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Updated: District Says It's Too Early to Consider Teacher Contract Extension

Union makes a proposal to extend current contract with health insurance, pension concessions before budget repair bill takes effect.

While some teachers were helping with the Monday afternoon, other teachers were outside the building raising awareness of a different cause - a contract proposal the union has submitted to the School Board.

Union President Mark Yanisch said he submitted a proposal to board members to maintain the existing teachers contract provisions for another two years, with modifications to mirror the 5.8 percent pension contributions and 12 percent health insurance contributions proposed under Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill.

Mark Kapocius, the district's human resources director, said the board received the proposed agreement from the union on Feb. 28. On March 10, the board sent Yanisch an e-mail saying it was too early to consider a contract, given the uncertainty surrounding the budget repair bill and the biennial budget.

“It would be imprudent at this juncture for the board to enter into a contract with so many unknowns out there,” he said.

Since then, Yanisch said he also handed the board members a petition with signatures from 67 union members in support of the proposal.

In addition to the pension and health insurance contributions, Walker's controversial budget repair bill would most notably eliminate the bulk of collective bargaining rights. The bill does not take effect until it is published, and due to a Dane County judge's injunction, the bill is temporarily in limbo.

Yanisch said he asked to sit down and discuss his proposal with the board before the bill is published, but he has not heard anything from the board or administration since March 10. Kapocius said the board thought the original response was sufficient, and the board still feels it would be too early to enter into a contract.

Walker has said the cuts in public employee compensation will offset $900 million in state aid cuts to school districts in his biennial budget. The Whitefish Bay School District under the proposed budget.

Yanisch said the Whitefish Bay Education Association and the board have a professional relationship.

"We've got a great partnership. We really do," he said.

While some unions have acrimonious relationships with their school boards, "that's not the relationship we want," Yanisch said. "Nor do we want teachers looking over their shoulder. Nor do we want teachers wondering if they're going the ones who are going to be laid off next year. No one wants to be in those shoes."

