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  • With Governor Walker's Proposal, Wisconsin Once Again Leads the Nation in Education Reform

    In 1990, Wisconsin set an education reform example for the nation with the passage of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). Twenty years later, Governor Scott Walker (R) has identified the obstacle that keeps more children in his state and across the nation from similarly benefiting from parental choice in education: union collective bargaining power protecting their interests rather than the needs of children.

    Democratic senators in Wisconsin have fled the state, unionized education employees have left the schools in protest, and thousands of students have been without class as the result of opposition to new measures that Walker is proposing to tackle the state’s nearly $4 billion deficit.

    In operation now 20 years, the MPCP has proven successful. But, like Walker’s current proposal to reform collective bargaining policies, the MPCP certainly faced detractors when it was proposed. Walker’s decision to stand strong in the face of union opposition continues Wisconsin’s proud history of being at the forefront of educational reform.

    Far from draconian, Walker’s proposal would limit collective bargaining power and reform public employee benefit plans. For the first time, state employees would be responsible for making a 5.8 percent contribution into their pension plans and pick up the tab for 12 percent of their health care benefits. As it currently stands, Wisconsin taxpayers bear 100 percent of the costs.

    While Walker’s proposal would allow unions to continue to represent workers, it would prevent the unions from seeking “pay increases above those pegged to the Consumer Price Index unless approved by a public referendum.” It would also prevent unions from forcing employees to pay dues and would require the unions to hold yearly votes to remain viable.

    For years, education unions have profited from teachers’ salaries—receiving the bulk of their funding from teachers’ paychecks—while they have successfully stood in the way of the interests of children by blocking much-needed education reforms. And in many cases, teachers have no choice in whether or not to join a union. In 22 forced-unionism states, teachers must either fork over union dues or leave the profession.

    And Wisconsin is not alone. The ailing fiscal climates of most states throughout the country, compounded with a demand for improved education, have prompted many state leaders to attempt to loosen the grip of education unions.

    In Ohio, 3,800 public-sector employees came to Columbus for a committee hearing to protest measures proposed by Governor John Kasich (R) to curtail union power. According to Bloomberg News, “The measure would eliminate collective bargaining for state workers, prevent local-government employees from negotiating for health insurance and replace salary schedules with merit pay.” While Ohio is moving in the right direction, they are only planning to limit collective bargaining at the state level, not at the local level. Kasich should follow Gov. Walker’s lead and restore voter control over spending and policy decisions.

    In Tennessee, a far more robust proposal to ban mandatory collective bargaining for teachers is under consideration, and in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie (R) has been working since his tenure began to require state workers to bear more of the costs for their own benefits.

    The momentum Walker has generated in Wisconsin is spreading across the country. Many taxpayers, parents, and teachers understand that state pension and benefit plans for public-sector employees have been on an unsustainable path for a long time. There is no reason that education employees should be immune from tough economic times; there is no reason taxpayers should be expected to continue to fund plush pension and benefit plans. Taxpayers are not cash cows designed to reap the consequences that the collective-bargaining mentality has wrought. In a press conference on Thursday, Walker explained his position:

    The thousands of people here and outside of the capitol have every right to be heard. But I want to make sure that not for one moment are their voices drowning out the voices of the millions of taxpayers all across the state of Wisconsin who … have made it clear that they think that while what were doing is a politically bold move, it is a modest request of our employees at the state and local level. … What we’re asking for is better than what the average taxpayer is getting across the state of Wisconsin.

    Walker’s is a modest yet bold proposal. It’s modest in its request that public-sector employees take a little responsibility for their own benefits. Like the MPCP, the proposal is a bold move to ensure accountability to taxpayers and to meet the needs of students—not the demands of special interests.

