Noahvose: Nea'ese


Wisconsin, USA
February 21
History Teacher
A Great Plains guy living in the Great Northwoods and feeling Claustrophobic.-- Masters in Anthropology (I thought we could use some Indians digging up white people).-- I have an amazing wife and two beautiful boys.-- I teach high school history and at an Alternative School for at-risk youth.-- ...and I have a serious Jelly Belly problem


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FEBRUARY 22, 2011 4:57PM

I'm a Wisconsin Teacher

Rate: 58 Flag



First of all, I have always agreed that unions protect bad workers. With their historical drive to protect all workers from unfair practices, they've developed a system that sometimes keeps rewarding bad workers. However, what business can't say the same? The fact is, MOST teachers are dedicated to their profession and truly enjoy their subjects and their students. It's easy to demonize and stereotype during hard times...everyone wants someone to blame, but teachers and other public/state employees are not the enemy here. Nor were they the cause of this recession.
Here's the problem, from a teacher's perspective. People keep wanting to compare schools to private businesses. This is a false comparison. We don't make a profit for our boss or our community. If one takes away the union job protection for teachers, what's the result?
Teaching, unfortunately, is a profession where we get too much credit for our affect on children. Therefore, when students consistently don't study, participate in class, or do homework, parents want to know "why we failed them". I got an email from a parent last month from a student who refused to ever speak up in class, where their grade was determined by their participation. Her email read, "you're ruining her chances to go to college." Two years ago, I had another parent who threatened to write letters to the editor because he disagreed with one of the supplemental books I used in class, which is used nationally. He felt that the book, in trying to tell parts of history from the perspectives of minorities, was "unAmerican." If a teacher doesn't have any protection, how will they teach differently the next time they have the student of a school board member in their class? Will the teacher allow the student to fail? Will the teacher bow to the political winds of each new school board and change the way he/she teaches social studies or science? I can tell you, first hand and from my conversations, teachers' jobs will be more fragile than people are aware.

Furthermore, teachers are required to keep taking classes for license renewal, which we have to pay for ourselves. We're rewarded by raises when we've taken enough classes. Classes cost between $150-$300 per credit in WI. The state requires 6 credits and a state liscensure fee of $100 for renewal every 5 years of our lives, and 8 credits to move up on the pay scale. Last year, my wife and I paid nearly $2,500 between classes and renewal fees to keep our liscenses. Without Governor Walker’s plan implemented, yet, I made $5,000 less on my 2010 W2’s compared to 2009. After Walker’s plan, I will lose another $5,000. What's to stop districts from systematically firing those experienced teachers when they reach the top of their pay scale just to cut costs? The same job that requires me to move up the scale, could turn around and fire me for it without union protection. Businesses would never do that to a worker whose experience resulted in great efficiency and profit, but that's not the thinking of most school districts and sadly, many new politicians.
Finally, I concede that public employees have greater benefits. But study after study shows that they routinely ask for lower wages, so that they may keep those benefits. If you look at their total income, including benefits, public/state employees make less than private employees. Here's the latest statistics.
The most recent study, done in February 2010 by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank, calculated that a state employee in Wisconsin who earns $48,000 a year would retire with an estimated monthly pension benefit of $1,712. That is $411 more than a private-sector employee who earned $70,000 a year.
Yes, we get greater pensions...because we live off of less our entire lives.
I can tell you from all the teachers I talk to and the protestors in this state that IT IS NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. I know those are the talking points that keep being reiterated by Gov. Walker and others around the country, as well as Fox News. It's about the right to collectively bargain.
Why doesn't Walker simply take away the right to bargain for benefits? Wouldn't that give local authorities the tools to  balance their budgets? Why take away the right to bargain for working conditions, safety, class sizes, curriculum, job security, etc...?
Teacher unions have now said they'd pay all the increases AND institute a merit pay system for teachers. Where's the compromise on the other side? When a system is flawed, which unions are, you don't fix it by destroying them. I'm afraid we've forgotten what times were like when we believed what is good for business is always good for workers.

It's not.



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I just came out of a meeting of all the teachers and admin. That was sobering. They wanted to warn us of all the changes that very well are headed our way. When the principle was finished and asked if we had any questions...there were none. That's what helplessness sounds and feels like.

Now, I'm off for an emergency union meeting to probably talk seriously about what's next. So, I apologize if it takes a while to respond.
I say it's a very sad day in this country when teachers are feeling helpless and are facing impossible, financial and other, choices...
Where is the foresight??
My mom and sister are both teachers (mom in Marshfield, sis in Eau Claire). Both are afraid of feeling the pain. My sister's husband is the teachers union president in EC and is sweating this.
This post is a gem. Closely reasoned, honest, enlightening, and possessed of a personal voice that matters. You raise excellent points on how teachers can have their pay cut, be harassed and ultimately, whacked; all good reasons why collective bargaining is fundamental. And yes, unions could use some internal reform. (What institution couldn't?) We may not win the day with input like yours, but we can remain assured that we are solidly in the right and should never give up.
Well said, noahvose - thank you for putting this out here. It humanizes what we're seeing on the news. Good luck, man - we're in your corner!
Excellent post. I have taken early retirement from my teaching career of 25 active years, and I attest to the truth of everything you've mentioned here. Public is turned off against teachers by government tactics of painting the latter as lazy, unaccountable, replaceable workforce by focusing all issues on money. There's so much more - thank you for speaking up. I wish you and your membership - and all teachers brighter days, for they are the salvation of a nation.
This was the best post yet from a teacher's perspective. I'm starting to ponder my position, which hitherto has not been in alignment with yours. Your students are lucky to have you. Were you or some of the commenters here to read THE RUBBER ROOM, Aug. 31 2009 New Yorker (just Google "The Rubber Room, New Yorker"), you'll get an idea of why taxpayers are fed up with some of the union deals you rightly object to. Good post.
I am very happy to hear your side of this. Excellently written and well done. Teachers should be compensated well.
I have been reading all your posts and rate each one. please keep writing. There is a need to hear this.
I am a teacher in Puerto Rico. Years ago, the government passed a law stating that unions were prohibited from going on strike. The teacher's union went on strike and the government declared that since they had violated said law they could no longer represent teachers. Thereby, leaving teachers without any union protection. We have no bargaining power over benefits or salaries and whatever is given is unilateral.
That said, working conditions on the island are far worse than the poorest state in the nation. And pay-wise, it is much less than stateside.
I do so hope you are able to retain your union rights. What is happening is the wrong path to take. The problem is people won't realize it until it is too late.
Noah, I teach in AZ and I hear you loud and clear. AZ teachers lost negotiating power back decades ago when AZ became a "right to work" state. We have very low salaries as a result. I have the equivalent of a doctorate (MA + 72) and I've been stuck at $46,660 gross for three years (that's about $31,000 net, after I pay for my benefits and 10% of my paycheck is taken for a retirement fund that is doing more and more poorly each year.)

We now are not only without tenure, we've lost all seniority protections completely. Older, more experienced teachers with lots of education are being RIF'ed and replaced with fresh-out-of-college preservice teachers, who are cheaper. Our districts can choose not to give us contract renewals and if they don't, we have no recourse. They also can go off the pay grid if they want, and offer us a contract for much less and say, "Take it or leave it."

Now John Huppenthal, our new supt. of education, has said that the AZ education budget shortfall can be solved by every teacher taking a $5,000 pay cut. I can't afford that and will have to get a night/weekend job to supplement if it comes to that.

If your union protections are stripped from you, you have every reason to fear what the future holds.
Just = I agreee, foresight is in short supply. It's been replaced with illogical and shortsighted soundbites.

Jess = Hey, someone from my neck of the woods. My thoughts are with them and ALL the other unions that will be affected by this. Correction, people's lives that are's not just the union being broken by this, it's families.

Steve = Thank you so much for your kind words. I tell my students in history that sometimes we don't fight to win, we fight because it's right. By continuing to fight, we've already won.
They want everyone to be stupid so they will do what they're told. This is a class war. This is union busting. This cannot, must not happen, to you or anyone else. Hang in there.
I appreciate the balance you offer, along with personal experience. I think it's true that unions can be improved. But you don't throw the baby out with the bath water, especially since that baby cost so much in American blood, sweat, and tears.
i've been following this darkness closely. the disparity between rhetoric and reality is shameful. collective bargaining does not add to budget deficits. public workers are not the enemy of the state. yes, i agree that unions have to come together and understand all in the brotherhood is not perfect; but, a colossus greed, hidden within political ideology and robber baron mentality, is a true to detriment to our, our children and our grandchildren's future. i'm hoping for a reasonable and livable outcome for your family.
Owl = It's been a long time. I've missed your writing and your comments. Thanks.

Fusun = I blame myself, too. Our reputation has taken a hit for years because of smear tactics by politicians who need someone to blame. However, too many teachers get mad, go into their schools, and then preach to the choir. I think our union protection gave us a false sense of security, and we didn't feel the need to improve our image or at least defend ourselves. Well enough. With kindness, I'm going to begin speaking up and giving the other side. It has to start there. There are two battles, one against present laws, and a longer one against our public perception. That one is going to take a while :)
Of all the professions to demonize (not that that's a good thing...usually and unilaterally) I've NEVER understood why teachers are even in the running. Yeah, there are some bad teachers and mediocre teachers, but in my experience those are pretty rare. It's hard to make it too far into the profession without raising some alarm bells. When my kids had teachers they didn't like, I told them -- Well, in college you'll have professors you don't like. In the job market you'll have bosses you don't like. You need to pay attention, follow the rules, learn to adapt. Those are skills you need to learn as much as any academic subject. There was only one time, with one really bizarre teacher, where I had to intervene and speak to the administration.
This is the line in the stand. Unions have been losing the battle for too long. It ends here! You are inspiring the whole country!
Very thoughtful, insightful post. We all around the country need to read this, to absorb it, to understand it.

