Teachable moments

Lessons Learned in Recent Protest

Teachers are often talking about “ Teachable moments,” and many saw such opportunities in the recent protests over Governor Walker’s budget fix bill. Let us examine the lessons offered by the protesters, of which teachers were among the most visible.

1. It is OK to violate contracts. Protesters support the right to contract collectively, but apparently see no problem with NOT fulfilling that contract. Many, including local teachers, took off time that they had contracted to serve to go to Madison to protest. In most private employment situations, that would have cost them their jobs.

2. It is OK to commit fraud. Many employees called in sick when they were not. That is fraud. And of course, about a dozen UW doctors also committed fraud in handing out medical excuses to people they did not even examine and got no medical history on. One wonders, if it is OK to defraud taxpayers in this situation, is fraud OK when making claims against insurance companies, patients, or government payees?

3. Tantrums are OK. If you do not agree with someone, it is OK to LOUDLY protest, bang drums, blow horns, shout, call your opponents vulgar names, destroy property, and physically intimidate, going eyeball to eyeball in shouting down your opponent.

4. It is OK to exploit children who can not possibly understand all the issues related to these protests. Most have never held a job, never paid any taxes, never had total responsibility for themselves and their lives. Most have only heard the arguments of their teachers.

5. Death threats are OK too.

6. "Its About Freedom" (AFSCME sign) In NewSpeak, compulsion means freedom. Unions never were and never will be about freedom. They are about COMPELLING all employees to join, about COMPELLING people to pay dues, and about COMPELLING employers to "BARGAIN" WITH THEM. I am all for freedom of association, your right to join or not join. I also support an employer's right to recognize or not recognize a union. That too is about the FREEDOM of association, and about the FREEDOM to control your own property or business. But I guess it is also about the freedom of unionists to act as described here. It is about the freedom of unionists to terrorize those with whom they disagree.

7. PROTECT DEMOCRACY- We are all for democracy except when the other side wins. Then it is OK to pull out all the stops. After all, the ends justify the means.

8 PROTECT THE MIDDLE CLASS- Never mind that the wages and benefits of the public sector come in large part from those in the private sector middle class.

I have long maintained that professionalism and unionism were conflicting, if not mutually exclusive points of view. The demonstrators have given me absolutely no reason to reconsider this long held belief, and plenty of ammunition to support my arguments. A professional does the right thing, even when he might not want to. A unionist wants more for less. A professional conducts himself in a civilized manner, and a unionist will at least occasionally act like a spoiled 2 year old brat.

So you say I am judging too harshly and that our local teachers may not have participated in all the above? I say, that if you want to BARGAIN collectively and PROTEST in favor of that stand, then you take COLLECTIVE Responsibility. Especially if you do not object to any of the above behavior, you own it.

Yes there were many lessons to be learned from these protesters. Unfortunately, damn few of the lessons were positive ones. Do we REALLY want our children learning these lessons? And if the students learn these lessons well, how will teachers ever control the classrooms so that REAL education can take place? And if these lessons are learned well by students, what does that portend for the future but more of this unseemly behavior, more of the same entitlement mentality that is tearing the country apart now?