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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Balancing the Budget in Wisconsin

We're seeing in Wisconsin a microcosm of the country as a whole. There's no money and something has to give. With gas rapidly rising and people out of work, raising taxes will just make the problem worse. What Gov. Walker is doing is asking state employees to tighten their belts the way the private sector has been doing for a long time. My husband and I have family members in the business world who have lost jobs, seen their salaries cut and their benefits reduced. Why should public workers expect to be protected from the economic realities of life? And frankly, I'm sick of hearing about poorly paid teachers. I worked in a parochial school fifteen years ago and earned about $25,000 a year with a Masters degree. Believe me, it was a lot less than public school teacher. I'm not complaining. It was my choice and I wanted to be in the same school my children attended. There were teachers there who were single parents and widows among others. I never heard one word of complaint from those heroic women. These whiners need to grow up.

Below are links to some articles and a video about what Scott Walker is trying to do to restore fiscal sanity to his state. The unions should be helping instead of taking to the streets with their threats and bullying, a deplorable example for our children. Their behavior, unfortunately, is what you get in a welfare state where everyone thinks he deserves more from Obama's "stash." Sorry, folks, there is no stash; there are only taxpayers with limited resources and they're bled dry.

Governor's budget repair plan has merit

48% Back GOP Governor in Wisconsin Spat, 38% Side With Unions

Why Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Is Right About Collective Bargaining

Support Gov. Walker. You can take a survey on the governor's handling of the controversy in Wisconsin here. You can vote to support his approach in U.S. News' poll here. At present the poll is running against Gov. Walker which which may mean the unions have been organizing a response. Let your voice be heard as well if you support the governor.


Anonymous said...

I agree with some of what you say, but definitely not the part about teacher pay. Why is it that we value everything except education? Soon no one will go into education as a career because it does not pay enough to make a living. Isn't this what everyone is saying will happen with medicine if we cut doctor pay? That no one will go to medical school?

I don't know a single teacher who doesn't have a passion for the job, devote countless hours outside the classroom to it, and spend a lot of his or her own money to subsidize the curriculum. These people should be making AT LEAST what a budget analyst for the US government makes right out of college. But, I can tell you that there is a huge discrepancy in pay. If you were happy being underpaid in your job because you viewed is as a service, good for you. Unfortunately, most people no longer have the luxury of working for less than a good paycheck.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I know a lot of great teachers too, but I also know of many bad ones. My own sister and brother pulled their kids out of public school because of discrimination against their kids. Many home schoolers tell the same story. I also know a few public school teachers who won't put their own kids in the public schools -- great reference eh?

The Alliance Defense Fund defends numerous Christian kids persecuted by faculty and administration. Check out their website.

They're just one legal group among many addresing the scandals in the public schools.

As for salary -- lists the average teacher's salary at $50,000 with about $4,000 in benefits. That doesn't sound so bad to me when you consider that teachers work about eight months a year with summer vacation, "winter holiday", spring break, and other miscellaneous days off. I am all for paying excellent teachers performance bonuses, but the unions won't allow it. They don't have it nearly as bad as all the hype would have people believe.

Anonymous said...


Things must really be different out East because my husband is a middle school teacher in the Midwest. He works 9 1/2 months a year and pays for a lot (over half) of his classroom supplies himself and many times breakfast and lunch for his kids so that they can be well nourished enough to learn. Most nights he brings home stacks of paperwork to correct, lesson plans to write, etc. He has to pay for Continuing Ed out of his own pocket because that was eliminated from his District.

And how do you define "Merit" for teachers???? He has a student in his class right now that can't (and will never) read above a 2nd grade reading level. The way that the law is written right now my husband is an under-performing teacher because one of his students is not reading at the 8th grade grade level.... so by that definition alone he would not be eligible for Merit pay.

Yes, we can all talk about bad teachers and we can all talk about teachers who treat it like a cake job, but there are significantly more teachers who deserve our respect and the pay to equal it. In Japan teachers earn more than doctors do - that seems like a culture with their priorities in order.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Sounds like your husband is a hero and, in fact, I know of one teacher, the son of a friend, who actually put his life in danger during a school invasion by a crazy guy with a gun.

But what do you do about the ones who are lazy and indifferent? I did my student teaching under one of those in D.C.'s inner city.

As for giving kids meals, that's the problem with the welfare state when Uncle Sam has policies that destroy the family and are hostile to religion.

