February 20, 2011

Teaching and Sacrifice

Regular readers who have accessed the “About the Authors/Contact” tab know that my day job, so to speak, is teaching high school English. Accordingly, I’ve been watching the situation in Wisconsin not only with an eye toward keeping our readers informed, but with grave concern for my chosen profession.

I say “my chosen profession” because it is indeed a profession I chose after a police career, returning to college in early middle age to complete my undergraduate teaching degree. I was always a teacher during my years in law enforcement, but returned to teaching because it’s important and meaningful. It’s an opportunity, each and every day, to truly make a difference, to inspire real improvement and growth in students and to awaken their interest in the wonders of learning. I go to school smiling and happy every day, thankful for the opportunity entrusted to me by my community.

When I seek Wisconsin teachers abandoning their kids, lying about their absence, misusing their influence to trick their uncomprehending students into anti-democratic protests with them, and now, obtaining fraudulent excuses from doctors (here), I find myself very concerned for public education and very angry at those useful idiots in classrooms allowing themselves to be so skillfully, yet crudely played by their unions.

I’ll admit to being surprised when I learned that the average Milwaukee, Wisconsin teacher makes $100,000 per year (here). That’s $56,505 in direct salary and $43,505 in benefits. Let’s just say that I have about 15 years of experience and I’m making more than $10,000 a year less in salary alone--much more. I shudder to think how much less I’m making in benefits. But that doesn’t matter.

The American economy isn’t a zero-sum game, at least not yet. A dollar, or $10,000+, made by a teacher in Wisconsin is not a dollar or $10,000+ that I cannot make. When others make more than me, when others are actually, truly rich, I say good for them, for the mere fact of their good fortune means that similar good fortune is possible for me and for everyone else. Like my fellow teachers, I choose to sacrifice and continue teaching. Besides, envy and coveting the goods and lives of others reveals poor upbringing, bad manners, weak faith, and is always self defeating. If making a great deal more money than I currently make is really that important, I need to get busy and make the necessary changes, not whine about the fact that others make more than do I.

Then I discovered that Wisconsin teachers currently pay nothing--nothing!--toward their own pension plans, and pay only 6% of their salaries toward their health care plans. Yes, I pay more, substantially more, yet, I still don’t begrudge them their relative good fortune. However, when I discovered that Gov. Walker is expecting them to pay 5.8% (instead of 0%) toward their pensions, and 12% (instead of 6%) toward their health insurance, any sympathy I had for them instantly evaporated.

I’m fortunate to live and work in Texas for a fine school district that is fiscally solvent and likely--knock wood--to remain so. In fact, Texas is doing much better than most of the rest of the nation for reasons that are well documented elsewhere. Suffice it to say that a large part of that success is due to the fact that Texas is a right-to-work state where unions do not dictate public policy to their advantage and to the disadvantage of the people. Texas is, therefore, a job creator, a job magnet and is attracting people and businesses from failing states around the nation, including Wisconsin.

But Wisconsin, after decades of Democrat rule and “Progressive” ideology, is not doing well. It, like much of the rest of the nation, is bankrupt, and unless Gov. Walker gets the concessions and reforms he needs, he’ll be forced to lay off more than 5000 teachers and more than 10,000 public employees. Any competent Governor of any party would need to do the same. When I discovered that the entire crisis was caused by unions refusing to even discuss concessions, any tiny residual empathy I had for unions went out the window. Rational people would realize that if the state goes bankrupt, there will be no money to pay state employees, who will also go bankrupt, and no money for union dues. No union dues, no unions. The latter, I must admit, sounds like a very good idea these days.

And then I see the thuggish, stupid and crude behavior of the unions, their members, and even of Mr. Obama, who is encouraging nothing less than civil war against a state trying only to avoid default, trying desperately to be fiscally responsible, and I become determined to do all that I can to defeat those who are determined, because of their short-sighted greed and lust for power, to destroy democracy. So I write in the hope of informing and persuading. You’ll have to let me know how I’m doing.

