Wisconsin schools close as teachers say they won't work

2011-02-17T06:26:00Z Wisconsin schools close as teachers say they won't workThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 17, 2011 6:26 am  • 

MADISON — A number of southern Wisconsin school districts planned to close Thursday after teachers warned they wouldn’t show up for work to protest a Republican bill that would strip most of their collective bargaining rights.

The closures came after the head of the state’s largest teachers union told reporters during a rally outside the state Capitol that all Wisconsinites should join a massive protest in Madison on Thursday and Friday. Wisconsin Education Association Council President Mary Bell did not explicitly call on teachers to skip work, but the result was the same.

“We need you to help,” Bell said. “Help our voices be heard.”

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a bill that would strip most of the state’s public sector employees of almost all collective bargaining rights. The measure has outraged unions and spurred a protest by thousands at the Capitol that has gone on for two days and promises to stretch into the weekend.

A number of Madison-area districts announced they would not hold classes Thursday because of anticipated teacher absences. Those that had canceled by late Wednesday included: Madison, which already had closed Wednesday because of a teacher sick-out; Oregon; Monona Grove; De Forest; Lodi and Edgerton.

Milwaukee Public Schools spokeswoman Roseann St. Aubin said district officials didn’t anticipate any teacher absences Thursday related to the bill. District Superintendent Gregory Thornton sent a letter to teachers on Wednesday warning them they would face unspecified disciplinary action if they didn’t come to work Thursday and Friday.

“This is a posture we truly hate to take, but it is a necessary one,” the letter said. “Our children, many of whom struggle daily with poverty and hunger, truly depend on us.”

Meanwhile, the Muskegon, Mich.-based pro-school choice Education Action Group Foundation issued a statement blasting the Madison teacher’s union for staging a sick-out Wednesday. The group accused the union of caring more about politics than students.

A message left at the Madison teachers union wasn’t immediately returned.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(31) Comments

  1. mamasan
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    mamasan - February 27, 2011 5:18 pm
    Public Employees are not exempt from paying taxes! We do not get any breaks from property taxes, income taxes,sales taxes or any other kind of taxes.
    We also have taken cuts to our salaries. My unit has bargained a 3 year pay freeze long before this attack on bargaining began. I have in the past taken pay cuts and 5 years of freezes.
  2. smtown
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    smtown - February 24, 2011 2:30 pm
    People who are checking salaries--- does the salary amount include the fringe amount??(I think it does) then take home pay is salary minus the fringe. I do not think teachers are over paid-- they do have excellent benefits.- gov. jobs whose income is pd by the taxpayers- what people see is that they, the taxpayer, are working 50 weeks a year taking home 20,000 and out of their 20,000 they have to pay their taxes -health- living expenses etc.hard to understand what they are in an uproar about
  3. Bill Hammer
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    Bill Hammer - February 22, 2011 7:35 pm
    I say fire them all! There are others standing in line who may be better then what is already there! Go Scott Walker
  4. JustMyOpinion
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    JustMyOpinion - February 22, 2011 6:43 pm
    No Rainbird,what I said you took out of context.I said:Just because you went to school and earned a degree DOES NOT mean you are ENTITLED to a teaching position.You are replacable and I strongly feel every single teacher that refused to come to work to protest should be fired for insubordination.MEANING-Listen Rainbird-These teachers need to do their job like everyone else does. They are NOT by protesting,acting a fool,& calling into work.Fire them and replace them with someone more professional
  5. proud_american
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    proud_american - February 20, 2011 3:22 pm
    chinchip said: "Hey Rainmaker, do u know where the money comes from to pay the coaches salaries? Not out of my pocket. Do you know where the money comes from to pay teachers salaries? Out of my pocket. That is the difference."

    Yes, what he said!

  6. mom202
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    mom202 - February 18, 2011 3:56 pm
    I hope the teachers stay out as long as possible so the kids have to attend school in the summer when they are supposed to be on vacation. By law I think that students have to attend school for a certain number of days. Instead of graduating in June they can graduate in September when they are supposing to be attending college. And they can thank their teachers, the unions and the Democratic party for that.
  7. chinchip
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    chinchip - February 18, 2011 1:05 pm
    Hey Rainmaker, do u know where the money comes from to pay the coaches salaries? Not out of my pocket. Do you know where the money comes from to pay teachers salaries? Out of my pocket. That is the difference.

