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I know what you must be thinking as you watch Wisconsin Teachers crusade in Madison for the children: ‘Those teachers must be turning out a world-class product to have the chutzpah to do that!’
No professional organization would just walk away from its duties if it were failing to perform a credible job. Right? That’s probably why they brought the kids to the Capitol on the first day, to show off their handiwork.
Hmmm, it must have just been dumb luck that the students showing up on Youtube appeared to be a walking cliche’ of teenaged vapidity. (Maybe that’s why they weren’t invited back for an encore?)
Why has Wisconsin become battleground for union thuggery? Well, I think it’s obvious: The Famous Milwaukee School Voucher Program.
What’s that you ask? Well, from the perspective of a card-carrying NEA public school teacher who makes upwards of 100k plus bennies and gets 3 months off a year, it’s a nightmare. The school choice system in Milwaukee has been around for over 20 years, and the results are in. Let’s just take a cursory look, shall we?
In 2008 Milwaukee spent over 14k (that’s $14,000.00 in case you are an NEA member) per public school student… OMG. In the same year it spent less that 7k per pupil for children in its voucher program. The result? 77% of voucher kids graduated, 65% of MPS (Milwaukee Public Schools) kids graduated… at twice the cost.
This is bad news for union organizers. And I believe it’s at least part of the reason Wisconsin has become a test case for their thuggish tactics. The Union that represents Wisconsin teachers is well-aware of the MPS voucher program, and they know that it presents a direct threat to their monopoly on the negotiating/legislative shakedown… er, process.
The MPS voucher program, coupled with the public sentiment about spending being out of control, puts the broken and expensive Wisconsin education system in the crosshairs… (Can I say “crosshairs” again?)
Now that the adults have once again taken power in Madison the education establishment is justifiably terrified of the sea change. The new baseline for negotiations is not slow growth, or pension-trimming, or healthcare contributions. What they are really afraid of is a draconian MPS baseline: The same education, at half the cost, just as they have done for 20 years in Milwaukee.
The Great Teacher Rebellion of 2011 is a paper tiger because of two simple, unassailable facts:
1. Wisconsin is broke.
2. Teaching kids to read and write can be done at half the cost.
Should the Republicans back down? Hardly. The proper response to childish behavior is not to coddle the child, “Please Junior, would you please stop dancing on the coffee table?” To the contrary, Wisconsin legislators should send a clear message: Teach, or lose your job.
That is not a harsh reality to most of us, it’s the way of the world. In the private sector we perform or we get fired. I tell my kids often, “Do you want to succeed in America? Show up for work on time everyday and you’ll always have a job. Perform that job competently and they will put you in management. If you do both without a bone in your nose for ten years they’ll make you a partner.”
How do I know that my plan for success will work for my kids? I’ve seen the competition as it emerges from our broken education system. Hopefully, someday, Wisconsin will be seen as the Waterloo of the education mafia. (If you don’t know what the allusion to “Waterloo” means ask a teacher. They won’t know either but it would fun to ask anyway.)