Thank God for the Democrats! I hesitate to say that - Demz have become so demonized as a species - but Dammit, someone had to stand up, even if it meant squirreling themselves in another state.
ps -- Your reasoning for the Anthropology degree in your Bio just cracked me up... : )
BadScot = More than I appreciate your comments, I appreciate your willingness to read the entire argument and, at least, as you say "ponder my side". If only more of us, especially our leaders on both sides, did this. Thank you for, at least, being open and finding with me a place in the today's political society, it's the hardest place to be. Oh...and thanks for correcting my spelling...damn's PRINCIPAL (the prinipal is your pal...let's hope)

Mission = Teachers should be compensated well...but so should every worker, private and public. As long as we refuse to touch defense spending I can't take seriously any politician that tells me there's no other choice. WE ALL DESERVE MORE, WE ALL DESERVE AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE. Take care of those and the divide can finally close.
You have my support, most informed people know teachers and unions are the chosen scapegoat of our financial problems- Wall Street is who should be making up these deficits. Stay strong!

CNN just interviewed, and giving air time to compromise, a republican play maker. I don't recall if he was a senator or what, but his compromise is stripping bargaining rights for a 2-yr period of time.

I think folks will be all over this! We are so close to becoming a "Right to Work" state and downhill slide into zero voice subsistence that this will buy us time to get these Ass Hats out of office and take our rights back!

Please, Please unions - TAKE IT!
following this story. good to hear from someone there.

Vanessa = I'm truly sorry for your story. I hope I would have felt that way before, but maybe that's the silver lining when hard times hit...we are given a cause greater than ourselves and unite with people we never would have known. Thanks for commenting.

Snippy = Your comment maybe the most foreboding, because people can't claim you exaggerate, like they are now in WI. I've warned people here that that's the direction this could go, but many brush it off as paranoia. With your permission, I'd like to read your comment to my next union meeting. BTW, you in private unions, know that this is an ideological movement. It's not going to stop with public unions. Nothing can get in the way of business. Our gov. said in his opening days "Wisconsin is open for business." Little did we know then it was closed to compassion and reasonableness. Thank you.
and I think jon stewart was guys are the non-bizarro counterparts to the mad hatters/tea partiers...

the right to collectively bargain is important as a counterbalance in our democracy.....
Jane OPtimus and Others:

Move is attemptimg to organize demonstrations at 12:00 noon Saturday in all 50 State Capitols.

I most likely don't agree with 100% of move on agenda here, but I certainly do not believe this is the time to sit on my hands.

(It looks like they don't have specifics on line yet)
CBerg = I'm never comfortable with stereotyping one side. But I've said for a while now, and discuss in my class, that the Founding Fathers used to be afraid of the "ignorant masses". The difference is now politicians count on them. Thanks for coming by.

Lainey = Great point that isn't being talked about. What a disgrace to all those who fought and died for union rights. It might not be the industrial revolution anymore, but don't kid yourself. There was a reason for unions that hasn't gone away.

Chuck = As usual, I can't really add anything to your comment. I'm finally confronted with this, which isn't easy for an idealist: Perception is reality. And now, we have to fight that perception. It didn't change overnight and it won't change back overnight either. I'm going to do that part.
Bellwether = I give my students the same advice all the time. Every job has those who cut corners, who try to kiss ass, and try to advertise and exaggerate everything they do. Teaching is no exception. But isn't that also life and a lesson for our kids? Great point. I don't use that as an excuse for bad teachers or anyone else, but if Gov. Walker thinks getting rid of unions will do away with bad teachers, then they're completely naive.

Kathy = You sound like the dog soldier of labor unions. Good, we need those, too. Thanks for your comment. I have to fight constantly my urge to get angry and blow up. That won't serve the cause. I have to work on repairing my reputation as a teacher, which means that logical or not, I have to listen, empathize, and then tell my perspective better than they do.
"We don't make a profit for our boss or our community."

No, you make a profit for all of us; for the whole world!

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for your GREAT WORK!

Parents are responsible for their kids learning- not you ... I have taught and surfing and the Polynesian life keep me close to kids all the time. If a kid has trouble at home, they bring it to school quite often ... like that is your fault!!!!

Thank You and thanks a million for being the first battleground of our War against the Kochs and all the other money behind the poor and confused Tea Party ... Thank YOU!
So glad to hear your voice on this- I've missed your writing.
jane optimus = According to Another Steve S, further down the comments, there is a national movement. I don't know if I can count on Move On. Org to lead a unifying movement, which is what I think we need. But right now, it may help. Thanks for your comment.

Connie = It's funny. I have to admit I told my wife that if the shoe was on the other foot and the Repubs. fled the state to put off a vote I'd be furious. I can admit that contradictions, but I'll try to remember this if they try it later: senators don't give up their citizenship and right to protest when they're elected. If they did, we'd never have had a Revolution and be an independent Union (no pun intended).

Rwoo = Greatest point so far. You're right. I'll make my school district the same deal that CEOs get. You can fire me and I'll leave quietly with my million dollar severance package. Deal!
ON WISCONSIN! I teach in Rockford, and I understand all you have said so effectively and powerfully here. Everything you say is true...indeed, what is to prevent experienced master teachers with more to teach and more to give from being unceremoniously dumped? We are suffering under a superintendent from the Broad Institute. I wore a Wisconsin pin on my lapel today...Solidarity and prayers for and with you. Thanks for your post! R
Haley = I wish I could say it surprised me that we've become the enemy here. The truth is, and all public/state workers can attest to this, when times are good we always here, "I could never do what you do, for so little pay and appreciation." When times are bad, we're treated like, as the picture in the beginning says, "greedy teachers." The only thing that changes is the economy. However, how different would this have been had the teachers' union got out in front of this and said given the economic crisis, we were will to do what we could to help. Unions aren't used to doing that because they're always trying to just keep what they have for all the people they represent.

Y Heron = You and I sat and watched this together and thought the same thing, "Is the tide turning." Unfortunately this whole mess has taught me not to get my hopes up that the gov. will compromise. But I guess we don't need him to, if other more moderate and level-headed Repub senators will. That TV coverage of an alternative plan by a Republican was a first. Let's hope people pick it up and run with it.
I'm in favor of unions that haven't become self-perpetuating bureaucracies. But at least for now, you can count the NEA out, in my humble but well rooted opinion:
Daniel = You and I, and by the way many teachers, agree that the union has its faults and can be an overarching beauracracy. However, no one can deny the good that unions, in general, and the teachers union, specifically, have done for this country and our communities. Since when do we fix things by destroying them. To do so, in this case, would be placing the blame on public/state employees for this recession, which you and I both know is ridiculous.
Great post, rated highly. I just want to add that your assertion that "Businesses would never do that to a worker whose experience resulted in great efficiency and profit" is not exactly true. The fact is, most corporations have been firing their most experienced workers and replacing them with entry-level workers and contract workers since Reagan was in office. It has obviously taken this long to get to teachers and other unionized workers because you ARE union members, and they can't outsource your jobs. We are all victims of corporate short-term thinking.
Lots of great points in this post Noah. The U.S. is already faring poorly in international student comparisons. Demonizing teachers and dis-incenting the good ones from this line of work is consequently a dubious approach. The right-wingers always seem bent on the penny smart, pound foolish initiatives. Turning a tough job into a shit one seems like a poor bet for a better educated society. Good luck with your struggle.
These unions have been extorting the public for many years now. They force public sector employees to pay dues. Then they throw all the money at DemocRATS who force their socialistic agenda down the throat of the American people. Obama has been doing that for 2 years with BIG money from the unions. It's time to reset America. Let the elected officials vote as they see fit. If the Dems were in the majority, they might vote to give the unions more power. That is the way this democratic republic works. Go back to work and teach our kids. That is your job.
Truthspeaka = Where do I start with such an obviously one-sided and closed-minded comment. I'm sorry, but it's your type of arguments that are shutting the system down. If you knew anything about the founding of the country, you'd know the Founding Fathers warned against this type of government and wanted slow, reasoned change, and BTW an educated public. When all you do is believe one side because it's "your side", then we all draw our lines...and we all lose. The pendulum just keeps swinging back and forth and never lands anywhere close to the middle, where we all need it to be (because that's where truth is usually found).

You'll notice just about everyone who's left comments has admitted points to both sides, which is a sign of strength and true critical thinking. I'm wondering, can you do the same? Prove me wrong...admit one good thing about the unions or the democrats philosophy or programs. If not then I'm sorry, you're just part of the problem, cause you're not part fo the conversation.
Oahu = Thank you for your kind comments. But I don't want you or anyone to get me wrong. There are also teachers who never think it's their fault, and they've stopped trying to reach EACH student. I'd like to think that's not me. It can be daunting, though. You're right, though, the idea that I have most control as a teacher is, quite frankly, a cop out to parenting. Just like I ask students who fail tests, "Did you study?"
"A little"
"How long?"
"10 - 15 minutes"

I then ask parents who are suddenly concerned or angry that their child is struggling, and there doesn't seem to be any follow through at home.

Teaching and raising our children IS a team effort.

