February 16, 2011

Madison schools close for the day to allow teachers to protest Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting budget plan.

Kids have the day off because the district knew that the teachers would be calling in sick in order to participate in a political demonstration.
District Superintendent Dan Nerad made the announcement at 11 p.m. Tuesday after 40 percent of the 2,600 members of the teacher's union had called in sick and more were expected to do so through Wednesday morning.

"At this ratio we have serious concerns about our ability to maintain safe and secure school environments," Nerad said in the announcement....
Earlier Tuesday, Nerad said teachers who take a sick day will be asked to show proof of a medical reason. Those who don't could face sanctions such as docked pay. Teachers aren't able to take a personal day with less than three days' notice.
Okay, now, everybody go to the demonstration! The kids won't have school, but you can learn a lot of things outside of school. Some of these things are even taught by the teachers who are not there. For example, it's okay to call in sick when you're not actually sick, but you just have something that you think is really important.
Nerad's decision came after Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews said the union was contacting members and urging them to call in sick and instead attend a rally scheduled for Wednesday at the Capitol in opposition to Walker's collective bargaining proposal.

The campaign is the first coordinated absence by Madison school employees in 16 years, Matthews said.
I remember that. My sons were in the public schools here then. There was a lot of talk about whether it counted as significant dishonesty to claim to be sick when you were not and what kind of example that set for the youngsters. Many local people took the position that "sickouts" are a known and understood labor strategy and therefore not to be understood as actual lying lying. The obvious follow-up question on that argument is: What about the children — do they understand that? You will be considered very annoying around here if you advance to the confrontation level of asking that question.
It's unclear whether school will be held Thursday or Friday.

Also Tuesday, nearly 800 Madison East High School students — half the school — walked out to participate in a demonstration at the state Capitol. Students at West, Memorial and at other schools around the state — from Shullsburg to Sheboygan — also participated in demonstrations during school hours.
Well, the entire week is shot, isn't it? Oh, but the students are learning about political engagement and activism. I kind of agree. In fact, I've toyed with the idea that there should be no organized schooling at all. Why gather and trap the kids in buildings all day long? (Think of the carbon emissions if the imprisonment alone doesn't trouble you.) All the lessons and more could be put on the internet. Let all the students creatively or bumblingly pursue their own education according to the path they find for themselves, the way life itself works outside of school.
Other demonstrations and protests at schools in Wisconsin are scheduled for Wednesday.
East High senior Ona Powell, whose mother is a Madison teacher and father is a professor, coordinated the walkout through Facebook and word-of-mouth at school on Monday.

"I felt outraged that unions are being attacked and didn't want my mom hurt by this," Powell said.
As teachers beamed and offered thanks, student organizers in the hallways handed out signs identifying each as a "future worker, future voter," proclaiming this was a "Walk out for Walker out," and calling on the Legislature to "kill this bill."
Kill the bill? Remember when the Tea Party gathered at the US Capitol and chanted "kill the bill" the day the health care bill was passed? That was considered terribly violent.

DSC08426
(Photo by Meade.)

Anyway, isn't it interesting how well the students used the internet to organize their political activity? Why not close all the schools altogether and let the students romp and play and be political and speak and learn via the internet and internet-organized activities... forever?

School's out for the day? School's out for the week? School's out forever!



Think outside the box! Think of the savings!

182 comments:

Henry said...

One word. Vouchers.

Pogo said...

Fire them all for lying about the sick day.

Pogo said...

Fire them all for failing to do the job they were hired to do.

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

Are we Greece yet?

Not yet but it's coming.

Pogo said...

How hard could it be to replace people who just need to know how to turn on the DVD player?

Calypso Facto said...

Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews said the union was contacting members and urging them to call in sick

Sounds an awful lot like an illegal strike when centrally planned and directed.

Ut said...

So, a mass conspiracy to commit fraud, eh?

Methinks that the nearest Republican prosecutor should arrest the head of the teacher's union for conspiracy to commit fraud.

Tea Partiers should show up with cameras in hand to document the co-conspirators who show up. Then request copies through FOIA laws of sick days turned in by those teachers to hand over to prosecutors for fraud prosecutions of those thieves.

These government officials have to be arrested. They're illegally and fraudulently collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of precious tax dollars.

Time to change behaviors by punishing this sort of wink-wink lawbreaking.

Lincolntf said...

As always, the Teacher's Unions are willing to walk away from their responsibilities whenever there's a threat to their grotesquely overfunded PAC disguised as a Union.
Wisconsin spends $10,000+ per student, per 160 days of education. Every classroom of 25 kids, whether studying finger-painting or Calculus gets a quarter of a million public dollars every "year". Do the math before you start feeling pity for the poor, oppressed teachers.

Scott M said...

For example, it's okay to call in sick when you're not actually sick, but you just have something that you think is really important.

It flies in the face of abject honesty, but everyone I know has done this at some point or other. Granted, a minuscule number were doing it for political reasons, but still...I would suggest that the bad example it sets for the kids outweighs what marginal, ineffectual action the union accomplishes by this.

Good for the district super for laying out the rules on the books for calling in sick. Surely there are further regulations covering what happens to the teacher if medical proof isn't provided. Is it just the docked pay? How easy would it be for the district super, or someone from his office, to go to the rally and take video to prove people were their and not, say, home icing their back or steaming out a convenient flu?

AJ Lynch said...

Now I will have the song Schools Out Forever in my head all day.

On a serious note and to expand on your suggestion to let kids bumble along without formal schools. Can you imagine if they asked parents:

Would you prefer sending Junior to the public school or would you rather get a govt check for $12-15,000 or whatever and educate Junior yourself?

roesch-voltaire said...

Since labour history is rarely if every taught in high school, I suspect this will be a valuable contemporary example. Who knows they might even learn what the Rolling Mills workers in Milwaukee went through on May 5th, 1886, in order to get the eight hour work day.

Bzod said...

Unions acting like unions is hardly the scariest part. The force-fed Lefty Indoctrination is what makes me more nervous and sick. If there are any Flip-Mino owning kids or parents who don't subscribe to this BS and are close to Madison, I'd love to see pics.

rhhardin said...

Hire permanent substitutes.

chickelit said...

For example, it's okay to call in sick when you're not actually sick, but you just have something that you think is really important.

Zing!

shoutingthomas said...

My daughter is a public school teacher, so I'm conflicted.

On the one hand, I'm glad she has a job in one of the few fields where jobs actually exist. If she gets rehired next fall, she'll have tenure. Good for her. The reality is that the public sector is the only option for secure, lifelong employment.

On the other hand, the taxpayers in my area of Upstate New York are struggling for survival, without any job security and, often, without any benefits.

The balance has swung so far in favor of public employees, and the private sector just can't afford to pay the bill.

I can understand that public sector employees don't want to surrender their superior pay, benefits and guarantees.

But, who's going to pay?

Sloanasaurus said...

We can't expect the unions to go quietly. So should Walker state.

IN the end, Walker only gets more conservative credentials from the rest of the state to standing up to the lefty unions in the lefty capitol city.

AJ Lynch said...

LincolnTF:

I'd agree with you but only a relatively small % of that $250K gets to the actual teachers.

And for what it's worth, my local district spends almost $30K per student. When viewed from your outlook which I agree is the best way to analyze school spending, my district spends $750,000 per year for every 25 students. And that is outrageous.

rhhardin said...

There's Richard Epstein on Rule of Law that's worth listening to.

On labor law, the mistake happened long ago, when you were allowed to organize to assert rights against a third party that none of you had individually, namely to force him to negotiate with you.

That's easily fixed by hiring permanent substitutes.

If you don't want to work at the wages offered, have a nice day.

Scott M said...

Since labour history is rarely if every taught in high school, I suspect this will be a valuable contemporary example.

RV makes both a ridiculous point and a good point at the same time. I learned about the labor struggles in my completely vanilla American history classes in both high school and college. My son, now a sophomore in college, was also taught about it in both high school and now college.