  8. proud_american
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    proud_american - February 18, 2011 1:19 am
    By the way, most people are smart enough to appreciate their jobs when so many don't have one at all.
    I doubt there'd be a problem filling the positions when the greedy ones walk off the job w/ no regard for the kids or community. I'm happy to say that our school hasn't been participating in the childish tantrums we've been seeing from other schools. My respect for them immense.
    I hope Walker sticks to his guns because I don't want to leave this mess for my kids & grandkids to figure out.
  9. proud_american
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    proud_american - February 18, 2011 1:09 am
    Amazing exaggerations. $21,000? Please follow this link I borrowed from another reader. http://www.postcrescent.com/article/99999999/APC0110/80221166?appSession=932282399354462
    FIRST year teachers in my very small town school (where median income is well below state average by the way)made $32,500 & an additional $16,500 in bennies as a single unmarried person-Bachelor's degree. Some teachers received over $32,000 JUST IN BENEFITS.
    Quit exaggerating!
  10. empire 2
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    empire 2 - February 17, 2011 10:18 pm
    Break the union, fire them all there will be more applicants than jobs available. GO SCOTT !!!
  11. 8588
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    8588 - February 17, 2011 3:45 pm
    Any teacher who is scheduled to be in their classroom and is not because they have decided to protest instead should be fired. I may not agree with everything Walker is doing but I also do not agree with how some of the teachers are acting as well. What a horrible lesson they are teaching the children.
  12. Rainbird
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    Rainbird - February 17, 2011 2:18 pm
    JustMyOpinion said: "Just because you went to school and earned a degree DOES NOT mean you are ENTITLED to a teaching position."

    I don't think anyone said that. I think what is being protested is union breaking. Are you going to go back to school and take a 21,000 a year teaching position? Not that I would want you teaching my kids, or anything. But, I just don't think there is going to be some flood of broke college graduates running to these positions.
  13. JustMyOpinion
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    JustMyOpinion - February 17, 2011 11:19 am
    asdf- "Reader : Just so you know.Most districts do not have personal days. We can take off for illness or medical appointments only. "Since you said "we" I assume you are a teacher?I'm guessing you heard in the news that teachers are calling in "sick" a lot lately.They are doing whats called playing hooky.Pretending to be "sick" to have a personal day. You actually get an entire 3 months worth of personal days in the summer of all seasons. Must be nice. :)
  14. asdf
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    asdf - February 17, 2011 11:02 am
    reader said: "You violate the contract you are trying to protect. What does this teach our children. You lie about being in sick. Why not take a personal day off and do it the right way.