Now if we can get Gov. Walker and many in our communities to understand that, as well.
Noah, I applaud you for your career and caring.
I also applaud you for this post.
Over my lifetime, I have belonged to several different unions, UAW, CWA(communications workers), etc.
For the past 30+ years, I have operated my own independent sole prop small business.
My business is major household appliance repair.
I live in Wausau.
I have a friend who is a teacher in Fla.
She has demonstrated to me what a good teacher truly cares about and, it is nothing like the fox noise types and this criminal walker would have everyone believe.
Her priority is her students.
She is prevented from actually educating her students by the fcat focus merely to get finding, etc.
The people in administration are totally removed from the classroom and are of no assistance is this regard.
Now we have this creep walker who is in the business of union busting with the LIE that it will make WI solvent.
What would make WI solvent is cutting out the theft by this guy's partners in crime rather than doing what is nothing more than yet another con game against the REAL citizens of WI using teachers as strawpeople and setting them up as villains.
As an analogy, I used to purchase after market parts from a company called Gemline.
The made quality parts at a much lower cost than what the mfgrs put out and were not merely "just as good", they were of the very same quality.
GE~~general electric bought them out and closed the company.
Why? Corporate GREED.
This is exactly what this lying con artist~walker is attempting to do.
The result will be much worse and more involved than teachers having their rights and income stolen from them.
The right to a quality education taught by qualified teachers will be stolen from ALL students.
I may be a non-union sole prop butt, I am no fool who believes the lies told by these self serving theives.

Make certain that line in the sand(not in the stand) is deep and firm and strong.
As Jimmy Valvano said, "Never give up. Never ever give up".
I don't want to guilt any of you into anything butt, you owe this to the students.

BTW-As for this "thruthspeaka(what a laugh), at least when I troll, I bring home walleye for dinner.

Keep on keepin on.
kateasley = Thank you for reading and commenting.

mamoore = It's been a while. I needed another shot of motivation. Thanks for coming by.

Persistent Muse = OK, tell the truth, are you hiding the Rockford 14? haha. Thank you for validating the reality behind teaching. I've found that nothing I've said surprises them, and yet so often politicians and people in the public feel entitled to cast in their take on how much we care about the kids. We need to hear more from people like you, that have real experience, regardless of whether the select radicals will hear you or not. I have to believe that somewhere in the middle are those who will.
your post gave me perspective on what is happening in WI. glad you decided to speak up. it's grt to see so many speak up in support here. rated, in solidarity.
Response to Novahose on my earlier comment:

Of course it is not teachers who are the problem; indeed, they are our solution. I was pointing specifically at the NEA so-called leadership and guarantee these clowns have been sitting on their duffs across the country. Had they not been, there would not be the problems we see in education across the board today.

Mine was NOT an isolated case. I am NOT advocating throwing out the baby with the wash water, just cleaning the water. To do that requires going back and amending errors, then current practices.
Please visit
Tennessee's teachers will be marching here on March 5th. Bills have been introduced here to eliminate collective bargaining, take away payroll dues deduction, change the probationary period for tenure to up to 10 years, eliminate the union's ability to elect representatives to serve on the state retirement board, and make it illegal for the teachers' union to give any money (from the PAC, which is all voluntarily contrbuted) to political candidates.

Keep fighting the good fight, Noahvose!
With all due respect, do you not think that the teachers would have been seen in a better light, if they had not been shown on video lying about being sick and then receiving fraudulent doctor notes? What about school children being told by teachers to go to the protest, which is proven by video? These kids did not even know why they were protesting. Maybe the educational system is finally receiving accountability for a liberal progressive ideology being taught to our children, instead of our children being taught math, science, English and AMERICAN history and values.

Do you think using the derogatory signs are going to help your cause? If these signs were held up by Tea Party or conservatives, you would be holding them accountable for holy hell. All I am seeing out of these protests is complete hypocrisy and refusal to accept that statement of hypocrisy. Teachers and the unions absolutely do not walk the talk.

The majority of American Taxpayers do not agree with the educational system’s teaching of liberal progressive values, yet you want the American Taxpayer’s funding. American Taxpayers are out there taking the hit on their jobs and salaries, for the sake of Fiscal Responsibility. Unions and teachers are not some sacred gods, on a pedestal and exempt from fiscal responsibility. You get paid to do a job and if you are not good at it, you need to be fired and replaced with someone who wants to do the job, just like everyone else in America.

The unions sucking off the teats of the American Taxpayer is coming to a close, whether you like it or not. You can either work with the state and make yourselves look good and reap the benefits when times get better, or you can let the unions make you look like selfish tax absorbing union workers.

The past two years have shown unions and a liberal progressive Obama administration shoving ideology down the throats of the American people, who voted in November 2010 to show that was not what we wanted. With the unions doing what they are doing now, there is going to be a huge backlash against teachers, doctors and unions in general.

The teacher’s union is now talking compromise, where was the compromise for the last two years, when an agenda was being forced down American’s throats instead of attacking Fiscal Responsibility and jobs? Why can’t all Americans have union jobs and pensions, instead of just a few? The answer is the country could not sustain everyone making that much money in salary and pensions; it is a pyramid scheme and an illusion. Maybe jobs would not be outsourced if the unions were not so incredibly arrogant and demanding, not to mention being political activists for a liberal progressive ideology.

BTW, why do you say to truthspeaka,” Where do I start with such an obviously one-sided and closed-minded comment.” You seem to like oahusurfers one sided comments used about the Tea Party.
You have just shown yourself to be one sided and closed minded. This person is right when they say a democrat government would be giving unions more power. That is the way the system works. When someone rebuts your view, the rebuttal is automatically classified by you as wrong. This is the same view of your liberal progressive unions. The Founding Fathers set up a Republic, not a democracy, because they knew a democracy ultimately fails.

With all due respect, you had two roads to choose from here, the teachers have chosen poorly, especially in light of the videos with our children and fraudulent doctor notes.
As you said the Union protect some bad teachers but that is just part of the problem and part of the reason for this is almost certainly because they’re not addressing other parts of the problem. Which is why I wouldn’t rush to blame the bad teachers until they adressed the other problems so they could atract better teachers to replace the bad ones. One of the problems is that the property tax system that underfunds poor schools that need the most. Another problem is tha Capitalist system that doesn’t respect education enough unless it adds to the profits of the corporations. Another problem which I am writing more about with in the next week or so is copyright laws which subsidize bureaucrats and publishers while driving up the costs of textbooks. They should cut more out of corporate coruption before going after the teachers. The reason they don’t is because better educated people are less likely to tolertate corporate coruptions and they’ve bought and paid for the politicians.
Daniel = Thanks for coming back. What I wish, and I might be reiterating myself here, is that the NEA had taken the lead at reforms, like they're doing now in WI trying to institute a type of merit pay for teachers. No doubts that protection can tend to make people complacent. All teachers have to battle that trend the longer we teach. It's a job that should always be challenging.

I'm also glad that you agree not to dismantle unions in order to rewrite them. I don't think for a second that once these rights are gone, they'll ever be back under a Republican governor and state legislature. This ideology didn't begin in this recession, but the recession has lent intself to it.

Please understand that no matter what you think of the NEA, it does protect a lot of rights of teachers. Our wages will FOREVER be tied to the Consumer Price Index (which two years ago was -1.8% and this year is 1%) With rising healthcare costs, they'll swallow that in a second, and teachers will actually make less money every year.

If they want to treat us more like the private sector, how can they control our wages? They can't have it both ways, to treat us different, and then use comparisons to divide us.
I've missed you too, noah . . . sounds like you've had a full plate!

Just following the discussion and bumping this one more time . . .
Excellent post. As I have commented on other posts, collective bargaining is non-negotiable. If the public sector appears to have better pension benefits, it is only because the private sector has failed so miserably. Treating schools and other entities like businesses is senseless, and we need to stop engaging in that debate.
Tommy T = OK, here we go. I'll try to address each of your points. See if you still feel the same (promise you read the whole thing, though, just like I did yours)

I agree that many of the knee-jerk reactions by teachers and the union have hurt our reputation, which has been attacked now for years. I spoke up, personally, in my union meeting against a sick out and to go to school for our parent/teacher conferences. We voted nearly unamimously to go back to school and have our march after school hours. Secondly, you cannot logically take a few (?) videos of teachers encouraging students to take part and stereotype all teachers as having done that. I can show you just as many videos of children at those Tea Party rallys. If you so easily believe those few videos represent the whole, I think you reveal that you already leaned heavily toward that bias. I cannot specifically address your claim that we all teach a "liberal" agenda in schools. You must be specific and define, for instance, what you mean by "AMERICAN' history.

I am against ALL derogatory signs, regardless of which side. They are reactionary and serve no good except further dividing us. I agree with you. The further we get toward EITHER extreme and ideology, hypocracy will reveal itself, because the truth exists mostly somewhere in the middle.

How do you possibly know what the majority of "taxpayers" want. Three of the most recent studies, two by the way from conservative think tanks, show the majority of Americans against stripping away collective bargain rights of unions. How can you argue, on the one hand that Wisconsin taxpayers support Walker, but that most don't support Obama. Weren't they both elected? If your argument is that polls showed most were against healthcare reform (which I'd have to see how those polls were worded) so we shouldn't have passed it, then the same rule applies to Gov. Walker's attempt to bust unions. Remeber, you're against hypcrisy so stick with me here. Finally, I take great offense at people who try to imply through their rhetoric that I and the other public/state workers are not taxpayers. WE PAY TAXES TOO. In fact, unlike anyone in the privat sector, I help finance my own raises. Can you say that? However, I totally agree with you that teachers, like any other profession, should lose their jobs if they're bad at it, and I wish that the teacher's union would have taken the lead on this. If you understood how fragile a teacher's job can be, though, you might be a little understanding of why they resist that change.

