Today’s editorial, “Retirements offer opportunity,” considers the recent rash of teacher retirements in Wisconsin. It notes the obvious, that many teachers left out of “fear or frustration.”
As a general, if not full-throated, supporter of Scott Walker’s plan for Wisconsin, the State Journal looks to find a silver lining in that deeply divisive plan. What about the plans effect on teachers? The newspaper acknowledges
That has hurt morale.
Off to a bad start on the silver lining. But continuing directly, they write
Yet being a teacher is still a rewarding job, with great benefits including lots of vacation time and guaranteed pensions.
Doubtless, they are here imagining the emotional/spiritual rewards, because the other, actual rewards just clearly went DOWN. Pay went down, benefits went down, and those future pensions will go down, too. The State Journal thinks that’s OK or great.
Again continuing directly, they write,
The best teachers also stand to earn more money over time as governments across the country move to performance-based compensation models.
Theoretical nonsense. Only in the imagination of this newspaper is there an any real movement to pay teachers better. There is no money now, and the permanent Republican crusade against raising taxes will ensure there is no money in the future. If merit pay ever becomes common, no one expects it to benefit more that a small percentage of teachers. Teaching as a profession is under attack.
Well, there must be a silver lining somewhere. How about this? New young teachers are delighted to get jobs. So we’ve still got teachers. That’s a “point”, you might say, a true one.
Could we apply it more widely? If doctors, or bankers, or editorial writers were compensated more poorly, might they become demoralized and quit, making room for new young people? Silver lining! Then in turn could these new young people be compensated more poorly still, quit, and make room again. “A Virtuous Cycle!” Surely someone would be happy to write these editorials for less than whatever the current guys are getting. Not only that, we might get some fresh, new—
Well, let’s forget that and move right on to what seems to us the darkest, most clueless sentence in today’s editorial:
Let’s thank those teachers who are retiring and who gave most of their lives to public education.
OK, we’ll just try to imagine how warmly this thank-you from the State Journal will be received by retiring teachers in Wisonsin.
Screwing the teachers (or the prison guards, or the snow-plow drivers, etc. etc.) isn’t something that ‘had to be done.’ None of these workers were shown to be over-compensated. ‘Fixing’ Wisconsin’s budget needn’t have mentioned any of these public employees at all, and certainly not in particular. They didn’t cause the budget shortfall, any more than any one of us. It was just something Scott Walker, the Republicans nationally, and the majority of conservative media allies wanted to do.
Let’s remember what really went on here: In the Spring of 2011, when the public unions quickly agreed to accept financial concessions, it became clear that money wasn’t the [whole] point. No, the new Republican majority wanted to destroy public unions.
Union members were voting for the wrong party. They were volunteering at phone banks, contacting people, and doing get-out-the-vote work. And outrageously, they were doing it for the wrong candidates (Democrats). Like the Voter-ID law that pretended to fix an [entirely phony] voter fraud “problem,” union-busting was really intended to fix what Republicans saw as a citizens-voting-for-Democrats problem. Like the hasty and self-serving redistricting process, the union-busting was designed to fix a citizens-voting-for-Democrats problem. All three efforts were nakedly aimed at voters who tended (just tended) to vote Democrat.
This was not normal politics — majority versus minority in the Legislature. This was a 3-pronged attack on citizens’ ability to select their own representatives. These were attacks on competitive elections. These were literally attacks on American democracy.*
Today’s muddled “Retirements Offer Opportunities” is an Editorial Type 5 – The Unintentionally Hilarious (or Just Plain Sad), with emphasis on the just plain sad.