    Co-authored by Rachel Sheffield

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to With Governor Walker's Proposal, Wisconsin Once Again Leads the Nation in Education Reform

    1. Pingback: Tweets that mention With Governor Walker’s Proposal, Wisconsin Once Again Leads the Nation in Education Reform | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    2. scott, illinois says:

      people say that wisconsin had a surplus of over 118 million before gov. burke took over and that he through three laws has created a 3.8 billion deficit in the four weeks he took office- what is heritage's opinion to such a strong argument

    3. T Mack says:

      This is a good first step in helping improve the public education system. Next they need to work on compensating the better teachers for going above and beyond, instead of paying them only based on the number of years served.

      Questions:

      Why don't teachers pay into social security? (is it because it won't be there for the rest of us)

      Can teachers retire at 55 with a 70% pension based on the average of the highest three years of earnings for their public teaching careers or is it something like 2.5% x number of years served with a maximum of 70%? (meaning they collect 70% of their highest annual salary until they and/or their spouse die, while I get what I save in my 401K).

    4. Pingback: Tweets that mention With Governor Walker’s Proposal, Wisconsin Once Again Leads the Nation in Education Reform | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    5. Pingback: Bookworm Room » Thoughts about the Wisconsin teachers’ union

    6. PETE MILLS - ARIZONA says:

      IN THE WORDS OF JFK, "ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU, ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY"

      DO THE TEACHERS IN WISCONSIN EVER TEACH SUCH A CONCEPT?

      DID THIS COUNTRY BECOME A GREAT NATION BY DEPENDING ON OTHERS TO PAY OUR WAY?

      THEY ARE BEING ASKED TO PAY A SMALL PORTION OF THEIR RETIREMENT AND HEALTHCARE. THEY SHOULD BE THANKFUL THEY HAVE A JOB. MILLIONS OF AMERICANS DO NOT, AND OTHERS HAVE HAD TO CUT BACK TO MAKE ENDS MEET.

    7. Mike, South Carolina says:

      It's ironic to see liberals in an outrage when the entitlement money runs out. They've even managed to hoodwink the students into rallying for their misguided cause. The unions have gotten too powerful, and it's past time that they, and their sweetheart contracts and pensions, got smacked down.

      This is one reason why the big-spending liberal democrats got crushed in the November elections and were replaced with fiscal conservatives. The people have spoken and the majority of them want these unions to be humbled.

      It's funny that these greedy, shortsighted Wisconsin unions, when faced with the choice of chipping in an amount that is still less than their fair share, or continuing the free ride and having 6000 of their union brothers lose their jobs, would rather opt for the free ride. Their motto seems to be to…take, take, take until the system collapses, the greater good be damned.

    8. Sue W. says:

      As a worker in the private sector, I GET to pay Social Security; i GET to contribute to my 401[k] and my company can waive their contributions based on economic status; i GET to have my portion of company insurance benefits doubled suddenly in May last year when the December before i was told no increases; i GET to be faced with possible wage increase freeze, possible required unpaid furlough and even possible reduction in force position elimination. As a taxpayer, i GET to pay for my district teachers insurance, pensions and benefits regardless of their job performance because well, they get tenure and can't be "reduced". And although my district has some wonderful, dedicated teachers, there are several on staff whose performance level if in a non-union job, would be let go. In the end, i can't afford to contribute hardly anything to my 401[k] and everyone knows SS won't be there for me either. Yes, my tax dollars hard at work.

    9. Patricia Repka says:

      I suspect that when all the outsiders go home (those sent – indirectly – by Obama and all those other labor union thugs) most of those involved in this scrap will see the light. I have to laugh when I hear them say, 'but we HAVE ALREADY agreed to the increases in pension and health care contributions!" No, they haven't – not officially at least. The union's response when Walker asked for some concessions when he was first elected was a rude gesture. They flatly refused to talk about any increases. It is my firm opinion that had they gracefully agreed to talks, the subject of eliminating some of the bargaining power of the union would not have come up at that time. In any case, Walker stated what he planned to do before being elected and after and most of us in WI are very glad he WAS elected. You would think, listening to the Lamestream media, that the citizens of this state hate Walker. On the contrary; he is fast beoming our hero! Watch for him on the national stage.