Teachers are taught, from their earliest days in college, that kids learn best with an effective, dedicated and hard-working teacher in every classroom. Experience convinces us that it's true. No other single element is more important to student success--and please do not think for a moment that success is measured by standardized test scores--they have almost nothing to do with actual learning, but that’s a post for another time. And please don’t think that I’m a touchy-feely, self-esteemy “facilitator” type. In my classes, kids have no choice but to behave, produce and improve, and to have fun doing it. The bottom line is that when the teacher who has worked so hard to build rapport and establish a hard-working but enjoyable classroom environment is gone, learning slows--dramatically.

I hate to be out of my classroom--all good teachers hate to be out of their classrooms--for any reason. I cherish every minute I have with my kids, because I will never have enough, and when I lose precious minutes for any reason, my emotions range from mild frustration to moments of genuine anger. I can count on one hand the number of sick days I’ve taken in a decade. Yes, I should have taken many more, but as long as I’m functional, I choose to be functional in the classroom.

I don’t say this to pat myself on the back, but merely to point out something that many people may not realize: The public schools are full of teachers who think as I do, who absolutely hate to be out of their classrooms. I therefore find myself disgusted with those Wisconsin teachers. I’m disgusted that they’d even think of leaving the classroom--their unions hire lobbyists to deal with legislative issues, spending far more money than most union members will ever know--or approve of. They don’t need to leave school. I’m disgusted that they are lying about why they’re gone. I’m disgusted that they have not only cut off learning for their students, but for all of the students of competent, professional teachers who are not indulging in self-righteous displays of contempt for the public. I’m disgusted that they’d even think about involving students in their unethical, selfish, greedy, fraudulent behavior. I’m disgusted that they would attempt to lie about their actions by obtaining counterfeit doctor’s excuses.

Don’t get me started on the doctors who are handing those excuses out. We need more doctors, but we don’t need morally compromised doctors. If they want to be union organizers, “community organizers” or politicians, they should pursue those pseudo-occupations. I always thought that medicine was more or less a full time job. Apparently not in Wisconsin. One can only hope that Gov. Walker and the State AG will take the steps necessary to introduce them to new kinds of institutions with unique occupational clothing, or at the very least, give them the opportunity to pursue alternative employment in, say, the food service industry. As I understand it, "do you want fries with that?" is a very marketable phrase to know and tell.

Teachers rely on the goodwill of the public. Smart teachers never forget that they are public employees, and that every student, every parent, is justified in expecting that each and every teacher will provide the best educational opportunity possible, given the resources provided by the public. Yes, teachers can only provide the opportunity to learn, students--and parents--must take full advantage of it. We all must work together, yet some Wisconsin teachers are trying to tear society apart.

One of the things that is hard for young teachers to learn is that they cannot be their student’s homeys. They can’t be their friends. They have to be the responsible adult in the room, and every student must understand that and expect them, in everything, to behave as a responsible adult. Another thing that is hard to understand is that students really do look up to teachers. They watch for clues, gross and subtle, that tell them what kind of person a given teacher is, and they accordingly detest or admire those teachers. Teachers truly can never tell where their influence ends. And every day, most kids tell their parents of their impressions, impressions that mold parent’s impressions of those teachers and of their schools. Empty schools, kids losing precious class days, parent’s work disrupted--losing money, parents forced to pay unexpectedly for child care--money they may well not have, watching teachers on TV behaving like self-important fools and anarchists, all of this is terribly destructive and absolutely unnecessary.

A too-large number of Wisconsin teachers have not only thrown away all of the good will and public support earned by hard-working, dedicated teaching professionals working for many, many years, they’ve urinated on it in public and danced gleefully on its corpse for the cameras. Most people watching around the nation will be able, intellectually, to realize that these bad actors do not represent all of Wisconsin’s teachers, nor do they reflect on all American public school teachers, but the negative impression will remain, and it will have an effect, an effect no professional teacher would solicit or welcome.

Pay a bit more for health insurance and pension? Lose some--not all--collective bargaining privileges (There is no such thing as a “right” to form a union or to engage in anything unions do. It’s a privilege extended, and rescinded, by the voters of any state)? Yes and gladly, particularly when the alternative is not only to lose my job, but to bankrupt the entire state! This is not a matter of greedy, venal politicians trying to steal money from teachers to build something entirely stupid, unnecessary and unwanted like high-speed rail. Wisconsin is, without any concealment or doubt, in deep financial trouble, and there is very little sympathy left for those unwilling to realize that, or those more than willing to try to continue to drain the public coffers for their benefit. If the public didn’t know that this is not about ensuring that Mrs. Smith, the kindly teacher, is treated fairly, but is all about Democrat and union power, after watching the week in Wisconsin, they surely do.

