Stanley Kutler cuts through the fog of Walker's war | WisCommunity

Stanley Kutler cuts through the fog of Walker's war

[img_assist|nid=42678|title=Kutler|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=150|height=150]Stanley Kutler, the emeritus UW professor who worked so hard to give America a penetrating look into Watergate, has now weighed in on Scott Walker's budget-despair bill and as usual makes some trenchant comments from the trenches. You can read his entire piece at the URL below but here's the part I liked most, near the end, where he's talking about public teachers and how they are affected:

The union has taken court action, claiming the school board bargained in bad faith, noting how other districts extended existing contracts before the new law took effect. The school board's president called the complaint "frivolous and without merit." She expressed a willingness to negotiate, but only if "there is clarity regarding our legal authority to negotiate." In other words, the governor and the Legislature have said no negotiations, ergo the board cannot negotiate. Heads I win, tails you lose.

The union issue is important, but we must not lose sight of the fact that state services in general, and education in particular, are at stake in all this. Taxes are fairly high in Wisconsin, but grumbling about them largely is confined to a small group, daresay those with little stake in education and services. Public schools, of course including the University of Wisconsin, are of high quality, and the citizenry is proud of that fact. Contrast that scenario with Washington, D.C., with its poor educational system and very high taxes.

Scott Walker is mugging Wisconsin's educational tradition. He has proposed cuts of nearly $1 billion in state aid to local school districts while capping their levels of taxation. Apparently he is supporting the idea of spinning the university off from the state system, largely because he now will include all university employees as part of his "250,000 new jobs." The state and municipalities have yet to see the impact of his program on recruiting and retaining good teachers. The outcome is all too apparent.

Life goes on. The grass is sprouting on the trampled grounds at the state Capitol, the Legislature is in recess and the governor wants nothing less than a do-over of the 20th century. Meanwhile, killing the bargaining rights of teachers, providing a one-sided grievance and disciplinary process and reducing their incomes apparently are vital parts of the governor's plan to open the state for "business."


April 5, 2011 - 8:06am