WI Voices: Couple Helped Start a Union


Photo by Sarah Martinsen

Larry and Mania Moore [no relation to Shelly Moore] are both retired teachers and residents of Wisconsin’s Senate District 10.  The Moores live in Mania’s childhood home on the edge of a sleepy pond in New Richmond.  With a level of foreboding, they’ve been witnessing the political events of our state unfold.  It is eerily reminiscent for this couple, they’ve seen this once before.  Not only will the changes enacted by Gov. Walker and Sen. Harsdorf affect the profession that they’ve dedicated most of their lives toward, but also undo the very union that they helped create.

 Here’s their story.


Larry: I always told my students – my first goal is to get you to learn; my second goal is to teach you some history.  I realized that you have a lot of kids who just came to school because they had personal problems.  I’ve buried about 31 of my kids over the years.  How do you go on teaching during times like that?  That is a moment for humans, not for state standards.

When I was hired in Clear Lake in 1969, about 50 teachers were there.  Principals, superintendents, and teachers were all members of the same group, The Polk/Burnett Education Association.  Well, you can imagine who ran the meetings, superintendents.  Then, I started coaching.  “Supers” ran the coaching meetings, too.  We were frustrated with the lack of input we were getting.  I’ve always had an absolute demand that no one can go into administration unless they’ve had at least 10 years in the classroom.  You know, without that – it’s like getting sex education from a priest.  It just doesn’t make any sense.  

We started getting whiffs of things that were happening in the southern end of the state.  The teachers down there were starting a union for teachers using the WEA.  A real union.  I said, “I don’t know anything about unions…I don’t know if I want to join.”  Leaon [influential older teacher] was wearing wooden clogs at the time.  She said, “If you don’t join, I’m going to hit you with my shoe!” (Laughing)  So I said, “Ok, I guess I’ll join.”

Two years later, in 1971, I was the president and the head negotiator.  When I took the responsibility – I took it totally.  So, 26 different schools started coming to meetings at Rice Lake Elk’s Club and we were first called NUE or Northwest United Educators – Clear Lake. 

What were some reasons worthy of firings before unions?

Mania: Pregnancy.  Any reason at all that (superintendents or school boards) wanted.  Any reason.

L: We had 3 young men teachers who didn’t have a lot of money and shared the upstairs of a woman’s house.  Well, they fired one because the implication was he was gay.  He wasn’t, but they forced him out. 

This is the stuff that people don’t know. 

Female teachers and students had to wear dresses at all times.  Girl students could wear slacks under their skirts only if it was 20 below zero.  Then, they had to take the slacks off when they got to school to look “like ladies.”  Girls had to kneel on the floor to show that their skirts were long enough. 

M: Unions later gave the students the same rights as the teachers.

L: Another time the super reamed two teachers up and down because they were wearing open toed shoes and it wasn’t “lady-like” and was dangerous.

M: Control!  Control!  It is all about control.  And you could never buy alcohol in town because if you were caught you could be fired for that.

L: And you could be married, but not pregnant. [In the generation before, a woman couldn’t work anymore once she was married.]

M: Or pregnant, but not showing!  As soon as you started to show you were let go.

L: Coaches were let go because they didn’t play the right kid at quarterback, or they didn’t have a winning record that season.

M: With the Republican agenda on the far right – and without unions – you couldn’t teach things they didn’t agree with.  That will happen now. [ It’s already happening in Texas ]

L: Even after the unions, teachers were afraid to teach theories, like evolution, because of the repercussions.  Now can you imagine how it is going to be? [ A recent example includes the Georgia textbook controversy ]

Mania: So, I want Larry to talk about why we went on strike in Clear Lake.

L: Just before the strike in ’73 our teachers voted for a union.  We didn’t want much.  The main thing we were asking for was “just cause,” which means you can be removed from your job, but with procedure.  At that time there was talk of strike in the air. So, to avoid that we told the board that we’d take their last offer. 

M: Then the board said, “No, we won’t give that to you anymore.  We’re changing our mind.”

