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The Best Resources For Learning About Attacks On Teachers & Other Public Sector Workers In Wisconsin

The attacks on teachers and other public sector workers in Wisconsin by Governor Scott Walker and his allies could be a dangerous sign of things to come throughout the United States. Fortunately, the courageous and well-organized opposition could be an even more powerful indicator for the future.

I have a particular interest in what happens in Wisconsin — beyond its national implications. I lived in Milwaukee from age ten to fifteen, and know first-hand, and fondly remember, the hard work of educators in that state.

I hope readers will provide additional suggestions for this list — I’m sure there are plenty of good articles I don’t know about.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Learning About Attacks On Teachers & Other Public Sector Workers In Wisconsin:

First off, an important post from the Shanker Blog answering this question: Are Public Employee Unions To Blame For States’ Budget Crises? (the answer is “No”)

Angry Demonstrations in Wisconsin as Cuts Loom is from The New York Times.

Marching On The Capitol is a NY Times slideshow.

Democrats Missing, Wisconsin Vote on Cuts Is Delayed is another NY Times piece.

Wisconsin Crowds Swell to 30,000; Key GOP Legislators Waver is from The Nation.

Wis. union vote on hold after Democrats leave state is from MSNBC, and has links to lots of articles and multimedia.

The Wall Street Journal seems to have a surprisingly good article and slideshow.

Wisconsin teacher Mrs. 4444 suggests this MSNBC clip.

Gov. Walker’s Pretext is an editorial from The NY Times.

Wisconsin in near-chaos over anti-union bill is from The Los Angeles Times.

State Democrats absent for vote as Wisconsin budget protests swell is from CNN.

Unions aren’t to blame for Wisconsin’s budget is a column in the Washington Post.

Obama joins Wisconsin’s budget battle, opposing Republican anti-union bill is an article in The Washington Post.

States, GOP go after teachers unions in budget crisis is from CNN.

The Wisconsin Situation from The Guardian.

Wisconsin Bill in Limbo as G.O.P. Seeks Quorum is from The NY Times.

Union battle echoes beyond Wisconsin: ‘We’re fighting for our very existence’ is from The Christian Science Monitor.

Fiscal Crisis Strikes At Labor’s Core: Public Workers is from NPR.

The real Republican strategy by Robert Reich

Why FDR would support the Wisconsin protests is from Salon.

Here’s a video of firefighters — who are exempted from the changes proposed by Gov. Walker — marching into the state capitol playing bagpipes to support the protest by teachers and other public sector employees:

Here’s an excerpt from a CNN piece titled Wisconsin governor defends budget bill as opposition persists. It gives a pretty good sense of what is going on in Wisconsin right now:

Kennedy (head of the Wisconsin affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers) blamed Walker for refusing to meet with union representatives.

“We are willing to come to the table and negotiate,” Kennedy said. “He is the one not willing to come to the table. He wants to strip our rights and then dictate exactly what the terms and conditions of employment are.”

Wisconsin Assistant Senate Majority Leader Glenn Grothman, a Republican, said Walker shouldn’t have to negotiate.

That exchange says it all…

Why should an elected official talk with constituencies who will be adversely affected by his plans?

Incredible.

Chalkboard: Why one teacher is protesting comes from The Cap Times.

Chris Hayes and Naomi Klein Explain Why the Protests in Wisconsin Matter

Here’s an MSNBC video saying that 70,000 people attended Saturday’s protest against Gov. Walker’s plan to end collective bargaining. Other media outlets estimate the total was closer to 100,000.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The Essence of Democracy is from The New York Times.

12 Things You Need to Know About the Uprising in Wisconsin comes from AlterNet. (Thanks to Diane Wallis for the tip)

Larry Miller is an editor at Rethinking Schools in Milwaukee, and is writing useful updates on his blog.

Battlefield Wisconsin: Visualizing the protest comes from Salon.

Wisconsin Teachers Show Us How to Resist the Shock Doctrine is from Anthony Cody at Ed Week.

Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill Protest from Matt Wisniewski on Vimeo.

Alice Mercer posts What’s up Wisconsin?, which gives her perspective and tells about a support vigil that will be happening here in Sacramento on Tuesday.

Why America’s Teachers Are Enraged by Diane Ravitch on CNN.

