Educators and Walker Collaborate Toward his Recall

5 Dec. 2011
Dear Scott Walker,

I'm sorry you chose to ignore my last letter. There's really no other way to interpret that than as an endorsement of the harassment, actual violence and threats of violence against recall workers.  Your handlers must be so proud. You really don't give an inch, do you?  It really makes me sick that your supporters see this as your strength when it is, in fact, your tragic flaw.

But that's not why I'm writing today, having not expected any response beyond your usual refusal to acknowledge dissent.  I'm writing about your latest radio address, on the topic of teacher merit pay and your grand "collaborations" with education experts.

I try, as a lover of truth and justice, to ignore your weekly propaganda session radio address. I assume you won't take it personally, as someone who makes a living ignoring people who are speaking directly to him.  But the one you made last Thursday (Dec. 1, 2011) was too hard to ignore, because you were talking about the issue that matters most to me, and the issue about which I most find grounds for your recall, and the issue about which you lie the most: education.  And even though you'd think I'd be used to it by now, I cannot believe you have the nerve to continue your campaign of lies, misrepresentations and misinformation even in the midst of a massive recall effort based at its root on these very manipulations and duplicities. Here's what you said:

As a parent with two sons in public schools, I want them to receive the very best education possible.  As governor, I want this same thing for all of Wisconsin’s children.  Ensuring that our kids receive a great education means making sure that our teachers receive the professional support they need and that parents and educators know how well our students are achieving.
That’s why we joined with the State Superintendent, school boards, school administrators, and the teachers unions to develop a better system to evaluate teachers.  It’s the kind of constructive collaboration that doesn’t always make it to the front page of your local paper but it is important work that I am proud to support.

First of all, we all know your office was one of many players in this business so stop trying (as usual) to take credit for other people's work. It's no secret that you don't think public sector jobs are "real jobs" because they don't earn people "real money" and that you think the business model is the only model for running anything.   The jackassery of applying this perspective to our heretofore excellent education system has been the subject of debate and discussion all year, and Uppity Wisconsin recently revealed how your attempt to revive former Governor Doyle's merit pay system and pass it off as your own is yet another embarrassing example of your customary hypocrisy.  I hate to always have to be the one to remind you of this, but (and I'm going to put this in caps so you know that I'm shouting at you) OUR SCHOOLS ARE NOT YOUR PERSONAL "BUSINESS" TO RUN and you are not, in fact, the CEO of anything, least not the State of Wisconsin, which is also not a business at all. I really wish, sometimes, that you'd finished college so that you could have learned more about things like business and the real world and the value of education and how to use dictionaries. It's so frustrating to always have to explain things to you.  But I digress. You continued:
We will move beyond traditional merit pay models that simply hand out bonuses for good standardized test scores.  Instead, it has the potential to better serve students by rewarding teachers who continually demonstrate excellence on a number of fair measures while working to support struggling teachers.  I believe teachers who continually excel should be given an opportunity to earn more pay while moving up a teacher career ladder that allows for peer mentoring and other leadership roles without having to leave the classroom entirely.
I don't think you could have said anything that better illustrates your complete lack of understanding of how education works and why we, as a civil society, are bound to value teachers based on the unquantifiable virtue of their profession rather than the "merit" of their "value" in pay than your use of the absurdly and disgustingly contemptuous and condescending expression "moving up a teacher career ladder."   What is wrong with you? Seriously.  Do you really think teachers care so little about themselves or their work that their only aspiration is to "advance" along the edu-corporate "ladder"? Your disrespect for education could not be more evident when you use expressions like this. Who writes your speeches anyway?  But I'm digressing again.
I’m pleased that the system we helped develop earned the praise of both the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin. Mary Bell, the president of WEAC, said that the educator evaluation system will improve teaching and student learning. It was also praised by School District Administrators and the School Boards Association.
While your speech is deliberately unclear in its vague description of the details of the merit pay plan, and an obvious attempt to rebrand forced collaboration as actual consensus (where, again, you seem to be just trying to take credit for other people's ideas - like you did when school districts were forced to deal with your budget cuts), the implication that these organizations either support or praise your education policy is just going too far for me to bear.  And Mary Bell is hardly gushing your praises. What she said was "Through consensus building, Wisconsin will be using an educator evaluation system that will improve teaching and student learning," which cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be reconstrued as praise for your anti-education agenda.

