Act 10 Success Diminishes Recall Effort

An accurate assessment of the recall picture.

As communities continue to provide Act 10 success stories, the efforts of recall organizers against Governor Walker become more difficult. And with tax bills arriving soon, the positive results for Wisconsin taxpayers will make those recall efforts even more ominous.

Governor Walker’s reforms have produced some stunning results, turning a budget around that was structurally unsound. School districts and communities throughout the state are in much better financial shape due to the moves undertaken by the Walker administration. The following results were tabulated by the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, based on responses from over 83% of all school districts:

  • New teacher hires outnumber layoffs by 1213 positions
  • 75% of districts maintained or decreased class sizes for K-3
  • 67% of districts maintained or decreased class sizes for 4-6
  • 92% of districts kept or expanded sports programs
  • 89% of districts kept or expanded technology support staff
  • 85% or more kept or increased their guidance, social work, and psychology staff
  • 90% of districts kept or expanded gifted and talented staff
  • 96% of districts kept or expanded early childhood staff
  • 96% of districts kept or expanded AP sections and courses
  • 82% of districts kept or expanded vocational/technical programs
  • 82% of districts kept or expanded art programs
  • 84% of districts kept or expanded music programs
  • 87% of districts kept or expanded foreign language programs

Even more telling though were the results from three districts from Southern Wisconsin that didn’t implement the reform tools.

The most telling results of the WASDA survey came from responses by the Milwaukee, Kenosha and Janesville districts. Those districts accounted for 68% of all teacher layoffs in the state, yet only represent 12.8% of Wisconsin students. These three districts did not adopt the reforms put in place by Governor Walker and Act 10, and were not able to utilize the tools offered to control costs.

So when you see the ads put out by recall organizers, liberal 3rd party groups and public sector unions keep in mind their “information” to support their claims comes from districts that didn’t utilize the tools offered via Act 10.

As pointed out, the whole picture isn’t presented:

If they were honest, they would discuss how 51% of districts reduced extracurricular programs in 2004 (according to WEAC), before Act 10 tools were available. Or the fact that over the past five years, the property tax levy has increased by an average of $181 million per year. Not so this year, as the K-12 school tax levy will actually decrease by $47 million.

Be sure to point out these successes when you encounter those pushing to recall Governor Scott Walker.  In any discussion about the direction of Wisconsin point out not only how Act 10 has been a success, point out as well the results being seen where the tools offered weren’t implemented.

 

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$6 million spent

Shocking.

Big Labor has now sent more than six million dollars to finance recall efforts in Wisconsin according to a review of campaign finance reports conducted by the MacIver News Service. The figures only account for disbursements reported to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board; these organizations do not have to report expenditures made for efforts to communicate with their own membership.

The contributions can come in the form of monetary contributions like wire transfers and checks or in-kind contributions. Wisconsin statutes define “in-kind” contributions as a disbursement by a contributor to procure a thing of value or service for the benefit of a registrant who authorized the disbursement.

All told, Big Labor has spent more than $6,419,000 in the recall efforts this year, having delivered $2.2 million to the state since July 1.

The AFL-CIO sent $3,884,170 to the “We are Wisconsin” Super PAC in six monetary disbursements since May, the last one being for $778,431 on July 5.

As previously reported by MNS, The deceptively-named “We are Wisconsin” effort has a decidedly non-Wisconsin infrastructure, with well in excess of 90% of its funds and many of its key operatives coming from out of state.

AFSCME has set up a special account for the Wisconsin recalls and from that delivered $1,855,617 in monetary and in-kind contributions to “We are Wisconsin” in the last eight weeks. On July 7 alone, AFSCME sent an $800,000 monetary contribution to that Super PAC.

So much for the claim of grassroots by the liberals and Democrats.

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Local Teachers’ Union Forces Out President

The President of the West De Pere Education Association resigned this week in the face of a “no confidence” vote.  In forcing this one has to wonder if it was the Executive Committee of the Association acting alone or on behalf of the majority of teachers in the district.  Here’s a copy of the letter he sent to union members.

March 15, 2011

Dear Fellow WDPEA Members,

I wanted to write to each of you personally and as soon as possible to let you know that I am no longer the President of the WDPEA. I also wanted you to explain how this came to be.

Late in the school day yesterday, I was approached by a member of the executive committee to tell me that the WDPEA Executive Committee was exploring a move toward a vote of “No Confidence” in my ability to lead our association as President. With the parliamentary procedures set in place by association bylaws I proffered my resignation. I know that there are some teachers in our district that are highly emotional, irrational, and full of anger about all that is happening in our state regarding the Budget Repair Bill. I have worked hard to communicate everything that all of you have needed to know in order to decide for yourselves where you stand, to express yourselves if you wished to, and to know where to seek out more information. When I agreed to be your Union President, it was because I felt strongly about taking care of all of our teachers and being a professional, wise, and respected voice in negotiating, especially for the young teachers. In trying to remain as professional and objective as possible, I did not agree to or endorse local demonstrations or marching on the Capitol.

