Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Mission Accomplished" Walker-Style

Image courtesy of First Draft
I'm sure that the gentle reader remembers President George Walker Bush's major "Mission Accomplished" gaffe, when in 2003, he declared victory in Iraq, only to have the war go on for another eight years,  costing us the lives of thousands of America's finest and hundreds of billions of dollars.

Scott Walker, emulating his hero, Bush, has had his own "Mission Accomplished" moment when he declared that his "budget reforms" (read union-busting), has worked, especially for the schools and that they are as good or better than before and that there was no massive layoff like the rest of the world had predicted.  But instead of flying out to an aircraft carrier on Lake Michigan, Walker settled for bragging about his alleged success on a taxpayer-funded website hosted by the State of Wisconsin.

Well, that should show them recallers that they are in the wrong.

But not so fast.

In an annual survey of the school districts around the state, we find out where the truth lies. And it's not with Scott Walker.

The results of the survey show that 3,400 teachers, administrators and other school professionals were laid off this year because of Walker's budget.  The survey also showed that:

  • ˆA much greater number of jobs were lost in the K-12 sector than in previous years of budget cuts.
  • ˆThe depth and breadth of losses of experienced educators statewide is large. Nine out of ten students attend a district that had a net loss of staff in one of four staffing areas surveyed.
  • ˆReplacement teachers and staff are younger, less experienced, and face higher student teacher ratios than the educators they replaced.
  • Fewer staff leads to class size increases with four in ten students attending in a district with increased class sizes in elementary grades.
  • Fewer staff leads to cuts in essential support and learning programs with three in four students attending in a district that reduced staff in at least one such program and one in five attending in a district that reduced more than five such programs.
  • ˆDifferences between districts that had contracts compared to those without union
    contracts were not statistically significant.
  • Half of all districts reported that they used one-time federal funds to off set even;deeper cuts - funds that will be unavailable next year.
  • ˆTwo out of three districts reported that they expect to have as deep or even deeper cuts next year. Only one out of 10 expect to have fewer cuts next year.
In other words, not only did the state lose 3,400 teachers, aides and other educational staff, but the only reason it wasn't worse was because they used money from President Obama to bail them out. But next year, when that money isn't available, the flood of layoffs will be much, much higher.

Furthermore, the "tools" that Walker claims to have given the school districts had no significance whatsoever in preventing layoffs.  My good friend, Jay Bullock, points out that the districts that did not have contracts actually had their class sizes grow bigger and faster than those with contracts.

Laughably, Walker tries to defend this losing position by stating that most of the layoffs happened where there were contracts, and specified Milwaukee, Janesville and Kenosha.  This is laughable for the simple fact that Milwaukee has the highest population, so that even if they had a lower percentage of laid off faculty than other communities, the numbers would be higher anyway.  He is just trying to spin his way out of an ever-deepening hole and it's not working.

But despite this overwhelming sea of evidence that not only are his reforms harming our children, and the fact that this is only the prelude to the real pain they will be feeling in years to come, Walker is claiming that this is a success.

This can only mean one of two things.

One possibility is that  Walker is a bigger fool and idiot than we've given him credit for.

The other is that he really does mean that this is a success.  That would mean that his goal is to reduce the number of teachers and hobble the ability of any and all school systems to meet their duties.  This would fit his patter of sabotaging various programs or services for the single purpose of privatizing said program or service.  And with close friends like Scott Jensen being enmeshed in the private school business, this would also make a credible possibility.

Oh, I'm sorry, I just realized that those two points are redundant.

In all seriousness, when we go forth next week to rightfully recall Scott Walker, we aren't doing it just for ourselves.  Our kids, who are otherwise defenseless to Walker's assault, rely on us to get this job done.  If nothing else, we owe it to them to give them the best future we can, and that is contrary to Walker's agenda.

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