You state that we can reap the benefits when times get better. However, if you have paid attention to this bill you would know that all public/state employees wages will be FOREVER tied to the consumer price index (which two years ago was actually at -1.8%) If you want to treat us like the private sector, then fine, don't tie my pay to inflation, and pay me what a private sector employee gets for having a Masters Degree. I could definitely help pay more for my pension if I was paid the $70,000 average that my level of education got. Instead, I make about $40,000. You can't just look at the benefits, you have to take total income. We take less wages, so that we can keep our benefits.

You ask where was the compromise the last two year? Again, you need to know what you're talking about. For the last three years, my district has had either wage freezes or lost money. Even with those changes my deductibles have doubled and my coverage has decreased. I know it's a talking point that there's been no compromises, but that simply is incorrect. However, I still agree that the NEA could have taken the lead on more of these.

You actually blame outsourcing on unions? I can't believe how easy it is to blame unions for everything. Let's get something straight. People give jobs to illegal aliens and outsource their jobs so that they can pay their workers less than a living wage and make more profit themselves. Seriously, unless you think everyone should make $1.15 an hour like many do in India and other parts of SE Asia, then you better pray that unions stick around. You think that would be adequate for the working class in this country? Which side are you on? Talk about dogs fighting over the same scraps. Why isn't any of your anger focused on the individual heads of companies or Lehman Bros. for all that we're going through? You really think public workers with the sports cars we drive around (sarcasm) are to blame for all of this? I'm willing to be part of the solution, but it's not fair to tie public workers to inflation forever and allow every other part of the economy to rebound.

I fight contradictions in my arguments, just like anyone else, and I never remember claiming to do otherwise. As I said before, any extreme statements that try to oversimplify a topic or group of people is wrong. If you read all of my comments, I think you'll see that I try to be pretty even-handed and willing to listen and find a middle ground. Are you as open to this? Intelligent people can surely disagree, but only reasonable people can find a common ground. I'll meet you half way.
Rolling - Thank you for your comment and for your solidarity.

Jeanette - I knew we weren't by any means alone in this. Thanks for sharing your story and the conditions in TN. I wish people would realize private + public = foundation of America. We can't keep being divided.
I'm giving everyone an explanation, here, so as to not fuel any of the stereotypes of teachers. I went in to work this morning, thinking I could struggle through the day with the flu (which is another great benefit teachers get...every germ that comes through the school). Well, it got worse, so I'm writing these responses from bed (am I supposed to sweat out a fever? I don't remember). I'm glad though to carry on this discussion and to hear your thoughts.
I've said it before and I'll say it again.....once unions go for teachers, the GOOD teachers will be the first targets!!!! Yea, the ones who really make kids work and think and the ones of fail them. Guaranteed!

Parents and kids will reward all the "cool" ones who are "fun" and "easy" and give out A's like Pez! Guaranteed!

School Board doesn't like you? Gone! Done! Guaranteed!
from the Midwest = That's at least what many of us fear. I've been hearing from colleagues in other Right to Work States that testify to this happening, so we can believe it's not just paranoid conjecture on our part. That's exactly why teacher unions have fought against merit pay for so long. Since we don't make the conventional profit on a spread sheet, how do you measure our success. If it's by standardized tests, then clearly they'll just teach to those tests. When what we really need to be doing is teaching much higher level critical thinking and problem solving skills. How do you measure those? I believe we could find a somewhat fair way to measure teacher success, but there won't be a shortcut to it, like test scores. It's going to take quite a commitment by admin in the classroom and observing.
The public sector should not be allowed to unionize, period.

Collective bargaining is fine for the private sector; but when a public sector union negotiates, it does so through extortion. "Give us x dollars or we walk" and an essential service (in this case our children's education) is lost until taxpayers pony up.

What's worse is these powerful unions are doing their collective bargaining with government legislators they helped put into their cushy offices. Conflict of interest, anyone?

If you're on the public dime you should not be allowed to unionize. If you're a teacher and you want the right to enter collective bargaining - get a job at a private school.
Some Random = You are under the impression that teacher unions only collectively bargain for our pay and benefits. We also have been responsible for great legislation for students, in general. We bargain for updated materials, smaller class sizes, a better measure of student success than just standardized tests, Pre K, etc... It' s not the closed room of greedy teachers kackling at ripping off fellow taxpayers.

I've said it before, you can't have it both ways. If you want to treat me like a private sector employee, than you better pay me an adequate income for my educational training and for my job security, which will be extremely fragile if we have no protection.

Furthermore, as I see it, Gov. Walker is using extortion. He's implying that if the Senators don't return, then he'll have no other choice than to fire people. THAT'S RIDICULOUS. He has had many other choices in this, he just has decided not to take ANY of them. Get the facts.
Teachers are so important and society has treated them like (and paid them) as if they deserved to be the genteel poor their whole lives. I was willing to be poor but gave up on teaching during one of the periodic layoff period. I guess it made more economic sense to stuff more kids in a classroom. Our SOB governator has also gone after the teacher's unions and not had much luck. I hope to god that the public can see through the BS.

I understand the need to protect teachers' jobs from parents who don't care what their kids learn as long as they get the grades, or administrators who don't like your politics, or maybe your sexual orientation. I do think it should be easier to fire the burnouts and I met quite a few while I was teaching 20 years ago. But at the same time, teachers should be paid a professional wage. When I last worked, I made $80k. Teachers with what would have been my level of experience if I had stayed made about $44k. It goes without saying that my job in private industry was a hell of a lot easier. I also want to add that I was one of the good ones. I could hold a class in my hand. I'm not a conceited person. It was just true. The city lost a good teacher when I could no longer wait for there to be permanent jobs.
Sirenita = Thank you for being someone else who tries to see the middle. I'm sorry that education lost you, as it definitely will now lose so many more promising teachers. But I'm glad that the private sector paid you what you were worth.
You have detailed this one with expertise. I'd like to add that teachers do not get 8 weeks summer vacation. Teachers generally contract to work for 10 months out of every year, not 12. Two months, no salary.
Scupper = I saw a breakdown of the work year once for school teacher compared to private sector job. The teacher got more days vacation. But when they totalled hours spent working from home and at extracurricular activites, it wasn't even close. Teachers work way more hours per year than our private sector counterparts. Thanks for bringing that up. And thanks for coming by.
I read the entire thing.

If you voted unanimously to go back to school and march after hours, why didn’t you? Ok, why did the teachers not address these bad apples? What about the fraud between teachers and so called doctors? Please do not insult my intelligence with your remark of “I cannot specifically address your claim that we all teach a "liberal" agenda in schools. You must be specific and define, for instance, what you mean by "AMERICAN' history.” You just answered my question about you needing the term “American History” defined. If you need that definition, you should not be teaching. WOW! Your remark was a typical liberal progressive end run.

Why not be the bigger people and admonish those showing up with derogatory signs, or do they serve a purpose while denying that they do not do any good? The Truth does not “exist mostly somewhere in the middle”. The Truth is factual reality and cannot be tainted by a political ideology. The Truth about Obama and his administration has already caused Obama to change his administration make up, due to having pro Mao and socialist so far up in the White House. You cannot fight the Truth and no matter how you spin it, it will always be the Truth.

The majority of Wisconsin tax payers voted for Walker. He got elected, didn’t he? That is how I know what the majority of Wisconsin tax payers want. He is now putting into action what he campaigned on, fiscal responsibility. That is the Truth over any polls which can be spun and used for either side’s benefit. What you fail to say, is it was the Independents who got Obama elected and it is the Independents now turning away from Obama in droves. I am a registered Independent, who did not buy into Obama’s lies. It was also 2 years ago that Obama was elected and Walker just got elected. I believe what you will see in that, is the Truth of the Obama administration being revealed and the People turning away from his progressive ideology. Sorry, you have no case there, with one election two years after the other. What you are seeing is a trend unfold in America, comparing the two elections holds no water, other than allowing you to see a trend. I did not say you were not tax payers. It is the American tax payer’s money you are addicted to. Yes, you do help finance your own raises, along with millions of American tax payers, through taxes. The private sector cannot get help with their raises from the American tax payer, we get our raise for working hard and being valuable to the company, or we are gone. Thank you for bringing up the point that the Private Sector does not rely on tax payer money for their raises. Sorry, there is absolutely no sympathy for you saying a teacher’s job is fragile. Just speak to the millions of Americans out of work or taking pay cuts for this economy. We work hard and we earn what we make. There are no rubber rooms or tenure to take up the slack for being a bad employee.

How do you think we get raises? If the economy is terrible and the company makes less money, we get little or no raise. Wow, sorry that I was thinking you should get raises, or no raises, tied to the economy. I would love to give you what a private sector employee gets. If your masters degree is worth anything to the company, you will get paid for it, otherwise you will need to find another position. Level of education means nothing in the private sector; it is how much value your education gives the company. See, that is your mindset of educational entitlements kicking in. You would need to bring into the equation, paid days off such as holidays, sick time and vacation time. How much you actually work and give value to the company is a very large part of what you make. You take less in wages? Why not get the wages and benefits given to you as associated to your value of the company. If you ever said that “you take less wages” in the private sector, you would be out of a job. That is a pretty arrogant statement on your part. Why don’t you see what kind of benefits a 40,000 a year employee in the private sector gets. 40,000 a year is not that bad. Teachers are no more important than sales people, cashiers, stockroom clerks, garbage men etc. We all have our part to do in America.