L: We asked the board, “What’s your reasoning?” They said they didn’t have to have one.  So, the next morning we went out on strike. 

M: We went on strike over dignity – it wasn’t the money.

L: We had about 5 teachers who didn’t want any part of it.  So, roughly 45 of us went on strike.  We had older teachers holding hands with tears in their eyes saying, “We’ll support you, we’ll sit here in strike headquarters all day, but don’t ask us to march.” They inspired us to keep going.

Very quickly we were all fired.  Other schools went on strike, too.  During this time in WI, they were singling out and arresting African American protestors within a group for “having a rally without permission.”  So, then the Black protestors would walk away from the group when the police came, but they would be arrested then for “having a parade without permission.”  These are times that people don’t hear about or want to believe.

Mania, Leaon, and I moved into the upstairs of a house of one of the teachers and used it as “Strike Headquarters.”  A bunch of us young idiots were out there holding signs in front of the school all day, and we’d come back and be telling stories.  Mania and the other ladies were making up strike songs.

M: I was in my last year of college at the time.  We had strike songs for “On Top of Old Smokey” and “7 Blind Mice”.  We had a deer head up on the wall with a tie around its neck that symbolized someone. (both laughing and smiling at each other) We served meals, sang our songs, and slept on couches.  

L: The district had brought in the “Scabs” (substitutes) to teach.  They paid Scabs way more than they ever paid us.  Plus, they threw in room and board for them.  We were going to get beaten.  It had nothing to do with the money.  They were going to beat us. 

I don’t think people understand the stress level involved with something like this.  A few people went out picketing a couple of times and it was just too much – they went duck hunting instead.  And many people didn’t do anything at all.  We had to take one guy to the hospital because the stress just got to him.  He broke.  Leaon was my strength, and she was starting to crack.  She would go home and cry.   Then, I went to this one guy’s house and his wife is in tears because there is no income and he’s starting to break.  The next house is the same deal.  Some of the teachers were going to go back in…crossing the picket line and going back to work. 

We were picketing in front of the school.  The Scabs just let kids out, and they were all over the place.  We put our signs down and helped gather the students up, monitoring while they got on their buses.  We had a ton of support from our students. 

We had open meetings for negotiations and the Super and Board would use intimidation tactics.  They set it up where they were up above us on a stage looking down.  They had our tables wedged right up against the crowd with these really angry, aggressive people right up against us.  The whole cafeteria was full of people.  ”Unionist!” you hear us called.  It was a swear word.  Sometimes, I’d be there with just Leaon because people were too scared to come. 

“We’re starting to cave.  We’re going to lose,” I was telling Jim Guckenberg (ex-WEA president/current NUE director).  But what we didn’t know then was that the community was calling in and pressuring the School Board and Super.  So, the district hired a lawyer to negotiate with Jim and I.  It was top secret, and we couldn’t tell anybody.  After striking for 4 days, we settled for $50/year raise [from $4000/yearly salary] and we finally got “just cause” for teachers. 

[The Moores still qualified for food stamps after their raise.]

When the board finally settled it, we all sneaked up to the Clayton Rod and Gun Club that night and had a little party.  Every bar had a brew called “Teacher Beer” because it was the cheapest beer.

M: A case of beer for a couple of bucks.

L: Talk about a bunch of idiots for the way we were celebrating.  We considered it as a victory, of course – because we finally got “just cause” (and could no longer be fired without a reason).  The oldest teacher on staff and his wife were chasing each other through the grass like kids, celebrating.   From that point on, everything was “BTU” (Before The Union).

Besides “just cause,” what other advances did your union make for workers?

L: A teacher, Darlene, was pregnant.  During negotiations, they were like, “ok, we’ll give you maternity leave.”  And we said, “No.  We’ll take “long-term leave”.  That way anyone could use it.

M: One of the things that this accomplished was that you made any of the benefits work for both sexes. [Men may take some time off to help with their newborn] Then, there was the benefit that allowed teachers to switch positions within the school.  Before that you had to quit and reapply.