The good point is made in the sense that collective bargaining has accomplished quite a bit...decades and decades ago. Most of which they formed to demand have long since been codified. Anachronisms come to mind.

Unions, in their current form, outlived their usefulness to society at large quite a while ago. Collective bargaining will always have it's place, but it's become the spoiled single child that never moved out of mom's house and still demands that she cook and clean for him even as he approaches 40 years old.

Shanna said...

I remember the teachers striking when I was in high school once. We were all pretty psyched about it, although I don't really think public unions should be allowed to strike.

EDH said...

Sixteen years on, I hope more video is rolling on all those who called in sick.

As teachers beamed and offered thanks, student organizers in the hallways handed out signs identifying each as a "future worker, future voter..."

Conspicuously, they left out "future taxpayer" obligated to pay life-time defined-benefits of mediocre, self-interested public school teachers.

David said...

Reagan.

Air traffic controllers.

Bingo!

rhhardin said...

And you don't have to lay off teacher.

All you have to do is reduce the wages until you get the number of teachers you need.

Voluntary employment.

A new experiment.

hawkeyedjb said...

Eh, so what. The schools exist to serve the administrators and teachers who work in them. Why shouldn't the teachers take a day for some extra activity to protect the company's revenue?

Triangle Man said...

@Pogo


Admit it. You're just trying to widen Minnesota's education advantage over Wisconsin.

Lincolntf said...

AJ, that's the rub. Teachers scream that they don't make enough money and that we must raise taxes, add fees to public school activities, etc. in order to keep' "educating" our children. That's their whole premise, and it's all a lie.
They (from the Dept. of Ed. down to the lunch ladies) are the ones squandering and misdirecting the money that's supposed to be doing what they clain is so important.
The plain truth is that a majority of education union members (and 100% of their leadership) would gladly kick every one of their students to the curb if it meant a few more dollars went to their pension fund. They do the equivalent every day.

AJ Lynch said...

It used to be kids would love to have a day off to just screw around. Now they go to a protest to support their teachers?? Sounds like they are way too serious to be teens.

lemondog said...

Who is this Bill that they want to kill?

Triangle Man said...

I can understand that public sector employees don't want to surrender their superior pay, benefits and guarantees.

@ShoutingThomas

Please forgive me for focusing on the issue at hand, but where is the evidence of this where Wisconsin's public employees are concerned? Where is the evidence for their teachers specifically? If teachers in Wisconsin are in fact paid more compared to some other group, do they provide additional value or better outcomes?

The evidence is that Wisconsin public employees are paid less than private sector employees. I haven't seen comparisons of teacher pay, but without measuring up the cost versus results the comparison would be meaningless.

Beevalo said...

I recall a few years ago when Madison Teachers Inc. staged a (what I think was an illegal) walkout. After the inevitable capitulation by the school board the union demanded that they be paid for the time off. They were.

Back in my Teamsters days we went on strike more than a few times. We did not get paid.

While I respect their right to protest, any teacher who shows up for the protest today after calling in "sick" should not be paid for the day, including a pro rata reduction in benefit contributions.

Mark said...

I've thought that an ideal schooling situation would be a "home schooling co-operative" where parents who were very good in different areas would teach those subjects to their students. I myself could teach up to and including High School physics, chemistry, biology, and calculus. I have friends whom I would trust to teach english and history. I'm sure here in Brooklyn it would be easy to fill the entire roster. The parents themselves would act as quality control on each other, with any teacher who doesn't cut it would be helped/encouraged by the others to improve or be dropped from the group post-haste. The load would be distributed, so the burden of home-schooling for each individual parent would be greatly reduced.

Of course, the Teachers Union in particular, and the Education establishment in general, would rather send people to jail than allow something like that to happen.

Comrade X said...

I think Trooper had the right idea. Replace teachers with robots.

Scott M said...

I haven't seen comparisons of teacher pay, but without measuring up the cost versus results the comparison would be meaningless.

I would have no problem believing that private school teachers make more than their public counterparts. I would also have no problem believing that the private school kids perform, however you want to define that scholastically, better than their public counterparts.

shoutingthomas said...

Please forgive me for focusing on the issue at hand, but where is the evidence of this where Wisconsin's public employees are concerned?

The guarantee of job security and defined benefit pension plans is the evidence.

Public employees, once they gain tenure, are guaranteed a job for 30 to 40 years. This, in itself, is vastly superior compensation to a private employee.

Public employees enjoy pensions and benefits that are far superior to private employees, and generally they pay nothing for them.

You've got to be kidding. Listen, I live in NY state, but my girlfriend and my daughter are both public employees. You can't sell me this line of BS. My girlfriend has tenure as a tax collector. She can't be fired. She gets every imaginable holiday off. She has six weeks vacation. My daughter is headed toward the same deal.

Public sector employees are going to be laid off at some point in their careers, which is an enormous loss of income. When they are rehired, they will earn 70% of what they used to make. Public employees get two weeks vacation, 10 holidays and they pay for all or most of their benefits.

You're really trying to sell the BS that this doesn't matter?

shoutingthomas said...

Excuse me... should read:

Private sector employees are going to be laid off at some point in their careers, which is an enormous loss of income. When they are rehired, they will earn 70% of what they used to make. Public employees get two weeks vacation, 10 holidays and they pay for all or most of their benefits.

DADvocate said...

The educational establishment is one of the greediest and laziest in our country. Their answer to every problem is more money. Whenever they don't get their way they respond punitively cutting bus services, sports, and any other programs or extracurriclar activities they can. Ask them to tighten their collective belts and all hell breaks loose.

I was casually talking with the high school athletic director at my daughter's high school the other day. I asked him why we didn't charge for spectators to the girls' freshman basketball games, every other school does. He said they didn't need the money. ?????

We did a fundraiser for girls basketball at the beginning of the season. Parents are asked to pay for shoes and other stuff. They can hit up the taxpayers whenever they want. We have to do with what we got.

Charging for the girls freshman games would pull in a few thousand dollars for the program every season, but why bother when you can soak somebody at will?

Hoosier Daddy said...

I think the teacher's demands would hold more weight if the performance ratings of US elementary and seconday eduction were better than average among OECD nations, especially in light of the amount of money we spend.

TerriW said...

I would think an *excellent* way to get the taxpayers on your side is to cause them to have to take vacation/personal/sick days themselves or arrange emergency last-minute child care because school is canceled for a political protest.

shoutingthomas said...

Just to emphasize again...

The guarantee of lifetime employment and benefits is precisely what makes public employment far more lucrative than private employment.

The private employee is going to have to start over once, twice or three times in his career, at reduced salary and benefits.

The public employee just keeps gaining regardless of performance.

This is the very crux of the lavish pay and benefits enjoyed by public employees.

Michael said...

This is so nice. So the nice teachers can bring their nice kids to school while working parents, parents who work in the real world, will have to take off to look after their own kids. Many of them will miss a day's pay because these greedy pigs want a protest. This is probably not a smart p.r. move.

There are, by the way, an abundance of smart retired people who are very capable of teaching and would love to do so if they did not have to become "certified" via education courses etc. These people could easily and cheaply be replaced.

SteveR said...

Too bad there's no correlation between spending and student achievement. There is however a very strong impression that the system, both in K-12 and above, spends far too much effort to preserve the job security and pay structure.

Of course there are many fine teachers but that's not what this is about.

bagoh20 said...

Even if we reorganized education so that no teachers would be needed, they would still need to be paid...for the children.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I would have no problem believing that private school teachers make more than their public counterparts.

Back in my yout, I attended Catholic school for 12 years and know for a fact that back then, the teachers made significantly less than public school teachers. I know some teachers in the private sector who claim they make less than in the public sector but I suspect that varies.

I would also have no problem believing that the private school kids perform, however you want to define that scholastically, better than their public counterparts.

