It is hard to miss what is going on in Wisconsin: a governor using the fiscal crisis (which, in his case, is a bit ginned up) to undo decades of work to improve the lives of employees through collective bargaining. Though the unions are the corporatists' chief antagonist, that's not the real target.
Reducing government by shuttering public schools and handing education over for privatization is the real goal.
The landscape has been carefully plowed and seeded.
Follow the furrows:
Nine years ago No Child Left Behind developed a scoring system whereby all schools were doomed to failure by 2014 which is when every child is supposed to test on grade level in reading and math. No educator (or thinking human being) ever thought that a 100% pass rate would ever occur anywhere on this planet. Already, as each year passes and the required pass rates are increased, more and more schools (including the one where I teach) is labeled a "failing" school, even though districts and schools have sunk millions of dollars and man hours into getting students over standardized hurdles that most agree have damaged student learning in the long run.
As each school falls under that failing banner, bashing teachers has become a national blood sport.
Enter "Waiting for Superman" a movie conceived and sold by the billionaires boys club and touted through NBCs week long Education Nation and featured on the Oprah show. The huge media roll out made the "We must get rid of bad [all?] teachers" an unavoidable premise swallowed in a piece by the American public.
With the electorate softened up, the body blows could begin.
Scott Walker is just landing the first punch (encouraged by Governor Chris Christie's tough talk in New Jersey.) Other states are lining up to punish teachers with reduced pay, slashed pensions, larger workloads and, hopefully, no voice in how that will play out in public schools.
As teachers filled the capital in Madison, Wisconsin, effectively closing schools across the state, they were bashed again for "using the kids as a battering ram" as Fox news so evenly put it. Even as the New York Times decries Walker's actions, they cannot accept that schools should close as the battle wages on.
The argument has been framed: teachers care more about themselves than they do about the kids.
That means any action by teachers will fall into that frame.
When you are already labeled "bad," arguments that the current testing will not provide the outcomes we want as a nation, that public schools are the hallmark and jewel of a thriving democracy, that good working conditions for adults produce a stable and effective teaching force where kids can be known, nurtured, and supported lose all credibility.
It just sounds like more whining from bad employees.
Then the public schools can be closed and people who really know how to work (i.e. business people who can hire short-term, low income employees) can set up a system designed to produce the lowest-common denominator - a complacent work force.
Don't get sidetracked by the media sleight of hand.
Or public schools are toast.