L: Then, we had a male teacher who was raised by his aunt and would not be allowed to attend her funeral, because that right was only allowed for the death of parents, spouses, or kids.  We were negotiating and saying, “Who are you to say that this guy’s aunt isn’t important to him?”  And their argument was, “People go to funerals to socialize and get out of work.”  We finally got “funeral leave” for anybody…but at a “leave day” cost.

Well, then we got “sick leave”.  Before that, one teacher was reamed out because she was home sick on the day of parent/teacher conferences.  They said, “Ok you can stay home sick today, but you’d better get here for conferences tonight.”  So, she came in very sick. 

Then, we got “personal leave,” so when your kids are sick you were allowed to care for them.

We also set aside our own wages to collaboratively take care of our own retirement needs.  We would take less now to have enough later.  It is deferred payment. 

Then, we had a group of teachers who got together and created our own insurance, which wound up being the standard in WI.  We did that ourselves.  No one gave that to us.  The thing is – the better you do at something, the more jealous some can become, and you are punished for it….things are taken away that you’ve earned.

M: We negotiated for things instead money.  We could’ve taken money all of those years.  But we took insurance and retirement, instead.  And we showed the district how they could save money by letting us retire.

L: You are in teaching for the dignity and the value of teaching.  Of course you want a decent wage, but no one goes into teaching for the money.


Over 3 decades ago, 45 brave educators – our friends, neighbors, and loved ones – struggled for reasonable treatment for workers. They were able to make sure future generations were not fired without cause; workers could stay home when they or their children were sick;  workers could attend funerals when loved ones died; or women, minorities, and students were treated fairly within the educational system.  Gov. Walker and Sen. Harsdorf have assured Wisconsinites that eliminating virtually all of the bargaining rights of unions was a “fiscal policy,” and they have assured Wisconsinites that they will not eliminate progress made for workers.  I hope they are right.  We will all bare witness to the truth of that assertion.  Will Superintendents, School Boards, and bosses exercise restraint and be satisfied with the financial concessions made by most public workers?  Or will they start demanding longer work days, elimination of seniority, and erosion of “just cause”?  Larry and Mania Moore predict the latter, “You see, people don’t get it.  Without unions, the leaders don’t have to have a reason for anything they do. Period. “

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18 Responses to WI Voices: Couple Helped Start a Union

  1. Eric Larson says:

    While I feel for the government and public sector worker, I find it hard to be over sympathetic. My taxes keep going up and I see nothing for it but people who have been on unemployment for over a year and refuse to work because they make more on unemployment then they do working. Why? Because they feel that just because they made 50,000 last year they cant bring themselves to make 38-40,000 and climb the ladder again. Until we create jobs (get people paying taxes again) and reign in government spending….we will never win. Our government doesnt have a tax proplem….it has a spending problem.

  2. Celeste Koeberl says:

    Eric, form any opinion you want, but please base it on accurate facts.

    FYI, the maximum annual total of unemployment compensation that may be paid to an unemployed person in Wisconsin is not more than $18,876 regardless of how much greater was the annual income from that person’s former job. The minimum Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR) of unemployment compensation for Wisconsin workers who are able to qualify for unemployment compensation is $54, requiring high quarter earnings of $1,350, and the maximum WBR is $363, requiring high quarter earnings of $9,075 (http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/computing_benefit_entitlement.htm).

    According to recent analyses by the Wall Street Journal (http://247wallst.com/2011/07/21/108558/) and the Tax Foundation report, “State-Local Tax Burdens Fall in 2009 as Tax Revenues Shrink Faster than Income,” the issue of what people are taxed at the state and local level is quite complex, among other reasons, because states often receive a large amount of their tax receipts from sources other than the simple payments of state residents. The most important reason for the variation is that some states generate a significant amount of their tax revenue from businesses and out-of-state residents, thereby minimizing the burden of taxes borne by residents. States with low out-of-state business receipts must collect a higher percent of taxes from their residents. The Tax Foundation’s report divides state tax revenue into two categories: the amount contributed by residents, including income, property and sales tax, and the amount contributed by non-residents, including taxes paid by out-of-state businesses and taxes collected by in-state business and paid by out-of-state residents. According to the Tax Foundation, because residents effectively pay more as consumers and receive less as employees as a result of corporate taxes, some business tax is also considered borne by the resident. The Wall Street Journal analysis sums it up thusly: “The total tax burden an individual pays refers to the percentage of state residents’ income that goes to state and local taxes, and, on top of that, what each person must pay the federal government. The equation that puts all of those numbers together is complicated, and is among the reasons that the debate over federal taxes is so heated. People often end up with payments to several tax authorities. Their nominal federal tax rate may mean very little when it comes to what must be paid to all applicable government bodies at the end of each year. The amount that a person keeps from each dollar that he or she earns can be affected more by local government needs than those of the federal government.”

