A story that ran on Fox 6 News concluded that every school district in the state of Wisconsin - except for Milwaukee Public Schools - has benefited from Governor Walker's Budget Repair Bill:
Well worth watching:
School districts are in better financial shape than ever before. Many that were fearing the loss of 5.5% in revenue per pupil have found that the Walker Budget Repair Bill - which required teachers pay 5.8% towards their own pensions and at least 12.6% for their own health care premiums - has saved districts so much money that NOTHING needs to be cut. Class sizes are not increasing. Jobs are not being lost. Specials - like music and art - will remain. Guess the sky isn't falling and the world isn't coming to an end. Whodathunkit?
Even those school districts that rushed to sign contracts before the budget repair bill became law are seeing positive results from the Walker bill and are in good financial shape.
Of course, there is one exception - the Milwaukee Public Schools system. (Is anyone surprised?) MPS sealed its own fate by negotiating and signing contracts prior to Walker's election. Now MPS Superintendent Gregory Thorton finds his school system in a major financial hole - to the tune of $82 million dollars. In order to help solve this problem, Thorton has gone back to the MPS union and asked them to re-negotiate part of their contract - and have teachers pay the minimum 5.8% towards their own pensions. Sounds reasonable, right? And this little contribution on the part of teachers would have saved 200 teachers jobs that are now on the line in the Milwaukee Public School system.
The union said "no."
Remember a WEAC ad that ran on television not long ago - it stated something like "great schools benefit everyone." Based on the MPS union mentality - allowing teachers to lose their jobs rather than require they pay a very small percentage of their salary towards THEIR OWN pensions - perhaps a more honest slogan for WEAC and the MPS union may be: "Benefits are more important than great schools."
It will be very interesting in the months to come to see how many teachers opt out of paying union dues. After all, if a union is willing to sacrifice the careers of 200 of their own members simply to continue forcing taxpayers to fund 100% of their own pension plans, who would want to belong to an organization like that?
"As professional educators, we understand the needs of our students and their families. We know from experience what it takes to improve achievement. When it comes to quality public schools in our city, we are the experts."
No comment needed on that statement. The irony is priceless.
Our entire state does owe Governor Walker and the Republicans in Madison a big thank-you and round of applause for doing the right thing! Improving the state's fiscal outlook AND maintaining the quality of the public school systems - all except for one - that were able to utilize the tools included in the Budget Repair Bill.