Without knowing your district, there is no way to know the Truth about your wage situation. As far as your deductibles and coverage, welcome to the real world, where all Americans are taking the hit.

Your liberal progressive ideological organizations are the one supporting illegal aliens. If illegal aliens were not available, corporate America could not hire them. You have a problem with blaming the unions, yet your unions love putting all the blame on corporate America. I have news for you, both are at fault and the American worker is the loser because of unions and some corporations. Both are greedy SOB’s. I come from a democrat family of union men and women, going back to the 1930’s. I was a teamster for a long time. Unions are not the “For the Working Man” organizations anymore. They have become political greedy oinkers in their own right and now have only a political agenda. Unions do not care for the working American anymore. Your leaders are living pretty well as fat cats. Instead of pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the political arena, they should be taking care of their workers. If the unions got out of politics, they may have a more sympathetic America. Unions are now using their members as pawns and force them to donate and serve their time. Why not bring up Barney Frank, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for the housing crisis. There were quite a few variables involved with the crash. Run the education system like the private sector and you will rebound with the rest of America.

Yes we can disagree. You may try to be pretty even-handed and willing to listen and find a middle ground, but your unions think differently and are upping the ante daily with their tough rhetoric. It is when organizations take to using force to attain their ideological agendas, that we part company. The unions led you down the worst path possible through their persuasion of force, or as Andy Stern says, “We prefer to use the power of persuasion, but if that doesn’t work we use the persuasion of power.” So you see, so long as you have Trumpka and union heads talking tough, Americans are going to hold unions accountable for the Truth of their speech. Your unions are only distancing themselves from Americans.
You have articulated the fragility of teaching so well. I will be pointing people to this article. Your fellow teachers in California are with you!!!!
If you haven't already heard, someone prank called our Gov. Walker pretending to be Mr. Koch. It seems like the news media is kind of laughing it off...I'm not. His comments seem to verify, despite what he says on camera, that to him this is an ideological movement...people be damned. He's going to crush me and my family "like Reagan did the airline unions". My wife and I are nothing more than "liberal hippies that the new will forget about soon". And most people who are simply balancing the budge don't describe that as "changing the world".

Don't kid yourself...this is union busting. This is an ideological agenda. This is heartless, and forgets that his policies have very real and immediate consequences for thousands of families like mine. I know, now, thanks to that prank call, that we're just seen as pawns to his movement and self-righteousness...that when he says there are no other options, it's a lie. He means it's the only option he's willing to consider. What I don't understand is if he feels what he is doing is so right, why can't he just be upfront and say he's trying to break up the unions, rather than feigning respect for us workers?
Tommy = It is clear that you're set in your beliefs. I can tell there is little to no way we can meet. You are so sure that you have a grasp on the truth. I don't even understand where you're going with some of your points. As is so common nowadays, you can just hide behind trivial name calling like "socialist" or "liberal". You think just because you doubt my motives that you can ignore all that I say.

I sat once at a bar with the most conservative teacher, and person, I know. He was railing on liberalism and Obama...nothing they do is good or right. So, I finally said to him, "OK, I'll make a list of the things I disagree with about liberal philosophy and Obama's policies" I proceeded to make my list and talked about how Obama, through much of his compromising, had let me down. Then, I said it was his turn. He couldn't think of a thing that he disagreed with Bush about or the conservative philosphy. I told him there was no use in talking anymore. I realized there could be no communicating who was so sure of his position that he was not willing to ciritcally evaluate it.

I feel that's what's happening now. You can put whatever spin on it or call me whatever names you want that makes it convenient for you to ignore the other perspective.

Whatever you take from my article and comments, don't let it be that I think I'm above ANY worker, private or public. That's more than I can say for your attitude of public workers, and they're not all teachers. So, if you're so used to demonizing us lazy, tax-draining teachers, remember they're also the plow guy, dept. of transportation worker, food worker, etc...We can't all fit your perception of the greedy entitled union worker.
Tommy = Lastly, you said if we voted unanimously to go back to school and march after hours, why didn't you?

We did. We held a march in New Richmond after school hours. Again, I don't know where you're getting your ideas, but without the facts it should be hard to be so so sure that you're right.
As a former chemistry teacher driven out by the good old boy politics that still rule Mississippi (why did I return home from northern California after 30 years?), I want you to know that I and others here support all of you up there. Thank you for so eloquently expressing the realities of being a teacher. If this situation does not show the true disrespect of teachers in this country, I don't know what would. Friends of ours out west and here who are from other countries are constantly appalled at the indecent way teachers and other hard working professionals that hold our society together are treated in America. In the spirit of my late grandfather, a poor southern sharecropper, who was ostracized for being publicly supportive of fair wages, labor unions, and better laws to protect workers, our thoughts are with you. Thanks for all that each of you do. May we all learn to stand together in this trying time and learn from others in other lands as they rally for their basic rights rather than be couch potatoes who think life is good with reality TV, remote in hand, and the attitude of "I have mine, don't care about you."
Etox = Thank you so much for your words. You said it wonderfully. BTW I got my bachelors from Ole Miss. I can see how politics can affect your job security. That's exactly why teachers need some job protection. Unlike other jobs, everyone thinks they know how to teach our class and how we shoud, and it changes as fast as the political winds.

Thank you for your support. We'll need it, and so will the public workers in many other states.
A few comments first as to criticizing public employee unions. No one ever does anything wrong, inefficient, underhanded, or criminal in private business. No one is ever a hypocritical liar guilty of the same sins that a right wing politician accuses others of being. I could go on.

So why are public employee unions so terrible? I was joking with a policeman friend over dinner that if public employee unions go, governments can acquire much greater efficiency by hiring illegal aliens who'll work for 1/3 the salary of union workers.

And remember union haters: Your boss ALWAYS has your self interest at heart, much more than making profits for the company or his own skin. Isn't that right? That's why you should always believe the bosses no matter what they say or do.

And to my own experiences as a teacher. I'm sure that I would have been fired twice in Los Angeles, once because of unrelated, independent political activity on my part. Another time, I was called into the assistant principal's office and chastised for some of my special ed children got into a fight on the playground while I was at my 30 minute alloted lunch break.

Who needs unions? Duh.
I'm a teacher from Sydney, Australia, who hasn't formally taught in a school for many years now. After having to resubmit my credentials and attend an interview to check I was still capable to teach, it costs me $100 per year to maintain my accreditation with the Teachers' Institute. I am horrified to read that teachers in the US have to pay for their own professional development to maintain their accreditation EVEN WHILE THEY ARE EMPLOYED AS TEACHERS, much less that you could be fired for being "too senior" and therefore too expensive (!). Australia keeps lurching to the right socially and politically, but I can't imagine a situation like this would ever arise for teachers here. It's as if you are nothing more than glorified tradesmen and women who have the education, and therefore the future, of children and youth in their (capable) hands. I am shaking my head in despair. As Billy Bragg sings—there is power in a union. Solidarity!
Old New Lefty = First of all, you're quite good at sarcasm. Second of all, behind it you make very valid points. Throughout this mess, I keep thinking that the Republican Governor, Walker, is guilty of many of the same things that people accuse public unions of. I suppose we should strip our state government of its power, then, as well. I also appreciate your personal experiences teaching. Most teachers, regardless of which side of this issue they fall on, can agree that our jobs are much more under the spotlight than other private sector jobs and can often fall on the whim of school boards, administrators, angry parents, and political movements.

Misrule = I never really thought this could happen either, especially in WI. I was wrong. It's scary how fast this has happened and how quickly politicians and their ideologies can change our lives, with very little thought about those lives.
I think you are mistating some things. For example, there are options other than 6 college credits to renew a certificate--you could do a Professional Development plan. In most states, teachers have the option of doing continuing education instead of college courses. In most states, those continuing education credits are earned in workshops that teachers can get time out of the classroom to do. My quick reading of the WI teacher certification site indicated the same thing.
If you'd like to support the efforts to bring more national attention WI workers today:

1) Call Bruce Springsteen’s publicist today and left a VM @ 1-424-288-2000. I thanked him for his efforts on behalf of American workers his entire career. I then asked him to consider coming to WI now, in our time of need.

2) Email John Mellencamp’s agent, Randy, at requesting that he consider coming to WI to support WI workers. If you’d like to use the same subject as me for greater impact: “Mellencamp – Please help WI workers.”

Thanks - spread the word to anyone who might do this....
Perdi = Actually, I don't qualify for that because of when I was hired. Newer teachers can take that route. I've heard it's a terrrible headache. However, that might be the way of the future, because I don't see how school districts can require credits if they can turn around and fire you for being at the top of the payscale.

I appreciate your research, but I assure you my intent is not to deceive people. This divide amongst workers right now, in my opinion, has played perfectly into the hands of politicians and heads of corporations, who wish our focus remains on each other and not on them.