    What does this mean for individuals and families in Wisconsin? According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/91952439.html), Wisconsin relies more on income and property taxes for its revenue than most states. In fact, both are approximately 25% higher than the national averages. The state receives a smaller portion of federal money than most others, leaving little room for this money to offset state spending. Worst still, taxes on industrial property owners rank among the bottom half, and often the bottom third, of the country, while residential taxes are among the greatest. According to a study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Wisconsin’s middle class pays a bigger share of government spending than any other state, except for New York. The Wall Street Journal analysis outlines Wisconsin’s tax burden as follows:
    taxes paid by residents as pct. of income: 11%;
    total state and local taxes collected: $41.7 billion;
    percent of total taxes paid by residents: 77.9%; and
    percent of total taxes paid by non-residents: 22.1%.

    According to nonpartisan analyses of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget and tax proposals which have been passed by the Republican majorities in the Senate and Assembly, the effect of these acts is to further shift Wisconsin’s tax and fee burdens from corporations and wealthier individuals and families onto middle- and lower-income individuals and families in Wisconsin (6/9/11 Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo to Senator Mark Miller at http://thewheelerreport.com/releases/June11/0610/0610millerlfb.pdf; 7/6/11 Wisconsin Budget Project analysis at http://www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org/budget_comparative_analysis_2011-13.pdf; 7/6/11 PolitiFact Wisconsin at http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/jul/06/one-wisconsin-now/group-says-gov-scott-walkers-budget-has-tax-breaks/). Although two-thirds of Wisconsin corporations already paid no income taxes (4/8/11 One Wisconsin Now, “We’re Not Broke” at http://www.instituteforonewisconsin.org/reports/IOWtaxReport-WINotBroke2011.pdf; 5/11/11 PolitiFact Wisconsin at http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/may/11/one-wisconsin-now/one-wisconsin-now-says-two-thirds-wisconsin-corpor/), Governor Walker proposed, and Republican majorities in the Senate and Assembly approved, giving further tax breaks to corporations, while at the same time raising taxes on Wisconsin’s low-income taxpayers by $70 million over the next two years through cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit and through repeal of the inflation adjustment for the Homestead Tax Credit (6/13/11 Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo “State Tax and Fee Modifications Included in the Joint Committee on Finance’s 2011-13 Budget Recommendations” at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/2011-13%20Budget/Joint%20Finance/2011_06_13WILeg_State%20Tax%20and%20Fee%20Modifications.pdf). Also, Governor Walker proposed, and Republican majorities in the Senate and Assembly approved, raising fees over the next two years by a net increase of $111 million, and these fee increases include items such as 5.5% annual increases in tuition at UW system colleges, higher student technology fees, and higher fees for driver’s license testing and vehicle titles, that will have greater negative effects on lower-income rather than higher-income families and individuals in Wisconsin (6/13/11 Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo “State Tax and Fee Modifications Included in the Joint Committee on Finance’s 2011-13 Budget Recommendations”; 7/1/11 PolitiFact Wisconsin at http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/jul/01/jeff-fitzgerald/no-fee-increases-wisconsins-2011-13-state-budget-w/). Further, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s analysis the typical homeowner will see a $55 increase in property taxes over the next two years compared with 2010 (7/5/11 Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo “Property Tax Estimates, Governor and 2011 Wisconsin Act 32” at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/2011-13%20Budget/2011_07_05%20property%20tax%20estimates.pdf; 7/18/11 PolitiFact Wisconsin at http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/jul/18/scott-walker/gov-scott-walker-says-average-property-tax-payer-w/).