If I was one of those Wisconsin teachers, I would be ashamed to return to school. I would be ashamed to face my students. I would be ashamed to face my peers, my supervisors, my student’s parents and my neighbors. But of course, I’m not one of those teachers, and I suspect most of them will feel no shame whatever. That being the case, Wisconsin voters might wish to consider whether people of such low moral character, people who care so little about their sacred public trust, should continue to have the privilege--not the right--to teach in Wisconsin. I know what my answer would be. You?

UPDATE: From NPR, Via National Review Online:

“‘But before the sun set, most Walker supporters went home. And union forces again owned the streets, marching around the Capitol building. On the curb, teacher Leah Gustafson held a sign saying, “Scott, your son is in my class. I teach him, I protect him, I inspire him.’

Gustafson said she teaches Walker’s son in a school outside Milwaukee. Like much of organized labor, she also said she accepts the need for union workers to pay more for their pensions and health care.
‘Absolutely, I get that,’ she said. ‘I understand that, and I am more than willing to do that. But it’s the bargaining rights that really scare me. We have to obtain and retain teachers for the future, or our educational system is going to crumble.’”

No, Ms. Gustafson, you don’t get it; you don’t get it at all. Not only do you not protect and inspire the Governor’s son, you’ve just unwittingly used him as a political weapon, a weapon aimed at the heart of his father. You’ve publicly exposed him, even endangered his life. The Governor’s enemies, the same enemies who have been communicating death threats, death threats considered more than credible by the police, now know where to find at least one of his children any day of the week. And in so doing, you’ve endangered yourself, your students, and every student in your school. After engaging in the lowest form of politics and dragging a child into the pit with you, do you imagine his father will see you as an honest, dedicated teacher who is “protecting” his son? Would any parent feel that way? Do you imagine that Gov. Walker’s son will find you “inspiring,” should you eventually decide to return to the classroom which you have dishonorably abandoned? Have you obtained your fraudulent “doctor’s excuse?” Tell me Ms. Gustafson, what would you do with a student who skipped a week of school and showed up with a forged doctor’s note? If he said he did it for a worthy political purpose, would you excuse him?

To be absolutely fair, I have little doubt that Ms. Gustafson, like so many of her potentially well-meaning colleagues, does not realize the harm she has done. She doesn’t realize the depth and breadth of the public respect and support she has been instrumental in squandering. She doesn’t understand that there are people on her side who have always resorted to intimidation and violence to seize and hold power and who think nothing of manipulating “useful idiots,” kind people like her who can be so easily tricked and sent into the line of fire, never suspecting that those who pretend to support them care nothing for them, only for wealth and power. They hope that people like Ms. Gustafson will be caught up in violence, even bloodied, which looks so good on camera and which can be so easily spun against the public. So convincing are her union masters, that Ms. Gustafson probably actually believes that without union thugs controlling her and the schools and looting the public treasury, teachers will not be retained for the future and the education system will crumble.

Ms. Gustafson, there are many states where unions have no say in pay and benefits, yet the free market ensures that teachers are paid fair wages and given fair benefits. I certainly am, as are all my colleagues, colleagues like me who are careful to earn and keep the respect and good will of the public, not because we expect to benefit financially, but because we owe it, and our best efforts, to them. Our education system is not crumbling. We have little turnover, and we turn away far, far more teachers than we hire. And we do it all without unions.

Pray, Ms. Gustafson, that no harm comes to Gov. Walker’s children or any of your students. Perhaps you’ll even find it in your heart to pray for those you’ve been conned into believing are your enemies. And please reflect on the fact that there are those in your union and leading your union who would be delighted to see you or your students come to harm to further their ambitions and to satisfy their lust for power. Then consider whether these are the kind of people with whom you truly want to associate. Perhaps then you’ll return to doing what professional teachers do: Teaching. Oh yes, and please leave the fake note behind, if, that is, you truly are an honorable person, as I’m hoping you are. It’s rather hard to convince students to own up to their mistakes when you’re unwilling to do it yourself.

