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I’ve had just about enough of the bullying union mantra. Collective bargaining is a PRIVILEGE not a right–and it’s a privilege that has been abused by the unions. Time to change things. In Wisconsin, as in most school districts, the unions control everything and it’s out of control. I know this because I am an educator and have watched the unions grow from protectors into thugs.

And what is it that the protesting Wisconsin teachers and their liberal fellow state union thugs are screaming about? Collective bargaining–let’s look at what that is exactly:

In upholding North Carolina’s ban on government union collective bargaining, a federal court wrote in Atkins vs. City of Charlotte: “All citizens have the right to associate in groups to advocate their special interests to the government. It is something entirely different to grant any one interest group special status and access to the decision making process.”

Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) budget bill in Wisconsin in no way infringes on any Americans’ right to associate and lobby government. What it does do is allow Wisconsin employees to choose not to join a union and keep their job at the same time. It also forces the government unions in Wisconsin to collect their own union dues instead of using the power of the state to withhold them directly from employee paychecks.

And it’s the money in those paychecks the unions–and the Democrat party–desperately want to keep.

When I first started teaching, it was my choice to join a union or not. After a number of years, the union teachers began to resent the non-union teachers claiming that the union would have to represent them in case of a lawsuit. Soon, things changed and there was no choice–you taught–you were in the union and forced to lose part of your salary in dues. Those dues went up and up over time. I did not think much of it until one of our teachers got caught having open sex in a local forested area. It was all over the paper. The district tried to fire him, he fought via the union, won and was able to go back to the classroom with retroactive pay at the taxpayer’s expense. I would not want my child in this man’s classroom yet I had no choice over that. I only paid his salary. Over time, I noticed that our dues went to the Democrat party whether we agreed with their tenets or not.

Being a conservative teacher is a dangerous thing in a school district–it is best to avoid the faculty lounge. I made the mistake once of speaking up–I was verbally affronted by my co-workers and worse–my boss. I finally had to leave the room. You learn to shut your mouth if you lean right. Even today, you can walk into many classrooms and see Obama propaganda and/or hear discussions distorting the truth. I’ve seen it and heard it with my own eyes and ears and I’ve lived it for over 20 years. I’m tired of it. The unions, rather than protectors, have turned into thugs–with children the very LAST thing on their minds. That kind of behavior is illustrated recently on our television screens through the Wisconsin protests.

What breaks my heart the most is that quality first-rate teachers get laid-off or “RIFFED” (reduction in force) often at the expense of keeping less than satisfactory teachers who are tenured. The quote is, “Last one hired, first one fired.” It’s a sad commentary on the state of our profession.

Milwaukee Public Schools teacher Megan Sampson was laid off less than one week after being named Outstanding First Year Teacher by the Wisconsin Council of English Teachers. She lost her job because the collective bargaining agreement requires layoffs to be made based on seniority rather than merit.

Informed that her union had rejected a lower-cost health care plan, that still would have required zero contribution from teachers, Sampson said, “Given the opportunity, of course I would switch to a different plan to save my job, or the jobs of 10 other teachers.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/14/10

Can we get rid of bad tenured teachers? Yes, but at great cost in time, effort and sometimes legal expense.

A Cedarburg school teacher was reinstated by an arbitrator after being fired for viewing pornography on a school computer. The school district ultimately succeeded in terminating the teacher only after taking the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court at great cost to the taxpayers.

Are there good teachers? Most definitely! Most teachers walk in the building each and every day with the attitude that they will try their best for their students. Proof of this is that every one of us can probably remember at least one teacher who had a lasting positive affect on us. And the job is not easy. It is grueling. For most of my career I had 5 preps a day meaning I taught every subject. For language arts alone, I was up until midnight responding to journals and grading papers every single day–including weekends. I gave up many evenings and many weekend days for my students. I visited their homes; I took them places with my own money and most of what I had in my classroom was purchased with personal funds. This is true of many teachers. So teaching is not a piece of cake. Anyone who thinks it is ought to sub for a couple of days. It will forever change your attitude about what teachers must deal with every day. When I taught, it was rare to have a student come to work high on drugs. Today, drugs, weapons and police arrests are often every day occurrences and I’m not describing an inner city school. In addition, teachers may receive a paycheck over the summer, but they are not paid for that time. Their pay represents 9 months of work with checks spread out to cover the summer season.

But, unfortunately, good teaching has been overshadowed by union greed.

Principals and school districts work hard to hire good teachers. Sometimes it’s very hard to figure out if a teacher will prove fruitful after a couple of interviews. If school leaders could figure that out ahead of time, it would save a lot of pain and trouble: If principals don’t have the guts to let ineffective teachers go by the time their “4 year-trial before tenure” is up, they and their future students are saddled with bad teachers for over 30 years. Do the math. The research says that a child who has a bad teacher three years in a row NEVER recovers academically. Administration has to closely monitor sometimes up to 80 or more teachers at least three times a year and then by a certain union determined date, let that person know s/he is not returning the next year. This can happen as early as mid-March. At that point, some teachers pretty much quit teaching or become unprofessional so the students suffer even more that last quarter.

I would never do what the Wisconsin teachers are doing–screaming, ranting, raving and taunting–and now with their students!! What a poor example of what used to be a proud vocation in this country. I’m embarrassed for them and because of them–they’ve brought shame to teaching. If my child was in any of their classrooms, I’d be on the phone to the school board and if they had the audacity to bring my child to one of their self-serving protests, I’d be protesting at the next board meeting to get my child or that teacher out of the classroom. There are ways to get your point across. Lying to use sick days and destroying property is a deplorable statement of our once noble calling. I find it hard to believe that any of their students’ parents admire what they are doing or for one minute think it is “for their child.”

Are teachers as a whole at fault? No. Most still tow the educational line and do their best under less than ideal circumstances. I blame the money hungry unions who year after year since the 1970’s have amassed money and power far beyond what they should have–selling a bill of goods to their constituents–leading them down this path to nowhere in an unsustainable quest for more and more wealth until the coffers were scraped dry. I blame the lobbyists and legislators and corrupt governors in my own state who stole from teacher retirement systems to fill their pockets and those of their cronies in public office so much so that now Illinois is on the precipice of bankruptcy. And now even the money I have personally contributed year after year to my own pension is at risk. Yes I am angry, yes I am resentful but I also see my neighborhood and community families suffer from the tax and spend Democrats who have been on a spending spree for more years than I can count. And I’m angry at the present administration who has spent more than all the American administrations since the Revolution–in two short years–and for what? For votes, for power, for service to self.

And to top it all off, my Wisconsin colleagues–liberals in arms–shame our craft in public protests thinly veiled as “democracy” to vote themselves a paycheck. To hell with everything and everyone else.