  3. Jeb Johnson says:

    Interesting… and now 66% of Wisconsin 8th graders can’t read at their grade level and no one gets fired. Hey thanks for that union. School districts are spending hundreds of thousands of unnecessary dollars on union owned healthcare providers. hey thanks again fo rthat union! The 2 people that have led to the demise of the educational system in WI and you are putting them on a pedestal. There isn’t one of them that wouldn’t walk off the job if the union told them too but oh yea, the kids come first. This article is a joke and an embarassment.

  4. Larry K says:

    “66% of Wisconsin 8th graders can’t read at their grade level no one gets fired.” People who make these comments have never stood in front of classroom of students from 23 different families and tried to teach them prepositional phrases or the mechanics of photosynthesis.

    Usually the accompanying response to those old chestnuts about test scores is “we just need to privatize the schools and students will do better.”

    That is correct. SOME students will do even better.

    But there is no profit to be made providing access to education for ALL.

    The profit and reward system only works well for instructing students who live in homes where learning is at least mildly appreciated and in homes that aren’t broken by the mine field of common family problems.

    But show me a right-to-work state and I’ll show you the same or lower over-all student performance.

    Now that the teachers unions have been “busted” and are going to be receiving declining wages and benefits, I will ask you, in five years, Mr. & Mrs. Wisconsin Middle Class taxpayer, “Did your taxes go down and your student scores go up?”

    You will surely say no. But at least you stuck it to those thugs who teach your kids something, or at the least babysit them for less than a child care center would charge, while you were at work.

    (BTW private school teacher compensation will be going down too. They’re salaries are tied to public school compensation.

    And…I bet you can’t find one private school within 50 miles where the standard operating proceedures is to pay most of their teachers on a merit system of graduated pay based on performance, though the “free market” allows them to do just that it. )

  5. Noahvose says:


    Did you even read the article? You’re really going to argue that unions have not GREATLY increased the standard living of American workers? Do you enjoy your less than 15-hours work day? So, if you really even read the article, which I’m doubting because that would mean actually challenging your preconceived notions, you think these people who asked for bosses to at least have a reason to fire people, or gave rights to pregnant women to keep their jobs, or the right not to be fired because a school board believes one is gay are the people who destroyed education?

    YOU DON’T HAVE A CLUE. It must be nice to know the truth without needing any facts OR experience. If you haven’t every taught then at least admit your ignorance and move on. I’ve got news for you, being conservative doesn’t automatically make you the expert at everything…not even close. She’s not putting people on pedestals, she’s allowing them to tell their stories, which people like you and our current representatives would simply dismiss and deny. There are more than one side to the story, and conservative better get that quick before they realize that MOST of America is not as extreme as they think.

  6. Noahvose says:

    I just thought about it and, Jeb, maybe you have a point. From now on, let’s treat public schools as a free market system. And since I’ll be measured by the success of my students, it’s only fair that I interview my students and only let the most promising into my classroom. That’s what a free market approach would do, right? Or, maybe companies should start doing what we teachers do and instead of sending back all the bad produce or products, they HAVE TO make the most of it. Then, we’ll measure them to see how they’ve done. You see, all those countries that you like to compare our system to, weed out their students at a young age. They don’t educate ALL their children. Remember that next time you want to play the expert. Think it through a little further than the talking points that talk radio has fed you.

  7. former dem says:

    The problem with “non-partisian” organizations providing analysis of any political policy lies in the “supported by” list. Before reading the analysis, looking at the list indicates the non-partisan leaning. opensecrets.org provides info on some donors.