Much of this is true due to the fact that private schools do demand a greater emphasis on discipline and performance. For example, a private school doesn't need to worry about paying 'free speech' legal fees for telling some student they can't wear a 'Fu** Bush' t-shirt to class.

Calypso Facto said...

Triangle: Garage referenced that study a couple days ago, so I took a look at it and immediately noted that the conclusion of lower compensation comes from massaging (to happy ending!) the data. Gov't employee compensation is reduced by 35% for comparison's sake based on the assumption that employees in a large organization (i.e. gov't workers) DESERVE to make more based solely on organization size. Without this "normalization" of the raw facts, the study actually proves exactly the opposite of what it (and you) conclude.

Freeman Hunt said...

Fire them all.

Use K12 online instead.

Fin.

Freeman Hunt said...

I've thought that an ideal schooling situation would be a "home schooling co-operative" where parents who were very good in different areas would teach those subjects to their students. I myself could teach up to and including High School physics, chemistry, biology, and calculus. I have friends whom I would trust to teach english and history. I'm sure here in Brooklyn it would be easy to fill the entire roster. The parents themselves would act as quality control on each other, with any teacher who doesn't cut it would be helped/encouraged by the others to improve or be dropped from the group post-haste. The load would be distributed, so the burden of home-schooling for each individual parent would be greatly reduced.

We have that here. The state doesn't pay for it, but it exists.

kent said...

It's unclear whether school will be held Thursday or Friday.

"For the CHILDREN!!!"

Triangle Man said...

Public employees enjoy pensions and benefits that are far superior to private employees, and generally they pay nothing for them.

...

You're really trying to sell the BS that this doesn't matter?


@ShoutingThomas

I'm not trying to sell you BS. I am saying that the details matter, and the details of Wisconsin's public employees and teachers are different than NY's. For example, the Wisconsin Retirement System works differently than the broken pension systems in NY, California.

I'm sure your family provides good value for their pay. Wisconsin's public employees do likewise.

Also, this notion that employees don't "pay for their benefits" is BS. Just add up the total compensation package and make the comparison there. Different private employers make different contributions to retirement and match employee contributions at different levels. It is a key element of the compensation package when hiring and retaining employees. For example, UW has low salaries, but used to have some good benefits to make up some of the difference. Now, not so much.

Freeman Hunt said...

Althouse'sdream. In Arkansas, you can sign up for that through the public school system, and the state will pay for it and give you a computer to access it.

Scott M said...

I've thought that an ideal schooling situation would be a "home schooling co-operative" where parents who were very good in different areas would teach those subjects to their students.

This is an ideal situation, but it requires ideal people. The problem with humans, curse them, is that in any endeavor they undertake or any skills they may possess, they always exist on a bell curve.

Unless you count breathing as a skill...that graph is probably heavily weighted toward one end. Unless you count dead humans, but I digress.

We wouldn't be able to replace the entire public education system with such a system because there is such a wide variance in the abilities, drive, and responsibility/maturity factors from community to community. But we don't have to. Our public education system used to be the envy of the entire world and we were cranking out kids that went on to become leaders in their fields. WTF happened?

PS - don't make the easy-peasy "win the future" quip.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)

and Who knows they might even learn what the Rolling Mills workers in Milwaukee went through on May 5th, 1886, in order to get the eight hour work day.
So because there were Pinkertons, now unions can bankrupt companies and governments, kind of like reparations, huh?

Triangle Man said...

@freeman

With all due respect to the natural beauty and fine people of Arkansas, based on publicly available statistics, I would guess that public education is not an area in which Wisconsin is likely to seek guidance from the Natural State.

Lincolntf said...

Joe said...
(The Crypto Jew)


One thing I wish they'd teach in the public schools is the rampant corruption and violence that has accompanied organized labor from it's earliest days to today. If any corporation had a history of crime as deep as most major Unions, it would have long ago disappeared from the face of the earth.

Fred4Pres said...

Why do the good people of Wisconsin put up with this shit?

Lincolntf said...

"Why do the good people of Wisconsin put up with this shit?"


For The Children!

(Traditional war cry of the scumbags and villains who have pillaged the public education system for generations.)

Christopher said...

Where the hell are the Pinkerton head-busters when you really need them?

Irene said...

Today, Madisonian parents who work in the private sector must find alternative ways to care for their children.

If they've worked at a place for five years or less and they stay home, the parents liekly will lose one of the ten to fifteen leave days that they earn per year.

(Many private companies now are merging vacation/sick/personal time into one "leave" bundle because they ackonwledge that people will use "sick" time up even if they are not "sick.")

Michael said...

RV: "Who knows they might even learn what the Rolling Mills workers in Milwaukee went through on May 5th, 1886, in order to get the eight hour work day."

Yes, because the teachers are so oppressed they are making every child with a working mother or father who is the primary care giver take a day off. Because the oppression of government workers, people who cannot be fired except for exceptional circumstances that cannot be defined, are going to be beaten by "the man" at any moment. Because the oppressed, seeking solidarity with the people, ask the people to work harder.

You cannot be serious when you make these kinds of comparisons.

Triangle Man said...

@Calypso Facto


There is a relationship between the size of an organization and it's compensation. Public employees tend to work for larger organizations, but the majority of private employees work for small organizations. This structural difference needs to be accounted for when making comparisons. Likewise, employees were compared against similar levels of experience and educations. It's nonsense to discount the result of the study because they aligned the samples based on the size of the institution.

Scott M said...

You cannot be serious when you make these kinds of comparisons.

You cannot be taken seriously when you make these kinds of comparisons.

(it only needed a slight alteration)

garage mahal said...

I haven't seen comparisons of teacher pay, but without measuring up the cost versus results the comparison would be meaningless.

Strong union states have higher ACT scores than non union states. Which may explain why conservatives hate teacher unions.

holdfast said...

With employment between 9 and 10% (and the real rate in the high teens) this would seem a perfect time to really bust some unions, pour encourager les autres.

Triangle Man said...

Today, Madisonian parents who work in the private sector must find alternative ways to care for their children.

@Irene

Out of curiosity, why focus on the private sector parents? The two largest employers in Madison are public sector).

shoutingthomas said...

There is a relationship between the size of an organization and it's compensation. Public employees tend to work for larger organizations, but the majority of private employees work for small organizations. This structural difference needs to be accounted for when making comparisons.

Hilarious.

So, government workers work for the largest organizations... the government.

So, discount their pay by 35% before comparing to employees in the private sector.

Voila! Public pay is lower.

Brilliant.

This is called cooking the books, Triangle. You can obtain any result you want using this method.

former law student said...

Why didn't Walker delay debate on the bill till Saturday, when the teachers could attend? How can this be an "emergency" now?

And protesting a loss of contract rights is exactly the same as protesting health insurance for all.

Freeman Hunt said...

Triangle Man, K12 is not popular within the state. It is an attempt to offer superior education to students in poorly performing districts.

al said...

Fire them all. There are a lot of unemployed teachers out there that would love to fill the positions. That would also allow the district to get rid of the union and get some accountability back in education.

Michael said...

I have long been of the opinion that college students should get a diploma on the first day of classes in their prepaid freshman year. Those wishing to attend and learn something may do so, the rest can go on home with their coveted degree. We could then calibrate the number of teachers required to man/woman the classrooms. It would not make a bit of difference to society but those who remained to study would be greatly rewarded.

Freeman Hunt said...

We also have some excellent charter schools.

The good thing about having poor statistics overall is that the state is willing to experiment more with ideas outside the box.

SGT Ted said...

Why are my tax dollars being used to finance the partisan politics of the Democratic Party?

Fire them and cut off all Federal funding to Massachusetts for the remainder of the year since they are in violation of the Hatch Act.

Lincolntf said...

Tell me Garage, oh noble defender of the hogs and jackals who have destroyed our education system, what happens to all the money?

