Wednesday Reads: Bully Teachers? No, Bully Gov. Walker…

Good Wednesday Morning.

Let’s start this morning’s post off with a bang…Or should I say long skirts and tea bags?

Longer Skirts and No Coffeemakers: How Gov. Scott Walker Wants WI School Boards to Save Money | Crooks and Liars

Instead of union contracts, Wisconsin teachers now have to abide by local handbooks suggested by Gov. Scott Walker. What does refusing to allow workers to help a sick colleague or longer skirts have to do with saving money? And just listen to the nasty wingnuts in the audience at the New Berlin school board meeting. Via the Blue Cheddar blog:

The “tools” Walker has handed to local governments are supposedly meant to help cut costs. However the changes to the New Berlin school workplace approved August 29 don’t look like mere cost-savings to me. New Berlin Education Association President Diane Lazewski agrees in MJS: “I would be surprised to see any other handbook as punitive as ours,” I should note that all details aren’t available until 9/8 and changes occur 10/1 according to a document from the blog Teachers Against Walker

Update: This 51 page Draft of School District of New Berlin Employee Handbook – Parts A and B states that it goes into effect 9/1/11

A few of the changes:

A ‘sick bank’ which allows teachers to donate sickleave to seriously ill colleagues will be eliminated.
–No set pay for overtime; only stipends
–Elementary teachers work an added 205 hours without added pay.
–Secondary teachers work an added 95 hours without added pay.
and there are odd restrictions such as
–Dress Code: Skirts below knee, no sweatshirts, no jeans, no large logos, no open shirts, etc. and
–The loss of all microwaves, refrigerators, and coffeemakers.

I called a young teacher, E., from Racine just before the meeting. E. said New Berlin’s handbook is the worst of a new crop of handbooks he’s seen. Handbooks now serve in lieu of contracts for public school employees where contracts have expired.

So now that the handbooks replace the union contract, what kind of review process do you think is allowed under the new law?

Greenfield aside, teacher protests over benefits, handbooks seem rare – JSOnline

When I interviewed School District of Greenfield Superintendent Conrad Farner a few weeks ago for the handbook story, he said that they interpreted the new law to mean that allowing teachers to review handbook drafts or offer input on the changes being made would fall under the definition of collective bargaining. That was illegal under the new law, Farner had said.

The teachers cannot even review the handbooks…It really is unbelievable that these school boards have free rein when it comes to any new handbook regulations that affect the teacher’s salary, health care and planning.

Morning State News Briefs: | Pierce County Herald | Ellsworth, Wisconsin

As police looked on, hundreds of people on both sides cheered-and-booed last night as the New Berlin School Board unanimously approved a new employee handbook for its teachers. Like others throughout Wisconsin, it was developed without teacher input under the new state law which limits most public union bargaining. But New Berlin became a lightning rod after teachers in nearby Greenfield argued with their school board last week over a new employee handbook – and police were called to settle things down. Last night’s meeting in New Berlin was moved to the district’s auditorium. Teachers from other districts came in support of New Berlin’s union, while taxpayers held up signs saying “Collective Bullying – Stop Union Bullies Now.” Union president Diane Lazewski said she believed the work rules set by the school board are more restrictive than others throughout the state. They include longer work-days, new limits on sick leave benefits and post-retirement health benefits, no more pay for substitute teachers while they prepare for classes, and two evaluations per year without prior notice. School Board member Art Marquardt said his panel was not trying to be punitive. But he said the elected officials are now the dominant voice instead of the union and quote, “That’s hard for some people to swallow.”

What the hell is wrong with these people? The teachers are the bullies? No, the Koch Brothers and Gov. Scott Walker are the ones forcing the teachers into this ridiculous regulation of handbooks.  Of course, now that the teachers are “at-will” employees, they can be fired with no cause or reason…and with the new Wisconsin school year starting in the next couple days, let’s see if this gets any attention in the MSM. It really is a sad state of affairs for these Wisconsin educators, but I feel that what they are going through is only a preview for many other school districts in states that are looking to do away with collective bargaining and teacher unions.