    Politifact is a lot more believable, but still not 100%. They do, however, dig into the background of the claim before ruling on it. So, for instance, the claim the Walker budget has no fee increase gets a pants-on-fire rating, but identifies the 9 increases. My question is, why does someone pay $15 for a driver’s test, and if he/she doesn’t pass then is entitled to 2 more free chances? There is still a cost involved in the free tests, and people who have a license are apparently footing the bill. Fifteen dollars seems a reasonable cost, but I think the cost should be going up $5 for each retest. This isn’t school where you get multiple chances to pass the test, real world is get it right the first time because someone, usually the boss/owner, is footing the bill for the mistake.

    Given the budget Walker inherited along with the constitutional requirement to balance the budget the Republicans did a good job. Not a perfect job, but this isn’t a perfect world.

    I’m assuming the couple interviewed are the parents of Shelly Moore. I read to the point the author links to another old article “its already happening in Texas”. What is ignored in this expected one-sided blog is a lot of the things, such as job termination due to pregnancy, are now covered by federal law. Pat yourselves on the back for the legislative changes, but acknowledge those changes aren’t going to disappear because collective bargaining is restricted.

    Without CB reform, school districts would have been forced to lay off teachers due to budget problems. It was eye-opening to learn a lot of districts were forced to purchase health insurance by CB agreements through WEA Trust…a monopoly situation. My district went through an open bid process with 4 insurance companies, including WEA Trust, and ended up reducing the cost 50% with roughly the same coverage…a mid-6 figure saving = teachers rehired after being given layoff notices.

    Unions have done a lot of good things, but there was a point greed set in. Obamacare is allowing for an employee cost of 9.5% of pay before mandates set in, and teachers are now required by law to contribute about 6%. It’s still a good deal for teachers.

    I’m glad Walker and the Republicans put these reforms into law. If/when the Democrats regain control they will have to go through the process to change the law, giving the Republicans a chance to flee the state and not do their jobs, and non-union residents to occupy the capitol in protest and sing songs.

    Times change, pay your fair share. If unions are so great, it will only be an inconvenience to vote each year to keep the district organized and each person to send in their union dues.

  8. Noahvose says:

    So, Former Dem, you are in favor of fair share taxes. Good. We can at least afree on that. And since you’ve qualified Politifact as legitimate, you won’t mind me quoting them. 2/3 of the largest corporations paid ZERO income taxes to the WI last year. I’m sure that someone as reasoned as you seem to be can agree that that is simply unacceptable. The point that Shelly Moore and, by the way, most teachers I know and work with is that we’re willing to do our part and pay more, but why should we and all other workers in the state pay more, so that they can pay LESS? My point is this, they conveniently used a recession to their political advantage. They divided the state and workers and gave everyone a convenient target for their anger and fear. But I’m sure that someone as balanced as you can see that it wasn’t public/state employees that caused this recession, and it’s pretty silly to treat them as they were. Bottom line: we conceded nearly everything fiscally asked of us, why take away my right as a teacher to bargain for textbooks or curriculum or job safety? What has Walker conceded? I’m sure, again, that as balanced as you seem you will agree that one side should never fall into the trap of believing that everything they think is true and good and their opponents are lies and bad. So, again, what has their side conceded? The answer, nothing. It’s the same at the national level, and I think most of the country is getting tired of uncompromising politicians and ideologies holding the rest of us hostage. Their far more the “thugs” than unions ever were. Unions are simply workers banding together, because they realize that sometimes it’s numbers that can stand in the way of economic and political power. If you take the right away from workers to do this, then nothing stands in their way…and that is anything but balanced.

    • faza bahakim says:

      I just thought about it and, Jeb, maybe you have a point. From now on, let’s treat public schools as a free market system. And since I’ll be measured by the success of my students, it’s only fair that I interview my students and only let the most promising into my classroom. That’s what a free market approach would do, right? Or, maybe companies should start doing what we teachers do and instead of sending back all the bad produce or products, they HAVE TO make the most of it. Then, we’ll measure them to see how they’ve done. You see, all those countries that you like to compare our system to, weed out their students at a young age. They don’t educate ALL their children. Remember that next time you want to play the expert. Think it through a little further than the talking points that talk radio has fed you. – See more at: http://wivoices.areavoices.com/2011/07/25/wi-voices-couple-helped-start-a-union/#sthash.5EiiqHzt.dpuf

  9. Kay B says:

    I found this interview to be very enlightening. In response to the negative comments, it is sad to see that our society is going so far backwards educationally after so much progress. I am also sad to see the anger towards teachers that a very few individuals are displaying in this political arena. I suspect that they are people who have had great difficulty in their personal life and/or in school and this is their chance to lash out. I am sorry for your frustration.

