Sep 12, 201408:42 AMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
Does your Madison public school teacher get ‘down and dirty’?
(page 1 of 2)
In the past several days, I have found an enormous wellspring of pent-up resentment toward the teachers union here in Madison. That disdain can’t help but contaminate the entire school district. There is the perception — accurate, in my opinion — that the teachers union comes first to a school board largely elected by the teachers union. Everyone else — students, parents, and taxpayers — wait in back of the line.
That sentiment is especially true among the minority community I’ve spoken to in recent days. “The teachers union has never done anything for my people,” a politically active black man told me this week. “We’re with you 100%.”
I wrote in May 2013, “Madison’s minority community is in open revolt against a long-dominant, white, liberal political machine it sees as being more beholden to the teachers union than to teaching their children.”
They were miffed that leftist community organizer (and John Nichols protégé) Sarah Manski was encouraged — if not actually recruited — by Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and teachers union boss John Matthews to enter the race after Latina immigrant Ananda Mirilli had announced her candidacy. Two days after knocking Mirilli out of a three-way primary, Manski withdrew from the race and headed for the Los Angeles area, leaving union-backed T.J. Mertz the sole name on the general election ballot.
“If [Manski and Mertz] had been two Republicans placing first and second in this primary with a Democrat finishing third under the same circumstances, progressives would be storming the Capitol right now,” black community commentator Derrell Connor observed at the time.
The Madison Times, a minority-oriented weekly newspaper, editorialized on Feb. 27, 2013:
The MMSD School Board race that came crashing down pretty much typifies the status of race relations ... White elite liberals dictating to, condescending to, and manipulating Madison’s communities of color. ... Madison’s minority population has always felt disrespected, ignored, talked down to, condescended, misunderstood, and lied about by the greater white liberal elite power structure ... that anger is growing louder. Believe it.
In the second race last year, school board veteran Ed Hughes wrote at the time that the only time he witnessed any interest in K-12 from teachers union-backed candidate Dean Loumos was in an email “urging us to reopen our union contracts and increase pay for school staff.” Loumos defeated retired police lieutenant Wayne Strong, a paragon of Madison’s south side black community.
Loumos, Mertz, and Manski got critical teachers union money and labor by opposing charter schools in the aftermath of the proposal from then-Urban League head Kaleem Caire to address Madison’s yawning minority student achievement gap with a public charter school. Its teachers would have to go above and beyond in longer school days and a longer school year — all outside MTI’s union contract. Madison Prep would have been non-union.
“Almost anyone ... who supported Madison Prep has been labeled the enemy because communities of color are asking for a better future for their children,” Connor said.
‘Whatever it takes’
The same partisans who condemn Gov. Walker for “divide and conquer” give the executive director of the Madison teachers union, John A. Matthews, a get-out-of-jail-free card.
In its story “MTI head: Time to get ‘down and dirty’,” the Wisconsin State Journal on June 7, 2011, captured the essence of Madison Teachers Inc.’s war on the community:
During a [early 2011] Madison School Board meeting, with more than 300 of his members packing the auditorium, union leader John Matthews felt a twinge of exhilaration.
The issue — unhappiness about a reduction in personal planning time in exchange for school-wide staff development in the new teacher contract — mobilized the kind of teacher turnout not seen at board meetings since the mid-1990s when labor strife was more common. Teachers reminded the board that planning time was a key issue during a 1976 strike, which Matthews helped organize.
“They’re ready,” Matthews said afterward, “to do whatever it takes. It’s going to get down and dirty.”
Are you getting this? MTI was ready to get “down and dirty” over a reduction in personal planning time in exchange for school-wide staff development! THE HORROR!