The estimated death toll has been released by the Libyan Rebels.  Rebel leaders put Libya death toll at 50,000 – Africa, World – The Independent

An estimated 50,000 people have been killed in Libya since the start of the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s rule, according to the rebels’ military leadership.

Details of the death toll come as the Transitional National Council (TNC) gave Gaddafi supporters – increasingly pushed back to loyalist strongholds such as Sirte – four days to surrender or face a full-scale military assault.

I would not be surprised if that number goes up.  The stories of mass graves are very disturbing to read.

In a few days a new exhibit will be opening at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.  ‘September 11: Remembrance and Reflection’ at National Museum of American History | History News Network

SOURCE: WaPo (8-16-11)

Within weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Smithsonian Institution began collecting a wide range of artifacts recovered from the three sites where the hijacked planes went down.

In an exhibit opening Sept. 3, the National Museum of American History will let visitors get much closer for a more intimate experience. The museum plans to depart from the usual glass-covered displays and assemble the objects on open, uncovered tables.

September 11: Remembrance and Reflection” contains about 60 objects from the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.

We still have the suit and shoes my husband was wearing when he ran when the second tower fell…that was the first thing he did when he got home that night, he took the suit off and put it in a big black plastic trash bag.  It was covered in the dust from the towers, and no doubt the incinerated remains of the victims of the attack. If you are in the DC area, please go take a look at the new exhibit, and let us know what you thought of it.

I guess Obama is making some changes in the ATF, due to the Fast and Furious scandal.  A.T.F. Chief Is Replaced After Failed Gun-Trafficking Inquiry –

The Obama administration on Tuesday replaced two top Justice Department officials associated with an ill-fated investigation into a gun-trafficking network in Arizona that has been at the center of a political conflagration.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced the resignation of the United States attorney in Phoenix, Dennis K. Burke, and the reassignment of the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Kenneth E. Melson.

The two officials became the highest-profile political casualties yet in the fallout from a disputed effort to take down a weapons-smuggling ring based in Arizona and linked to Mexican drug cartels.

Give the NYT link a click to get the update on the investigation into this “operation” if you haven’t kept up with it.

Lastly, there are 20 new endangered crocodiles in the world today.  Rare Siamese crocodiles hatched in Lao PDR

A recently hatched Siamese crocodile at the Laos Zoo, part of an effort by the government of Lao PDR and the Wildlife Conservation Society to replenish the wild population of this critically endangered species. (Credit: M. Douangmyxay/WCS Laos Program)
 Working with the government of Lao PDR, the Wildlife Conservation Society has helped to successfully hatch a clutch of 20 Siamese crocodiles, a species threatened across its range by hunting, habitat fragmentation and loss, and other factors.
Hatched from eggs taken from the wild and incubated at the Laos Zoo, the baby crocodiles represent a success for a new program that works to save the Siamese crocodile and the wetlands and associated biodiversity of Laos’ Savannakhet Province.

Isn’t that a cute little critter?

I always thought the sound those baby alligators and crocodiles make is such an endearing cry…

…but just wait until they start to answer back!

Well, I know it is a lame morning post, but I am on my third day with this massive migraine, and the exhaustion is getting to me.

If you have any links be sure to share them…see you later in the comments.

34 Comments on “Wednesday Reads: Bully Teachers? No, Bully Gov. Walker…”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    BP offices in Moscow raided –

    Bailiffs searched the Moscow offices of BP in Moscow on Wednesday, adding to the UK-based oil major’s woes in Russia a day after ExxonMobil stole a march on it by signing a historic Arctic exploration deal with Russian oil major Rosneft.
    BP officials said the search was related to a lawsuit by minority shareholders in TNK-BP who are suing for Rs87bn ($3bn) over the collapse of a similar tie-up between BP and Rosneft earlier this year.
    Guzel Galieva of law firm Liniya Prava, which represents five minority shareholders in the lawsuit against BP, said that the Tyumen regional arbitration court had on Tuesday issued the order for the search of BP’s offices, after BP ignored an earlier order by the same court to turn over documents relating to the BP-Rosneft negotiations in July.
    While the court order appeared to be timed to cause maximum damage to BP, coming the same day as the ExxonMobil-Rosneft deal was announced, Ms Galieva insisted it was a coincidence.