Those who know me well understand the principles I have stood for my entire life. I have dedicated my life (and risked it, many times) to secure the freedoms of the citizens of this country and I strongly believe in the democratic process. It is not my way to spout hateful rhetoric or make a foolish scene at our state capitol. If that is what you elected me for, you were mistaken. I do not wholeheartedly agree with the manner in which the legislative actions in Madison were choreographed and as a result I have written professional letters to our Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Representatives to let them know of my concerns.

I have followed the events in Madison very closely and learned a great deal about WEAC when I discovered that two days into this, they capitulated on the notion of making us pay 12% for our benefits and 5.8% of our pensions without trying to negotiate lower percentages for us. WEAC stated that all they wanted was to retain “collective bargaining rights”. Educate yourselves about whose best interests are truly being served by continuing the current process of “collective bargaining.” WEAC wants to continue to make it mandatory that we pay our union dues – this has always been about the union’s money, not teacher’s “rights”. In order to negotiate salaries and benefits, we are going to be successful only if we are professional, committed to our profession, and reasonable about the conditions of our employment. Aside from those that are trying to sway you in an emotional and political direction, we are employed by the citizens of West DePere School District. We are paid to provide an excellent education to their children, and these citizens are hurting from the beleaguered economy, perhaps even more so than we have been until now. We need to keep this in mind, as we proceed.

I arranged to have the meeting on Monday after school with our superintendent, John Zegers, to try to make sure we at West DePere were able to achieve the best outcome for ourselves in the upcoming contract negotiations. We are not in the same financial situation as some of these other schools, and Mr. Zegers has been and continues to be very, very open about wanting to work with us. He has recognized over and over that we have excellent teachers in our district, and has no plans for sweeping changes in personnel. In contrast, the Green Bay and East DePere teachers gave up pay increases and other stipulations and made the decision to lose these points in order to preserve their mandate to the union which includes dues for the next two years. They did not take the time to analyze their situation and their options thoroughly. As a group of individuals who daily encourage our students to make sound decisions based on fact and reason, I urge you to proceed rationally. (How do you say no contract is a better than a bad contract—tactfully??)

As of today, Brenda May is your Union President. She is an intelligent person with great common sense, and will do a fine job for you if you let her. We have the ability to come through this much better than other teachers in our area if we retain our open minds (“Don’t leave your mind so open that your brain falls out”—William F. Bennett) and think for ourselves.

Thank you to those of you who have maintained a cool head, common sense, and professional composure throughout these past weeks.

Sincerely,

Stu Betts

Forced out for not wanting to take the “radical” approach of demonstrations and protests?  While I disagree with Mr. Betts about how the budget repair bill was passed and quite possibly with what was included in it, I applaud him for wanting to take the “professional” approach in showing his opposition.

It’s very telling though when a “leader” in the teachers’ union points out what WEAC was most concerned about.  It wasn’t about the increase benefits contributions, nope it was about what most supporters of Governor Walker knew.  The collective bargaining privileges and the ability to force collection of union dues from members by having it deducted from paychecks.

In the end Mr. Betts understood what was more important was remembering who teachers are accountable to in the end, the residents of the West De Pere School District.  He also understood the sacrifices residents of the district are making in the current economic situation.  As a graduate of the West De Pere School District I would hope the majority of the teachers in the district feel the same way Mr. Betts does.  But one does have to wonder, considering he was forced to resign because of his approach to and/or position on the recently passed budget repair bill.

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Speaking from behind the lines

Contrary to what WEAC, the mainstream media and others want you to believe there are teachers who support Governor Walker’s bold proposal.  From Facebook:

” Keep fighting hard for people like me that can’t be so vocal. This is actually school reform tied up in a budget bill. It’s like getting Al Capone for tax evasion. Due to the “writing on the wall” many older teachers in my district are considering retiring sooner rather than later. (They’ve been sticking around because “they have nothing else to do.” Their words, not mine.) This has the potential to open up teaching positions that have been locked in by the same people for over three decades. What a breath of fresh air the schools are about to experience if this bill passes. This would be good for the students and good for local school budgets (new teachers are cheap and they’re open to reform ideas!) Plus, my principal actually said that this bill would allow the schools to actually get rid of the bad teachers. (He’s a conservative.) I love this bill. I wish I could do more.”

A great reminder that not all teachers are the “bad guy”.  There are teachers who truly do put the children before their own self-interests.

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