We'll use the average number of $10,000 per student that applies to Wisconsin.
Class of 25 kids = $250,000 a year.
Say $65,000 for the teacher, maybe
$10,000 grand for heat, light, general overhead. You know what, forget it, I'll round up to $100,000 as the total expense for 160 days of school per 25 kids. Impossible to believe, but I'll buy it for these purposes. That leave $150,000 that gets burned up by the "education" bureaucracy every single school year. Meanwhile, many graduates are barely literate.
If you hate children, and oppose all fiscal sense, support Teacher's Unions.

William said...

Question authority, but not ours. The teachers have a huge amount of influence over the students. It is wrong to use this influence for selfish ends. There is the appearance of impropriety in the fact that the students are supporting the teachers and that the teachers are encouraging their support. The duty of teachers is to instruct their pupils and not to recruit them for their labor disputes. They are wrong to do this, and the offense is further compounded by the fact that they do not even have a vestigal awareness that they are doing wrong.....I don't knock the teachers for being greedy. Why should they be different than anyone else in America? But it is wrong for them to suborn their students.

Michael said...

Triangle: "Out of curiosity, why focus on the private sector parents? The two largest employers in Madison are public sector)."

Because the public sector employees can go home and take care of their kiddies without serious repercussions and probably without being docked for pay. Believe it or not the private sector occupies a harsher reality than the public sector.

former law student said...

Wisconsin spends $10,000+ per student, per 160 days of education.

This is bad, because Wisconsin Statute 121.006(2)(a) requires that school districts hold school for at least 180 days a year to receive state aid.

Interestingly, strike days are not counted against this total.

Scott M said...

And protesting a loss of contract rights is exactly the same as protesting health insurance for all.

Disingenuous in the context of this discussion. Protesting health care for all is the same as protesting Jar-Jar Binks is the same as protesting the color red. Protesting is protesting. The point here is that a great deal of teachers called in "sick" to do so leaving a shitload of kids and parents hanging, while at the same time getting more bang for their buck in the setting-an-example realm.

Coldstream said...

@garage

I'm not sure how you're defining "strong union state" (allowing collective barganing? mandatory collective barganing?), but the data you provided shows highest ACT scores in states tend to be from states where the lowest percentage of students actually take the ACT. Out of the top 10 scores in the ACT it's not until Minnesota (ranked 10th) does any state have more than 25% of their students take the ACT.

I'd guess in those states, students that are naturally more successful are those taking the ACT, hence scores are higher...regardless of what the teachers' unions do.

former law student said...

Scott M: So Governor Walker deliberately called for debate on the "emergency" budget bill at a time when teachers could not protest without looking like slackers.

How cynical is that?

Lincolntf said...

Ooops, it takes 180 days to burn through one hundred and fifty thousand dollars of overhead. My mistake.

PatCA said...

Yes, fire them. The union has declared war, and the only mercy in war should be brevity.

"Oh, but the students are learning about political engagement and activism."

They know too much about that already! And it's not covered on the SAT or in future job interviews.

Scott M said...

How cynical is that?

Very. Cagey, too. What's your point?

Triangle Man said...

@ShoutingThomas

There was no "discounting of salaries by 35%". If a private firm were to take over the role of the DOT, it would be a large institution. Likewise, if Northwestern were to take over the operation of UW, it would still be a large institution. Turn over all the public schools to a charter school operation, still a large institution. The employees of large institutions are paid more than those of small institutions.

I'm not sure what kind of alternatives you are envisioning in this comparison. All services provided by the government are eliminated or handled by local small businesses? Whatever it is, I question whether it is relevant to the comparisons Governor Walker has made in justifying his budget decisions.

Lincolntf said...

There's no comparison between private and public schools. Private schools go out of business if they fail. Public schools get more free money when they fail. It's pretty simple to figure out why one succeeds at it's core mission while the other fails.

edutcher said...

"When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children."

- Albert Shanker, founder of the UFT, AFT President 1964 - 84

For those who really think union teachers care about teaching.

hawkeyedjb said...

Eh, so what. The schools exist to serve the administrators and teachers who work in them. Why shouldn't the teachers take a day for some extra activity to protect the company's revenue?

The prosecution rests.

PS The big push for unionizing teachers came around 1970 when the only grad students allowed a deferment were those going for a teaching certificate. You ended up with a bunch of slackers doing something they didn't want to do and decided to get as much money out of it as they could.

shoutingthomas said...

The employees of large institutions are paid more than those of small institutions.

I am aghast at your logic.

The very problem we are discussing is the natural tendency of government to make itself larger and ever more encompassing because there are no market constraints to prevent this.

You are citing this as one of the benefits of government. And, then you're telling me that the natural tendency of government to keep enlarging itself at the expense of taxpayers is actually a competitive disadvantage.

We are not talking the same language.

Yes, I'll agree with you. Cooking the books makes it seem like government employees earn less, although in fact they earn more.

So, I'll go back to what I see in actual practice in my life. The primary advantage of public employees is a lifetime guarantee of employment, and benefits and retirement plans that are far superior to those offered private employees.

And, I'll say it again. The private employee must find a new job once, twice or three times in his career and start again at the bottom of the ladder. The public employee just keeps gaining, no matter his or the state's performance.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Fire them. There are plenty of alternatives that are much better than most of these teachers, who are frankly uneducated boobs themselves.

On line school courses. Computerized learning.

Home school cooperatives. (My personal favorite)

Vouchers and charter schools. (Second best choice)

Self directed learning. Trade schools versus college prep.

There are many resources out there for parents and motivated students.

kent said...

The very problem we are discussing is the natural tendency of government to make itself larger and ever more encompassing because there are no market constraints to prevent this.

You are citing this as one of the benefits of government.


"It's not a bug; it's a FEATURE!"
-- Barack Obama

Paddy O said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paddy O said...

The trouble with teacher's unions is they have developed a bloated mission.

I know a lot of teachers, and know that the unions have been extremely helpful in precisely the ways they work best, in providing a voice and buffer for teachers in conflict with administrators. Administrators can be petty and very political.

My dad had an incident in which his principal basically tried to pull the same tactic as what happened at that law school. But, maybe a little worse, because she accused him of racism and lied about statements he had made--with the key incident being his breaking up of a fight in which one student was attacking another very violently. Mind you this was at a juvenile hall, so not entirely uncommon, but the guards weren't quick in responding.

My dad saved the other kid's life, the facility leaders said. But, the principal got him put on administrative leave and put him in front of a disciplinary committee. The union really went to bat for him and really saved his job. So, hooray for unions and their roles.

But, the problem has become that teachers unions have basically joined forces with administrators in expanding their political influence. They are an arm and tool of the Democratic party, and use union funds to pay for immense amount of lobbying, which most teachers I know disagree with. So, in joining with their primary adversary, the teachers undermine their main goals and bring shame upon their profession.

In California, the teachers union pretty much runs the show, pouring millions and millions and millions into preventing any kind of real progression.

Meaning unions really are still necessary for the particular and local issues in specific situations, but they're becoming entirely destructive for the big picture. Which sadly is going to, I think, undermine what should be their primary goal of protecting good teachers from bad administrators.

garage mahal said...

Tell me Garage, oh noble defender of the hogs and jackals who have destroyed our education system, what happens to all the money?

Why don't you link to your numbers so we can all have a look.

Quaestor said...

The bulk of Wisconsin's debt problem is public employee pension liability, correct? The solution is simple: a 50% surtax on state wages. Let the public employee unions protest that, if they dare.

Triangle Man said...

@lincolntf

The number you are using, $10,000, looks like total spending per student. That includes Administration, Staff, Transportation, Facility Costs, and Food, as well as instruction. From the most recent report in 2008-09 that number would be more like $12,000 (rounded from $12,346).