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    I have a few other links for you this morning…

    WikiLeaks’s Harmful New Dump Increases Risk to U.S. Information Sources – The Daily Beast

    The latest revelations from Julian Assange will inhibit diplomacy, see some ambassadors’ tours curtailed, and raise the risk faced by U.S. sources who have been named. Former State Dept. spokesman P. J. Crowley on the fallout.


    First, damage has been done, and will be again through this latest round. Taken in total, these documents were classified for good reason. They covered subjects that touched on core U.S. national security interests and concerns, involving a wide range of countries from China to Venezuela.

    Unlike pre-Internet leaks that involved one country and a few documents, these massive leaks undermine the relationships we have with almost every country with which we have relations. Even though the cables involve lots of truth telling, no population wants to see its laundry hung on the front page of the world’s leading newspapers. And people thought America was arrogant before any of this happened.

    Conservative rag Washington Times is giving Obama praise on his foreign policy: Thanks to Obama, U.S. is safer since 9/11 | Washington Times Communities

    The situation in Haiti is still a nightmare for women and girls:
    In Haiti, sexual violence, healthcare neglect plague women, girls –

    Despite a massive humanitarian effort after the 2010 earthquake, females in Haiti remain neglected, rights activists say, lacking access to care as they give birth to babies in squalid conditions, often as a result of sex in trade for food or other necessities.

    I think Haiti is the next place Michael Gerson needs to visit…but like I said in yesterday’s post, the US GOP has women’s health care in their targets.

    Newborn Death Rate Higher In USA Than 40 Other Countries

    The USA is in 41st place worldwide regarding newborn mortality rate, a drop from 29th place in 1990. America’s newborn death rate today is equal to that of Croatia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, according to a new report published in PLoS Medicine. The article is a collaboration between WHO (World Health Organization) and Save the Children, which covers all 193 WHO member nations over two decades.

    The newborn death rate, also known as newborn mortality rate or neonatal mortality rate, refers to the proportion of babies who die during the first four weeks of life.

    Sad isn’t it?

    Coauthor Dr. Joy Lawn of Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program, said:

    “Newborns are barely on the global health agenda and this study lays out the tragic results of that neglect. Each year 3.3 million babies still die in the first four weeks of life – despite the existence of proven, cost-effective interventions that could save these newborn lives.”

    The US newborn mortality rate dropped by 26% in two decades, compared to a worldwide average of 28%. America is behind 40 others countries, with a newborn rate of 4.3 per 1,000 live births.

    Yes, former fetus health care is not one of the concerns of the PLUB agenda…

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Just one more…
      Libya: Father slit throats of girls raped by Gaddafi’s men | Mail Online

      Human rights group uncovers widespread war crimes by loyalist forces
      Investigators told children perched on top of tanks as human shields
      Soldiers ‘set up rape camp at school where dead sisters were attacked’

      A father slit the throat of his three teenage daughters in an ‘honour killing’ after they were raped by Gaddafi loyalists during the siege of the port city of Misrata.

      Allegations of the shocking executions are contained in a report by the respected Physicians for Human Rights group into war crimes and atrocities in the embattled city, which faced two months of being cut off from the rest of Libya.

      The father is said to have carried out the ‘honour killings’ because of his humiliation and shame at the rape of the sisters – aged 15, 17 and 18 – in Tomina, on the outskirts of Misrata. The victims were not named.

      I’ll try to find some less upsetting news links for you this afternoon…

      • Gregory says:

        I really, really, really didn’t need to read that. I do wonder how the heck someone can become so mentally deranged due to the influence of “culture” and “religion” that he’d murder all of his children. I am sure there is some sort of strange “logic” for the adoption of this madness by that culture. If it was designed to prevent rape it is a sad and tragic failure. If it is just about brutalizing women, keeping them under control and perpetually living in fear and shame then I guess it is a rousing success. Sick bastards.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Sorry Gregory, but I thought it was important…hence the reason today’s evening news reads will be on the lighter side.

