Instead of union contracts, Wisconsin teachers now have to abide by local handbooks suggested by Gov. Scott Walker. What does refusing to allow workers to help a sick colleague or longer skirts have to do with saving money? And just listen to the nasty wingnuts in the audience at the New Berlin school board meeting. Via the Blue Cheddar blog:
The “tools” Walker has handed to local governments are supposedly meant to help cut costs. However the changes to the New Berlin school workplace approved August 29 don’t look like mere cost-savings to me. New Berlin Education Association President Diane Lazewski agrees in MJS: “I would be surprised to see any other handbook as punitive as ours,”
I should note that all details aren’t available until 9/8 and changes occur 10/1 according to a document from the blogTeachers Against Walker
Update: This 51 page Draft of School District of New Berlin Employee Handbook – Parts A and B states that it goes into effect 9/1/11
A few of the changes:
–A ‘sick bank’ which allows teachers to donate sickleave to seriously ill colleagues will be eliminated.
–No set pay for overtime; only stipends
–Elementary teachers work an added 205 hours without added pay.
–Secondary teachers work an added 95 hours without added pay.
and there are odd restrictions such as
–Dress Code: Skirts below knee, no sweatshirts, no jeans, no large logos, no open shirts, etc. and
–The loss of all microwaves, refrigerators, and coffeemakers.
I called a young teacher, E., from Racine just before the meeting. E. said New Berlin’s handbook is the worst of a new crop of handbooks he’s seen. Handbooks now serve in lieu of contracts for public school employees where contracts have expired.
E. says: “This turns back the clock. It keeps teachers on call until 5PM for I.E.P meetings (Individualized Education Programs). This is eating into the time of people. Making them do more work for less money”. More details are HERE.
E. pointed out that clearly not all school boards are heavy-handed. The Shorewood School Board has opted for a collaborative approach to its handbook.
I gathered through tweets the meeting attracted 500-600 people, with incoming drivers having to park very far away. At the very beginning of the meeting, the board met privately for a time, sending complaints of undemocratic process and even illegal meeting practices through social media [claims I have not checked into.] I got conflicting reports on the composition of the crowd. A MJS reporter tweeted that there was a 50% pro-handbook and 50% anti-handbook audience.
A mass of anti-teacher residents booed and catcalled the teachers and their allies while they gave public testimony. And I’ve now seen three reports via social media that candy pacifiers were used to taunt teachers – supposedly an idea of the Queen of mean radio ranters, Vicki McKenna.* According to WEAC, at least 3 other right wing tak radio personalities called for citizens to oppose teachers: Belling, Wagner & Charlie Sykes.