Friday, February 25, 2011
I was not so impressed with the conduct of the La Crosse Board of Education on Thursday evening, February 24, 2011. They elected to coddle teachers who were in violation of their contract with the option of swapping Thursdays (March 17th for February 17th) as a cute and cozy exchange for walking out on the children, the parents, and the taxpayers. I guess, at least in part, (according to statements by Connie Troyanek) because they were each on the same day of the week. How nice.
Let’s never mind that this action taken by the teachers was a breech of contract. We’ll forget that they left children, families and many employers in the lurch, scrambling for answers to cover for the sudden, unexpected change in school curriculum and possible loss of labor as parents might have needed to stay home. And overlook the negative messages this sends to youngsters about the acceptability of lying if you believe in the justifications behind the lies (that is, if they serve your best selfish interests).
The Board Meeting seemed, on that evening, to serve as nothing more than a vehicle to scold the taxpaying public about the indignation of those who oppose a piece of political legislation in Madison. This is problematic for any number of reasons, but perhaps primarily because the fourth point of the board’s mission statement they claim to ensure is, “Accountability to the public”. The fifth is, “Effective communication and collaboration with the community”.
On Thursday evening, the only hint I saw of the former came from statements made by three of the members who seemed to appreciate the concept of accountability, (Neil Duresky, Debra Suchla and Steven Kopp). There was only a patronizing pass at the “communication and collaboration” as the public was allowed to speak at this circus of administrative deliberation. But only for five minutes to a largely condescending elite who already had pre-scripted and planned their response to the issue prior to their sitting with the bourgeoisie who elected them, and to whom they are supposedly “accountable”.
After the public got their meager scraps of attention from the elite cabal of highly enlightened administrators, we were expected to sit silently and attentively as Christine J. Clair (president) then proceeded to deliver edicts and lectures that had been prepared for the consumption of the poor misguided public who elected them. Any opposition to this bloviating by bureaucrats was quickly silenced by shouts for order and threats of calling the police. The public “servant” reminded the taxpayers that we had our chance to speak.
Four public speakers spoke in favor of unspecified consequences for the teachers. Two voiced support – one of which was the union member who originally brought the request of swapping Thursdays to the board on the previous meeting a few days earlier. How contrite; the offenders “penalizing” themselves in what amounts to “punish us with more taxpayer inconvenience because it was a difficult decision and we didn’t want to do it”. I guess Mary Larson (board clerk) agreed. She sympathized with the terrible anguish of the teachers who scolded themselves more than the board could.
The board’s decision (in a 6 to 3 vote), which summarily dismissed the concerns of most of the citizens who spoke up, was clearly made in advance. After hearing the comments from those in the room, each of the 9 voting members of the board began to read previously prepared statements on why each of them would or would not approve the suggested Thursday swap. Are families now supposed to cancel vacation plans? Or is it better to cancel a day of education for their children? I suspect the latter, if the child stays in public school at all.
I was asked after I left the meeting what kind of penalties I’d like to see for the teachers who played hooky, and how to distinguish between those who called in sick and didn’t deserve punishment. My answer was simple. Dock every teacher for a days pay, at the very minimum. Public unions want to collectively bargain (against the taxpayer) for benefits, so why wouldn’t they collectively suffer the consequences for their fellow members’ poor decisions and actions. It’s all about standing together isn’t it?
And what about the good teachers anyway – those who were responsible and performed their contract duties? Were there any? I wonder why we don’t hear from those who disagreed with this unscrupulous act. Are all teachers dishonest? I think not. However, it saddens me to have heard nothing yet publicly from those who believe in honesty and integrity. If I can draw an extreme parallel for the sake of making the point, when no Muslim clerics publicly denounce terrorism, it leads to the impression that all Muslims are terrorists.
Teachers say they needed to falsify the true reasons for their absences because their contracts didn’t allow for short notice excusals for reasons other than sick time. An empty excuse because they had no obligations to go to Madison. That was a choice, and a bad one. They did have obligations to the students, parents and taxpayers. What the board has achieved is even short of a symbolic repudiation for this egregious violation, and they have lost the respect and trust of the public, and diminished their credibility.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
All the commotion about Governor Walker's budget proposals seem to revolve primarily around the issue of collective bargaining. It appears that many are confused about what is or is not a right these days, so here are some thoughts for people to consider. Collective bargaining is not a right because rights are mutually exclusive. I've already had casualties drop off on following the simple terms aforementioned (mutually exclusive), so for those on the left who are slow at thought, I will explain it in terms that a child should be able to absorb. A true right does not come at the expense of another's. When public union employees collectively bargain to rob their neighbor's money through taxation to pay for a benefit that they should pay for themselves (like their neighbor does), that is not a "right" because it comes at the cost of another person's LEGITIMATE right - namely, to be able to keep the fruits of one's labor. If a group of workers went to their neighbor's house and just took that money, it would be theft. How is it suddenly okay to do the same thing just because a union initiates the action instead? I do greatly anticipate the squealing this will foment from the class envy weenies who don't even understand the concept of rights. After all, isn't everything a right these days? A right to health care, housing, internet, jobs, new cars, cookies, bonbons, ice cream.