      • madamab says:

        It is beyond atrocious that there is any belief system in which this is considered okay. In a more enlightened world, men like this would be considered criminally insane rather than religious, IMO. They would be locked up in an asylum or jail, and would NEVER be allowed near a woman.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      More on the infant mortality rate:

      Newborn babies in countries such as Cuba, Poland and Malaysia now have a better chance of survival than newborns in the United States, according to a study that looked at 20 years of data from all 193 member nations of the World Health Organization.

      The figures also show that newborns in Qatar, Croatia and the United Arab Emirates now die at about the same rate as newborns in the United States, the Associated Press reported.

  3. northwestrain says:

    Why the hell would anyone want to be a teacher is Wisconsin?

    It sounds more like jail than school.

    Dress codes, no microwaves or coffee makers? WTF?

    Petty and childish.

    Why the hell be a teacher? No wonder there are/were strong unions — now are people begin to understand why unions evolved and are damned necessary?

    Getting a college education and teaching certificate is expensive — and then to be treated like shit??? By a Hitler Governor? WTF?

    • bostonboomer says:

      These jerks want to destroy the public school system so they can force kids into charter schools and turn them into cannon fodder. No civic classes anymore either–kids might learn about the Constitution and the rights that have been taken away from them.

      • northwestrain says:

        You are probably correct — these mini Hitlers do have an agenda. Public schools have long been a thorn in the conservative’s sides. Turning schools over to for profit mega corporations (like prisons) with dogma taught is probably the goal.

        Schools that teach dogma don’t want or need college educated teachers.

    • The Rock says:

      Amen to that northwestrain. There is no way the best and the brightest teachers would ever WANT to teach in that kind of environment. Here again do we see a group that loves to protect fetuses, but hates the kids they grow up to become. Just the FORCED added work for elementary and secondary school is sad. Now that Gov. Walker’s hand is being played, lets see what the political direction of the state is going to be from now on.


      Hillary 2012

    • madaha says:

      the conditions are so crappy and the job market so impossible for academic teachers, I’ve actually sort of given up, at least for now (after being unemployed after being effectively laid off from budget cuts at a community college last year).

      I’m moving to Europe in a week to get certified as an ESL instructor, and teach around in foreign countries, where they respect teachers! Seriously, I fly out next Wed. (I’ll keep up with Skydancing over there!!) maybe I’ll continue to work on my dissertation over there too, not that there will be a job here even with that degree. (as we’ve discussed before here)

      This straightjacket that Walker is putting on teachers is, frankly, insane.

      There was this in Salon yesterday too:

      about being labeled a “bad teacher” for not kowtowing to the broken system.

      ugh. It’s infuriating.

      • The Rock says:

        Send links to application. I might be right behind you….

        Hillary 2012

      • dakinikat says:

        I’m with you on that one. I’m going to FMA in October and I’m exploring job opportunities outside of the US too. I don’t see this getting any better.

      • madaha says:

        there are a few different programs:

        I’m doing the Prague one. We’ll see where I end up after that. There are online versions too, which are cheaper.

      • madaha says:

        I don’t think the pay would be any worse than when I was a “part-time” (quote unquote) adjunct.

        What’s FMA?

      • madaha says:

        there’s also this, about what Historiann calls “excellence without money”:

        re. the defunding of public universities, etc

      • The Rock says:

        That story was heartbreaking. I have had so many ‘debates’ with friends, associates, e.t.c. about the state of the public education system here in the USA. It’s absolutely horrible. Public schools should be citadels, with laboratories and music auditoriums and gymnasiums and internet/computer cafes, where kids can LEARN. If you take the potential opportunities for education here and reconstruct them in Africa or South America, those places would become world powers inside of 4 generations. But, as the article demonstrated, those kids are not valued. Not by their parents. Not by the system. And the people that DO value them are labeled unsatisfactory. They are paid less than $50K and told that that is too much. No wonder the US workforce is deteriorating. The potential workers aren’t being taught anything. It doesn’t matter if higher education is available anymore because the entrants wouldn’t survive a 4 year program. The true beginnings of serfdom are right in front of our faces.