I don't know if you are concerned about costs of bussing, and foods etc. but I would be most interested in the Instructional costs. Statewide, these are 57.6% of the total or $6856 per student. The student/teacher ratio in Wisconsin is 14.7. So, about $100,783 per teacher per year is spent on instruction. The average teacher salary in 2010 was $47,747 and the average benefit package was $19,264 for $67,011. There are other specialists who add to the total instructional costs including special education, audiology, librarians, social workers, substitute teachers, and guidance counselors.

So, what is the point you want to make?

Jana said...

@Mark @Freeman

We have K12 online free to students here in Washington as well. Our big local homeschooling organization is wary of it because they feel it is the state attempting to encroach on our rather liberal homeschooling rights.

We also have the co-ops that Mark describes, although my children are too young to participate yet. We will eventually.

Triangle Man said...

The bulk of Wisconsin's debt problem is public employee pension liability, correct?

@Quaestor

Incorrect. The Wisconsin Retirement System is solvent.

Lincolntf said...

Here ya' go.

States by per-pupil expenditure as of 2008. Wisconsin came in at a tidy $10,791 per student per 180 days of school.

http://febp.newamerica.net/k12/rankings/ppexpend06

Triangle Man said...

Links for the interested:

2010 Teacher Salary report (.xls file)

2008-2009 Annual Report Data for Wisconsin Education (.xls file)

Michael said...

Garage: Why not respond to the hypothetical numbers that were provided by Lincolntf? You are not an accountant, just an average citizen. Do you not have an opinion on whether or not 10K per kid per year is adequate to run the school system? Are you not good with hypotheticals as a point from which reasonable people can have a conversation? Or do you require a link to begin a discussion on the time of the sunrise?

Lincolntf said...

TM, only horrific corruption or incompetence could explain why bussing, Admin, etc. come anywhere near the total spent on actual education. I'm about ten years ahead on this fight, having battled it out in MA a long time ago, and I can assure you that the "hidden" costs not related to education are the single largest trough at which the scavenging Teacher's Unions feed. Don't even get me started on how many "coaches" and "assistants" and "advisors" all these supposed professionals need in order to do their jobs. It's a farce from top to bottom, and the kids are getting royally screwed by the bellowing idiots with the picket signs.

Triangle Man said...

@lincolntf

So it is mainly the non-instructional costs and the "non-teacher" costs that concern you most? Honestly asking here, no snark intended.

Chip S. said...

fls said, ironically:

And protesting a loss of contract rights is exactly the same as protesting health insurance for all.

To which I add, in the same spirit, that taking paid sick leave to protest is exactly the same as trekking to DC on your own time.

Lincolntf said...

TM, what bothers me is the complete dishonesty of the Teacher's Unions, as well as their inability or refusal to do their jobs. Also the presumption that "Spending money" equals what something is worth is a fiction common in the public sector. If we're spending $12,000 per student per 180 days, it should be "all-inclusive". I'd guess it probably costs about 3 or 4 grand to educate a kid in the real world. The rest goes to politicians and retirement homes on the golf course.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Triangle Man

It appears according to the spreadsheet you linked the AVERAGE high compensation is 48,978 and the AVERAGE fringes that the teachers receive "tax free" is an additional 25,690 for a total average compensation of $74,668.

Keep in mind that is the AVERAGE so there are those that make more and those that make less, however since the average tenure is over 15 years for each school district, we can assume that the majority of the teachers are earning at a level much higher than the mid entry level teachers.

Once they have tenure, you cannot get rid of them.

Also keep in mind that they are going to continue to reap a huge portion of their salary in retirement based on the last years of work. Union employees pad the last few years with overtime, unused vacation and unused sick leave, so the retirement figures can be even MORE than their actual salary.

AND they will continue to receive the fringes of health insurance premiums..,.TAX FREE.

Pretty sweet deal for the teachers who pay NOTHING or very little towards the fringes.

So you can quit with trying to gin up sympathy for the teachers and other unionized government employees.

Cry me an effing river.

garage mahal said...

@Lincoln
Appreciate the link, but I guess I'm not sure what your question is. Why is Wisconsin ranked #16? Why does it cost 10k/year to educate a pupil? The expenditures appear to me are more related to region than anything else.

Triangle Man said...

I'd guess it probably costs about 3 or 4 grand to educate a kid in the real world.

I don't know about that. Maybe some areas can get away cheaper, but daycare alone at non-profits and co-ops (i.e. no markup) costs $200-300 a week. Add in any kind of enrichment (music, sports) and it's another $20-30 per week per activity.

Chip S. said...

@Triangle Man,

The empirical relation between the number of employees in a firm and their level of compensation is an indication that larger firms tend to be larger (in part) because they're able to hire abler workers. It is a natural consequence of market forces. So, for example, if we compared larger private schools to smaller private schools, we'd expect that employees in the larger schools would be paid more. We'd also expect to find better teachers at the larger schools, because their higher ability is part of why the school has more willing customers.

The fallacy in applying this logic to government agencies seems pretty obvious.

shoutingthomas said...

I think that a lot of the pro-teacher's union talk is based on the assumption that it is a really good thing that teachers have lifetime job security and gold plated benefits.

No doubt that this is a good thing for teachers.

The problem, which our teacher advocates don't seem to want to talk about, is a private sector that doesn't have guaranteed job security and gold plated benefits.

Increasingly, the private sector can't afford the public sector. And the public sector has, in an odd way, become the masters of the people who pay the tab. And the people who pay the tab have no say over any of this.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Large private-sector firms differ from small ones in a number of ways, of which mere size is only one. If you scale a mom-and-pop grocery up to the size of ExxonMobil, you would not expect it to start paying its cashiers what ExxonMobil pays its refinery workers. If EPI believes a state government is more like ExxonMobil than the mom-and-pop grocery, it needs to make that case-- not assume it.

Using educational credentials as a proxy for worker productivity is also dodgy methodology, especially when studying an institution that hires so many people with education degrees.

Pogo said...

The outright fraud these teachers are engaged in is disgusting, and ought to be a reason to fire all of them and start the hell over.


Go to zero-based budgeting.
Figure out what we really need.
delete all the bullshittery, all the mandates and foofaraw, all the diversity crap and field trips.

Start over, from the basics.

But fire them all.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Triangle Man

Your second link shows a break down of:
55.5% Instruction
8.7% Pupil Staff Support
21.2 Operation Administration other.

Total of 85.4% on these three catagories. Without knowing where the fringe costs are located in the budget it is hard to say how much is REALLY going towards the teachers or going towards actual operating/overhead types costs.

For instance in the 21.2%....what is "other".

What is included in "instruction". Teachers salaries? Fringes? Chalk? Books?

As a former commercial lender and financial planner (retired now yay!!) these figures mean nothing without some explanation. If it were a business presenting these figures and asking for a loan (more money from the taxpayers) I would not give dime without clearer explanation of where the previous money was going.

There is no accountability.

TMink said...

Don't you just love the smell of lefty hypocrisy?

Here in Tennessee, school close at the threat of snow. I thought it was because the busses could not run or had no seat belts or something like that.

The principle set me straight. They close when it snows because they might lose federal funding. They get no money for days where a certain attendance percentage is met. So on snow days, rather than risk losing the fed dollars, they close. No kids go to school that day, because of federal foolishness.

Trey

Triangle Man said...

...Gin up sympathy...

Cry me an effing river.

Pay nothing towards fringes


I'm looking for information and trying to understand lincolntf's concerns. I think teachers here are paid fairly and provide good value for their compensation. I think reducing their compensation could lead to declines in the quality of public education in Wisconsin through reduction in teacher quality. As I value high quality public education, I will argue in support of maintaining high quality teachers. I understand that others do not value high quality public education, think that it is too expensive, or resent having to pay for services that are not directly relevant to them.

Your statement about paying nothing towards fringes is silly. I added fringes to salary to get total compensation. The average is the figure erelevant to lincolntfs discussion.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Your statement about paying nothing towards fringes is silly.

Ok. Correct me then.

How much do the teachers in your State contribute towards their pension plan and insurance benefits? Anything? How much?

