The Corner

Teachers Who Break Your Heart

Yesterday, I read a very interesting post here on the Corner by James Sherk. It was about the new governor of Wisconsin, Republican Scott Walker. I ran into Walker, in a way, when I was reporting a piece on the Feingold-Johnson Senate race last fall. I had never heard of him, and was impressed by what I heard. He was Milwaukee County’s executive, running against the mayor of Milwaukee.

As governor, we learned from Sherk, Walker is doing necessary, Christie-like things for Wisconsin. What a blessing, what a service.

This morning, I received a letter from one of our readers, a letter that could break your heart for the thousandth time concerning what teachers have become in the United States. Teachers used to be something like a holy caste, practically the most honorable among us. I come from a family of teachers. Everyone thought of it as a noble calling. Teachers earned too little, but that was remedied, over time.

Then everything went screwy. Teachers were not just well paid. (“Best part-time job in America,” Lee Iacocca once quipped, to the howls of many.) They were some of the most petulant, greediest, nastiest unionists around.

Anyway, that letter:

Hi, Jay,

I live in Madison, Wis., and you may have heard that Gov. Scott Walker is pushing to restrict the negotiating power of the union. There have been the usual protests and such, but today really takes the cake. I have a son in third grade in the Madison school system, and I was informed this morning that all schools are closed today because more than 40 percent of the teachers in the union have called in “sick.”

How come all I hear from the teacher’s union is how anything that goes against them will “hurt the children”? Today, it is all very clear to me. The teachers who called in sick care more about their union than actually doing their jobs. It makes me sad and very angry at the same time.

I know the feeling exactly. And it makes me wish that those teachers could be fired, and replaced by people who want to teach, as the Gipper fired the air-traffic controllers. (Of course, he liked to say that he did not “fire” them. By violating the terms of their contract, they quit.) I guess I should look at the bright side: 60 percent of the teachers agreed to teach, on the very, very generous terms that the taxpayer gives them.

P.S. I remember something a friend told me — a friend who, 15 years ago, was fighting for school choice. When the teacher-union lawyers entered the courtroom, “I could practically smell the sulphur coming off them.”

P.P.S. If teachers want to be hard-core unionists, fine (I guess). But I wish they’d cut the “for the children” crap.


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