George Mitchell March 27, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Mr. Ruble, "Conflicting Missions?: Teachers Unions and Educational Reform," May 2000, Tom Loveless, Editor, Brookings Institution. "A Culture of Complaint," Education Next, Summer 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 3
Lyle Ruble March 27, 2011 at 01:39 PM
George, Thank you, I will attempt to approach them with an open mind. I do have a great deal of respect for the Brookings Institution and their bipartisan approach.
George Mitchell March 27, 2011 at 01:54 PM
From Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, Dec. 2006, “Influence: A Study of the Factors Shaping Education Policy” “Also identified as leading information sources are the Education Trust and Education Next. The Education Trust’s outreach efforts include speaking engagements and presentations by key staff members, its Thinking K-16 report series, and special reports on a range of topics. Published by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Education Next features articles from leading education researchers and prominent policy commentators. It is also the only peer-reviewed periodical ranked among the top information sources.”
Lyle Ruble March 27, 2011 at 04:46 PM
To all concerned about Teachers Unions and Public Education, From the information that Mr. George Mitchell provided, I am happy to report who he is. He is a well respected advocate for the Voucher and School Choice Programs. He is one of the architects of Milwaukee's Choice Program and is in this fight up to his ears. He has a reputation for wanting to dismantle the public school system and provide privatized choice voucher systems. His position will be greatly enhanced if the limits are removed from the current charter schools and voucher program. he has backing from the Fordham Institute and the Hoover Institute.
George Mitchell March 27, 2011 at 05:02 PM
With the expiration of Mr. Ruble's short-lived ban on discussing me, he observes that I have "a reputation for wanting to dismantle the public school system" and that I have "backing from the Fordham Institute and the Hoover Institute." As to the former, he provides no examples. I of course freely admit to advocating that all parents should have more educational options. When people equate that with the "dismantling" of public education they show less confidence in it than I have. As to the Fordham Foundation (not Institute) and Hoover Institute, what "backing" does Mr. Ruble cite? Does he mean that I have received financial support from either (I have not)? He doesn't say. Both organizations are highly respected and I am pleased to have worked with individuals at each.
Lyle Ruble March 27, 2011 at 08:56 PM
Mr. Mitchell, I think that those reading your comments need to be aware of your philosophical positions on education. I apologize for calling Fordham an institute rather than a foundation. Both Fordham and Hoover are well known as promoting conservative views on education and a variety of other conservative policy issues. This does not mean that they are not of value in the ongoing debate to improve our K-12 education system. It means that there research and positions are in keeping with a conservative perspective. I did not intend that my statement of support indicated that you were funded by them. I would have no way of knowing that and even if you were it would have nothing to do with the current dialogue. Parental choice may sound good in theory, but, in my opinion; it is a code for a larger libertarian agenda. My experience has been that private academies and schools, etc, was a vehicle to retain racial segregation in the South. I am a strong believer in the separation of religious orientation and secular instruction in publicaly funded education systems. I am old school and I feel that if a parent wishes to educate their children in a parochial school or private school; they have every right to do so, but not out of public education funds. To date, there have been a number of abuses of public funding by some charter schools, crossing the line to be out and out fraud.
Lyle Ruble March 27, 2011 at 08:58 PM
continued:I know that in the Milwaukee area that some of the Catholic Arch Diocese parochial schools would have been closed over a decade ago if it weren’t for vouchers. I see this to be clearly state supported religious education. If public financing of parochial schools continues, then I think I have the right to go in and challenge their curriculums. As I see it, if the limits are lifted on charter schools and vouchers state wide, it will have the net effect of “starving the beast” that many fiscal conservatives see that the public schools represent. Without funding the public schools will have to downsize to where they will only be providing education to the most at risk groups, primarily the inner cities. Only charter and voucher schools will benefit by the move and I have talked to a number of fiscal conservatives who want the complete elimination of the nation’s public K-12 system. In my opinion, this would be disastrous and create even greater divides in our already divided nation.
Lyle Ruble March 27, 2011 at 08:59 PM
continued:The introduction of competition into the educational arena only works if the consumer is educated to make sound decisions. Unfortunately, our general population is not at this point. I would much rather you take on the task of reforming MPS into something that works rather than working to put in place more charter schools and the advancement of vouchers.
Cal March 28, 2011 at 06:16 AM
Dear George. The comment to which you refer I made was deleted since I am truly exhausted from defending myself in a profession I have been good at and proud to be a part of. First, you made the assumption that I was male. I am not and I corrected you, but you didn't seem to get it the first time and you once again refer to me as 'he'. That was not the insulting part however. I gave a bit of my background so that readers could have some context to my comments, something you apparently did not do. By my doing so, you labeled me "self-absorbed" and have continued the attack on teachers. Furthermore, I welcome you to step into ANY of the public schools in your north shore district (are you from WFB?) and follow a teacher for one day---at any level--before you make further comments or judgements regarding the quality of the education students receive here. Don't worry about responding. I want to exit this discussion. Mr. Ruble's comments are the only ones that appear enlightened and provide some hope for public education. I can only hope he represents a majority.
Lyle Ruble March 28, 2011 at 11:29 AM
WFBMike, Welcome back. You have been missed.
Bob McBride March 28, 2011 at 11:48 AM