Give me a dollar amount or percentage of contribtution towards the fringe benefits and a site to verify.

Michael said...

Triangle Man: "I understand that others do not value high quality public education, think that it is too expensive, or resent having to pay for services that are not directly relevant to them."

You understand wrongly. The commentators here are all in favor of high quality education but reject the notion that more money equals better education. Most of us know that the per student amount in public education systems is high enough to pay the tuition of kids at the nearby high quality private school. The argument then turns on all the other "things" in the budget that private schools do not have to pay for. It is at this point that supporters of the system start the ad hominem attacks and asking for links to budgets that they will not read in hopes that it will forestall further discussion.

Triangle Man said...

The fallacy in applying this logic to government agencies seems pretty obvious.

@ChipS

You acknowledge the structural differences, but the large institution phenomenon exists over and above employee quality. What is the alternative you propose? How can a reasonable comparison be made between public and private sector employees without accounting for structural differences that underly salary differences?

I provided some counterfactual examples that demonstrate that adjusting the analysis for unit size can be reasonable, but agree that similar examples are more difficult to identify for many public sector functions.

If you think the comparison that the Rutgers papers make is meaningless, then all such comparisons of public and private sector employees are meaningless regardless of how the comparison is calculated. We are then left to evaluate whether the public sector employees provide good value for the amount of their compensation. Since this evaluation will depend largely on personal values and ideology, we end up without a common framework for discussion. Then you simply assert that public sector employees are overcomensated, and someone else says no.

Lincolntf said...

TM, you are falling into the trap of thinking "cutting Teacher's salaries" is the issue. It isn't. As has been amply demonstrated, we pay up to 5 X every Teacher's salary every half-year on "educating" children. That's not where the cuts would go in a sane world.
But in Teacher's Union/Dem Party world, that's what you claim in order to suck even more money out of the pockets of your neighbors (often while simultaneously demanding less work).
It's a sick joke being played by disgustingly greedy people.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Here is one site about the WSR
http://www.uwsa.edu/hr/benefits/retsav/wrs.htm

As a covered employee, you have an individual account to which "employee-required" retirement contributions — 5% of salary for most employees — and investment earnings are credited. Despite the name "employee-required," this is paid for in almost all cases by the University.

When you retire, you will receive the higher of two pensions:
a formula benefit based on your years of service and highest three years of earnings; or
a money-purchase benefit based on the accumulation in your employee-required retirement account plus a 100% match from the WRS employer reserve.


So in almost all cases the tax payers or university pay the 5% for the teacher PLUS an additional 6% for a total of 11% over and above salary into the retirement plan.

I couldn't find anything on the health insurance premiums percentage (if any) that the teachers pay.

Who wouldn't like to have your employer give you an extra 11% tax free on top of your salary and pay for all of your insurance premiums?

Triangle Man said...

Ok. Correct me then.

I did. Fringe benefits are part of total compensation, but please correct me if I am wrong. Keep in mind that the Wisconsin Retirement System does not operate like the California pension plan.

I have seen job offers that included no retirement contribution, a 1:1 match up to 5%, a 2:1 match up to 5%, and a 5% employer contribution with no required employee contribution. Over time I have also seen a range of health insurance premium contributions from employers from 100% to 0%.

Chip S. said...

@TM,

What do I propose? Well, in terms of education policy, at a minimum I'd propose that school principals be given near-complete autonomy in hiring and firing, and be evaluated in terms of school performance. I'd also allow parents to send their kids to any public school in their district, with funding to any school rising or falling with enrollment.

In terms of determining whether public-school teachers are overpaid or underpaid, I'd start by directing people's attention to Eric Hanushek's research on the value of teacher quality. Then, having persuaded people that teacher quality matters a lot, I'd implement serious methods of evaluating teacher performance. Then I'd get rid of tenure for public schoolteachers. Then I'd fire the worst 5% of them.

Under no circumstances would I act as if public school teachers became better at their jobs simply because their school districts became larger.

Triangle Man said...

You understand wrongly.

@Michael

No, you think it is too expensive. One of the options I listed.

ken in sc said...

It's interesting that the schools were closed because they could not maintain a safe environment, not because they could not do any educating. In other words, the superintendent sees their primary function as that of baby sitters. During my career as a public school teacher, I never saw or heard of a teacher being counseled or disciplined for being a poor teacher, or being uninformed about her subject matter, or just plain being stupid, as some of them were. What teachers get in trouble for is being bad baby sitters. In my opinion, the main concern of my students' parents was having someone responsible watch their kids while they work. The majority of them did not mind if the kids learned anything, but it was not the most important thing.

Triangle Man said...

What do I propose

@Chip

That is a thoughtful reply, but I was wondering how you propose to make meaningful comparisons of public sector and private sector salaries.

I agree with your second paragraph, conditioning the 5% elimination on some threshold of absolute performance.

MadisonMan said...

Use K12 online instead.

As an online instructor, let me point out that that type of delivery system works well for motivated students. For others, not so much.

I think it was foolhardy for the teachers to sick-out today, although I suppose it's a view of Scott Walker's Wisconsin's future. One of my kids went up to the Capitol to view things, the other is at a friend's house.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Your statement about paying nothing towards fringes is silly. I added fringes to salary to get total compensation. The average is the figure erelevant to lincolntfs discussion.


No. You did NOT correct me.

My statement is pertinent to the issue of making comparisons between private and government salaries and making comparisons as to total compensation.

If, as it seems to be true at the UWSA link, the teachers pay NOTHING. Then they are paying NOTHING and my statement is true.

When you get money over an above your salary to pay for retirement and insurance......while in the real world, WE have to pay for those things OUT of salary: there is no comparison.

You must look at the total picture.

It is painfully obvious that government employees are getting more compensation even though their salary/wages may be lower than the private sector. AND they are getting it by making the private sector pay more in taxes so they can continue to benefit.

Alex said...

Since labour history is rarely if every taught in high school, I suspect this will be a valuable contemporary example. Who knows they might even learn what the Rolling Mills workers in Milwaukee went through on May 5th, 1886, in order to get the eight hour work day.

Yes because modern teachers have it SO damn rough.

Alex said...

Unions have LONG since passed their usefulness, f.e, the 40-hour work week, safe working conditions. This is about leftist, Marxist ideology. Pure and simple.

kent said...

I'd propose that school principals be given near-complete autonomy in hiring and firing, and be evaluated in terms of school performance. [...] I'd implement serious methods of evaluating teacher performance. Then I'd get rid of tenure for public schoolteachers. Then I'd fire the worst 5% of them.

I'm prepared to help vote you into office right now. ;)

Alex said...

regarding home schooling cooperatives:

Of course, the Teachers Union in particular, and the Education establishment in general, would rather send people to jail than allow something like that to happen.

Exactly. They are utterly despicable tyrants. How dare they dictate to parents how to raise their children.

Chip S. said...

@TM,

What I was trying to say is that I want to get away from treating all teachers as identical. That's the problem with the teachers' unions, imo. Let the principals evaluate performance individually to get started.

Once that's been implemented, I'd keep track of which teachers were quitting to take private-sector jobs, and what was the performance level of new hires in general. I'd use this data to adjust average compensation levels.

MadisonMan said...

Who wouldn't like to have your employer give you an extra 11% tax free on top of your salary and pay for all of your insurance premiums?

I've known several people who have left the Center where I work to take jobs in the private sector, doing very similar jobs. In all cases their salaries went up at least 25% -- in one case it nearly doubled!

The 11% tax free is not on top of an equivalent-to-private-sector salary. Your comparison is not apt.

Alex said...

Gold-plated benefits at the expense of the KIDS. Shame on all progressives.

Lincolntf said...

The difference, MadisonMan, is that they will now have to be productive.
The Teacher's Union members have no such burden.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I've known several people who have left the Center where I work to take jobs in the private sector, doing very similar jobs. In all cases their salaries went up at least 25% -- in one case it nearly doubled!