Posted by MikeM at February 20, 2011 06:08 PM

This Texas teacher agrees whole-heartedly!

Posted by: Rhymes With Right at February 20, 2011 10:24 PM

And the doctors handing out those sick notes need to know that they have the privilege, not the right to practice medicine. And that privilege does not include using their license for partisan political purposes (apologies for alliteration). The Wisconsin Board of Medical Examiners should be on them like a pit-bull on a t-bone!

Posted by: Marty at February 20, 2011 11:12 PM

Urg, imagine what these teachers will do to the students, how they will teach, say, Social Studies &tc, and Civics (if they still bother with that directly), or even snide remarks in classes on other subjects.

I think the School Districts should grab a broom and sweep clean. But, then, most Superintendents and School Boards in Wis have long ago been captured (and then the teacher's unions negotiate with...)

The only way to solve this is through lustration.

Posted by: Porphy at February 21, 2011 12:31 AM

I ran a public employees union for three years.
Intially I thought that i was working for my fellow workers day-to-day rights.
however,I learned, to my dismay, the union dues were used for lobbying for "government schools, government healthcare, abortion rights, peace through weakness". feminist agenda, afffirmative action, higher taxes,environment agenda ( no drilling, no nuclear, no coal)...the list goes on. No dissent was allowed.
The unions are an adjunct of the Demoncrats

Posted by: -1fred edwards at February 21, 2011 12:39 AM

While the unionized teachers in Wisconsin cannot even spell simple words on their posters, you come out and write an eloquent argument against them. I can certainly tell which school system I'd rather have a kid in!

But there's something more interesting here. You are actually not doing that bad in Texas, which is probably why you are not angry.

Look at your situation: You make, say, around $45k + benefits. The teachers of Madison make about $55k plus benefits. So really, in current terms the union folks are only about 10% better off than you, and right now management is essentially proposing to not only take all of that away, but reduce their net income to somewhat less than yours!

Worse yet, it takes about 10% more to live in Wisconsin than Texas (I chose Houston versus Milwaukee - Madison was not available - from a popular cost of living calculator). So before these adjustments, Madison teachers were making about as much as you after adjusting for cost of living. Now they will make less - they will actually be worse off than you. And then they have to pay union dues on top of that.

That's pretty darn pathetic and I wonder if that's a real reason for all this rage. What if teachers' union members realized their union actually did very little for them, except for requiring unsustainable benefits and pensions that they will probably never see?


Posted by: David H Dennis at February 21, 2011 01:51 AM

I never had any sympathy with them to begin with.

My healthcare insurance costs are up 22% vs. 2010. I've had to quit contributing to my 401 for the past few months, and any retirement I have now is what I've saved.

Welcome to the real world, WI teachers. Everyone is hurting right now, and the states are no exception. Now grow up. You're not extra-special because you're a teacher. A teacher is no more the "guardian" of my child's education than a drive through server is responsible for my child's nutrition. You are both paid to perform a service for people. (Well, not me, I opt out. There is no way my children will ever attend a government school.) A child's education is the parent's responsibility alone. I hope we see a mass exodus of WI school children over this, with the corresponding drop in funding (and teacher salaries). That won't happen, because most Americans believe the lie that .gov and its teachers are responsible for their childrens' education. How sad.

I can't wait to see what the dependent class of this nation does when cuts entitlements and handouts in a serious fashion. There will literally be blood on the streets. Greece was nothing.

America sees fights and riots over Black Friday sales and Tickle-Me-Elmos. The Left gets violent when they don't get their goodies.

Wait until real cuts begin.

Buckle up.



Posted by: Arctic Patriot at February 21, 2011 03:08 AM

Question: Why do they call teaching a profession? I know teachers are important. But I thought that a profession was something that was academically and intellectually so difficult that a lay person couldn't do it without risk to themselves. For example, lawyers, accountants and medical doctors.

However, to me, teaching seems less like a profession, and more like a vocation. You need a four year degree and a teachers cerfificate from the state to teach, but why? I don't have a degree, but I'm sure I could teach almost any subject in high school. I'm not trying to sound all superior here, but I've seen the assignments my younger relatives bring home from school. I've seen their tests and text books. None of it seemed very difficult and I was able to answer numerous questions about the varioius subjects.

