Greg Oerter, in his letter in the Feb. 2 County Post, cited the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators indicating that teacher hires outnumbered layoffs by 1,200.
He forgot to note that the nearly 5,000 teachers taking early retirement in 2011 exceeded the total number of new hires, resulting in a net loss of 4,000 education jobs statewide.
The three districts in Milwaukee, where most jobs were lost, attempted to do the right thing in providing their teachers with benefits that are appropriate compensation for labors provided. Gov. Scott Walker’s so-called reforms do not allow for flexibility but just the opposite – inflexibility, pretty much the same as Walker himself.
As far as the question of school boards and taxpayers is concerned, in the 15 years I negotiated contracts for the Waupaca Teachers Association, the taxpayers of Waupaca School District were always well represented in financial matters by the dedicated members of the board. You seem to imply that neither the taxpayers nor their elected representatives were doing a good job, just some people going through the motions and allowing the faculty to run the district.
As someone who participated in those contract negotiations, I know that was not the case. The board members worked to balance the educational needs of the students with consideration for the taxpayers and fair compensation for teachers and staff. Both school board members and teachers were aware of what the district could afford to set aside for staff compensation. It was just a matter of compromise through collective bargaining as to how that expenditure was to be divided into hours, wages and conditions of employment, which included benefits.
Oerter’s implication that teachers are not interested in their students is insulting to all teachers. Lowering taxes does not make a teacher better for students as you indicate. That has nothing to do with it being a good teacher.
I wrote about the subject of merit pay once before and that we tried it as the school board wished. It was used for three years and it was found to be so ineffective and divisive that the teachers, administrators and school board agreed that it didn’t work.
As far as Walker’s so-called reforms are concerned, they are so draconian and mean-spirited that 1 million people in Wisconsin feel the same as I do and signed petitions for Walker’s recall.