Certainly this can happen in the case of a qualified employee who can provide good value to the new employer.

Most ordinary (elementry and secondary school) teachers would have a hard time finding employers who would want to hire them at such levels.

Did your lucky friends also get an additional TAX FREE 11% contribution into their retirement plan AND an additional TAX FREE 100% contribution by the employer towards their health insurance premiums.

Or did they have to contribute FROM their salaries towards those things?

Cash flow is as cash flow does.

kent said...

@DBQ: Chip is going to need someone sharp to help finance his campaign, and you always bring your "A"-game to any/all of these $$$-related discussions.

I'll be providing the matching uniforms. Join us.

AJ Lynch said...

Mad Man, Phd:

When one leaves the cocoon, I suspect the potential risks and rewards can vary quite a bit.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I think teachers here are paid fairly and provide good value for their compensation.

I provided a link up thread showing where US education ranks among OECD nations. I’m not sure but am willing to wager that our teachers earn on average, better salaries and pensions than those in Poland or Estonia yet our performance ranks below their. I’d like to think for the money we shell out in education we could perform better than two former Soviet satellites but YMMV.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

The argument that public workers accept lower salary for higher benefits is problematic. First of all, many recent studies have questioned the idea that private sector workers do make less. Secondly, even if they do make less, most of these better benefits like publicly funded pensions and retirement health care are guaranteed for a LIFETIME. Add into the mix that retirement ages are commonly set somewhere in the mid 50's with an average life expectancy in the 80s and you begin to see the problem.

Contrast this with the private sector worker who (may) be making a few more bucks. Unfortunately these additional bucks are only guaranteed for the current pay period. When the employment ends, so does any pay advantage.

And this doesn't begin to address the issue of job security.

AJ Lynch said...

I am surprised the teachers had the nerve to hold this protest on a weekday - why didn't they wait til next Monday and hold it on President's Day which is one of their paid holidays [I assume]?

galdosiana said...

I'm a TA at the UW. Funny little thing about my paycheck from last year:

Last year, I paid a total of $170.50 for my health coverage (top of the line plan with no copays except for ER visits; includes free chiropractic services, dental, health and even shots at the travel nurse's office for overseas trips).

I also paid a total of $206.91 for union dues.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Last year, I paid a total of $170.50 for my health coverage

I also paid a total of $206.91 for union dues.


That's about $45 shy of what I pay per month for family health coverage.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

Did your lucky friends also get an additional TAX FREE 11% contribution into their retirement plan AND an additional TAX FREE 100% contribution by the employer towards their health insurance premiums.

I would not characterize them as lucky. Like many State Employees, they were very good at what they do. Because they were hired to work in Madison, where many people -- at the time -- didn't pay much for health insurance premiums, I very much doubt they had to pay much more in health insurance at the time. As for retirement, I believe they were responsible for that on their own, which is one reason why their salaries jumped so much -- a recognition of the value of the retirement contribution. That is, you can have a lower state salary and good benefits, or a higher -- in these cases very much higher -- private sector salary and benefits that aren't so great. My recollection is that they did get stock options, which IIRC were TAX FREE -- until you cash them in. Rather like pension money.

For clarity, let me state that I'm not talking about teachers.

Lincolntf said...

We've come to a head in the area of public education. The current Government Employee Union-dominated model has failed by every conceivable measure.
Time to start from the ground up.

MadisonMan said...

I am surprised the teachers had the nerve to hold this protest on a weekday - why didn't they wait til next Monday and hold it on President's Day which is one of their paid holidays [I assume]?

Oh, because it's a crisis and the Governor has to have the bill passed RIGHT NOW!.

Otherwise, you know, it's Human sacrifices, dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

(I don't think Monday is a holiday, actually)

MadisonMan said...

That's about $45 shy of what I pay per month for family health coverage.

The UW has historically -- since I as a grad student, at least -- had good health insurance benefits for its Grad Students because the stipend fails in relation to those in other states. There's a competition for the best students, and it's hard to woo people with low salaries unless you have other things that make you competitive.

Michael said...

Triangle: No, it is not too expensive. That is not the point of the discussion. The point is that it is plenty. There is a distinction between expensive and plenty.

You cannot successfully argue the case for higher pay for teachers by saying that the opposition is against quality education because it has not been demonstrated that more money improves the outcome.

Irene said...

"Out of curiosity, why focus on the private sector parents? The two largest employers in Madison are public sector)."

@Triangle, because the private-sector parents are the ones with the fewest leave days available.

I am a public employee who is aware of the extraordinarily generous benefits I get. I used to work in the private sector. I pay about $80/month for health insurance. I used to pay about $480/month.

I am willing to pay more for the general fiscal health of the State.

Chip S. said...

@Kent,

I think Henry makes a far better candidate. His comment at the top of the thread is a model of the sort of clarity and brevity we need in politics.

But thanks...I think.

John A. said...

I know what Reagan would have done. Fire them.

AJ Lynch said...

Mad Man:

I am up for the human sacrifices! Let's be bi-partisan and start with our last four living ex-presidents. [Can I say this aloud?] Heh.

Trooper York said...

Fire them all. eu

Coldstream said...

Does anyone have numbers on average compensation for private school teachers in Wisconsin?

We're spending a lot of time arguing about public employees in general vs private employees in general, industry sizes, etc...

I'd be more curious to see what, exactly a teacher could earn in the private sector doing the same job. Simply comparing someone with an Ed degree to someone else with a bachelors degree in the private sector doesn't quite seem the same. It's not like an English or social studies teacher can move into an accounting or engineering job at will, simply because of a degree.

former law student said...

Regarding closing public schools: My college buddy lived in a Jewish neighborhood of Chicago. Half the class took off to commmemorate the High Holidays. A substantial chunk of the rest took off as well for one good reason: The teachers were not going to start any new material because they would just have to repeat it when the entire class returned. So any students who actually showed up on Yom Kippur received only baby sitting.

former law student said...

I think Catholic school teachers are basically only doing it for gas money. Are there any fancy prep schools in Wisconsin? Where did Titus go?

Irene said...

fls, Madison Country Day School and Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam.

Triangle Man said...

You cannot successfully argue the case for higher pay for teachers by saying that the opposition is against quality education because it has not been demonstrated that more money improves the outcome.

I am not arguing for higher pay for teachers.

Lincolntf said...

Anecdotal, but so is life.

My friends who are now teachers at the Catholic High School we attended in MA make less than their public school counterparts, excepting one of them (out of about 6). They went to better colleges, were better students, and still generally take education more seriously than the Pub. educators. And they get paid less. That's a love of teaching.
God bless the Public School teachers that I know, but they haven't changed much since their kegger days. The guys teaching at St.John's have.

Triangle Man said...

If, as it seems to be true at the UWSA link, the teachers pay NOTHING. Then they are paying NOTHING and my statement is true.

They are getting retirement benefits and health insurance benefits as compensation for their work. Just like their salary is compensation for their work.

I don't know why you think retirement contributions are special, but you of all people know about the fungibility of money. If you were making some kind of moral hazard argument about free health insurance premiums, then maybe I could buy it.

Triangle Man said...

@FLS

In addition to the two Irene mentions, Eagle School, Wingra, Edgewood. All about $10k per year.

Dana said...

I work for a "small" privately held company (less than 500 employees) with major locations in 4 states. I am paid around the national average for my position adjusted for the cost of living. Fortunately, I love what I do and my clients and my team.

However, my employer makes ZERO contribution to my retirement (I take advantage of the 401k plan but it 100% employee deferrals, no employer match or employer contributions of any kind).

Also, for my family of five I pay over $800 a month for medical and dental insurance. Even with that we have $45 copays for any visit to any doctor/nurse/dentist for any reason. We also have only partial coverage for things like hospitalization up to an annual max (which means I can easily be out of pocket up to another $5,000 in any given year).