    I taught for over 20 years and had a wonderful experience with my students and their parents. The climate that is being created by the Republican Right where they are demonizing teachers is totally foreign to my experience. I respected my students/ parents and I received respect in return. All of a sudden I am supposed to apologize for a career that I put my all into. Well, I won’t do that.

    I never worked for pay because it just wasn’t that great for the time I put in. I spent 12+ hours/per day and many hours on the weekend plus many weeks during the summer on school work (and on taking required coursework that we had to pay for ourselves). I would hate to think what the pay was per hour. It was understood that the pay wasn’t good, but the benefits were worth the cut in pay. Those who chose not to be teachers didn’t see that as an incentive. Many went out of teaching because they could not support their families on teachers’ pay.

    I taught many kids from dysfunctional families and with special needs. I bent over backwards to help families solve problems. We were the safety net for kids, helping with homework, finding services, even making sure that they had school supplies and outerwear for the winter.

    Unfortunately teachers are an easy target. We teach our students to be caring and respectful. Therefore, we try to set an example by taking the high road. That isn’t the road that the Republican Right is taking. For the first time in my life I am politically active because I am fearful that the educational system we have built up will be destroyed by the actions of the present state government. I want my grandkids to have a good education. Without money to support programs and to hire decent teachers, only the wealthy will get a good education. I believe one of the great things about this country is the idea that every individual has the opportunity to become successful, regardless of his or her background. I also believe that kids need to be able to get along with all kinds of people. To divide people by economic status, culture, race, or gender is wrong and will bring more conflict in the world.

    Let’s not go back to times when teachers could get fired for no reason and were intimidated by their bosses. Yes, poor teachers should get fired – and can. (You don’t hear about that.) But we will lose our quality of education if what is happening continues. Wisconsin has had one of the best educational systems in the country. Why do we want to place ourselves at the bottom of the heap? We don’t want to provide only low-paying jobs, but rather jobs that can support families. With low teacher morale, high class numbers, and slashed programs, there is no way that schools will even maintain the status quo.

  10. Sage B says:

    For all of you readers who think public school teachers are over paid and the solution to Wisconsin’s problems is more lower taxes and to give incentives to businesses to create more jobs–maybe you should think again. What kind of jobs will these business’s create? Do you think for a minute that the old manufacturing jobs that made Wisconsin great will ever return? Better check to see where all the stuff you buy today comes from. I hope you are ready to sign up for those third world wages–no I don’t think that will work. What might work? Get Wisconsin on track with cutting edge industry and to do that you need a first class education system K-16. You don’t get that by gutting what is one of the best public education systems in the USA. If the Walker plan stands you will get what you paid for–poor education, low pay employment and overall lower standard of living.

  11. Eric Larson says:

    Unfortunately for the teachers in the room..the evidence that we need to spend even more on education to bring test scores up proves quite the contrary.

    We as taxpayers have already spent a considerable amount on our countries education. Historical trends and other evidence shows that we have spent nearly double per pupil, $4060 in years 1970-1971 and $9266 in years 2004-2005, (source 1) and reading test scores have remained relatively flat.

    An ever increasing amount of education funding is not being spent in the actual instruction of students but in other areas of school. Instead of spending money on forensics trips, new football and basketball uniforms every two years, providing free daycare for working parents by paying after school staff….its worth taking a look at spending more on Reading, Writing, and Arithmatic.

    source 1 – U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics:2007. Table 171, at http://www.nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07_171.asp (August 21,2008)

    • Kay B says:

      I agree that a lot of educational money is spent on extra-curricular programs. It is fine if we have extra money, but in this economy, perhaps we should reconsider our emphasis on sports, band, etc. Instead, school boards are laying teachers off. Where are the priorities? Gov. Walker’s plan will cause teachers’ pay to be decreased so much that only the lowest ability college students will opt for the teaching profession in the future. Who is going to do those jobs? I would hate to think.