Lyle, You're essentially saying here that you don't think people should have a choice unless they can afford to pay for that choice on top of the taxes they already pay to support a failing public school system. You're also saying that you don't believe the general population has the tools to make such a choice intelligently. While you're obviously entitled to your opinion, people have been making precisely that choice for years in the form of the parochial schools you mention without their children being put at a competitive disadvantage as they move forward in life (unless you're of the opinion that they've been harmed by the religious instruction they received as a part of that parochial education). I'm sorry Lyle, but this smacks of an elitism that says that only a certain, enlightened few on the left have the capability to make decisions regarding the education of other people's children for those without the financial trappings to do so themselves. And that decision defaults to MPS. We already have plenty of evidence that throwing more money at MPS doesn't improve it's performance. Which isn't really surprising, considering the same can be said about just about any organization that holds what amounts to a publicly endorsed monopoly on providing a service or product. If you know the money's coming your way regardless of what you do, where's the incentive to improve? Competition provides that. Or it would if the entitlement mentality wasn't so entrenched.
Lyle Ruble March 28, 2011 at 01:21 PM
Bob, Good morning my friend. Parochial schools have their place and have genuinely provided excellent educations. Private prep schools also provide excellent educations. However, I object to the notion that tax dollars are subsidizing either one. In the case of the parochial schools it is secular dollars paying for a religious education and in the case of private prep schools, it is subsidizing people who can most afford it. I would not ask the taxpayer to fund my children's education at the Jewish preschool or Jewish Day School and if I chose for them attend I would expect to pay for it myself. and if I can't afford it then they wouldn't attend. I'm still of the opinion that, in general, people are not necessarily good consumers when it comes to deciding on educational programs. I would be less critical of a wide choice of programs if there were a comprehensive evaluation system to ascertain student performance, teacher performance and program performance. If my tax dollars are to be used then I want all teachers to be state certified and engaged in an ongoing skills enhancement program having to obtain CEUs to maintain their certification. If my tax dollars are to be used, then I also want my representatives to go in and perform a non-biased evaluation. I feel that the whole public school system in the state is being penalized because MPS cannot provide a good education to its students. MPS has been long overdue for a reformation and probably needs to be broken up.
Lyle Ruble March 28, 2011 at 03:23 PM
continued: Perhaps 8 to 10 smaller districts would return local control to individual communities and reduce the influence of the leftist elites. That would allow monies to be targeted to programs that actually need greater intervention, including the state taking over the programs.
Lu March 28, 2011 at 09:53 PM
Students lose because union employee's aren't willing to accept the fact that things must change. It's not always the student that needs to take the brunt of this - nor the teacher/public employee. Change the system to become more effective, more efficient and learn to do more with less.
JGK March 29, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Comment to teacher Heidi...Yes, there are many bad lawyers and doctors as well as hundreds of other professions..The difference is...they can be fired or not retained or not gone to...or patronized....and they are gone... What can you do to a "bad" teacher??? P.S. WFB has some of the best...if not all the best...But, this is a big state...and a big CITY... JGK JGK
Cal March 29, 2011 at 12:34 AM
Lyle, Thank you for providing clear and substantiated arguments in this dialogue.
Cal March 30, 2011 at 04:00 AM
David, can you be more specific? It's easy to say "things must change" and "do more with less" but what does this mean? Change the system? How? Are you saying teachers shouldn't spend countless hours planning or providing meaningful feedback on students' papers? I'm not really understanding what you are suggesting here....Please give clear ideas on how the "system" can be more effective. Thanks.
Lu March 30, 2011 at 05:27 PM
"Things must change" - Collective bargaining "rights" for public employees. - The construct of the education system, specifically MPS. Money, or the lack thereof, isn't driving 4th grade reading levels to the worst in our nation. Throwing more money at it isn't the answer. Do more with less? - Be willing to pay a fair share towards health insurance and pension. Pension? Wow, let’s just say that you are one of the lucky few that still have this benefit. I have a 401(k) (READ: my money) and a very dim hope of social security. - Let all school districts competitively bid out health insurance. - Maybe some school districts, as some are, need to look at consolidating and eliminating redundancies in their district. Not an easy choice but the easy choices are gone. A concept devoid in the public sector is something called efficiency. This, specifically, is what I mean when I say "do more with less". Specific enough?
Lyle Ruble March 30, 2011 at 08:47 PM
David Sook, It isn't efficiency, it's busting the power of the public unions. When you finally calm down and figure that out then you'll be prepared to deal with the reality of a power grab to be made by the GOP.
Lu March 30, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Did I strike a nerve there, Lyle? The thruth can be a bit unnerving when it hits so close to home. Simply put, you're on the wrong side of this one buddy. Fighting to maintain status quo isn't the way forward.
Lyle Ruble March 30, 2011 at 10:52 PM
David Sook, Sorry you didn't strike a nerve, but you're starting to score very low on the relevance and truth meter. Public unions don't have anything to do with driving up costs; if anything they are know leading the way to help solve the fiscal issues. I am not a union member nor have I ever been a union member, but there are a lot of advantages to the taxpayer by keeping collective bargaining in place. The least of which is to not have to go through rewriting the Wisconsin Civil Service Statutes. In addition, although Mr. George Michell would disagree, the loss of union contracts obtained through collective bargaining will directly increase the number of state and federal law suits regarding ADEA provisions. If you are looking to privatization to rescue the taxpayer, sounds good, but doesn't work across the board. Look at the report released yesterday by the WI Dept. of Public Instruction and the performance of Choice and Voucher School Programs. They came in under even MPS on standard tests. We know that privatization doesn't work in criminal justice. It is better to reform the system we have and make it work rather than to "throw out the bums" and reinvent the wheel as you suggest. I would welcome your ideas on how to improve government without "canned answers" and knee-jerk reactionism.
