Home > Uncategorized > Where Does Anti-Union “Reform” Lead? Wisconsin Gives Us the Answer… It Leads to Corruption

Where Does Anti-Union “Reform” Lead? Wisconsin Gives Us the Answer… It Leads to Corruption

February 21, 2016

Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s union busting Governor, just signed a bill into law that will eliminate civil service testing and replace it with hiring “…based on résumés and the impressions they leave on administrators perusing them.”

The NYTimes editorial board coldly describes the result of this legislation:

New hires who had six months’ probation will now be under a two-year watch in which to please their masters. And should anyone wonder where the power lies in this “streamlined” system, the law centralizes hiring decisions firmly in the governor’s administrative office, with a new system of merit bonuses at the ready.

Patronage, anyone? Mr. Walker hailed the changes as “common sense” efforts to “get the best and brightest in the door and keep them there.” He did not mention energetic toadying as a possible qualification, nor the political cronyism the law so obviously invites.

I worked as a Superintendent of Schools in New York State for five years and found the civil service system used to hire some of the non-teaching staff members to be cumbersome and complex. But having also worked in school districts where board members and local elected officials often attempted to use political pressure to show preferential treatment for local applicants over “outsiders” I appreciated the need for some means of objectivity in hiring. And my experience in NYS makes me appreciate what the consequences might be If Governor Cuomo ever eliminated civil service in that state as a “common sense” provision: the door would be open for local school boards to insist on hiring a relatively unqualified friend or relative who needs a job to fill a mid-level vacancy in the business office or on the maintenance staff.

The celebrated “union-busting” and especially the “deregulation” championed by the likes of Mr. Walker open similar doors for patronage. Union contracts often include language designed to protect employees from administrative bullying and arbitrariness, tools heavy-handed and toadying administrators often wielded to help school board members “weed out” teachers who held controversial opinions on issues. And regulations like certification requirements for teachers and safety provisions for schools ensured that students attended well maintained facilities with qualified staff members in all subjects.

Mr. Walker has been hailed by those who favor deregulated for profit schools… and the day is rapidly approaching in Wisconsin when parents will flee public schools for good reason: they will be staffed with energetic toads who serve at the pleasure of arbitrary and capricious board members and administrators and no longer be subject to those stifling “government regulations”. They will, however, reward the shareholders who invest in them.


  1. February 22, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Your description of energetic toads who “serve” is apt. I watched year after year of the NCLB/R2T-instigated test-score-based school reforms lead only to a tighter and tighter Don’t Talk Back top-down control over our schools. By the time older educators like me found ourselves pushed completely out of teaching, the hierarchy model of control had taken hold and chaos had ensued. The ONLY thing which an administrative hierarchy employee cares about is keeping his/her job; they follow every single top-down dictate without question — and the schools are quickly destroyed.

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