What does your husband thinks is needed to strengthen schools? If raising the salary of teachers is the answer, why do parochial schools achieve so much more with so much less? And please don't say they can throw out the problem kids. In my fourth grade class I had kids that were problem kids in the public schools. After a tough forth grade year, I remember one who came to me in 5th grade and said, "Mrs. Kreitzer, you'd be proud of me; I made the honor roll."

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Out of curiosity I looked at the VA regulations for schooling. The required school year is 180 days equal to 900 hours instruction. That works out to an average of 5.5 hours a day. Obviously the teacher gets there before school starts and is there after school ends, lets say an 30 minutes to an hour total. So that's a 6.5-hour day physically at school.

If the school year is 180 days and you add to that all the weekends of the year (104) that leaves 81 days which would be 16 5-day weeks with an extra day. But it's not all vacation because teachers usually begin the school year a week or so before the kids and there are some miscellaneous teacher work days. So my estimate of 4 months vacation was wrong. I apologize.

I think one of the things that would improve schools is school choice. Competition is a great motivator. The schools with the good teachers would thrive and the ones with bad teachers would either improve or close. When local communities, i.e. parents, have more control the schools, will improve.

Anonymous said...

Actually my husband taught in a Catholic school for 8 years. He was a Social Studies teacher and still calls it some of the best years of his life (well, professional life) but he knew that if he wanted to ever get married and support a family he'd need to get out of there. He ended up going back to school to get his MEd and is now teaching in the public schools.

I know that he's said that one thing that made it better in the Catholic schools was supportive families. The sad reality is that there are a lot of families that, while they love their children, don't have the time or the resources to be as supportive in their education as they would like. And yes, he has parents who purposely don't take an active role in their children's education because they feel hat it's the school's responsibility.

The way to strengthen schools is to get rid of the idea that students need to be at a "grade level" to be showing achievement. If we could figure out a way to stop testing kids to death and allow them to learn and learn at their own pace they'll be much more successful.

My husband's contract requires him to be in school from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. - that's 8 hours. He gets a half hour for lunch (which at least 1/3 of the days he has students in his room during or has a meeting with a parent) and an hour for Prep - which is (again) often taken up by meetings or something other than correcting papers or preparing curriculum as it's intended and he's usually there earlier & later than his contract time.

I admire your convictions Mary Ann, but you've been passing a lot of judgments about what's going on in Wisconsin and looking at it with East Coast eyes..... my husband doesn't teach in Wisconsin but I have three cousins and several friends who do and they've sacrificed a great deal to retain a strong benefit package. The Unions have even agreed to go back to the bargaining table and give up A LOT of their contracts as long as Governor Walker will take aboloshing collective bargaining off the table and he refuses to do it. He refuses to even sit down with them! I don't consider that to be leadership. I consider that to be someone who has his mind made up of how things are going to be and where the money is going to come from (schools) but isn't willing to listen.

Schools are broken. Yes. There are bad teachers. Yes. But just because there's flaws in the system and bad teachers doesn't mean that the ones who are doing their jobs should be punished. JMHO

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thanks for your thoughtful response.

One of the things the union is resisting is removing the right to subtract union dues from teachers' paychecks. At present teachers don't have the right to refuse to join the union. Do you agree with forced participation which is common in almost every unionized profession?

Anonymous said...

Actually yes I agree with still taking some level of Union dues out (in the Union that I used to belong to you could have Full-Share Union dues taken out and get voting rights or Fair-Share (50% of the Full-Share) dues taken out and give up voting rights). My reason for agreeing with still taking at least some level of dues out is because they still get the benefits provided by the contract? It would be unethical to have a contract for a group of teachers in the Union and a second for teachers not in the Union.

Again, JMHO.

Anonymous said...

And also, not sure if you saw this or not, but Archbishop Listecki came out in support of the Unions.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Bishop Listecki's comments were not addressed at the current situation in Wisconsin but about unions in general. The bishops have remained neutral in this argument.

And I agree with what he writes when he says, “It does not follow from this that every claim made by workers or their representatives is valid. Every union, like every other economic actor, is called to work for the common good, to make sacrifices when required, and to adjust to new economic realities."

I frankly think in the private sector the best protection for workers is ownership. Businesses that provide stock options for their workers give them a ahare in the success of the company and an incentive to work hard to achieve success. I'm not sure how you could incentivize public sector workers in a similar fashion.