There’s little doubt that the primary heroes of the day were schoolteachers — public school teachers — who hid children in closets and saved their lives, and who evacuated the children, leading them out through what had become a killing field in preposterously good order in what were the last hours of their childhoods, as one of the teachers said, with devastating accuracy, to a local TV station. There’s also little doubt that the response of the local police and fire departments in a very small place was prompt and brave.
Some highlights from the CTU rally downtown! Support Chicago teachers!
The nickelback one made me giggle.
I wish I knew about “said no teacher ever” when I was protesting with Wisconsin!
The reality is this: The top performing school systems in the world have strong teachers unions at the heart of their education establishment. This fact is rarely discussed (or even noted) in reform circles. Yet anyone who’s intellectually honest and cares about improving our schools has to acknowledge it.
--Matt Miller, Romney vs. Teachers Unions: The Inconvenient Truth
Thousands of Teacher and School Staff Jobs Have Been Eliminated Under Gov. Walker
According to newly-released data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2,312 full-time school staff positions were eliminated during the 2011-2012 school year. For teachers in particular, 1,446 positions were cut.
According to Scott Walker’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie, this offers “proof that Governor Walker’s reforms are working.”
The Value of Teachers
Suppose your child is about to enter the fourth grade and has been assigned to an excellent teacher. Then the teacher decides to quit. What should you do?
The correct answer? Panic!
Well, not exactly. But a landmark new research paper underscores that the difference between a strong teacher and a weak teacher lasts a lifetime. Having a good fourth-grade teacher makes a student 1.25 percent more likely to go to college, the research suggests, and 1.25 percent less likely to get pregnant as a teenager. Each of the students will go on as an adult to earn, on average, $25,000 more over a lifetime — or about $700,000 in gains for an average size class — all attributable to that ace teacher back in the fourth grade. That’s right: A great teacher is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to each year’s students, just in the extra income they will earn.
You simply cannot fix America’s schools by “scaling” charter schools. It won’t work. Charter schools offer proof of the concept that great teaching is a huge difference-maker, but charters can only absorb a tiny fraction of the nation’s 50 million public schoolchildren. Real reform has to go beyond charters — and it has to include the unions.
--Joe Nocera, Teaching With the Enemy: Why education reform needs unions.
How do we expect to entice the best and brightest to become teachers when we keep tearing the profession down? We take the people who so desperately want to make a difference that they enter a field where they know that they’ll be overworked and underpaid, and we scapegoat them as the cause of a societywide failure.
--Charles Blow of the New York Times, In Honor of Teachers.
Deteriorating Working Conditions Cause Wisconsin Teacher Retirements to Double
As they face massive cuts to pay and benefits, as well as bizarre and belittling restrictions (no microwaves allowed, skirts must cover the knees…), Wisconsin teachers are retiring at an unprecedented rate. And this phenomenon isn’t limited to teachers:
In the first six months of 2011, overall public employee retirements were double that in all of either 2009 or 2010.
State agency retirements were particularly dramatic, nearly tripling from 747 in all of 2010 to 1,966 through June. Retirements from the University of Wisconsin System more than doubled, up from 480 last year to 1,091 this year. All told, 9,933 public workers had retired by the end of June, a 93% increase from 5,133 in 2010. The year before, there were 4,876 retirements.
Labor Day is going to feel a little different in Wisconsin this year.
Wisconsin Teachers' Union Lays Off 40% of Its Staff
Layoff notices have been issued to about 40% of the Wisconsin Education Association Council workforce. The complete story is linked above.
Teacher Handbooks To Replace Union Contracts
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
With the start of school approaching on Sept. 1, about two-thirds of Wisconsin’s school districts are rushing to finalize employee handbooks to replace now-extinct collective bargaining agreements that for decades outlined duties and salaries for workers.
The passage of the state’s new “Act 10” legislation - in effect for all districts that didn’t extend a contract with teachers before the passage of the law - gives administrators the ability to make sweeping changes to teachers’ pay scales, hours and working conditions without having to negotiate them with unions.
Some sacred cows are disappearing, such as teacher tenure, layoffs based on seniority and the guarantee of 10 years’ worth of post-retirement health insurance. Other big and complex changes on the horizon include new salary structures and pay-for-performance plans.
I’m proud to vote for a faculty union at UWGB. As we have seen this past year in Wisconsin, it is vital that working people join together and fight for our rights: our right to make decisions which affect the quality of education here in our state and our right to decent benefits. Working together, as a union, makes our voices stronger.
-- Aeron Hayne, Associate Professor of English & Humanities at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. UWGB faculty voted 117 to 2 to unionize and affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin. Turnout in the election was 71 percent.