What does Madison School Board member Ed Hughes have in common with Patty Hearst?
They both suffered from Stockholm Syndrome. Hostages who inexplicably bond with their captors are said to suffer from this syndrome. Ed has been cowed by the teachers union for so long that he harbors conflicting emotions.
Ed would reward the district's teachers -- two-thirds of whom lied when they called in sick to swell the Siege of the Capitol in February -- with a $200 gift cards and another $60 to help with their income taxes. This undeserved largesse would cost $1.05 million. (Read the proposal.) Meanwhile, Ed would raise property taxes by $2 million. (Detailed here.)
Torrey Jaeckle comments on his Facebook page, "I've sat through school board meetings where Ed has raised concerns about the cost to the district for the proposed Madison Prep charter school that would aim to close our district's horrific achievement gap. I guess I know where his priorities lie now."
Here is the Blaska counter-proposal -- give the bonuses to the one-third of the teachers who did not violate their contracts, who did not lie about being sick, who did not desert their students. It could be the start of merit pay.
Ed Hughes responded this morning:
Thanks for your suggestion, which is considerably more measured (and anatomically possible) than other suggestions coming my way. It seems to be that case legally that if my suggestion were to be implemented, neither I nor you nor anyone could pick and choose who get's the extra money and who doesn't. It's all or nothing.
My modest goal was to try to treat our school employees (who are all taking big financial hits next year) as well as we treat our employees at my law firm. I was taking the governor at his word that, financially speaking, we should be treating our public employees more like private employees. Perhaps the world isn't yet ready for such forward thinking.
Ed, Did your law partners fail to show up for a deposition? Did they lie to the judge? Did they violate their contracts? Leave their clients in the lurch for four days?
More to the point for the great majority of teachers: did they act like professionals? The teachers chose an anachronistic, industrial age, assembly line unionized model -- their fault it does not permit (discretionary) bonuses.
Do I fail to understand the concept of a bonus? A bonus is given for a job exceptionally well done. A bonus is given for work above and beyond the usual. A bonus, in short, is not given to all but to a few. It is -- ta da! -- a merit system.
Otherwise, the bonus is an insult to the one-third of teachers who did not lie about being sick, did not desert their students, did not violate their contracts but acted like professionals.
Why you want to shower this ungrateful and contentious union with money and then make Kaleem Caire jump through a maze that would fatigue a Navy Seal makes no sense. On the latter, set a budget the district is willing to spend and hold him to it. If he exceeds, he can make it up in the private sector.
Ed responded (and I really do appreciate his response):
I'm talking about where everyone shares equally. That's the way we do it for our (law practice) staff. My son works for Fidelity Investments -- last year he and all their several thousands of employees all got a year-end bonus because the company had a good year.
This most definitely would not be a payment to the union but rather to our employees. I won't go into it here, but this idea is entirely consistent with my recent blog about John Matthews.
I think it would be a prudent investment. I think the benefits the district would get back from a staff that felt more appreciated would easily outweigh the cost of the proposal. Obviously, people can differ on this. Just as obviously, I understand that I am setting myself up as a fat target. I trust that you know the feeling.
(I'm fat?) Blaska responded in turn:
But the Madison School District did NOT have a good year! Not on revenue, not on results. Our property values declined in Madison. Foreclosure rates are high. So is unemployment. The State of Wisconsin, the other major source of revenue, is broke. Minority students are NOT succeeding.
Folks, we need to speak out at either of two public hearings:
- This afternoon, May 19, at 5 pm in the Doyle Administration Building, McDaniels Auditorium
- Sunday, May 22, 1 pm at the Warner Community Center
The teachers union will be there in full force. Be prepared to stand in line (actually, you can sit) while district employees run the clock. Show them what democracy really looks like.
At the very least, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org to give what-for to all seven Board members. It's all about courage, folks.