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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!                     


Old to new | New to old
Sep 12, 2014 09:32 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Summer is over and Blaska is bored. Must be time to get his name back in the media!

Sep 12, 2014 10:48 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Dave, allow me to state the obvious: you filed a lawsuit against Mary Burke, not John Matthews, at the height of the gubernatorial campaign, during a time when your sleepy-eyed Boy Governor is taking daily, well-earned hits in the press. You're represented by the WILL, which is funded by the Bradley Foundation (whose leader just happens to be Walker's campaign chair). I don't have strong opinions for or against MTI (I do think Matthews, like Marty Beil, is a dinosaur, but that doesn't negate the need for unions), but please don't feed us this load of manure about the minority population clapping you on the back. This is just too obviously partisan campaign politics from you, a good little soldier of the GOP. And it worked, you got your press, but it's hard to take the lawsuit seriously; I'm sure it'll disappear after the election. But this is all about distraction and propping up your boy. Your motivations are not the children of Madison. Be honest.

Sep 12, 2014 01:05 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Gee Dave, how much are you and Ricky paid to shill for your handlers? Also why do you care?

Sep 12, 2014 03:43 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous


Sep 12, 2014 04:47 pm
 Posted by  Mr. C

Anon 1:05pm.

Why do you?

Sep 12, 2014 05:26 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I've always wondered why Blaska didn't just run for school board. If taxpayers stand with him as he insists they do, you'd think he'd win in a landslide. Maybe he couldn't stand up to the scrutiny.

Sep 12, 2014 07:31 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Good luck Dave. The Mathews crime syndicate is almost as bad as the Obama crime syndicate. If Dane County had more residents like you I might even consider moving back there someday.

Dave, not B

Sep 14, 2014 12:03 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

anon 5:26 has posed an interesting question. Blaska should run for any and all elected offices he is qualified for. Heck, he could run for office up here in northern WI as a Glenn Grothmann carpetbagger. Worked for Glen, and Ribble as well.

But DB won't because he would have to appeal to a majority of the voters, and the failure to do that would be too big a blow to his ego.

So he will remain a sideline player.

Sep 17, 2014 10:46 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Looks like the usual WEAC howler monkeys are out in force.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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