This is amazing: Video: Rep. Peter Barca explodes with anger after Assembly Republicans begin voting before Democrats enter the chamber (thanks to Liam Goldrick for the tip). Here’s what happened next:

Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, responded by saying that he started early because “Honestly, I thought you guys weren’t showing up.”
Fitzgerald acknowledged that Barca was correct in his reading of the rules, and members allowed the bill to return to its amendable stage. Fitzgerald then moved to adjourn the Assembly until 10 a.m. Tuesday, prompting a standing ovation from Democrats, who promised to continue working on amendments to the bill.

Protests in Wisconsin – We are Winning

As many people know, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated while supporting workers who were striking in Memphis, Tennessee. He was a strong supporter of organized labor. Here is one of his statements that I think indicate clearly what his position would be on what is happening in Wisconsin today:

“Negroes in the United States read the history of labor and find it mirrors their own experience. We are confronted by powerful forces telling us to rely on the goodwill and understanding of those who profit by exploiting us. They deplore our discontent, they resent our will to organize, so that we may guarantee that humanity will prevail and equality will be exacted. They are shocked that action organizations, sit-ins, civil disobedience and protests are becoming our everyday tools, just as strikes, demonstrations and union organization became yours to insure that bargaining power genuinely existed on both sides of the table.

“We want to rely upon the goodwill of those who oppose us. Indeed, we have brought forward the method of nonviolence to give an example of unilateral goodwill in an effort to evoke it in those who have not yet felt it in their hearts. But we know that if we are not simultaneously organizing our strength we will have no means to move forward. If we do not advance, the crushing burden of centuries of neglect and economic deprivation will destroy our will, our spirits and our hope. In this way, labor’s historic tradition of moving forward to create vital people as consumers and citizens has become our own tradition, and for the same reasons.”

—Speaking to the AFL-CIO on Dec. 11, 1961

Wisconsin Power Play by Paul Krugman at the New York Times may be the best piece that’s been written about what’s happening in Wisconsin.

Protesters in Wisconsin Say They Are Staying Put is from The New York Times.

Back to the future? Return to labor unrest?

The irony of Obama’s ‘help’ for Wisconsin teachers is from Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post.

Teachers Unions, ACT/SAT, and Student Performance: Is Wisconsin Out-Ranking the Non-Union States? is a very important post by Angus Johnston. He examines the research connecting the role of teachers unions to student achievement.

I’m going to print an excerpt here, but you’re making a mistake if you don’t read his entire post:

There’s only been one scholarly effort to tackle this problem that I’m aware of. Back in 2000, three professors writing in the Harvard Educational Review did a statistical analysis of state SAT/ACT scores, controlling for factors like race, median income, and parental education. They found that the presence of teachers unions in a state did have a measurable and significant correlation with increased test scores — that going to school in a union state would, for instance, raise average SATs by about 50 points.

Two other findings leap out from the Harvard Educational Review study. First, they concluded that Southern states’ poor academic performance could be explained almost entirely by that region’s lack of unionization, even when you didn’t take socioeconomic differences into account.

And second, and to my mind far more interesting, they found that concrete improvements in the educational environment associated with teachers’ unions — lower class sizes, higher state spending on education, bigger teacher salaries — accounted for very little of the union/non-union variation. Teachers’ unions, in other words, don’t just help students by reducing class sizes or increasing educational spending. In their conclusion, they stated that

“other mechanism(s) (ie, better working conditions; greater worker autonomy, security, and dignity; improved administration; better training of teachers; greater levels of faculty professionalism) must be at work here.”

Egyptian union leader sends message of support to Wisconsin workers:

Teachers’ absence could turn into lesson for students comes from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

From Cairo to Madison: Hope and Solidarity Are Alive

Alice Mercer and I, along with many others, attended a rally at the California State Capitol in Sacramento tonight in support of the Wisconsin unions.
Here are some photos from the rally. The first two, which show me and others, were taken by Alice. You’ll see a picture of her in there, too. The presentation is a little strange — I’m trying out a new tool I haven’t used before (you can find a better slideshow at REAL Teachers):

MSNBC reports:

“A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows the public strongly supports employee bargaining rights. In the survey, 61% oppose a law in their state similar to one being considered in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who favor it.”

Workers’ protests swell in Midwest as budget battles continue comes from CNN.

