Monday, April 25, 2011

Kenosha: Another Reminder

So, we saw this happen last week:

350 Kenosha Teachers Get Layoff Notices

Superintendent Michelle Hancock said, “These are extraordinary times which call for extraordinary measures,” adding the options is to cut spending or raise taxes.

From a friend (let's call him "Leonard") in the Kenosha School District:

So... Everybody knows about the budget bill by now. Everybody has their own opinions on it. Thursday was doomsday in my school districts. Lay-off notices were given.

Before I break it down, I will say that our new superintendent has been [an unwilling partner in negotiations]. Our union tried going to the school board and superintendent to make big concessions to avoid this many layoffs, but both of them refused to even meet.

We are losing 25 teachers in my school despite gaining an extra 400 students next year.
We are going from 3 gym teachers to 2 next year. 2 gym teachers for 2400 students.

Another high school in our district (tremper) is losing 33+, including 9 of 15 english teachers. I am certified to teach english and had hoped that might happen some day. After thursday it is now clear that it won't be happening any time soon.

All in all they will be laying off 375 of 2000 teachers. I'm happy I don't have'd suck to send a son/daughter to elementary school knowing they are going to be in a class of 40-50. ugh.

And yes, the union implemented the seniority system. I agree with seniority. I don't always agree with my union. The unions in public ed are both the best and worst things for public ed. they can help keep class sizes down (not anymore) but they also prevent the shitty teacher from being fired (again, not in this case). I can tell you that there are a lot of teachers in their first four years who [might be] better than those being kept on. but...even though there will be no collective bargaining, they will still hold their jobs.

This has nothing to do with unions and never will. Until someone comes up with right system to hold teachers accountable (a system that includes prior student performance, quality of parents, rate of student improvement, and classroom/resource conditions...among many other things) the system will be [messed up]. I used to laugh at public school teachers who send their kids to private school...but I applaud them these days. Public ed in Wisconsin is becoming one helluva joke. Our state used to take pride in our educational values. suddenly we have a college drop-out governor and things go to hell. and he (walker) still refuses to release his college transcripts. It's a joke. I bet it was econ 101 that he failed.

carry on....rant over.

Another reminder: This effects real people. Our teachers are just like anyone else - trying to do their job well. Taking pride in their work. Believing that a strong work ethic brings about positive change. We all believe that, but through the power of the legislature, and nearly 50% of the public supporting them, this is the kind of message we show Leonard.

For some hidden economic reason, we need to do this. No one even seems to question it anymore. Hell, Paul Ryan even spelled it out. Remember the Krugman post on April 4th?

Here’s the [Paul Ryan]’s explanation of how layoffs would create jobs: “A smaller government work force increases the available supply of educated, skilled workers for private firms, thus lowering labor costs.” Dropping the euphemisms, what this says is that by increasing unemployment, particularly of “educated, skilled workers” — in case you’re wondering, that mainly means schoolteachers — we can drive down wages, which would encourage hiring.

There is, if you think about it, an immediate logical problem here: Republicans are saying that job destruction leads to lower wages, which leads to job creation. But won’t this job creation lead to higher wages, which leads to job destruction, which leads to ...? I need some aspirin.
We kill the unions, and defund the schools, so we can do what, exactly? Instead of doing, say, anything else, like increasing a tax somewhere, my buddy "Leonard" has to sit and watch all of this happen.

I didn't talk to Leonard long today. We swapped stories a bit. One day this spring we happened to be in Madison on the same day. As we got done talking, he said this:
let me know if i can help in any way.
Before you go thinking of Leonard as some sort of martyr who is dying for the cause, let it be known that this is a question many of us have asked of each other this spring. We've made history in Wisconsin. We will continue to pitch in and turn the state around. Leonard does not need to live his professional life in fear that he will not be able to pay his bills. We can work together and bring about the change we want to see. But it all starts with the big question that we need to continue ask each other: let me know if i can help in any way.

If we continue with this drive, this energy, and this dedication, we will take our state back. Wisconsin will be ours!