Category Archives: School Reform

UW: “Math is hard!”

Posted in School Reform, Weekly Newsletter on by .

calculatorThe Washington Monument Game was a familiar con long before anyone talked about so-called government shutdowns.

Its local version, the School Board Game, is the tactic of responding to taxpayer demands for spending restraint by saying, “Sure, we can control spending.  We’ll eliminate band and football.”  At the federal level, read: “…we’ll close the Washington Monument.”

Well, the Washington Monument reopened last spring after being closed for three years—not by budget cuts but to repair earthquake damage. Meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin system’s political seismographs picked up a tremor from Governor Walker’s budget plan, and the UW’s top brass are all playing the school board game.

The state funding cuts in the Walker proposal amount to 2.5 percent of the UW system’s $6 billion budget and come with fewer, not more strings attached; that is, greater independence for the system, whose reaction suggests less money and more oversight might be an even better idea.

School Board Game Alert: Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, obviously in need of remedial arithmetic, has concluded the 2.5 percent cut means a six percent cut reaching throughout the sacred university system and layoff notices will go out in April.

Meanwhile, the self-serving bureaucracy, still impervious to the idea of being held accountable, uses taxpayer-funded university resources to orchestrate political push-back against the Walker budget and continues sitting on a giant slush fund discovered by legislators two years ago. School Board Game Alert No. 2: The UW couldn’t possibly use that slush fund to cushion budget cuts.

Oh, and the noisiest faculty critics of Walker’s budget don’t teach any classes. As in n-o-n-e.

Cows don’t typically dig holes, but Wisconsin’s most sacred cow is in one, and digging deeper.

A Second Chance

Posted in School Reform on by .

NewlifeSome of us remember when the Wisconsin Education Association Council—WEAC—was the 800-pound gorilla of Wisconsin politics.

No, wait. That doesn’t quite capture it. Some of us remember when there was no gorilla except WEAC in Wisconsin politics. In terms of deploying personnel and financial resources to assist campaigns or advance issue advocacy, it wasn’t until the latter 1980s that other organizations—“other” meaning Conservative-leaning or Republican organizations—began to attempt matching WEAC’s muscle and seriously compete.  And it took some time after that for the competition to have a consequential effect.

For veterans of the long, post-Watergate, twilight struggle when Republicans had no credible hope of winning majorities in the Wisconsin Legislature, a story that appeared last week is nothing short of astounding.

The former 800-pound gorilla and the smaller American Federation of Teachers – Wisconsin say they might undertake a merger in what can only be considered a bid for survival.

Collective bargaining reforms—thank you, Governor Walker and Legislative Republicans—have given teachers an actual choice as to whether they want to join a union and the result is the disappearance of approximately one-third of WEAC’s membership roster and closer to half the AFT membership.

We seldom hesitate to criticize teachers for knee-jerk Liberal tendencies, so let’s give credit where it’s due: Very large numbers of former WEAC and AFT members have demonstrated that they do believe in freedom.

Of additional interest is the emergence of a new organization, the non-union Association of American Educators. Said to be gaining members in Wisconsin, this small group emphasizes professional development, insurance and legal services.

Once upon a time it was thought Wisconsin teacher unions might focus on professionalism instead of adopting the United Auto Workers model that spawned WEAC.

Who says there are no second chances?