I'm sorry for all working families, private and public. What is going on right now in our country is shameful. We've bought into their argument that we're entitled even we don't get the pay or benefits that WE ALL should. Many workers are actually so lost in their political ideology that they would talke away all that their fellow, public workers have so that we're all on the bottom and even make the argument that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations are necessary. What a strange time. ALL WORKERS who have built up this country, our states, and our communities deserve the benefits that my union affords me. Let's just see how the wealthy reward those workers when unions no longer exist.
TYPO - Mellencamp's email is

I am as set in my beliefs as you are. You speak about not knowing where I am going with my points, yet read your own material over again. Typical progressive ideology is to try to skirt subjects, you do that very well. I guess some points just cannot be argued due to the Truth. It seems liberals can protest, scream, hold up disgusting signs and that is OK. Conservatives do it and liberals are going ballistic calling us all kinds of names. There were many forks in the road that the unions and teachers came upon, where they could have done the right thing and stopped the disgusting signs and the actions of some of the teachers and fraudulent doctors. The teachers did not, so please go ahead and defend your actions, but actions are always met with reactions. The liberal progressive organizations do not have the right to kick, scream and throw tantrums when the opposing side begins to react. We are allowed our dissenting voices.

Progressives are very adamant and arrogant about their positions, and dislike any dissenting thoughts and actions. When you read my last post, you did not reply, you just said that you are not going to play anymore. The Wisconsin Democrats did it when they abandoned the Wisconsin tax payers. When things are not going the Liberal way, they just run away and refuse to accept the facts that things are different than the last two years. You have to equate liberals with children, they are happy when it is all going their way and throw tantrums when circumstances have changed and gone against them.

The quicker the unions come to the reality of the fiscal state of America, the better it will be for everyone. The time has come for you guys to pay the piper, whether you like it or not. If I was you, there are many points you do not want to get close to, due to not being able to fight the Truth.

Maybe American Patriots should take a page from what is going on in Europe and the Middle East. We can have mass protests at the White House to oust a tyrannical and rogue Obama administration. We can force Obama and his administration out before he takes complete control over Americans and destroys our freedoms. Obama has tainted the Presidential office due to his ties with socialists, communists and union organizations. This government wants to have a master shut off button for the internet. Isn’t that what liberals were attacking Egypt for doing? Code Pink, a liberal progressive organization is in bed with The Muslim Brotherhood and the terrorist organization of Hamas. Trumpka has no business getting involved in the Egyptian political event, unless there is a much larger agenda here. Liberals seem to love the idea of fighting for Freedom in the Middle East and Europe, so this is an idea liberals should be head over heels for. Mark my words, your union organizations are bringing violence to America and American are not going to take it lightly. We will defend ourselves.

Unfortunately, union arrogance and the tough talk from Trumpka and Stern have set events into motion, using puppet union members, that will be difficult to stop and will be met with dissenting opposition to an evil agenda of tyranny. Americans are speaking and will keep speaking Louder and Louder until the unions and progressive organizations finally get it. It is a shame, as teachers, you guys have inserted yourselves right into the thick of it. 2012 is coming, if you think you have it bad now, just wait until then. The unions are only shooting themselves in the foot.

I have to say this; I do respect you for listening to my dissenting voice instead of just deleting the posts, as others do in here.

Live Free or Die Trying!!!
I will be sure to pass this info to all American Patriot organizations in the country.

He may as well hear the protests from our dissenting voices. He should be able to appreciate waves of protesting voices.

Actually this is avery good idea and Patriots can set up another frontline on going after celebrities.
Gee Noah, no one is demonizing teachers per se, but let's be serious. It's not about the kids. Nothing like teachers getting fake sick notes, staging sick outs, so they can yell and scream at the capital to really make that point that they should keep getting the gold plated medial and pensions that no one in the private sector has.

I have never heard such whiners as teachers, and your article is the perfect example. Let me tell you something Noah. There are politics, difficulties, challenges and unfair aspects to every job. Over and over you see teachers whine about how "unfair" everything is. Maybe they get that from teaching kids all day long, but that's what "growing up" is called.

Let me give you another news flash. Everyone has to keep training themselves and take classes to continue to maintain their careers. I know, I know, a real shocker. Except the private sector doesn't get an automatic raise when they take classes. If you are, say, an engineer and you get a masters degree at night (don't even attempt to compare the difficulty of that vs. some bogus teaching credits), you get exactly zero after that accomplishment. If you continue to work hard and add value, you will eventually get promoted. But there are politics and bad bosses, and bad business climates everywhere. And as a result you can get laid off (20% chance in the private sector vs. 5% in the public sector). People in the real world accept this as part of life and try to find new opportunities. When that happens they don't protest, they don't go absent. On the contrary, they work harder, and learn more so that they can continue to be of value. And yes, people are routinely replaced by younger workers who are lower cost. That's called life. Stop whining.

Here's another newsflash. There are no pensions in the private sector. You get what you save. Period. You don't get to live off the backs of your neighbors taxes for the rest of your life. You get what you save.

Stop whining. It is about the money. If you were worth it, you wouldn't have to protest, you could just leave and the parents would be pressuring the school board to rehire you because you are so valuable.

Public unions are nothing more than organized extortion from the taxpayer.
AOH = Your comments are nothing more than a written version of FOX talking points. You've got to be kidding me. Just go to any school and look around the parking lot. The kids drive nicer cars than most of us. Yeah, we're really soaking it all in...greedy teachers. I feel ridiculous even having this argument. So, your answer because you believe that public employees have it better, is to drag everyone down so none of us have benefits, pensions, or an adequate wage. GREAT ANSWER. I've said many times, I'm sorry for every working family who is suffering. They ALL deserve more. You're directing your anger at the wrong people and you're so full of anger you're willing to direct it at your fellow workers. about whining. Let's just keep having a pissing contest about "poor me" and "who has it worse". Get over it and stand up for workers, otherwise you're part of the problem
the knee jerk liberal reaction to any rational discussion that they are losing:

1. That's Fox news/rush limbaugh talking points.
2. You are a "hater".

Rarely will you see a liberal actually engage in debate of any substance. I stand by my assertion that you (and the teachers "protesting" at these rallies) are whining and greedy. You envision a certain lifestyle for yourselves (financed by the taxpayer, natch), and create all sorts of reasons why you "deserve" things or why they are your "rights". Just because you took some courses, you "deserve" more pay. Just because you are a teacher, you are immune from the laws of supply and demand on your skills. Just because you are a teacher, you should be afforded a lifetime pension (worth millions in present value) financed by the taxpayer. Your union dues go to finance the elections of politicians so that they can ladle out more goodies for you.

And laughably, the same liberals who had their panties in a twist about "civility" are now talking about "blood in the streets" and walking around with pictures of the governor as hitler when someone tries to put a stop to the extortion that is public unions. It's like a comedy routine watching these teachers refuse to teach so that they can come down and "protest" about the lack of "democracy" while their bought and paid for democrat representatives hide out of state-- banana republic style. And if the crowds aren't big enough, you can count on our community organizer in chief to get more people bussed in from out of state.

I know you probably are not capable of cogent debate, so I'm sure I'll get some more "glenn beck talking points" retort from you, but reread your own original article. Nothing but whining.
Let me ask you a few questions Noah---

Does the taxpayer have "rights"? Do the kids of the next generation upon who the unfunded liabilities of your retirement will fall have "rights"? Do parents have "rights" if they don't like your teaching capabilities?
AOH = And I guess it's the typical conservative response to any debate to start name calling. That's the easier path than real debate. You speak in total idealism with absolutely NO real facts. And that's exactly the conservative tactic. It's all about balancing the budge...right? Bullshit. It's your nobel experiment, but the pawns are peoples' lives.

You speak in total generalities without knowing a thing about me or my lifestyle. But that doesn't matter to you. That kind of detail would only get in the way of your oversimplification of everything.

Do the taxpayers have rights? Of course. I'm also a taxpayer, as are all public employees. You really think all public employees are whiny, greedy, and entitled? Their all living it up on taxpayer money. Do I think we DESERVE job security and a right to have some say in our working conditions and curriculum? You're damn right I do. I believe ALL workers, union or not, deserve that right. I guess that's what separate me from you. You'd rather keep putting up with the crap (if you do, I don't know anything about your finances), blaming others for demanding their rights for their hard work at often thankless jobs. That's why we're called civil servants. Our unions guarantee us a steady wage, though lower than what we'd get in the private sector for the same training. I chose teaching, because I love it. I don't need much and have learned to live off little with my family.

Those goodies I get for my union dues, that same union you think is so uncompromising, has gotten me a pay freeze the last three years and a doubling of my health deductible for LESS coverage. Yeah...we're living it up. And yet we've all said we're willing to pay more, but we deserve a say in our profession. Why should we leave the management of classes to those who don't teach or have any training?

And it's just like a conservative to wave the flag and talk about patriotism like they own it and then try to take away bargaining with workers because it's inconvenient. You'd probably tell people we're in the greatest country of the world because, let me guess, of our "freedom". And then when teachers, or anyone else you disagree with, exercise those rights, you cry fowl and start the name calling. How dare those public workers come to the capitol to be heard by a Gov. who refuses to listen or talk to anyone. They have their vote in the middle of the day, so that no one could voice any dissent and then blame people when they take off work...what a surprise.

Conservatives love to throw around the accusation that "liberals" are whiners. Do you even watch conservative news or listen to the radio. I've never heard so much bitching and victimhood. Give me a break. Just add teachers to your list of those to blame, cause God forbid you take a real look at your own ideologies.

I stand by what I said before. Read my comments and you'll see I try to see both sides. I've admitted things I don't like about the teachers union and about teachers going on strike. I don't see any desire by you to evaluate your assumptions or to find some middle ground. Prove me wrong. Tell me something good about unions. Tell me something good about the "liberal" ideology. Tell me something bad about "conservative" strategies and beliefs.

Can you?

