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July 01, 2011

Wisconsin School-Destroying/Child-Hating Bill Has Perverse Consequence: Saving A School District And Improving Public Education

Sometimes you have these bad secondary effects.

Like when your plan is to keep education in a state of permanent crisis, thus requiring constant repair (by which I mean: ever-increasing salaries and benefits), and then one day a law is passed and suddenly there is no crisis.

Horrible!

Why, this is such a bizarre state of affairs, you'd almost think the Walker/GOP plan was not promulgated to destroy public education, but rather to save it, and that the teachers' unions' mission was not to improve education, but rather to keep it in crisis forever so they could make ever-escalating demands upon the taxpayers.

The Kaukauna School District, in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin near Appleton, has about 4,200 students and about 400 employees. It has struggled in recent times and this year faced a deficit of $400,000. But after the law went into effect, at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn that $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. And it's all because of the very provisions that union leaders predicted would be disastrous.

In the past, teachers and other staff at Kaukauna were required to pay 10 percent of the cost of their health insurance coverage and none of their pension costs. Now, they'll pay 12.6 percent of the cost of their coverage (still well below rates in much of the private sector) and also contribute 5.8 percent of salary to their pensions. The changes will save the school board an estimated $1.2 million this year, according to board President Todd Arnoldussen.

Now let's talk about corruption. Corruption enabled by the special laws for special pleaders.

Byron York notes that the employee contribution was "generously" offered up by the unions in a last ditch effort to avoid the law.

But it's not merely the employee contribution towards health benefits that's rescued this school district.

It's also that health care benefits are suddenly, with the stroke of a pen, less costly.

Why?

Because the only health care organization the school district was permitted to negotiate with was... a creature of the teachers' union.

In the past, Kaukauna's agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust -- a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. "It was in the collective bargaining agreement that we could only negotiate with them," says Arnoldussen. "Well, you know what happens when you can only negotiate with one vendor." This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.

Now, the collective bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. "With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and lo and behold, WEA Trust said, 'We can match the lowest bid,'" says Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke, who represents the area and supports the Walker changes. At least for the moment, Kaukauna is staying with WEA Trust, but saving substantial amounts of money.

How about that?

There is corruption going on here that we didn't even imagine. Corrupt people can think up too many corrupt schemes for the honest man to keep up with.

At some point you just have to take an ax to the tree.

Oh, and there's more. Teachers will now have to teach six periods a day, rather than five, so... class sizes are being reduced.

Just like the teachers claim they always wanted.

Except they wanted that extra hour off a wee bit more.

Thanks to Gabe (a different Gabe) for alerting me to this.

Public Teachers' Unions

We're paid to make your kids smart, but we're paid better to make them dumb.



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posted by Ace at 03:23 PM

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