George Mitchell March 30, 2011 at 11:07 PM
Mr. Ruble, You are flat out wrong re the MPS vs. school choice comparison. See today's paper. Independent, rigorous research shows that choice students graduate and attend college at higher rates than MPS students. Valid test score comparisons show no statistical difference on test scores. Choice students get 6,442 in taxpayer support, compared to about 15,000 for MPS students.
Lyle Ruble March 30, 2011 at 11:24 PM
Mr. Mitchell, I read the article you are stating and I also took the time to look at the University of Arkansas longitudinal study begun in 2005. The higher rates of high school graduation and college enrollment are not statistically significant; it is well within standard of error. Are you questioning the DPI report? Every other educational institution in the state has to live and die by this report. I am curious how you are going to spin this since it may put your "hired gun" business at risk. You have to admit this is a setback for your libertarian ideology and your Republican cronies.
George Mitchell March 30, 2011 at 11:47 PM
The DPI comparison of choice and MPS students is a joke. You will find no credible scholar....none...who will support a comparison of choice students with the overall MPS population. So, yes, I am questioning the DPI report. I am retired, so your "hired gun" comment stands as just a typical cheap shot. As for school districts that have to "live and die" by DPI test scores, there have been multiple national studies showing that the WKCE is a flawed test. It's why the state is revising it. Proficiency comparisons between the WKCE and the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) are absolutely clear that Wisconsin sets the bar way too low. See "The Pangloss Index: How States Game the No Child Left Behind Act," Education Sector, November 2007.
Lyle Ruble March 31, 2011 at 12:33 AM
Mr. Mitchell, I too am retired, but on occasion I will take on a consulting job, but primarily I am on a fixed income. I don't doubt that the standardized test may be flawed, but it is flawed for everyone who took the exams. So what part is flawed the validity or reliability. In any case since the same test was given to all, then it is comparing apples to apples. Therefore, the DPI is correct in its ranking. Now if Wisconsin is setting the bar to low, then that has to be corrected. But even with the corrected and more valid exam I doubt seriously that the results would be any different. Your choice and voucher schools will still come up short. Your statement about credible scholar is probably defined as anyone you think is credible, meaning they agree with your positions.
George Mitchell March 31, 2011 at 03:19 AM
Mr. Ruble, You have no idea what you are talking about.
Lyle Ruble March 31, 2011 at 03:45 AM
Mr. Mitchell, I beg to differ with you and I want to remind you that assumptions based on false premises make the whole argument wrong. Sir, your perspective and reality have created a condition where you are unable to see other realities. You need to exam your values system and do a little reality testing. I take it that you see everything in dollar signs and judge effectiveness based on your own preconceived notions. You can point people all you want to the Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Clairmont Institute or any other right wing conservative think tank to support your positions, but they are clearly wrong too. Obviously you don't have any idea what I am talking about. Give up the fight for your voucher schools, they will never prove to be successful. Maybe you should focus your energies on the home school fundamentalist Christian movement, I am sure they will welcome you with open arms. I will never accept tax payers money going for the financial support of any other institution that is not public and secular.
Lyle Ruble March 31, 2011 at 04:05 AM
Mr. Mitchell, One other thing to add; the problem of poor performing schools will never be solved until we eliminate the conditions of chronic impoverishment. That sir, is the foundation of the problem. How can children perform when they grow up in a culture in which they don't receive adequate nutrition for proper brain development, a culture that doesn't support academic and skills achievement because there aren't any jobs anyway, and an outside society that more often than not is out right hostile to them. You can sit in your comfortable home in WFB and I in my home in Shorewood and debate this until the cows come home; but, it is in fact very simple, eliminate poverty and the problem goes away. Now if you want to counter that we can't afford it; then I will counter with, we have to afford it or settle on the realization that a 3rd world nation will continue to exist in the wealthiest nation on earth.
George Mitchell March 31, 2011 at 04:14 AM
The WFB school board had an interesting discussion tonight. Bottom line: the budget repair bill will prevent layoffs. Constructive proposals were offered from the teachers assn to work on ways to save money. While people clearly have strong opinions, the over-the-top rhetoric that prevails in Patch threads was missing. This is where and how the real work will get done. The likes of Lyle, Keith, Kiernan, etc. will babble on. Their real problem will come when the recall elections occur...it will be much clearer by then that this is a choice between higher taxes and layoffs.
Lyle Ruble March 31, 2011 at 11:14 AM
Mr. Mitchell, Your report about the WFB school board meeting is encouraging. Dialogue and compromise is the only way that problems will be solved. Please pass that on to Governor Walker and the Republican controlled legislature. I have always depended on the political process of give and take. That is until Scott Walker and the legislature made their unprecedented power grab. The one good thing that has come about from the current political environment is that people have finally gotten off their backsides and are letting their voices be heard. So I guess I should thank the governor and legislature for engaging the citizenry.

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