of debt than they entered. The CBO estimates that half of the current national debt is a result of the Bush tax cuts. You might also want to check out the federal revenue trends during Reagan that show a drop when Reagan comes into power and enacts tax cuts, then resumes at a level below what happened under Carter.

    As for rich people hiding their money because taxes go up… you're actually using this as an argument? You don't see the fallacy in it? By that logic, we should just let husbands beat their wives in public because if we don't, they beat them privately…

    Here's a novel idea. How about raise taxes on the rich and use some of that money to crack down on those companies and billionaires who decide to hide their money in the Bahamas?

    As for the “evaluate teachers more”, agreed. Now find me an evaluation system that is fair and just. The reality is that most of the systems that get recommended are just another way to move money from the poor to the rich. Good teachers move to richer districts because their pay is inevitably tied to student results under these systems. So kids in poorer districts, who face significantly greater challenges to learn from the environment anyway (lack of books / computers / adequate food in homes) also have the teachers who can make in impact taken away by the free market.

    I find it hard to understand why you side with the powerful against the powerless…

  5. The rich “hiding” their money is not illegal. They are doing what they are doing everything legally according to the law and the U.S. Tax Code. Their is no legal basis for the feds to crackdown on the people putting their money oversees because its not illegal.

    In regards to Evaluating teachers more you should check out my blog on merit pay. I will attach a link to the rubric I would use to evaluate teachers that is not based on test scores. I don't think test scores should be the basis of merit pay for teachers. Merit Pay would be based on consistent and multiple observations from multiple parties, administrators, department chairs, colleagues, parents and students

    I am not siding with the powerful against the powerless. I would argue most of my points are fairly well balanced. I never said public unions should not be allowed to collectively bargain; I just said it should be public since the public pays their taxes. I never said the teachers were wrong to strike, but that they should not use students as political props to get their way. I never said teachers or other public employees have to take all the hits, just they should be willing to sacrifice as much as any other private employees have in this economy. I may not like the fact that part of my income next year is going to pay for my insurance premiums (as a teacher), but I understand that is fair and responsible.

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