Sure, the handling of a class is where the real "rubber meets the road", but isn't most of that just experience? Could I teach as good as a teacher whose been doing it for 20 years? No, but I bet in 20 years I could, and I'm pretty darn sure I could do just as well as a freshly graduated 23 year old with a new teaching certificate.

So why call it a profession? Carpenters are considered trades men, and carpentry is a vocation. Why not the same with teaching?

I mean heck, parents do home schooling, and they don't need teaching credentials like a teacher. So how could this legitimately be called a profession?

My mother was a teacher. My mother-in-law was a teacher. One aunt is currently a teacher and another used to be. So I'm not trying to just smear teachers. But I've talked with them about this before and nothing they do seems like it rises to the level of a "profession."

Posted by: ed at February 21, 2011 03:45 AM

I've been a special ed teacher for five years. Refused to join the union; I'm pretty much on my own in my building. I've doubted that move in the past but now I feel so good about it.

It is my observation that, for whatever reason -- genuine ideological commitment, lust of adult bullies to climb the tiny union power ladder, or simply a union-generated fear of their common enemy, "the administration" -- union members invariably succumb to a purely leftist hive-mind groupthink mindset.

Words can't adequately describe it; you really have to see it in action, as you've seen in Europe and now only begin to see in Madison. No union member is long immune to it and, as a non-Borg outsider among them, let me tell you it can be damned scary to hear what they actually believe and to see them succumb to it.

If their behavior still baffles you and thinking of them as merely frightened, greedy losers -- which is too often true -- doesn't quite explain it, try this:

Think of all union members (not just teachers) as a hornet's nest: generally docile and not bothering anyone when not threatened; i.e., getting what they want on precisely their terms.

Now throw a rock at the hive. Result: Madison, Wisconsin.

My point is that as more financial "rocks" are inevitably thrown at union hives around the nation, bet on this: you'll see exactly what you see in Madison EVERYWHERE, including places you never would have suspected you'd ever see it. People you thought...hoped...were reasonable will be revealed to be emotionally retarded children in adult bodies who'd rather burn this country to the ground than give up the gains of their greed.

These people are truly Borg and, in their mind, our resistance IS futile. Financial realities are irrelevant; they simply cannot see them. They believe they MUST win because some component of their psyche has malfunctioned, leaving them incapable of learning from their own mistakes or the mistakes of others. They simply cannot be wrong. Ever. No matter what they do to "defend" themselves. That what makes them so dangerous.

Worse yet, communists, anarchists, political whores and professional malcontents will help them stoke the fires and keep them in the public eye, which is manna to them as they have zero capacity for embarrassment.

ALL THIS, I promise you, will at some point lead to bloodshed BY TEACHERS WHO PRIDE THEMSELVES ON THEIR INTELLECTUAL ENLIGHTENMENT, COMMITMENT TO REASON AND MORAL SUPERIORITY. I know them; I know the hive-mind is capable of the most subtle self-delusion. Someone is going to be seriously hurt or killed by one of them, in defense of the collective. Matter of time.

Posted by: gronk at February 21, 2011 07:25 AM


Even though I got my Master's to do this job, I do not consider it a profession. I'm a combination paperwork clerk/babysitter. No joke; that's as best as I can sum it up. Did I know that going in? Nope. Do I wish it were otherwise? Sure. But here I am...too deep in debt to get out but will accept with calm and grace when the financial hammer falls on me and my district, as it must.

Posted by: gronk at February 21, 2011 07:31 AM

Actually, CY, it's worse than that: they know where to find Gov Walker's kid during the week in a guaranteed gun-free zone where he's defenseless. Not that I would allow WI teachers weapons; they've already shown they associate with violent felons.

