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Joined: 07 Mar 1999
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Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These stories, and Scott's loose grasp of the facts, will come more rapidly as the race heats up:

Lately, the big star in the race for the Republican presidential nomination has been Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin. He gave a rip-roaring speech at a conservative confab in Iowa last month, and it’s been his moment ever since.

Unless the moment ended this week when Walker went to London on an alleged trade mission and refused to say whether he believes in evolution. Or pretty much anything.

“For me, commenting on foreign policy or, in this case, economic policy in a country where you’re a visitor is not the politest of things,” he told a BBC journalist.

Who knows how that will fly with the Republican base? Maybe they’re dying for a president who’ll go on an international trip and confine his remarks to the virtues of Wisconsin cheese.

But about that Iowa speech: It was really a rouser. Basically, Walker talked about the “comprehensive conservative common-sense conservative agenda” he’s imposed on Wisconsin. His common-sense examples included making it easier for people to carry lethal weapons around the state and defunding the main organization that helps low-income Wisconsin women with family planning.

Mainly, though, The Speech was about waging war on public employee unions, particularly the ones for teachers. “In 2010, there was a young woman named Megan Sampson who was honored as the outstanding teacher of the year in my state. And not long after she got that distinction, she was laid off by her school district,” said Walker, lacing into teacher contracts that require layoffs be done by seniority.

All of that came as a distinct surprise to Claudia Felske, a member of the faculty at East Troy High School who actually was named a Wisconsin Teacher of the Year in 2010. In a phone interview, Felske said she still remembers when she got the news at a “surprise pep assembly at my school.”

Actually, Wisconsin names four teachers of the year, none of which has ever been Megan Sampson, who won an award for first-year English teachers given by a nonprofit group. But do not blame any of this on Sampson, poor woman, who was happily working at a new school in 2011 when Walker made her the star victim in an anti-union opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal. At the time, she expressed a strong desire not to be used as a “poster child for this political agenda,” and you would think that after that the governor would leave her alone. Or at least stop saying she was teacher of the year.

When it comes to education, Walker seems prone toward this sort of intellectual hiccup. Just recently, he released a proposed budget that would have changed the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement by eliminating the bits about “the search for truth,” educating people and serving society, in favor of the educational goal of meeting “the state’s work force needs.” When all hell broke loose, Walker blamed that one on a drafting error.

“Is this a pattern?” teacher-of-the-year Felske wondered.

That budget also contains another interesting education idea that Walker has yet to blame on inept typists. He wants to change the way teachers are licensed. Basically, the plan would be to let people with “real-life experience” just take a test to demonstrate that they knew their subject matter. It appears to require no training whatsoever in the actual art of teaching.

“Teaching is more than just knowing stuff,” protested Tony Evers, the state superintendent of public instruction. “It is an extraordinarily complex skill.” You may not be surprised to hear that in Wisconsin, the superintendent of education is not appointed by the governor. Evers was elected on his own, and his office is extremely unhappy about Walker’s new plan.

“We don’t know the origins of this idea. It wasn’t discussed,” said John Johnson, a spokesman for the superintendent. “We’re requiring more rigor of our students, but this certainly seems like a decrease in the rigor we require of our teachers.”

The idea could very well become law, whether the educators like it or not, since the Wisconsin Legislature often makes policy changes as part of the budget. We will have to let Wisconsinites worry about that.

But it gives us a fresh look at the wave of attacks on teachers’ unions around the country. We definitely do not want to protect incompetent or lazy teachers. On the other hand, if you believe that teaching is a skill that it takes years of practice to master, you also do not want to encourage politicians to save money by canning the most expensive and most experienced teachers.

Not a problem for Scott Walker. His view of teaching is apparently that anybody can do it. Just the way anybody can be president. As long as they don’t make you talk about evolution.

Correction: February 19, 2015
Gail Collins’s column on Saturday incorrectly stated that teacher layoffs in Milwaukee in 2010 happened because Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin “cut state aid to education.” The layoffs were made by the city’s school system because of a budget shortfall, before Mr. Walker took office in 2011.
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Location: The eye of the universe, Cen. Cal. coast

PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, you're worried.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know that the facts don't matter to the idealogues. But Wisconsin is now 40th among the states in job creation. Sounds like another wanna-be shrub.

The definitive national jobs report that came out recently confirmed how badly Wisconsin's economy continues to sputter under the stewardship of Gov. Scott Walker.

In 2013, as in every year since Walker became governor, job growth in Wisconsin significantly trailed the national average and Wisconsin ranked just 37th among U.S. states in the rate of employment growth. Taking all three years (so far) of Walker's tenure as a whole, employment in Wisconsin grew at just 59% of the national rate.

What's more, Wisconsin under Walker has posted the slowest job growth rate among the seven neighboring Great Lakes/Midwestern states: about half the growth rate of states such as Michigan, Minnesota and Indiana, and a growth rate lower than even much-maligned Illinois.

"It's working," goes the Walker re-election campaign slogan hyping his economic policies — but work opportunities are growing more slowly in Wisconsin than in any state in the Midwest and less robustly than in three-quarters of all U.S. states. Under Walker, Wisconsin has become a job-creation laggard.
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