Double crossed 03-11-2011

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Letter to the editor by Joe Peck

As a former teacher in the state of Wisconsin and as someone who served as president of my local teacher’s association and who sat on two bargaining teams, I think I can offer an informative perspective on the conflict which is taking place in Madison and which will surely arise all over this floundering nation.

You should know that in many school districts including the one that I taught in, it was a common practice to sweeten the benefits package in lieu of salary increases. These benefit improvements were usually made as counter offers by the School Board for the purpose of hiding an increase in teacher salaries from the community. The number that the community looks at most closely is the salary of a beginning teacher, and as most of you also know, that number is pitifully small. Beginning teachers in my district who had families qualified for and received food stamps. This is how America treats the people with whom they entrust their children’s future. Is it any wonder that America is so poorly ranked by world standards?

Now the newly elected governor and his newly elected posse not only want to reduce the benefits that teachers accepted over many years as an alternative to receiving no increase in compensation at all (the teachers have already agreed to this) but he also wants to make it impossible for teachers to renegotiate those losses if and when the economy improves.

Given the disrespect that teachers are shown financially and in so many other ways, who would want to be a teacher? I would not do it again. When will America get it? With public services as with every other facet of life, we receive exactly what we are willing to pay for.

Joe Peck