To add insult to injury, I paid approximatley 30% of my gross in federal, state and local taxes last year. This does not include all the additional hidden taxes such as sales tax, gas tax, hotel tax, all of the bizzaro taxes that show up on my utility and phone bills, and on and on.

As such, I have no sympathy for government workers. Time to jump off the secure stable yacht (or be thrown off) and get into the leaky life boats with the rest of us. Sink or swim.

Lincolntf said...

Come on, people.
Have you never in your whole life seen a Teacher's Union dispute? Do you not see the same flawed arguments (ironically always in favor of funding failure) being used decade after decade?
Let's not pretend we're all baffled by the principles vs. dollars vs. reality issue. We're grown-ups.
The Teacher's Unions hate your kids as much as they hate you. Now pay up.

Bruce said...

I'll add another vote for photographing the protesting teachers and having someone match the pictures to teachers who called in "sick." If they are healthy enough to protest, then they are healthy enough to perform the job they are paid to do. If they get all the benefits of restrictive union work rules, then the least we can expect is that they respect their contract. It's a 2-way street.

AJ Lynch said...

The taxpayers have been holding an umbrella over the heads of govt workers for years. It's now time for them to get a little wet.

MadisonMan said...

Is Edgewood HS really only $10K/year?

Michael said...

Dana: Your situation is typical. You were probably paying $600 a month a year ago in health and dental. Your taxes, mercifully, have probably remained the same. You do not, I presume, have a gigantic safety net under you and your boss could come in any day and tell you that your position has been eliminated. No such trap door sits under these government employees whether they are in a union or not. The sheer knowledge of the trap door under your office chair give you bragging rights and a dignity that the brats do not own.

kimsch said...

Can a parent of a child who can't go to school today (and perhaps Thursdays and Friday as well) sue the teacher's union for extra costs incurred by paying for a full day's daycare instead of just before and after school care? Can a parent who lost wages because they had to stay home with their seven year old sue for those lost wages? How about a parent who was fired because there were no personal days available?

Almost Ali said...

Ah, the beneficiaries of applied Marxism are unhappy.

Good.

JBlog said...

As an employee of a non-union private company, if I called in sick and it became known that I had lied I would be fired on the spot.

No protection, no appeal.

Marshal said...

"Also Tuesday, nearly 800 Madison East High School students — half the school — walked out to participate in a demonstration at the state Capitol."

More evidence leftist indoctrination is the primary goal of teachers. Half the school is supposed to be politically engaged enough not only to know what is the best policy option but also sufficiently motivated to engage in political theater? We can't teach them math or science but they have a deep understanding of public policy?

Drew said...

I would have no problem believing that private school teachers make more than their public counterparts. I would also have no problem believing that the private school kids perform, however you want to define that scholastically, better than their public counterparts.

Part of this is true. Privately-schooled students do perform better, but the teachers get paid far less, typically without the amazing benefits packages (nor anything like tenure). There is less money spent per-student as well. So if private schools can do so much more with so much less, what does that tell us about the current public school model?

kimsch said...

Shocking Vid: Wis. HS Students Admit Teachers Bringing Them to Protests but Don‘t Know Why They’re There at the Blaze.

wv: mastsyc

MadisonMan said...

So if private schools can do so much more with so much less, what does that tell us about the current public school model?

That it doesn't have a self-selecting student body that biases comparisons to private schools?

The school at my church is very good....unless your kid has special needs. In which case you leave, and take your kid and his needs (or her) to the public school.

Sofa King said...

Half the school is supposed to be politically engaged enough not only to know what is the best policy option but also sufficiently motivated to engage in political theater?

Isn't a funny coincidence that school kids always care the most about the very same issues their teachers care the most about? But they're *professionals,* surely there is nothing untoward going on.

Sofa King said...

unless your kid has special needs.

Is the union ready to have a talk yet about some of the ridiculous lengths schools have to go through in this regard?

Some kids are not educable. They should be somewhere else. Some kids don't want to be educated. They should be somewhere else, too. These facts are always raised as excuses - but I've never seen the union lift a finger to do anything about it.

TJ said...

It is difficult if not impossible to beat these public union A-holes at this game. The odds are weighted against you.

I do hope with all my heart that the Governor holds fast.

But the only winning move is to not play. Don't spend your time and money fighting with these fuckheads, find some sucker to buy your place and MOVE.

I pay less than 10% of what I was paying and am far happier knowing that $5000.00 plus is not being wasted in the public union maw.

The only thing that is somewhat regrettable is that the guy that took my place is paying this tax.

In a perfect world, if you were dissatisfied with such doings, you'd pack your bags and give them the finger on the way out.

k*thy said...

They should be somewhere else, too.

And where should they be? The public schools have a constutional obligation (in WI) to educate everyone who walks through their doors.

Alex said...

The unions are teaching the kids about labor strife and organizing. Who said school was just the 3 Rs?

Greg said...

"Pogo said...

How hard could it be to replace people who just need to know how to turn on the DVD player?"

Am I dating myself when I say our teachers just had to operate a film projector?

My mother observed that every time she picked up me or my brother early, like for a doctor's appointment, we always seemed to be watching a film.

dick said...

Scott M,

You need to check again on private school teachers making more than public school teachers. Here in NYC the public school teachers make much more than private school teachers and the private school pupils do make far better scores than public school pupils. The same was true in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, TX, Boston and its environs, new Hampshire and Colorado.

dave in boca said...

I made it a point to send my daughter to Catholic schools and would never consider a public school [although academically, a couple of them in Boca are way above the national average]. Now it looks like she may get a job as a US Senate intern.

Placeholder said...

All of the teachers in the state should go on strike. Every last one of them. And they should stay on strike until your wingnut governor backs down.

Want to fire every single teacher in the state? Good luck with that.

Michael said...

Placeholder: That is an excellent idea, since they would be impossible to replace. Like the air traffic....sorry.

airedaletwo said...

School districts get federal funding as well as some state funding based upon the daily attendance figure. These sickouts that closed the schools have cost the local school district hundreds of thousands a dollars per day. Can't the school district sue the union to recover the lost federal funds due to their actions and name all the union members who called in sick unless they can prove they actually were sick. Even if they lose the discovery would be really useful since the totality of the union documents related to this would be available. The other organizations working with them would also be exposed. They could be part of the John Does.

Simone and Tyler Munson said...

I am in agreement that teachers and teacher's unions have gained too much power and need to make concessions. However, choosing to not allow proper negotiations for a bill with ramifications of this magnitude is highly iladvised, and displays a severe lack of sensibility and diplomacy on Governor Walker's part.

That said, the biggest issue that should be noted about the original bill is that our Governor, who is supposed to be the most powerful lawmakers of Wisconsin, proposed something in this bill that was inherently ILLEGAL. Granted, the finance committee revised this portion of the bill; this being that LTE workers who log 40 hours per week (full-time) should not be allowed to buy into, in any form, the group health insurance of their employer (the state). Don't you think that our Governor should realize this is illegal by the own laws of the state he governs before proposing it in legislation? In all, the Governor does not come off looking intelligent, or diplomatic which are of utmost importance fo a person in his position.

As for the teachers lying about being sick....I think it's good to show just how much our country depends on the education system. You want to fire them, go ahead, I hope you enjoy the third-rate teachers that replace them, and you will see a decrease in the quality of family life in the state. Are you telling me that you've NEVER called in sick when you weren't sick???

Everyone knows we need a balanced state budget, and this can be accomplished in a sensible way. Walker knew perfectly well that his actions would elicit this sort of response. Walker has essentially taken to the 2nd-grade approach of debate where he covers his ears with his hands saying "la, la, la"...What kind of example does THAT set for our kids?

In short, I'd like to see our Governor act in a diplomatic manner and open the floor for discussion, as well as see him give a little more thought to the legality of a legislation before proposing it.

Signed, a brown bagger who is not very impressed by a guy who claimed to represent "the brown bag movement".