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Guest Commentary: Teachers, unions and collective bargaining


Fri, Mar 4th, 2011
Posted in Commentary



As a retired Minnesota teacher and a former union member, I can sympathize with the teachers in Wisconsin and other states where Republican governors are attempting to weaken or destroy collective bargaining and public unions.

First of all, there is a misconception that collective bargaining is just about financial compensation. But it's much more than that. Just as important to teachers are working conditions that do not inhibit effective student instruction, being treated fairly, and having protection against arbitrary, petty, unwarranted teacher dismissals unrelated to an employee's job performance. Before the days of unions and collective bargaining, such types of unfair, arbitrary firings were common, and teachers had little legal recourse without union representation.

Another common misunderstanding is that collective bargaining and unions' support of the teacher tenure law prevents a poorly performing teacher from being fired. That is simply not true. First of all, unfit teachers are often allowed to become tenured even though during his/her initial probationary period, when it is relatively easy to dismiss an inadequately performing teacher, there is usually ample evidence that an employee is ineffective or incompetent. The problem is that administrators frequently fail to adequately monitor, evaluate, and offer assistance to a failing employee, thus allowing an ineffective teacher to achieve tenure.

But contrary to popular opinion, a teacher can still be dismissed even though he/she is tenured. Again, the problem is often that of administrators who fail to do the proper evaluation, documentation, and other legal, procedural steps necessary in order to dismiss an ineffective, incompetent, or insubordinate teacher. These rules were put in place by unions through collective bargaining in order to ensure that dismissals are fully justified and to ensure that an employee is treated fairly. Of course, these legal steps take some time and effort, which administrators often resist. No one, including teachers, wants to see an incompetent employee who refuses to make any attempts to improve stay on the job. That makes the job of all teachers that much more difficult. Blaming teachers and unions for ineffective teachers remaining on the job is missing the point.

But, there are broader, more serious, and deeper implications at play in what is now going on in states like Wisconsin. The attack on unions and collective ba .....
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Government cannot create wealth

Fri, Feb 25th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Based on millions of instructions millions of Americans give the marketplace every day, the market is super genius in allocating resources. Government however, is a comparative dunce given that the spending decisions it makes is based on politics. I ..... 
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Flights of consciousness before sleep

Fri, Feb 18th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

I don't seem to be able to control my thoughts before I fall asleep. At the risk of being labeled a misogynist, I must admit I have been thinking about Michele Bachmann's historical error of claiming the "founders" worked tirelessly to end slavery, ..... 
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Green Acres Property tax law gets pruned

Fri, Feb 18th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

By Jeremy Miller, State Senator for Minnesota District 31

In addition to the primary tasks of balancing the budget and putting more Minnesotans back to work, there are a number of other initiatives that we are occupied with in St. Paul. Withi ..... 
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A new way of being

Mon, Feb 14th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Deer appear in our yard in Preston at dusk and dawn and sometimes during the day. They eat the bark of our trees, nibble the needles of our evergreens, eat the sunflower seeds we put out for the birds and, in the summer, help themselves to our garde ..... 
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A new way of being

Mon, Feb 14th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Deer appear in our yard in Preston at dusk and dawn and sometimes during the day. They eat the bark of our trees, nibble the needles of our evergreens, eat the sunflower seeds we put out for the birds and, in the summer, help themselves to our garde ..... 
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One moment, please... Our president

Mon, Feb 14th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone: 507-251-5297

In my opinion, our president doesn't get paid enough! As matter of fact, our president doesn't get paid at all. No, I'm not talking about the President of the United States of ..... 
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One Moment, Please... Our president

Sat, Feb 12th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

In my opinion, our president doesn't get paid enough! As matter of fact, our president doesn't get paid at all. No, I'm not talking about the President of the United States of America. Obama clears over $400,000 per year - for the rest of his life. ..... 
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A new way of being

Sat, Feb 12th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Deer appear in our yard in Preston at dusk and dawn and sometimes during the day. They eat the bark of our trees, nibble the needles of our evergreens, eat the sunflower seeds we put out for the birds and, in the summer, help themselves to our garde ..... 
[Read the Rest]
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