Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Scott Walker's Next Move To Crush Teachers

When it comes to a full frontal assault on public education and the people who provide it, no governor takes a back seat to Wisconsin's Scott Walker.

Walker's most famous for his 2011 move to strip public unions of their power to negotiate much of anything, a move that he made one of the foundations of his failed run for President. Act 10 gave school districts the directive to unilaterally shift pension and health insurance costs to teachers who, under Act 10, are now allowed to negotiate only wages-- and increases in wages are limited by a cost-of-living cap. That means even if a school district could afford to feel generous at the negotiating table, their generosity was limited by law-- and whatever piddling raise they gave teachers could all be taken back with insurance and pension hits on the teacher paycheck. Teacher pay under Act 10 is headed down. 

In addition, contracts should now last one year, and the union must be recertified every year. (Also, no tenure for University professors, either.)

It turns out that Walker is not done. His current budget proposal offers additional funding to schools-- but only if they can prove that they used Act 10 to cut teacher pay and shut down long-term contracts. So any districts that had previously harbored thoughts like "We ought to treat our teachers decently" or "We would rather not drive all of our professional staff away" are now stuck between a financial rock and a staffing hard place. They can get back some of the badly-needed funding that was precipitously cut in 2012, but only if they agree to screw their teaching staff.

Does this seem guaranteed to drive even more teachers out of Wisconsin? Walker has another clever idea up his sleeve: no minimum required hours for school.

"If our students are succeeding, honestly I don't care how many hours they are in, if they're seeing success," said Gov. Walker. "To me, the report card is the ultimate measure. It's not how many hours are you sitting in a chair."

This proposal comes with all sorts of neat features. 

Cyber-schools, for instance, don't need to have a minimum number of meat-form teachers available for a number of hours. One or two teachers, some software, and you can enroll a few hundred students.

And when Walker says "report card," he doesn't mean the report card issued by the school-- he means the state report card for the school. As long as your test scores are up and your attendance and graduation numbers are good, hey-- your school year is long enough.

According to some reports, this genius move is the brainchild of CESA 6, "a member-driven cooperative educational service agency," or as their LinkedIN profile puts it

CESA 6 is an educational solutions provider. Located in OshKosh, WI CESA stands for cooperative educational service agency. We provide regional services to school districts that range from providing staff for hard-to-fill positions to helping schools build Web sites, to professional development and coaching, and much, much more.

Honcho Ted Neitzke says the proposal is about flexibility. For instance, why should an AP class count the hours that the students spend reading their assigned books outside of school? I presume that means all homework would count as school time under the proposal. Hell, why not cut phys ed class, cut bus service, and count the hours students spend walking to school as school?

Not that this is about cutting costs. Oh no. And that may be true-- it may be more about reducing the need for staff. Can't find enough teachers who want to work under Wisconsin's increasingly regressive system? Split your school into morning and afternoon school meeting every other day and you can get twice the students, at least,  served by one teacher. Have trouble staffing classes that don't actually affect your state report card? Cut 'em and send the kids home early.

More than that, this also serves as a big blast of freedom for charters. Set your charter up however you want, teaching whatever you want, meeting as often as you want, with as few teachers as you want. Scott Walker says that's okay. Come be an edu-preneur, and  we won't tell you what you have to do, ever.

Would this reduce the number of teachers in Wisconsin? Of course-- and thereby weaken that damn union and its ability to stand up to guys like Scott Walker. And of course this also accomplishes the goal of making public schools less and less attractive so that charter schools can look better by comparison (without having to actually get good). Will this have any effect on the education of rich folks who can afford to make sure their children get into real schools that do real educating? Of course not, and that's undoubtedly part of the point--

Scott Walker has pushed hard on many reformster ideas, but the unifying principle seems to be one of the lowest of all reformy ideas-- wealthy folks (who deserve their wealth or why else would they be wealthy) should not have the government taking their well-deserved money to provide services for lousy poor people (who must deserve to be poor, or else they wouldn't be). And that include those damn teachers, who not only keep taking money they don't deserve, but keep using some of it to try to organize revolt against their rightful rulers. These peasants need to be sent packing and forced to understand that their Betters will decide what these Lessers deserve-- and the short list of what these Lessers deserve does not include an excellent, free public education.