To my critics: Teachers deserve rights by Diane Ravitch

Wisconsin is about power, not money by Ezra Klein at the Washington Post.

Ezra Klein continues to write some great pieces at the Washington Post, including:

How long can Scott Walker hold out?

What a prank call proves about Wisconsin

The conversation is no longer about Wisconsin’s finances

And he points out that not all Republican governors are inclined to follow Gov. Walker’s lead.

NPR also has some very good pieces, including:

Labor Unions Fight For Their Right To Influence

Here’s an excerpt from that NPR segment, which points out the impact of eliminating collective bargaining:

Mary Bell, head of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, says her members use collective bargaining to speak up on behalf of students. She says WEAC members weigh in on a whole host of education issues, such as “what the parameters are when you need to speak up on behalf of a student [and] what your voice is in setting curriculum.”

State Budget Fights – Wednesday, Feb. 23rd Edition

The Nation: In Wisconsin, It Isn’t About The Money

Governor Walker’s office confirms prank Koch call comes from The Washington Post.

Stephen Colbert did a fantastic piece on Wisconsin:

Here’s another excellent video:

A Wisconsin Moment For Our Education Policy Debate comes from The Shanker Blog.

Public Unions In Wisconsin, Elsewhere Are Scapegoats:Expert comes from NPR.

Unemployed public workers are bad for the economy is another good piece by Ezra Klein.

The state Assembly just passed the bill eliminating collective bargaining. You can read about what happened in this New York Times article, and see what happened in this video after Republicans cut-off debate, even though many Democrats were still waiting to speak:

The most interesting information today, I think, is a few seconds of the following embedded video from tonight’s PBS News Hour. Columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks have a segment every Friday. There’s nothing exceptional about this one until you get to the 5:45 minute mark. Then, Shields points out that there are nine states that have no collective bargaining, and that those nine states have a “higher indebtedness” than the states who do have collective bargaining. Brooks agrees with him. I wasn’t aware of that statistic, and it certainly raises more questions about the purpose behind the move to eliminate it in Wisconsin and other states — it’s not about money, it’s about power. (There might be a problem with PBS’ embed code — you can also access the video here)

As Madison Impasse Continues, Schools Eye Layoffs is from NPR.

Of Budgets and Bargaining: Putting the Union Protests Into Context is from The New York Times Learning Network.

Anger In Orange is a Wall Street Journal slideshow.

Indiana Informs Wisconsin’s Push is a very interesting article in The New York Times. Not only does it provide a scary picture of what happens without collective bargaining, it also includes a quote from a political supporter of Governor Walker’s bill eliminating it that explains what teacher tenure is so important (which is why I’m also adding this to The Best Articles For Helping To Understand Both Why Teacher Tenure Is Important & The Reasons Behind Seniority-Based Layoffs):

“I’ve talked to many teachers and public works employees in my county,” he said, “and almost every conversation comes around to the impact on their seniority and their concerns that their boss doesn’t like them and they won’t be treated fairly, and frankly I think there’s something to that.”

Scott Walker’s unprincipled rigidity comes from The Washington Post.

Another huge crowd gathers at Capitol for rally is from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Thousands converge on Wisconsin for more protests is from MSNBC.

Protesters out in force nationwide to oppose Wisconsin’s anti-union bill is from The L.A. Times.

Reuters has an article headlined Voices from the massive pro-union rally in Wisconsin.

Here are two videos from MSNBC:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Police, who are exempt from Gov. Walker’s bill, have also come to the Capitol to support protesters. Here’s a video:

Rethinking Schools has an excellent resource page titled Teaching About Labor Issues and the Wisconsin Worker Fight Back.

Here’s a video from ABC News:

Here’s a video from a Madison TV station:

Police won’t boot protesters from Wisconsin Capitol comes from MSNBC.

Protesters Defy Deadline in Wisconsin is a slideshow from The NY Times.

Poll Shows Support for Embattled Public Sector Workers is also from The New York Times.

Protest continues at Wisconsin Capitol is a series of photos from The Sacramento Bee.

Labor wins the day in Wisconsin is from Salon.

Real leaders don’t bust unions comes from Salon.

With Wisconsin’s Protesters: A Cold Night in Madison is from TIME Magazine.

