Public Education’s Vulnerable Underbelly Exposed in Wisconsin
Jerry A. Kane
The Great Wisconsin Teacher Walkout of 2011 has given the “noble profession” an indelible black eye. The teachers who participated in the walkout have revealed to the nation their ignoble character. They lied to school administrators by phoning in sick and submitting fraudulent doctor’s excuses so they could protest in Madison and wave signs comparing the state’s governor to Adolf Hitler and ousted Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The Wisconsin public school teachers, who abandoned their students, walked out on parents, and closed down schools to protest Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposal that would allow them to “opt out” of a union and would make them pay a percentage of their own insurance and retirement benefits, have confirmed the stereotype that public school teachers care more about their paychecks than they do their students.
“Walker’s proposed reform would allow state employees to negotiate wages up to a ceiling that would trigger a referendum, and require workers to contribute almost 6 percent of their pay to their pensions. (Most pay less than 1 percent now.) Workers would also be required to pay at least 12.6 percent of health care premiums, roughly double what they contribute now but still about half what workers in the private sector contribute.”
And now we find out that Wisconsin public school teachers can’t seem to help two-thirds of their students learn how to read proficiently, even though the state spends more per pupil on public schools than any other state in the Midwest.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress tests administered by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009 determined that 66 percent of eighth graders in the state’s public schools were reading below proficiency standards—44 percent were reading at a “basic” level and 22 percent were reading below the basic level.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress rating system defines “basic” as demonstrating a partial mastery of basic knowledge and skills that is required to do proficient work at that grade level; “proficient” as demonstrating competency over challenging subject matter; and “advanced” as demonstrating superior performance.
In addition, the test determined that the eighth graders’ reading abilities did not improve between 1998 and 2009 even though per-pupil spending increased each year.
Obviously, the protesting teachers care more about solidifying union power than they do educating students. Currently, Wisconsin public school teachers are forced to pay union dues, like it or not. Their dues are a major source of income for unions, and if Walker’s proposal passes and teachers are allowed to opt out of unions, millions of dollars each year will vanish from union coffers.
But the real problem facing these “educators” when they return to their classrooms is what they will say to their students who watched them on television prominently display signs that read:
“If Teabaggers are as hot as their Fox News anchors, then I’m here for the gangbang”;
“Thanks Mr. Walker I’ve never been screwed by a governor before”;
“If you screw us we will come”;
“Walker Sucks Koch”; and
“We took down Nixon, we’ll take down this motherfucker too!
If the signs displayed by the Wisconsin protesters are any indication of the intellectual heft and moral fiber of today’s public school educators, it’s clear why reports of teacher-student molestations are becoming commonplace.
In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach—Bob Dylan
For more on the story, see No apple for Wisconsin’s teachers, Two-Thirds of Wisconsin Public-School 8th Graders Can’t Read Proficiently—Despite Highest Per Pupil Spending in Midwest and The Showdown Over Public Union Power.
The Great Wisconsin Teacher Walkout of 2011 Photos