Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wrong Way

The current furor in Wisconsin over state government efforts to eliminate its deficit by placing strict limits on state employee unions is generating a public image unfortunately lacking in reality on both sides of the argument. Let's focus on the teachers portion of the debate.

It has become fashionable in some circles to either universally praise or condemn public teachers. Those who shower nothing but accolades paint a picture of every teacher being a shining paragon of virtue and noble sacrifice, while holders of negative opinions consider teachers one and all to be tax-sucking sloths interested in nothing but their tenure and pension plan. Neither viewpoint is anywhere close to reality.

Let's discard the clich├ęs about teachers and look at the truth. As is the case with any group of workers, there are good ones and bad ones. That said, there are far, far more good teachers than bad out there. They genuinely care about their students. They do their best to teach them well. They make a positive difference in people's lives. And they do not deserve to be tarred with the same brush presently being wielded against those who give every impression of having no interest in anything other than making a living off the public dime.

We live in economically troubled times, in which it is more important than ever for all levels of government to maintain tight controls on their spending. This includes the cost of labor, namely salaries and benefits. That said, lumping all members of any given profession together with those who consider public temper tantrums an acceptable form of behavior is extremely short-sighted. Don't let the few doing it the wrong way lead you into you yourself doing things the wrong way by incorrectly labeling the many.

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