Posted by: SDN at February 21, 2011 07:31 AM

I'd like to comment on the disappointment registered about the role of the physician in all of this.One thing to keep in mind is that doctors are not special.They are AVERAGE people who have put in extra time and effort to get a special piece of paper that they then use to convince others that they are as special as their piece of paper.They spend this extra time and effort precisely because they are desirous of participating in the mystique that physicians enjoy, not for the altruistic reasons that they give on their applications to med school.There is actually no more self-interested group of people on the planet, and the longer they enjoy the mystique the more they think they are actually deserving of it.Think "cardiologist".There are some docs that spend their whole lives under a cloud of self-doubt about their status among their peers and their public standing. Perhaps they didn't achieve a pre-eminent residency, or chose poorly, or aren't happy in their personal lives. These individuals seek out the satisfaction they lack in power-seeking of one form or another. This is readily available in participation in organized medicine--county or state medical society, various hospital committees, etc. where they can get a modicum of ego-satisfaction in messing with the lives of their colleagues and those of the public at large.Anyone reading this now is aware of the "type" of person I'm talking about. Whenever you see a doctor doing something other than just trying to get the government off his back, this is the type of person you are looking at.The trick is to see through their BS.And their MD.

Posted by: teapartydoc at February 21, 2011 08:43 AM

When I was in high school, oh so many years ago in the eighties, I had a Pre-Calc teacher who served as the president of the teachers' union and was in the process of renegotiating their contract. Without fail, after every BOE meeting or negotiation session, she would spend the first ten minutes of class telling us all about how it went and who was obstructing the negotiations. At the time, I remember thinking, "Wow. This woman spends way too much time around whiney teenagers. She sounds just like us." And I would zone out. Now, I realize how unprofessional she was to complain and name names, expecting us to go home and report to our parents, as I'm sure some of the more diligent students did. It was a class filled with Cornell professors' kids after all.

Posted by: Robin at February 21, 2011 09:26 AM

"Question: Why do they call teaching a profession?"

Got me. As far as I can tell (and I taught for a while) teaching is a trade.

I have a simple rule for determining whether a job is a trade or a profession. If an engaged amateur can outperform a disengaged professional 90% of the time then the job is a trade. If a disengaged professional can outperform an engaged amateur 90% of the time it is a profession.

By that standard medicine is a profession. So is engineering and law. On the other hand stuff like child care, news reporting, and teaching are trades. The difference between them is that you *need* years of training to succeed in a profession, but you can pick up the basics of a trade in six months.

And yes, you can pick up the fundamentals of teaching in just six months. The military can train an instructor in that length of time. Mind that is independent of the time required to learn the material you are going to teach, but I am sorry -- the basics of how to transmit information effectively doesn't take long to learn.

That is one reason why teaching has been a low-paying profession over the centuries. Low barriers to entry guarantees an oversupply of teachers. The solution (from the standpoint of teachers) is to limit the supply through the creation of artificial standards. So throw up a bunch of "requirements" to teach and call it a profession.

Don't take this as a knock on trades, either. A skilled tradesperson who is engaged is an invaluable asset - whether that person is a plumber, auto mechanic, reporter, or teacher. The problem is tbat we undervalue trades with respect to professions.

Posted by: Mark L at February 21, 2011 10:10 AM

You realize the paragraph below nullifies the Democratic Party's agenda for the last 100 years...

"The American economy isn’t a zero-sum game, at least not yet. A dollar, or $10,000+, made by a teacher in Wisconsin is not a dollar or $10,000+ that I cannot make. When others make more than me, when others are actually, truly rich, I say good for them, for the mere fact of their good fortune means that similar good fortune is possible for me and for everyone else. Like my fellow teachers, I choose to sacrifice and continue teaching. Besides, envy and coveting the goods and lives of others reveals poor upbringing, bad manners, weak faith, and is always self defeating. If making a great deal more money than I currently make is really that important, I need to get busy and make the necessary changes, not whine about the fact that others make more than do I."

Posted by: Scott at February 21, 2011 12:08 PM

Perhaps more people are realizing that "unions" are not the same as "workers." The former are corporate and bureaucratic entities that use money taken, in many cases extorted from the latter, to pursue their own interests.

You are a union member but don't support Democrat politicians? Wrong - yes you do. And you don't have a damn thing to say about it.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at February 21, 2011 01:25 PM

Good summation. My experience has been that those doctors who have time to be on boards and politically active are really not practicing medicine. I never had time to go to a meeting or help formulate policy when I was in practice. In fact, I never eat a meal in one sitting or saw the beginning or end of a movie. So when you see "doctors" at a political event and they are not old, then they really don't know what a patient is.

Posted by: david at February 21, 2011 03:37 PM

“Scott, your son is in my class. I teach him, I protect him, I inspire him.”