    10. Aaron (Grayslake, IL says:

      Yet another example of the narrow-minded thinking of both the governor and the Wisconsin politicians. For years both sides have been arguing the same points to absolutely no avail. Conservatives push for school choice and weaker unions. Liberals push for more funding and stronger unions. News flash: they're both wrong.

      You will never achieve significant improvement by trying to do the same thing better. I can't dig a hole over there by digging the one over here deeper.

      The ONLY solution to education is to change the way we think about education! Do we really want to pretend like every child has to know the same thing at the same time? Can we really fool ourselves into thinking that such a ridiculous idea is even possible?

      Solution #1: Use standardized tests as diagnostic tools and not as a means of evaluation.

      Solution #2: Stop pretending like kids are robots. If you give a kid the same test 3 days in a row, they won't get the same score every time. So why on earth would we use tests as the all-encompassing measurement of "achievement"?

      Solution #3: Stop telling kids they have to go to college. Not every kid has to go to college and not every kid has to go right after high school. While it may have been true a generation ago that getting a degree was your ticket to a good job, that's no longer the case. In 2004, there were more unemployed college graduates than there were unemployed high school dropouts!

      Solution #4: Stop arguing and start collaborating. No one side has all the right answers. If you think you do, you're the problem.

    11. Mike Handelsman, Bro says:

      Most supporters of Gov. Walker's proposal continue to ignore a regrettable double standard, namely the exemption of police and firefighters from these demands made of teachers. When asked about this differential treatment of his work force, Mr. Walker talked about "not wanting to compromise public safety". But this can only make sense if he believes that active police and fire personnel would walk off the job if they were challenged with the same demands or that prospective candidates would not enter those careers in the first place. Under either scenario, he shows his awareness of how disruptive to the public order his actions are!

      We conservatives have to be careful to appreciate the dedicated labors of ALL teachers – private, parochial and public and to avoid impugning the latter for their union membership. It is actually union officials that abuse the taxpayer with

      salaries and pensions that dwarf those of teachers. That conservative media and politicians ALWAYS MISS THIS DISTINCTION and simply lump the rank-and-file classroom teachers together with their union bosses reveals either persistent ignorance of the facts or intellectual dishonesty. (Only one of those shortcomings can easily be corrected.)

      President Reagan nailed it perfectly when he announced that his selection of the first private citizen astronaut will be "one of America's finest – a teacher". A year later, he announced the selection of Christa McAuliffe, who would tragically perish on Challenger. And all this occurred AFTER he dismissed the P.A.T.C.O. strikers. It didn't matter – he still loved and respected teachers.

    12. Pingback: » The Real Way to Express Solidarity with Union Workers in Wisconsin – Let Them Choose - Big Government

    13. Pingback: The Real Way to Express Solidarity with Union Workers in Wisconsin – Let Them Choose | Daringminds

    14. Pingback: The Real Way to Express Solidarity with Union Workers in Wisconsin – Let Them Choose | Conservatives for America

    15. Pingback: The Real Way to Express Solidarity with Union Workers in Wisconsin – Let Them Choose « South Capitol Street

    16. S Samson says:

      Many of you do not have the facts, as a teacher I do pay into social security, I have also agreeably taken the health care and retirement pay as a part of my duty to assist in the budget issue. There is much more here at stake than that. I would like to see people working together. We have x dollars and how will we spend them. In my school district, a suburb, we already use tax dollars for religous education. How is that separation of church and state? In Milwaukee, there is school choice and there is also a lot of corruption. Principals driving huge cars, no books in the schools how is that a service to kids. I am tired of the swing from side to side. One of the things that we will loose is seniority. Some say that there are bad teachers, and I say there a bad people in every job in the world. Most teachers try to do the right thing. In my school even with the protests, no one has left the job or been absent. Teachers for some reason have been trounced upon for some time by parents, the news, the tests. When do we look to people to take responsibility for themselves. I have students with 25 days absence in a year- and no child left behind. I have a doctor who refuses to send his son with paper, pencil, or any materials, I am force to buy them-no child left behind. I think that too often we pass judgment on others without knowing the full story.

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