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 blog Teachers Against Walker
Update: This is the final Draft of the School District of New Berlin Employee Handbook which 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.
The school board meeting culminated in a mass walk out after two anti-teacher visitors spoke. Following, a unanimous school board vote approved the employee handbook.
This video from conleymedia illustrates the devastating impact on teachers through Dale Destache’s testimony. By the 5:09 mark, Dale’s testimony is interrupted frequently by the anti-teacher crowd with yells like “Boo hoo!” [this link jumps straight to that moment][see more of the entire school board meeting at conleymedia's YouTube channel]
E. is with a group of teachers that has attended Kaukauna and Greenfield school board meetings in solidarity with local teachers who were also facing similar but less severely punitive handbooks.
A school board meeting in Greenfield became ugly and police were called, E. says, because the board was very adversarial to the point of sneering at teachers. I just watched a WISN report which said that Greenfield board members were very angry that teachers from outside the district came to cause “chaos”.
I knew that once again, E. and his colleagues would be accused of being outside interlopers instead of natural allies with New Berlin teachers. I asked how he would respond to this. He said,
“We need to be at these school districts because we’re next. We believe the fights we began are now at the school board. School boards are now “ground zero” as opposed to the Capitol. We all pushed on recalls. Now we need to be at school board meetings. Next we’ll recall Walker.”
About 2/3 of Wisconsin’s school boards have created employee handbooks after passage of Wisconsin Act 10 stripped collective bargaining rights. The remaining 1/3 are still functioning on contracts that are grandfathered-in such as Janesville’s which is functional into 2013. My informal survey of schools across Wisconsin suggests that most new school handbooks are good for 1 year only.
*There is a Vicki McKenna Class Dismissed facebook page, now
*I just want to write down somewhere that I might own the phrase “the Queen of mean radio ranters, Vicki McKenna” now, but feel free to repeat that all you like.
If you’d like to see what WISN produced…
and here’s what MJS printed. Notice the photo they selected to represent the audience.