Schooling Wisconsin’s Teachers

February 21, 2011

According to one estimate, Milwaukee teachers make a little over $100,000 per year when benefits are included. Yet they’re only able to graduate two-thirds of their students. Of those who graduate, only four in ten are deemed proficient in reading and less than a third are proficient in math.

In any private-sector job on Earth and probably throughout the universe, you’d be fired for such a shoddy performance. But that’s the problem—these aren’t private-sector jobs. These “workers” are cocooned snugly inside an absurd sense of entitlement that had them suing for the “right” to have their healthcare cover Viagra, because we all know that failing to do so would constitute “discrimination” against those with a “gender-related condition.”

Regardless, teachers have been insisting that it’s not about the money, it’s about the kids, even if they stopped teaching the kids a few days last week to agitate for the money.

So if it’s all about the kids, why is America’s education system, considered the world’s best in the years following WWII, now a sad and sick joke? Why are the kids’ test scores free-falling as kids in other industrialized nations fly past them? Why are the kids graduating with full indoctrination about slavery and the Holocaust but are lucky if they’re able to spell their own names? Might it be correlated to the fact that JFK issued a 1962 Executive Order granting collective-bargaining rights to government unions, even though progressive hero FDR had warned against it?

That might be the best explanation for why teachers’ salaries go up every year while performance goes down. Shielded by their inviolable “right” to negotiate wages extracted under threat of imprisonment from taxpaying workers who have no similar “right” to negotiate their willingness to pay them such wages, government workers pretty much have to murder someone in broad daylight with TV cameras rolling in order to get fired. That’s the crucial difference between public and private employment, one that public union members utterly fail to grasp.

Accusations that this is all about “class war” are severely misguided, because the class war is over and the ruling class won without firing a shot. They shipped all the jobs overseas and allowed at least a dozen million illegal workers to invade the country in order to Babelize and Balkanize the lower orders, ensuring that private-sector workers are never able to act collectively. As it stands, union membership is under seven percent in the private sector, while it’s close to 40 percent among government employees.

I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and have lived there ever since. I’ve never been remotely wealthy in my life—partially due to circumstances of birth, partially due to numerous personal fuckups, and mostly due to the fact that wealth was never a goal of mine. But I grew up with the impression that if you worked hard enough, you could at least stay alive in this country. During the latest recession I saw my older brother, who fought in Vietnam and worked hard his whole life, lose his house. I’ve witnessed numerous associates teeter on the brink of economic extinction, and every one of them handled it with more dignity than these Wisconsin teachers. So when I see a sheltered schlub such as Harold Meyerson say that Scott Walker is acting like Scrooge to Wisconsin’s government employees, I bristle at the near-certainty that Meyerson, unlike me, has never seen a boss return from a monthlong European vacation to tell everyone he simply doesn’t have the money to keep them employed for Christmas.

It’s hard to empathize with the “suffering” of people who have it better than you do, which is why I make it a point never to fly to Zimbabwe and bitch about the pinched nerve in my back. For these workers to groan about their condition is roughly as rude as walking into a roomful of cancer patients and whining that you stubbed your toe.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a government worker working hard. So when I see these teachers complain, I’m reminded they work about 200 days a year while I work 300. I’m reminded that they’re bitching about having to pay twelve percent toward their health insurance while I pay 100 percent. They may think they’re suffering “labor pains,” but to me they’re just a pain in the ass.

What’s going on here is an odd sort of intra-class war among the working class. I’m not sure who’s fomenting it, but I know which side I’m on. The world that I hope to see end—SOON—is that cozy little bubble of delusion that leads these teachers to think they have it hard.

Welcome to the real world, teachers.


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