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The Teachable Moment

February 22, 2011 by  

The Teachable Moment

Welcome to Madison, Wis., the capital of Cheesehead Country. Sorry about the mess.

Backed by money, volunteers and rhetoric from Democrats ranging from the ill-kempt professional protestor types all the way to President Barack Obama himself (“assault on unions”), the far left is out in force in Wisconsin’s capital bearing placards ranging from the now-ubiquitous “Republican-as-Hitler” mock-ups to images of sniper’s crosshairs superimposed over Governor Scott Walker’s face. So… I guess we can assume that Obama’s calls for “civility” were more of a guideline than an actual rule.

Among the thousands of Democrats loafing, lollygagging and otherwise doing nothing productive — no, I do not consider making “Walker = Mubarak” signs in what appears to be crayon productive — is a sizeable contingent of teachers. Note I didn’t say TEACHERS’ UNIONS, although Big Labor has spent thousands busing in on-call shriekers to join in the Big Wisconsin Whinefest; I said “teachers.”

Despite averaging a little more than $100,000 per year in compensation, the stewards of Madison’s youth are taking a little field trip. Wisconsin public schools are currently sitting idle as a result of a coordinated sick-out staged by the teachers. According to local teachers’ union executive director John Matthews:

“We have only one day where we can make a difference, and it’s because of the ridiculous means by which the governor tried to shove this down the throats of public employees…"

Here I was under the impression that teachers are supposed to make a difference EVERY DAY. Evidently, that maxim gets defenestrated (find me a teachers’ union victim who knows what THAT means without a dictionary and two wrong guesses) when the Governor of Wisconsin asks them to cover insurance premiums at a still-paltry 12 percent instead of their current 5 percent. By the way, the 12 percent number would still place the exceptionally well-compensated Madison teachers in the best-covered 15 percent of regional employees. I suppose the teachers could figure that out, but that might require basic math skills. Perhaps the sick-out participants are all social studies instructors.

But the Madison teachers are doing a great deal more than simply walking out on their charges. They’re also indoctrinating them. According to Madison school system policy:

“…teachers shall refrain from exploiting the institutional privileges of their professional positions to promote candidates or parties and activities…”

It would appear Madison-area teachers were playing hooky the day they taught “rules by which you must abide to keep your job” in union school. These fine folk are also forbidden from taking a personal day with less than three days’ notice. And as far as tantrums go, wait until all the sick-out-ers find out that their paychecks will be docked for their fake sick days.

Some of the teachers did go the extra mile, taking Matthews’ suggestion that their hissy-fit provided what he called a “teachable moment.” According to one teachers’ union victim at Madison East High School:

“…some (teachers) were telling students they wouldn’t be marked absent if they walked out.”

Get ‘em while they’re young, right? Other teachers actually dragged their charges to the protests where the fragile youth acknowledged their guides through the pitfalls of academe had done just as good a job teaching them about labor issues as they have teaching them the three R’s. East High students acknowledged they had been brought along on the walkout, but with a government school understanding of why:

“…You know, I don’t really even know! I guess we’re protesting today!”

OMG! Our teacher is so, like, you know, kickass?

“Um… we’re trying to stop whatever this dude is doing.”

Totally.

The students are far from the only participants failing “outrank Albania in academic achievement.” Big Labor has developed some serious delusions in Madison. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2412 President Gary Mitchell actually thinks the kids are getting involved in the demonstrations because they just love their teachers:

“The students have been so energized…”

I’m sure the students are in no way motivated by the fact that they’re getting extra “make out in Betty’s basement while her parents are at work” time.

Former teachers’ union president Albert Shanker said:

“"When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children."

What happened to: “The children are our future?” Hey, Big Labor — you’re late for class.

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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