Only a fool would think that the sick out that closed down Madison schools for five days in February was anything but an illegal, union-coordinated, illegal strike.
But there are a lot of fools in Madison, aren't there?
Now there is proof that the sickout was a premeditated, union-authorized job action -- a phone tree of teachers calling other teachers to close down the schools. This kind of activity is prohibited by the union's own contract and illegal in WI Statute Chapter 111.84(2)(e):
It is unfair practice for an employee individually or in concert with others: To engage in, induce or encourage any employees to engage in a strike, or a concerted refusal to work or perform their usual duties as employees.
The problem, of course, is finding an impartial prosecutor -- but that would require a level of professionalism sorely lacking in the Doyle-appointed incumbent.
Crusading advocacy journalist Vicki McKenna received this e-mail Friday evening. I share it with you:
Sent: Fri 4/8/2011 7:04 PM
To: McKenna, Vicki
Subject: Madison teachers coordinating sick out
My name is Matt [redacted]. (I prefer you not use my name on the air.) I live in Madison. Someone left a voicemail in error on my home phone back in February during the Madison school "sick out". At the time I didn't pay much attention to the message, but I didn't delete it. I just went back to listen to it today. Based on the names mentioned in the voicemail, it sounds like a teacher at Falk Elementary accidentally called my number and left a message that was intended for another teacher at Falk. She talks about calling other teachers, meeting at Falk at 7:30, and then meeting MTI on MLK Blvd for a rally at 9:00.
She says that "MTI recommends calling in sick again." Based on the names she mentions, I looked up the staff at Falk and found all of the names:
Amy Covey (she is the one who left the message)
James W. Wilson (This is who she was calling. I looked up his phone number and found it is one digit off from mine, so it makes sense she accidentally called me instead.)
Mathew E. Thompson
I realize that if they had doctors' excuses, there may not be much that can be or will be done to them, but isn't coordinating their absences like this
illegal? I was going to send a note to a couple of school board members asking them about it, but I'm not sure this is the best thing to do.
Here is the audio:>
Vicki, enchantress of the airwaves, tells me that Orville Seymer took this to Dane County D.A. Ismael Ozanne and was told to take his complaint to Marty Beil. Marty Beil?!!! Seymer, BTW, is a leader of a Milwaukee-area watchdog group instrumental in driving out the pension-scandal corruption of the Democrat(ic) Tom Ament regime.
Step and lane
The Madison schools have received some kudos for restraining the compensation of its unionized and radicalized workforce in these difficult financial times. Many of us were aware, however, that teachers get automatic raises for what amounts to longevity. The superintendent of Madison Schools pled ignorance.
"One School Board member even suggested the average teacher raise for years of experience and higher education credits would be so small it was hardly worth considering," the WI State Journal wrote on April 4.
The Wisconsin State Journal, to its credit, would not take the brush-off and insisted on knowing how much. Turns out 2.3 percent a year. Not bad in these almost deflationary times.
I asked WSJ editorial editor Scott Milfred to identify the school official who was so terribly mistaken - or deceitful. He relates, "We had Beth Moss and Maya Cole in with Dan Nerad. When I wrote the editorial, I wasn't 100 percent sure which of the board members said that, which is why I didn't attach a name." Milfred adds that the other two never corrected the statement, either.
Now here's some more bad news. When the school board ratified the hurry-up-and-git-er-done contract, it announced that teachers would pay 12 percent of their health insurance costs. That did not last long. The co-pay, sought statewide in Gov. Walker's budget bill, now stalled in Judge Sumi's court, has been eliminated in the Madison school district budget.
That is just the 13th of 20 "missed opportunities" Don Severson of Active Citizens for Education outlines in this position paper. Number One, of course, was rushing the damn thing into print in the first place when the existing contract did not expire until June 30.
The School Board will first consider the annual budget on May 9. Budget approval is scheduled for June 6.