So while these groups were, of course, obligated to "collaborate" with you on this issue, that hardly translates to evidence that you have the slightest idea what "consensus building" even means.  Here's what we do know:  We know that the "School District Accountability Design Team" you've organized is working in direct opposition to the efforts of WEAC and the DPI to favor private and charter schools over the interest of the majority of Wisconsin children in public schools.  We know that the unions don't support you, especially the part about imposing a two-year wage freeze on all state workers on top of all the cuts to their take-home pay (despite the fact that they haven't had a raise since 2009). And we know that teachers (obviously) don't support you (as most painfully evidenced by the horrific staging of the only pseudo-experts you could dredge up to pretend to support you in the pre-campaign ads you've been airing constantly). We know that State Superintendent Tony Evers doesn't support you. We know that the Association of School District Administrators doesn't support you.  And we know that WEAC doesn't support you.  In fact, the first thing you see when you click on the WEAC webpage is a giant picture of this:

When you click on it, it links to a members-only page for all things recall.  Hardly the "praise" you claim WEAC President Mary Bell is dishing your way, is it?

I don't entertain any hopes that any of this will stop your weekly propaganda sessions, but I do hope that this will remind you that your tired lies and doublespeak are not fooling everyone.  Whatever this group decides about refashioning the way teachers are recognized for their achievements, your plan to control the merit pay for public workers has already been discounted for what it is: more of the nepotism and cronyism we've come to expect and despise:
"Under the plan, Walker appointees at the Department of Administration will have the ability to hand-pick which state workers are rewarded with pay increases without any evaluation system," said Scott Spector, a spokesman for AFT-Wisconsin, which represents about 17,000 public workers. "There is no accountability and no transparency. It would appear that the only merit used to judge state workers is their loyalty to the governor." 
And now, at last, I may see a method to your madness: there may be an ounce of fiscal responsibility in you yet!  Your masterplan seems to be to remind all state workers - especially teachers - why they should never, ever demonstrate any loyalty to you, so that you, in turn, will never have to "reward" them with "merit pay." Pretty sneaky. And vile. And unconscionable.  But it does help explain why you try so hard to give teachers the impression you have no respect for them.  And the sum total of all this points toward one conclusion: the only thing all of these groups seem to be collaborating with you on is the effort to see you recalled.

Looking forward, as always, to seeing you recalled, as are all the teachers, students, and administrators in Wisconsin. Or at least all the ones you don't pay to pretend to support you.

Heather DuBois Bourenane
Taxpayer and recall enthusiast

What Superintendent Tony Evers, educators, students, parents and WASDA administrators really have to say about the impact of your budget, despite the lying spin you immediately tried to pass off, which actually just reveals the damage you've done to our schools.

Update 12/7/2011.  Walker signed the Senate Bill 95 into law today - a bill that allows test scores to be one reason you can fire a teacher. And here's what Mary Bell really had to say about it:
“This is just another item to add to the growing list of attacks on educators and public education that Governor Walker and his allies have relentlessly pursued.”
WEAC, and Mary Bell, support the Framework for Educator Effectiveness initiative. But there's not much question here about whether or not they support Walker.

Thursday again today. Wonder what tonight's propaganda session has in store, and if I can bring myself to listen to it.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your e-mail message. I welcome you expressing your views and concerns to me, and I commend you for participating in your state government. I take into account the views of all of the citizens of Wisconsin, and I will keep your specific comments in mind during my service as your Governor.

    If you would like more information about my positions on issues, or would like to read my public statements on issues, I encourage you to explore my website: I like to respond individually to every letter and telephone call I receive; however, I cannot respond to each e-mail individually due to the volume. If your request is time sensitive, please call my office at (608) 266-1212. You may also write to me via conventional mail at Governor Scott Walker: PO Box 7863, Madison, WI 53707.

    As noted on our website, please know that any communications may be subject to release under Wisconsin's public records law and that our policy is generally to release communications sent to this email address.

    Once again, thank you for contacting me. Please feel free to contact me again if I can ever be of assistance to you.


    Scott Walker