    Reader : Just so you know.Most districts do not have personal days. We can take off for illness or medical appointments only.
  15. Yellow River Rat
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    Yellow River Rat - February 17, 2011 10:43 am
    You have to ask yourself. Would I go to college for four or five years? Accrue $30,000 to $40,000 in student loan debt to get a job in Wisconsin public schools to make $21,000 per year and have no collective bargaining power. Think about it.
  16. old timer
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    old timer - February 17, 2011 10:37 am
    What type of wage/benefit package do the members of the legislature get while in office? What benefits do they recieve once they have left office? Anybody know?
  17. Rainmaker
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    Rainmaker - February 17, 2011 10:12 am
    Don't tell me we don't have enough money and were broke. Lets start at the top. The following state employee Badgers football head coach gets $2,500,000 a year not including speaking fees and clinics. His offensive coordinator gets $400,000/yr with a $100,000 raise every year he stays. Badgers basketball coach gets $1,900,000 a yr plus fringes. Athletic Director Barry Alvaraz gets $600,000 yr. There's a lot more if you want to dig into it a little bit.
  18. momofmany
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    momofmany - February 17, 2011 10:07 am
    These "people" you speak of can do this on their own time! AFTER school.
  19. JustMyOpinion
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    JustMyOpinion - February 17, 2011 10:06 am
    Just because you went to school and earned a degree DOES NOT mean you are ENTITLED to a teaching position. You are replacable and I strongly feel every single teacher that refused to come to work to protest should be fired for insubordination. That is not setting an example to students. So if they don't want to take your chemistry test the whole class can boycott your period and you will just have to give them all A's??? Hmmm makes one think. Get over yourselves.
  20. JustMyOpinion
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    JustMyOpinion - February 17, 2011 10:03 am
    So when one of these kids or teachers is walking around protesting and a 70 year old driving by has a seizure and plows their car into a crowd of protestors. Everyone is bloodied and mangled screaming to call 911, but guess what dispatchers and EMS decided to "not work" because they want to throw a tantrum and protest. I know this is EXTREME, but am I the only one that believes this is a silly way to get what you want? Refusing to do your job?
  21. Rainbird
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    Rainbird - February 17, 2011 9:57 am
    All these people whining about the pay and benefits paid to the employees who clean up after them. These are the people who do the jobs you don't want to do. They take care of your children. They keep you safe. They protect your environment. They help you when you most need the help. If you think being a public servent is such a great job, why are you not doing it? Who would do this job if you fire the hard working employees you already have? You? I doubt it.
  22. Joe
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    Joe - February 17, 2011 9:42 am
    OKx4 What an unfair characterization of RB. You don't know them at all and to make that comment was uncalled for. I don't agree with RB either but at least be civil toward others in your discussion.
  23. chippewaresident
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    chippewaresident - February 17, 2011 9:37 am
    It amazes me that teachers in Chippewa Falls are allowing students to walk down to the courthouse during school hours to protest for them! How are they teaching our children? Teaching them it is okay to skip out of class to protest on their behalf? I am appalled at our school district and how they are handling this situation. Everyone else has to pay for their pensions and health insurance. I cannot afford health insurance therefore I do not have any, why can't they buck up and do the same.
  24. I Love Chippewa
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    I Love Chippewa - February 17, 2011 9:34 am
    I find it very funny that now teachers are willing to pay more for health insurance and their pension. The economy and state budget has been out of whack for years and they never wanted to give into negotiations in the past. Now with what is going on they are okay with giving in. Their negotiations took months sometimes years to work out even when Doyle was in office.
  25. momofmany
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    momofmany - February 17, 2011 8:43 am
    I am not sure what any teacher would want to "bargain"...more time off? more sick time? more vacation? not watching the kids for recess? No sympathy here. There are MANY great teachers in every district. There are also always some who are so protected by the union that schools are unable to get rid of the ones who are not doing their job. The money this bill would save our state is astronomical. Welcome to the real world.
  26. reader
    Report Abuse
    reader - February 17, 2011 8:37 am
    You violate the contract you are trying to protect. What does this teach our children. You lie about being in sick. Why not take a personal day off and do it the right way. Each school have their union reps take the time off and represent the school in Madison. I do not agree with stripping the union, but yes it is time to pay more towards insurance and retirement. Also - how much paid up health insurance do you get till medicare age? How many thousands of a benefit is this?
  27. bluehillsmike
    Report Abuse
    bluehillsmike - February 17, 2011 8:29 am
    We are in a competitive world. Public sector benefits have gotten way out of whack vs. the private sector. And who pays for those benefits?

    Do a PATCO, Gov Walker, and enact a Voucher Law. In a business these people would be fired. I have a oouple of Madison teacher friends-- greedy and militant. And bragging about their age 54 retirement while the rest of us are having the toughest times of our lives.
  28. asdf
    Report Abuse
    asdf - February 17, 2011 8:26 am
    Please please know that most teacher's are willing to pay more for healthcare and into their pension. We understand that all have had to sacrifice during this tough economic time. What we are upset about is the end to collective bargaining. We fear that even when the economy rebounds we will be left with no options to bargain.I am working today, as are all of the teacher's in my building. Care about kids. Care about education. Care about teachers.
  29. momofmany
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    momofmany - February 17, 2011 8:25 am
    Reelbuilder: I agree with you. There are so many people out of work at this time. To the teachers who are protesting and not going to work, or are insubordinate: fire them. To the students who are skipping classes to join the teachers - suspend them. This is ridiculous.
  30. OKOKOKOK
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    OKOKOKOK - February 17, 2011 7:59 am
    RB And that picture would be to tear other people down to your level?? Why not work to better yourself, and others, instead of crying about how bad you have it?? In America, the land of oppurtunity, we are all free to improve ourselves, our lives. This does take a bit of fortitude and ambition, apparently 2 items that you are missing!!!!
  31. ReelBuilder
    Report Abuse
    ReelBuilder - February 17, 2011 6:51 am
    These are the people that love their job, our children, their vacation time but refuse to think, even THINK about paying a few percent towards their pensions & health care. I believe there are many young people ready to step into your jobs! As I sit here out of work, trying to pay my $1000 a month health care, putting nothing towards my retirement,I still see the big picture!
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