Does all of this place Wisconsin squarely on the list of states to avoid if you want a teaching a career? Sure. Scott Walker's fine with that, because he doesn't want Your Kind here, anyway. God help America's Dairyland.


  1. Just when you thought Scott Walker could not sink any lower ...

    Call this Scott Walker's "Race to the Bottom." He been eviscerating school funding for 7 years straight --- increasing these draconian cuts every year.

    However, lately he's run out of places to cut.

    His solution?

    Make Wisconsin the only state that does NOT mandate a minimum required hours of instruction that kids receive each day --- not lower those hours, mind you. He's abolishing any minimum threshold whatsoever.


    Wait a second. Don't certain his beloved charters brag about having a longer school day? And now he's cutting the hours that traditional schools have to offer (... a de facto cut, as this directive --- combined with the cuts --- will force school districts and individual school to cut the hours in a school day. ) The same will happen with the charter schools, virtual schools and voucher-funded schools --- should they opt to cut school hours. Now, with this new law, nothing's stopping them.

    Sounds like a bad thing, right?

    Oh, perish the thought, argues Walker. He says school leaders and teachers should look upon this as a great "opportunity."

    An "opportunity" for what, pray tell?

    Why, in his great Orwell-ian logic, Scott Walker, argues that this is "an opportunity for schools to be more innovative with instructional time" as this will provide "maximum flexibility to districts."

    However, Walker also insists that this cutting of school
    hours does not school leaders and teachers off the hook
    for meeting state-mandated goals. At the same time, Walker insists "that state report cards would (still ) hold them (schools) accountable for outcomes such as student attendance, achievement, academic improvement and graduation rates."

    Meanwhile, virtual schools that have been lambasted for providing a minimal, and sometimes non-existent education, will be freed of whatever little requirement of hours of instruction there now is... thanks to this great "opportunity for schools to be more innovative with instructional time" as it will provide virtual


    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x


    "Walker's budget plan eliminates the state law that calls for public schools and private voucher schools to provide a minimum number of hours of instruction. It would also free virtual charter schools from having to ensure that teachers are available for direct pupil instruction for a minimum number of hours each year.

    "Supporters of the change say it would allow schools to be more innovative with instructional time and that state report cards would hold them accountable for outcomes such as student attendance, achievement, academic improvement and graduation rates.

    "When asked about his proposals to lift such restrictions on schools, Walker said he thinks the report cards are the best way to hold schools accountable.

    " 'For us, it's about eliminating the mandate,' he said. 'I want to give maximum flexibility to districts.'

    "But some worry that taking away the baseline for instructional hours could have unintended consequences, especially in districts where many students are struggling.

    " 'What happens if you have a year when budgets get tight?' asked Dan Rossmiller, director of government relations for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards."

  2. He is constantly thinking up news ways to destroy public education and to help his rich friends

  3. This is something out of an Orwellian nightmare

  4. I don't think there is a lot of support in the legislature for this proposal so we can hope it will get axed. However, if it does pass I am guessing the most likely outcome will be that strapped rural districts will start cutting the school year so they can cut teacher pay to save money. Of course there are no private schools or charter schools or any other school options in the rural areas of the state so the rural kids will ultimately be the ones getting screwed.

    1. Rural schools will be effected the most? Good. The rural areas are the ones consistently Voting for Scott Walker and believing his lies they should be the ones most effected. One moment he is complaining that we do not have an educated work force for available jobs and the next he is cutting education. His puppet strings are getting tangled.

    2. I think Milwaukee might also be forced to cut time due to budget constraints, but I really don't this one is going to get past the legislature.

  5. Good luck getting your kids that went to Wisconsin schools into out of state colleges and universities. They won't have met the colleges' and universities' standards and criteria for entry to those schools. All the Walker supporters in the rural areas will be the ones getting skewered by this, too. They voted for Walker now they can live with this.

  6. It's "affected". And if you look at the election results in the Governor races, you'll see that pelenty of rural school in western Wisconsin voted against and his policies. His core is in eastern suburban Wisconsin.

    Hating against rural school districts is wrong-headed.