        We are so f%^*d…..

        Hillary 2012

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    A gifted and dedicated teacher should be considered “a prize above all”. It is not a job for the “feint at heart” when so many obstacles are placed in their way. Without a union or a bargaining council to represent them, these underpaid, overworked people would be forced to work without any form of safety nets and reduced to an hourly wage not much above the kid flipping burgers at McDonalds.

    We have to ask ourselves why anyone would want to enter the teaching profession these days since there seem to be few incentives to remain. These Tea Party people, funded by the most egregious corporate entities, are about to reduce this country to the most unprepared students to eventually enter the job market in decades to come if they have their way.

    We seem to be moving into a sad trajectory in education when teachers are reduced to this level of indifference just to meet the role of “austerity” that these fools demand.

    • Gregory says:

      I taught for one year. It is not easy. I am extremely well qualified and it still was just to much of a hassle for me. If you teach right you basically have to spend 10-12 hours a day working including weekends.

      The war on teachers has been a long one that is being waged everywhere. Not just Wisconsin. So many people in the USA think that anyone can teach. Heck, they all believe they can do a better job than you can even though you spent at least 4 years honing those teaching skills and studying the subject matter.

      People tend to think that you go to work at 7 and leave at 4 everyday. Get weekends and summers off and just sit behind a desk. None of which is really true. Now the bad teachers do in fact put minimal effort into their work. But which teacher is more likely to leave the profession in the face of these all out assaults? I think it would be the better teachers. People who are willing to work 60-70 hour workweeks and who strive to be great at their job will succeed wherever they go.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Sorry about your headache, Minx. Go back to sleep for awhile if you can.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    According to bmaz at Emptywheel, Dennis Burke is just a scapegoat, and the administration people who really planned the gun running operation have been promoted.

    • Fannie says:

      What comes to mind: “The Buck Stops Here”

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Dennis Burke is just a scapegoat, and the administration people who really planned the gun running operation have been promoted.

      Now that just pisses me off, you know…that sounds like a Cheney move to me.

  7. purplefinn says:

    No surprise here:

    From The Seattle Times:

    Widespread waste and fraud in war spending

    As much as $60 billion in U.S. tax dollars has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade due to lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and corruption, according to an independent panel.

  8. The Rock says:

    Minx, I hate that you suffer from those migranes. A girlfriend I had in college used to get those all the time. She popped Exedrin migrane tabs before class like candy. It may seem shallow, but the headaches shall pass….

    An update from home…

    Have a good day all!

    Hillary 2012

    • joanelle says:

      My business partner used to get terrible migrains frquently – I took her to my chiropractor – she’s not the bone crunching kind but rather a network chiro – soon her migraines were a thing of the past and have not returned. My acupunturist has also helped others I know get rid of migraines.

      I taught for three years and when I realized that I was being asked to become more of a paper and number cruncher than a teacher – I went back to school and ended up being a teacher of another sort – corporate instructional designer and trainer – I missed the kids but not the paperwork.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Yes, Excedrin Migraine does help sometimes, it did with this one. But most of the time my headaches are beyond the help of Excedrin. 😉

  9. Minkoff Minx says:

    Okay, now take a look at this:

    Poll worker Katie Gill assists Jim Johnson cast his vote in Tuesday’s special election for the S.C. House District 10 at Mt. Airy Baptist Church. Johnson took advantage of Anderson County’s curbside voting policy which allows injured or disabled people to vote in their cars.

    And this man, who looks like he should not be behind a wheel of a car was voting in a special election that put the youngest member in the state House of Rep. Joshua Putnam becomes state’s youngest House representative » Anderson Independent Mail

    The image of that man in the car’s driver seat makes me think of this episode of South Park:

    Grey Dawn (Season 7, Episode 10) – Episode Guide – South Park Studios