You are mistaken. The WI website clearly says that PDPs are an option for all teachers. They are required for the newer teachers.
Noah -

First off, let me state right up front that I consider myself a fiscal conservative. That being said, I hold no grudges personally against any teacher. My beef is with the teacher unions (actually all public unions), and I agree with Scott Walker that collective bargaining must be limited to wages only from now on. When collective bargaining is applied to guaranteed benefit packages, economic downturns such as the one we currently find ourselves in can become a boat anchor around our collective necks with absolutely no way out. I appreciate that you've taken the time to post your thoughts and feelings with the current situation, and I have read it and considered it carefully, but I simply must disagree.

I will refrain from the useless vitriol of "whining teachers," "cushy jobs," and the like. It serves no purpose and is not necessary when discussing the facts. My only real gripe is with the far-too-common muttering of the phrase "Sure, there might be a bad teacher here or there, but otherwise most of them are outstanding." If teachers represent a cross-section of the American public, and I don't think anyone would agree that they do, then there simply MUST be bad teachers. If there are bad doctors, bad lawyers, bad managers, bad engineers, bad fast food employees, etc., then there must be a corresponding percentage of bad teachers, unless all teachers are immaculately conceived. Let's just accept that statistically it must be true, and it is no attack on teachers in general or teaching as a profession - but there ARE bad teachers. I am sure most of the readers of this blog would readily agree that there are bad CEOs, but why are we all so terrified to admit that there are, plain and simple, underperforming teachers? There are. But we can discuss the pitfalls of tenure and seniority-based evaluation systems another time...

The common rebuttal from unions is that they agree to lower wages now for better benefits now and later. Correct that - better GUARANTEED benefits now and later. And the benefits packages collected by unionized public employees can be on roughly the same level as their annual salaries, leading to total compensation that is double the value of what is reported as wages on their W-2 forms.

If I read your blog correctly, I believe that you and you wife are both Wisconsin teachers. According to data released by the financial planning manager of Milwaukee public schools (link: the average salary of a public school teacher in Milwaukee is $56,500. When the benefit packages are added in, the average annual total compensation package for an MPS teacher is $100,005. Now I know it is not fair to say that teachers work only 75% of the year, but let's face it, the holiday season and summer represent significant downtime for teachers. What is a fair estimate then? I would assume 10 out 12 months worked probably covers in-service days and summer prep (but correct me if I am wrong). So when translated to a full-year's salary, MPS teachers earn on average $67,800 in wages and $120,006 in total compensation with benefits. Wow! That's not bad...

But hey, I believe that in a free market capitalistic society, every individual is free to maximize their earnings to the extent that their skills, education, and hard work will allow. Of course, as you graciously admitted in your blog, unions regularly protect underperforming members. Instead, those people reap the benefits that they have NOT earned because we are no longer talking about free markets when underperforming members cannot be fired due to union contracts and tenure. You cannot claim that the (unsustainably) generous benefit packages simply make up for your lower wages when public school teachers are clearly not faced with the same possibility of termination as a private sector employee. It is an apples to oranges comparison. Public teacher job security is also a benefit, and that must be considered when looking at your total compensation package.

Of course, the state taxpayer's obligation to teachers does not end when they retire. In fact, it is just beginning. Union contracts (teachers or otherwise) routinely include a retirement age of 55. Assuming the standard American life expectancy of nearly 80 years for both you and your wife, the taxpayers will be expected to fully pay your pensions for the next 25 years after you retire. I am guessing that most Wisconisn teachers probably approach a salary of $85-90k by the time they reach their final years of teaching, meaning their pensions will be on roughly the same order. If we assume an $85k per year pension for both you and your wife, that is a $170k taxpayer obligation per year for the next 25 years, which is $4.25 million unadjusted, or approximately $3.05 million in today's dollars. Wow! And that is just the public cost of your pensions. I don't even have the numbers to calculate how much your retirement medical plans cost the taxpayers, especially since it is common that you will use more medical services as you age.

It does not take long, once these figures are multipled across the number of teachers currently in public unions in Wisconsin (and every state), and then again for all of the other public employees in other public unions, to see that the population simply can no longer afford to pay for guaranteed BENEFIT programs for public workers, especially for retirement and healthcare. Instead, the model must be evolved to focus on guaranteed CONTRIBUTION programs, such as 401(k) programs and Roth IRAs. The state, using taxpayer funds, will contribute fixed amounts each year to your retirements plans - after that, it should be up to you to take care of your golden years as most Americans do today.

With an ever-increasing number of employees working for government, and an ever-increasing number of them forming unions, and almost all of those unions applying collective bargaining techniques for guaranteed BENEFIT programs, and a growing number of those employees retiring now (as the Baby Boomers reach that age), and more of those retirees living longer thanks to advances in healthcare and medicine, public union pension and medical programs are flat out unsustainable in the modern world. There is no argument about it. Unions can no longer be allowed to collectively bargain for guaranteed benefit programs from the state or federal government.

I don't think of public union employees as bad people, or as enemies or leeches, because that is not true. But it is nothing short of disingenuous to look at the numbers I have laid out above and feel that there is absolutely nothing wrong with passing those steep financial obligations on to your neighbors and their children and even your own children. America is a nation that was gloriously built on fierce self-reliance, on people taking care of themselves and preparing themselves to weather the story - not retiring and enjoying their golden years funded by the tax dollars of their neighbors and the next generations. I think most people would agree that we owe our public workers competitive wages, subsidized (but not free) healthcare, and fixed contributions to their retirement savings. Americans do not owe public employees a fully-funded multi-decade pension and access to no-pay (or low-pay) medical services for the remainder of their natural lives, nor do we owe them the privelege of artificially high job security.

Finally, public employee unions are the only unions with the power to fund the campaigns of politicians sympathetic to their demands, i.e., unions through the forced collection of member dues can provide considerable financial backing to preferred candidates in an attempt to elect their own bosses. If you cannot see the inherent and unacceptable flaw in such a system, then I don't know what to tell you. The real problem, of course, is that those elected officials aren't paying the public union employees out of their own pockets - they're paying them out of the taxpayers' pockets. So why not offer those public unions the generous retirement and medical plans that will ensure future campaign elections? This is why even Franklin Roosevelt, the perpetrator of the New Deal, was vehemently opposed to collective bargaining among public employees.

So in closing I will respectfully disagree with your position that teacher unions are necessary and that teachers are undercompensated. I feel that we need a better system, and in my opinion it begins with the termination of collective bargaining for guaranteed benefit packages for public employees.


P.S. Every state senator who abandons his/her seat to go into hiding to avoid the democratic process is a traitor to his/her constituents and should be tried and convicted of sedition against the state, if not treason. They were elected to represent their districts in the senate - they were not elected to run and hide as if we were some South American dictatorship running from a coup. Disgraceful!
As a 26 year old teacher in Texas, I must say the current state of the public education system is daunting to even think about. I find it very difficult to explain to people what teachers do, our roles, how we're paid and how we're blamed. First thing people want to say is that it's the teacher's fault when a student fails. Even the bureaucratic administration wants to punish teachers for failing students. In Texas the bulging population of non-English speaking illegal immigrants is wearing down on our school system. Students can be in a Spanish speaking only class up until almost Middle school, sometimes without inclusion. How do we teach students that we can't even communicate with? Yet their TAK scores are totaled into the rest of the population? All parents need to know that 90% of their child's academic learning is at home. I can spend 7 hours a day teaching your son to read, but if you never pick up a book at home and read with him, then it's not my fault...

America where are our priorities. The basic foundation of one's, and we're closing down schools and firing teachers. How is the productive?
DFMF = First of all, I truly appreciate your civil discourse and willing to explain your side. I conced many of your points. I agree that with the costs of healthcare, right now, the current system is unsistainable. That's precisely why the union and teachers have said they understand this and want to pay more. I also, as you probably read, agree that bad teachers are also protected in union. However, and I know this is a philosophical difference between us, I feel that without union protection or seniority we will lose far more good, qualified teachers. I don't think our school system can afford that. In simpler words, I allow for some bad teachers with union protection, because the opposite would be worse.

That being said, however, I do agree that unions must revamp themselves. That's why they have taken the lead in WI to institute merit pay for teachers. We don't know how that will be measured yet (but it better be by more than standardized testing). There are no short cuts to teaching...and there are no short cuts to measuring good teachers.

I also appreciate your kind words about what teachers do. I just want to go on record, once again, though and remind people that this is not just about teachers. What about all those public and state employees that don't get the benefit package that teachers get and still get paid far less than they should. But as teachers go, I do want to clarify a couple of your points. You can't measure my pay by Milwaukee averages, since I'm on the opposite side of the state. And also, I've never known a teacher to retire at 55. Otherwise, I get your point about the solvency of the system as it stands.

However, we don't have to destroy unions to fix them. That would be saying that they do NO GOOD. I don't think you would say that. If we can't pay our heating bill, we don't tear down our walls for fire wood. There are other ways. For instance, no one will answer my question...if this is just about the budget, why not just cut our union's right to bargain for benefits? Why does this bill also take away our right to bargain for working conditions, safety, curriculum for students, etc...

Finally, from my perspective, the gov. and many in the public want the best of both worlds when it comes to public unions. On the one hand, he wants to treat us like private workers (even though we're paid by taxes and don't make profit for our communities) so he's taking away our right to unionize. But then he wants to tie our wages to inflation FOREVER. That's not treating us like private workers. Two years ago, our rate of inflation was -1.7%. He can't have it both ways, either treat us like public workers or private workers, but he seems to be tying us into the disadvantages of both.

