Scott Walker: Dissing teachers, dissing Milwaukee, all for "better" education | WisCommunity

Scott Walker: Dissing teachers, dissing Milwaukee, all for "better" education

Scott Walker, again defending his support of legislation to end local government residency requirements for public employees, is now pushing a new angle in the face of resistance not just from his biggest target, Milwaukee, but also from smaller communities. Local ordinances mandating that public employees including municipal workers, police and school teachers reside in the communities and districts where they work suddenly aren't, in Walker talking points, just an issue about "freedom." Oh, no, they're also about improving public education. But governor, how does that work, exactly?

Explains Walker, in his latest comments on the subject to Wisconsin Public Radio News:

"I've defended it [ending local residency requirements] pretty well in the past. It's one those [state laws] where it will help get more school teachers in Milwaukee, and that's our ultimate priority."

Apparently, in the Walkerverse, teachers in the Milwaukee Public Schools are basically no damn good. They're unionized, dontcha know! So Walker wants to encourage more competition so that better teachers are attracted to teach in the system. And how would the school district best attract those primo teachers? Why, by letting them live outside the district, according to the logic of our college-dropout governor.

After all (again according to Walker), really good teachers are those who are so intelligent and smart and well-heeled that they prefer living in suburbs or rural communities, far away from the kids they teach. So, in Walker's highly active imagination, the state needs simply to force administrators to hire them if they're otherwise qualified and, why, a large group of really great though rather uninvolved teachers will flock to the doors of Milwaukee's struggling inner city schools! It's brilliant!

Of course, this kind of ideology overlooks the fact that Walker's anti-union legislation and his property tax caps are rapidly disassembling public education in Wisconsin throughout many locales, Milwaukee included. While teachers in MPS, like some other public school districts, still enjoy collectively bargained contract protections, the grandfathered Milwaukee deal will end when the current contract expires in June -- absent a final court decision to the contrary. Meanwhile, Walker's tax caps have meant cutbacks across the board to cirricula and after-school activities, increased teacher workloads, plus more onerous workplace rules.

The Milwaukee Teachers Education Association says the city's school district is facing an impending teacher shortage after the contract expires. The Milwaukee Board of School Directors agreed, and despite tough economic times did exactly what Walker thought ending union involvement would halt. The board ordered an increase in starting teacher salary for new hires in the 2013-'14 school year, a move designed to make the district more competitive as MPS seeks 700 new teachers. Given Walker's tax caps, that, however, will mean even worse budget cuts in other areas of the program.

Assuming Walker's move to kill residency rules fails, new MPS teachers and administrators will have 24 months instead of the current 12 months to move into the City of Milwaukee if they accept jobs in hard-to-fill positions. A third year to comply with residency would be available in case of hardship. The new MPS salary scheme raises starting pay to $41,000 from $37,721, putting the district onto a more even basis with Milwaukee-area districts and other large urban school systems.

That makes real sense. Pay competitive wages (which Walker-bred state law unfortunately inhibits) and give teachers years to move into the district, and all will be well. But wait, says the governor, there's a better solution: Let them eat cake and let them live where they want. That'll fix everything.

Give the gov credit for trying to update his spin. He's now appropriated clear forecasts of an ever-increasing number of departures by disaffected, demoralized public school teachers, aghast at his anti-teacher policies. He appropriates those negative forecasts not as proof that his initial anti-public education and anti-union stances were wrong and harmful, but as evidence his next mistake in the sequence will be right. Damning statistics, aside, his policies doesn't even pass the common-sense test. Cut teacher pay and benefits, make them work harder but let them live outside the district and they'll beg to keep on working? Wrong-o, boy-o.

That's Walkerism, and it's just plain dumb -- or, more likely, disingenous. It's claptrap from a guy who by the evidence pretty much hates public education and is meanwhile doing everything he can to steer public tax dollars to private schools with largely unregulated agendae. All the while lying -- and then adjusting the lies -- about his motives.


March 28, 2013 - 6:27pm