Or, if you prefer the common Union "negotiating" vernacular of the past:

"Cute kid you got there, shame if anything should happen to him".

Tell me how this is to be taken significantly differently when you're getting this angry over a discussion;t hen start pointing out how you have this daily interaction with my kid.

Not all threats have to do with what shape your kneecaps will be in when I'm done with you; some are just common insurance considerations "man this place looks like a firetrap" or "You know, I spend all day with your kid 5 days a week"...

Posted by: ertdfg at February 21, 2011 04:45 PM

I am completely in agreement with this post. I am a recently-retired teacher with 35 years in the classroom. Most teachers I know are decent and hard-working folks who would NEVER consider doing what those people in Wisconsin have done. Perhaps it's just my Southern upbringing and education, but I find their actions unbelievable and repugnant. This goes double for the "medical professionals" offering fraudulent "excuses". I believe what we're seeing here is that the entire leftist "mindset" or worldview is rotten to the core, in every instance. I have become convinced that "progressivism" attracts a certain type of person that I now don't hesitate to label as "bad" or "evil", and that this stems from leftism's inherent reliance upon a "relative" version of morality. I can only hope that in time to come, "progressivism" and its enablers in the Democrat Party are repudiated as totally as Nazism has been.

Posted by: SouthernTeacher at February 21, 2011 04:53 PM

Second career is teaching. Which was scarier, being a cop or a teacher? :

Posted by: MikeAT at February 21, 2011 07:14 PM

Bravo. Well Said. This Tennessee Teacher agrees.

Posted by: Mrs. Bluebird at February 21, 2011 10:28 PM

Dear MikeAT:

The careers are mostly the same: Everybody lies to you. But in reality, the main difference is I no longer tend to shoot upright in bed in the middle of nightmares, dripping with sweat.

Posted by: mikemc at February 22, 2011 12:44 AM

This is a wonderful piece. I've read it through twice so far, thinking I'd pick one or two specific lines to celebrate, but I'm finding it difficult to narrow down the possibilities.

Well, OK, maybe this one, as you point out something terrifically basic that many Americans, and certainly the Wisconsin teachers' union members, don't seem to know:

There is no such thing as a “right” to form a union or to engage in anything unions do. It’s a privilege extended, and rescinded, by the voters of any state.

Posted by: cathy at February 22, 2011 12:02 PM

You know, it is great to see such comments as this post has drawn -- articulate, reasoned remarks, jam-packed with civil discourse.

I was struck by a line by gronk ( February 21, 2011 07:25 AM) regarding the mind-set, or perhaps mental health, of the members of what he calls the union "hornet's nest":

They believe they MUST win because some component of their psyche has malfunctioned, leaving them incapable of learning from their own mistakes or the mistakes of others. They simply cannot be wrong. Ever. No matter what they do to "defend" themselves. That what makes them so dangerous.

This is serious, kids. Somebody's going to get hurt.

Posted by: cathy at February 22, 2011 12:42 PM

OK. I have to admit, I really like this one:

This is not a matter of greedy, venal politicians trying to steal money from teachers to build something entirely stupid, unnecessary and unwanted like high-speed rail.


Posted by: cathy at February 22, 2011 01:30 PM

"So I write in the hope of informing and persuading."

Excellent post. Successful on both counts.

Posted by: nicholas at February 22, 2011 03:21 PM

I have to correct one error. The average pay for Wisconsin teachers is not $100,000. That applies to Milwaukee teachers and includes $50,000 base salary plus $40,000 in benefits. My granddaughter is a beginning kindergarten teacher in a nearby small town with a salary of $30,000. There is enough misinformation out there already. Let's not add to it.

Posted by: -1luann at February 22, 2011 07:32 PM

Dear 1luann:

You're right. According to my source, the average salary figure is for Milwaukee teachers. I inadvertently typed "Wisconsin" instead. I've made the correction in the article. My apologies, and thanks for the catch!

Posted by: mikemc at February 22, 2011 08:25 PM

Thank you! With one exception, all the public school teachers I had or am friends or family with are like you. I've hated watching Wisconsin tarnish the reputation of all of you this week.

Posted by: JDW at February 23, 2011 07:30 PM