Can't there be a place in the middle? Can't two people like you and I from two different perspectives find a place of agreement without playing the political game of chess and winners and losers?

I think we can if we listen, evaluate our own assumptions, and find some compromise.
DFMF = Sorry about all those mispellings. I was in a hurry, because the last time my computer kicked me off.
Tish = I hear you. That's one of the most common complaints by teachers, which seems in these times has little sympathy. People always think we're finding excuses for our failures. Again, I don't disagree that there are "bad" teachers. However, anyone who has ever done it, regardless of their politics, has the same complaint. We are easy targets. I'm told to teach my students to be critical thinkers, and I'm supposed to teach history from multiple perspectives (which it should be to be valid). Then, when my student questions a parent's stereotype of illogical belief, I'm accused of brainwashing and a liberal agenda.

I had a student who completely cut and paste a research paper. I had warned the students that this was plagiarism. When he received a zero on the project, I was called into an emergency meeting with the student, his mother, and my administrator. The parent accused me of being too demanding and, despite anything I said and over my objection, I was told to give the student a second try at the project. I'm sure you have many similar stories...every teacher does.

That's exactly why we get certain protections that other jobs don't need. Just because I'm paid by taxpayers doesn't take away my training and the professionalism of my job. But for some reason, every angry or political parent thinks they can play "Arm Chair Quarterback" with how I should teach.

I wish more people understood this.
Perdidochus = We were talking in our union meeting, and they addressed what you've brought up. That if they take away our lane changes for taking more college credits, that we'll all stop taking classes and do the PDPs.

This brings up another question, though I'm not sure your point in bringing them up. Do you think this would be good for education? I've never been bothered by taking the classes. Not only was I rewarded for the additional training, but I also kept challenging myself and updating myself in my subject area.

I think that's a good thing. I wouldn't want that to change. This would be yet another consequence to this bill in WI that I'm not sure people understand. We definately need to make budget decisions, but does anyone really favor balancing the budget on the back of our schools and the kids' education? There are other ways.
Noah- I have a proposal, which I would appreciate your thoughtful response to. It preserves the ability not only for current but future teachers to collectively bargain, eliminates the friction between teachers and taxpayers, and allows good teachers to get everything they deserve. The system's fairness is inherent, it's undeniably better for children (a major part of the current protests as I understand it, is doing "what's best for the children"), and I believe that taxpayers would be behind it.

We convert to a complete voucher based system. Each parent gets a voucher (say equal to the wisconsin average of $12,000 per student, but I would even be willing to put in another $1,000). Parents are free to use those vouchers to have their children educated at government run schools (many of which are quite good), or any private school of their choosing.

The only stipulation for government run schools is that there are no bailouts from the taxpayer. Just like a private school, the government schools would need to attract students, attract talent and balance their books. I propose that these schools actually be run by a representative of the teachers' union which would ensure that the negotiations would be fair. They could provide all of the benefits to the teachers that they could afford (just like private schools). They could promise all kinds of free medical and glorious pensions. The only stipulation is that they would have to balance their own books. No taxpayer bailouts for their promises.

This way there is no angry taxpayer, no evil capitalists, teachers would be free to negotiate collectively or individually, and likely kids and parents would be happier. Good teachers would be sought after and recruited (and well paid) and bad teachers would naturally be flushed from the system, which we agree we all want.

What do you think Noah?
Before you respond, I'm going to up my proposal. An extra thousand if the kid goes to a government school.

Union leader runs the books.

You can't lose with this one Noah!
Rated! Thanks for posting this great article. I'm ex History teacher myself. Still belong to the union in California (my pic is from teaching days). I taught in some of the most difficult places in the State, poorest communities etc. My biggest problem was mostly with the administrators whose first instinct is to scapegoat teachers and not provide you with the support you need.

If it wasn't for the union, the already arbitrary and capricious way in which admin. deals with us would be that much worse. I dare any of these haters out there to step into our shoes and even with a few graduate degrees be treated like dirt by kids and adults in toxic environments day in and day out and yet keep showing up with a smile on your face and teach your lessons while prison guards with half the education make twice as much.
Ron = Your sentiments are so common. And the funny thing is, they're the kinds of comments you hear from these same people when times are good. But when times are tough...look out.

However, those same prison guards are now in the same boat, being de-unionized and degraded as "parasytes" on the taxpayers. I only hope that our gov. picked too many battle fronts, and therefore will gain too many enemies to win the next election.

So sorry that your fine profession is being maligned. Been an EA, so I can relate.

Despite the MSM blackout on the news, the nation is paying attention. (MSN pundit was reporting on a poll which showed overwhelming support for the workers and he made the observation that the "surprise" was that people were paying attention to it. I suppose he was surprised because MSNBC nor any MSM has given it the attention it deserves.)

OSteph = I'm not as sorry that my profession has been maligned as I am that I didn't take the time to defend it. I've learned my lesson. What's so nice about this WI movement is that I find myself defending the profession of other public/state employees, and they are coming forward to defend me. IN SOLIDARITY. I never understood that until now. I hope I don't forget it.
Thank you for such a well-thought-out and logical article. I like how you try to give both sides their due, admitting there are enough good and bad things to go around.

However, I think it's not always the "union" protecting low performing teachers - there are tools for schools to use (to use a Walker-ism) for getting rid of teachers with tenure. Problem is, many administrators just don't use them - maybe it's too much paperwork or something, I don't know. But bad teachers are not impossible to get rid of, there are just procedures to be followed. I've seen a few go, with good reason, and the union didn't get involved at all, because the correct steps were followed.

The other thing I'd like to bring up, when being compared to the private industry, is that when laid off, teachers are so specially-trained, that the only other places they'd be hired are other broke school districts. Laid off accountants, welders, etc., have other for-profit places they can look for jobs and with luck and the right skills, be hired. Kindergarten teachers have been trained to teach little kids and those skills aren't exactly profitable to private companies, so job prospects for the experienced (older) teachers facing lay offs are slim. Where will art and music teachers find new jobs, besides other schools (who won't be hiring)? Since they don't make a profit for their employers, salaries will be easily cut and they'll be replaced by younger, cheaper employees when the roof needs fixing, the buses need repairs, needed asbestos removal and other expensive repairs to the aging buildings that there is no other money supply for.
Public service is a different animal, and can't easily be compared to the private sector.

It saddens me to hear people attack teachers, and the profession they've chosen. They just don't understand. What salary would be fair to them, for someone who has gone to college, gotten a master's degree, and worked hard at their profession? What other profession is so targeted w/negative perceptions - lawyers (who make more money than teachers), drug companies (tons of money there)?? Why is it so easy to attack your kid's teachers?
bsheer = Thank you so much for your comments. And you're right...there are ways to fire bad teachers, and many administrators simply don't put in the time to do so. You also point out some extremely important differences between public and private professions, and there are many more. The problem is, in WI, we're dealing with a gov. that wants it both ways. He wants to take away our union rights (to treat us like a private sector job) and then tie our wages to the rate of inflation (to continue to treat us like public employees).

Your point about us being vilified is a good one. I have discovered in this battle that teachers, in particular, have felt safe for too long from the illogical and unfair attacks on us. We didn't feel like we had to defend ourselves and our peers. That's over now. I now realize that it benefits no one to keep quiet and allow them to frame the argument. Our silence only seems to embolden them. This will in fact be our long battle. The bill in WI is our immediate fight, but getting back our reputations is the long, and most important, one.
It would be nice to make 70,000 a year as a private sector employee! That pay, however, is not available to most people. Please do not characterize the private sector workforce as a counterpoint. Refuting the concept of running school systems like a business by pointing to poor parenting and personal investment in your career (also required by private sector employees - one can easily pay 400 dollars a month for their degree, grad school, then there's the cost for classes and trade publications to stay current in the industry.) The problem is the inability for education to define efficiency, with a return in highly educated kids. I abhor the idea of losing collective bargaining, but understand the need to ensure our schools are the most effective for the tax dollar. For that matter, I'd like the summers off as well.

Most private workers don't make $70,000...that's true. However, most that have my education level and training do. One of the biggest false comparisons I've seen in this debate comes when the average teacher salary is weighed against the average private worker. That comparison would only be valid if compared with every private sector employee with at least a bachelor degree. One can't lump every fast food job in with the average income and call that a fair comparison.

Oh...and I love that old "I'd love my summers off" argument. When times are good, no one envies the teacher's job, but when times are bad it's look at their benefits and summers off. Let me put it this way, I'd compare my hours worked for the year with ANYONE. Then, let's have that same talk.

At least we agree on two things...we both abhor collective bargaining being taken away AND we both agree that public schools can be more efficient. Of course, I think the same thing about the military, but I don't see anyone clamouring for dismantling or privatizing it.

We talked about this very topic last nite; I'm a union official for a federal union.

Snippy's comment about "[o]lder, more experienced teachers with lots of education are being RIF'ed and replaced with fresh-out-of-college preservice teachers, who are cheaper [and younger]" actually, to me, smacks of age discrimination.

It makes sense to me: get rid of the old fossils who want too damn much $$--and deny them healthcare b/c maybe then they'll die off and we can save even more $$.

I can't help but wonder if that angle mightn't worth pursuing as a class-action complaint. Having represented such cases (and been through it myself), discrimination complaints are tough b/c the burden of proof is on the complainant, and they're tough to win. But winning is relative, and there are many, many ways to win. I always told anyone I ever represented that, no matter the outcome, SOMEthing will change for them--and it did.

Just sayin...