Wisconsin Senate Okays Arrest of Democrats Hiding in Illinois comes from The Atlantic.

Where the Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana Union Battles Stand also comes from The Atlantic.

Wisconsin Teachers, Students Face Uncertain Future is from The Nation.

Reports: Wisconsin Republicans Wavering on Union Bill is from The Atlantic.

Wisconsin: The Tea Party’s Waterloo? is from Salon.

Unions Hope States’ Attacks Nurture a Comeback comes from The New York Times.

Both Sides Begin Efforts for Recalls in Wisconsin is also from The New York Times.

How To Make A Misleading Public/Private Earnings Gap Disappear is from The Shanker Blog.

The Budget: Who’s Really to Blame? is a cartoon from The Atlantic.

“Everyone who is party to this travesty is writing their political obituary,” said Wisconsin State Senator State Sen. Chris Larson after Republicans used a fishy and potentially illegal maneuver to pass a bill ending collective bargaining for public sector unions.

In addition to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article where he made those comments, here are some other updated resources (I’m adding all of these to The Best Resources For Learning About Attacks On Teachers & Other Public Sector Workers In Wisconsin).

What happened in Wisconsin tonight by Ezra Klein at the Washington Post.

Here’s a video report from MSNBC:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Anti-Public Employee Bill Passes Senate in Wisconsin; Only the Beginning of the Fight is a good description of potential strategies going forward.

At a Wisconsin Town Hall, the Mood Turns Against Compromise is from The Atlantic.

Wis. GOP strips public workers’ bargaining rights is from The Washington Post.

Top Ten Union Movies is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

“Your actions are disgraceful” is what some of their Democratic legislative colleagues tell Republican Senators who leave after voting to end collective bargaining for public sector employees in Wisconsin. Here’s the video:

In Wisconsin Battle on Unions, State Democrats See a Gift is a New York Times article, along with a slideshow.

The Wisconsin union fight goes nuclear is from Salon.

Nelson Lichtenstein: ‘A governor like Walker is completely correct that it’s in his self-interest to ignore public opinion.’ comes from Ezra Klein’s Washington Post column.

Here is a Wall Street Journal video showing at least 100,000 people protesting in Madison today:

Articles also appeared at MSNBC and The New York Times.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a slideshow.

Wisconsin recalls hit deadline: Where things stand is the headline of a Washington Post headline reporting on the latest news out of the campaign by teachers and other public workers. And things are really looking interesting…

Organizers Say 1 Million Signed Petition to Recall Wisconsin Governor is the headline from today’s New York Times article on the effort.

Sixty-two thousand people rallied at the Wisconsin state capitol in March, 2012 to support the rights of workers and the recall of Governor Walker. You can read about it here, and watch this video:

The Atlantic reports:

A Wisconsin panel has voted to hold a recall election on June 5 for Gov. Scott Walker, after the efforts of his opponents in last year’s fight to end state workers’ collective bargaining rights and limit their benefits.

Wisconsin voters chose Tom Barrett to oppose Governor Scott Walker in the recall vote.

Along with that NY Times article about the election, the Times produced a very useful Timeline: The Wisconsin Labor Fight.

What Governor Walker’s Win Means…

Additional suggestions are welcome.

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You might also want to explore the over 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

10 Comments

  1. This report from Rachel Maddow on MSNBC shed a lot of light on the issue for me.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#41655758

    I’d appreciate a link for how to go about my job as a middle school teacher without bursting into tears in front of my students. I would like to know how to talk to students about it in a neutral way while still discussing this history-making issue.

    Signed, Heartbroken Wisconsin Teacher

  2. Why no articles from Wisconsin?

  3. Pingback: Attention Sacramento Educators and Labor Supporters | REALTeachers

  4. Pingback: What’s up Wisconsin? | Reflections on Teaching

  5. Try madison.com or jsonline. com for articles on the situation from Wisconsin.

  6. Pingback: We Are One Rally for Wisconsin Unions | REALTeachers

  7. Pingback: Rally in Support of Wisconsin Public Workers | Reflections on Teaching

  8. Very interesting blog. I hope to follow it closely. I am working hard to fight this bill and everything that it represents.

  9. Here is a website that contains more information about the attacks on teachers in Ohio: http://americansocietytoday.blogspot.com/2011/04/facts-on-ohio-senate-bill-5.html