      The test score issue is an interesting one. The teachers I worked with gave it their all to improve test scores, but you know what? students have a limited potential due to IQ and environmental influences i.e. their home life, social influences, maturity, etc. There is only so much potential to tap. You can only raise the bar so high.

      As for the daycare, I am not aware of free daycare. However, that also could easily be remedied. We don’t have to promise free daycare in the schools.

      Teachers are being blamed for problems that school boards and administrators have either created or not solved. We don’t decide how to spend the money. If there are problems with teachers, blame it on administrators that don’t supervise their staff. No teacher wants to work with a poor teacher.

      It depresses me to think that my grandchildren won’t have a decent education because the new budget is going to eliminate good teachers and destroy academics – but yes, preserve the glitz (extra-curricular activities, etc.).

  12. Larry K says:

    Eric, $4060 in 1970 is $20363 in 2005 dollars. So maybe the taxpayers have been getting a good deal and it just got even better.

  13. Eric Larson says:

    Larry K…the numbers are already adjusted for inflation (i already did the math for you).

    Kay B…these are samples of test scores that are statistically accurate. The point your making is that essentially our society is getting dumber and dumber by the generation due to IQ and environmental influences i.e. their home life, social influences, maturity, etc. This fact I will most certainly agree with. More kids are spending time infront of the TV, playstation, ect. How is more money going to solve that problem when from 1970-2004 standardized test scores have remained relatively flat.

    The reason these students arent doing any better is due to broken homes and poor parenting at home. NO amount of money will help a parent be a parent. What I do agree with however is having parents who have children in school pay more of the burden than those who dont. It would then give them a vested interest in having their child perform better. I dont have children yet I understand why a SMALL portion of my taxes should go to help the schools. I do not understand however why I should pay for students who are given the tools to succeed, yet the student and family fails when the bell rings.

    • Larry K says:

      Err… not seeing it there Eric (broken link).

      But what you are saying is we spent $928 per child in 1974?

      That equals $4060 in 2010 dollars.

      Can you provide another link or run your numbers through an inflation calculator as I cited?

      • Eric Larson says:

        Current expenditures per pupil in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools: Selected years, 1961-62 through 2007-08
        School Year Current expenditures in unadjusted dollars
        Current expenditures in constant 2008-09 dollars1

        1961-62 $2,808
        1970-71 4,552
        1980-81 5,718
        1986-87 7,105
        1990-91 7,857
        1995-96 7,904
        1996-97 8,002
        1997-98 8,214
        1998-99 8,490
        1999-2000 8,765
        2000-01 9,048
        2001-02 9,309
        2002-03 9,482
        2003-04 9,586
        2004-05 9,754
        2005-06 9,865
        2006-072 10,178
        2007-08 10,441


  14. Kay B says:

    Eric – I’m afraid the discussion stops here. Seems we have a basic philosophical difference of opinion. I believe that all people should have the same opportunity to succeed in this country. I believe that even though we are seeing more and more broken homes, schools not only offer quality education, but also are a major safety net for students from these broken homes. Teachers are trained not only to teach academics, but also to teach students how to deal with social and personal issues. Unfortunately once teachers’ salaries and benefits are significantly lowered, which will happen with Walker’s budget, and once teacher standards are lowered in order to get people willing to teach, this isn’t going to happen as it has in the past.

    I also believe that an investment in all children, whether or not they are our own, will benefit all of us. That means we have an opportunity to surround ourselves with good people – whether they be our auto mechanic, our lawyer, our store clerk, our postman, our delivery person, our health professional, etc. It diminishes the chance that a student will be unemployed, on drugs, turn to crime. It’s a very worthwhile investment in the future.

    I will let you continue the debate. That is all I have to say.

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