Gail Collins Tries to Understand Governor Scott Walker’s Ideas about Education

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Gail Collins, formerly chief editorial writer for The New York Times and now a regular columnist, has a hilarious column today about Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin.


This is a man who seriously should not be in contention for the Republican presidential nomination.


Collins says he needs an eraser to take care of the mistakes and drafting errors that plague his speeches and statements.


She writes about his Big Speech to conservative activists in Iowa:


Mainly, though, The Speech was about waging war on public employee unions, particularly the ones for teachers. “In 2010, there was a young woman named Megan Sampson who was honored as the outstanding teacher of the year in my state. And not long after she got that distinction, she was laid off by her school district,” said Walker, lacing into teacher contracts that require layoffs be done by seniority.


All of that came as a distinct surprise to Claudia Felske, a member of the faculty at East Troy High School who actually was named a Wisconsin Teacher of the Year in 2010. In a phone interview, Felske said she still remembers when she got the news at a “surprise pep assembly at my school.” As well as the fact that those layoffs happened because Walker cut state aid to education.


Actually, Wisconsin names four teachers of the year, none of which has ever been Megan Sampson, who won an award for first-year English teachers given by a nonprofit group. But do not blame any of this on Sampson, poor woman, who was happily working at a new school in 2011 when Walker made her the star victim in an anti-union opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal. At the time, she expressed a strong desire not to be used as a “poster child for this political agenda,” and you would think that after that the governor would leave her alone. Or at least stop saying she was teacher of the year.


When it comes to education, Walker seems prone toward this sort of intellectual hiccup. Just recently, he released a proposed budget that would have changed the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement by eliminating the bits about “the search for truth,” educating people and serving society, in favor of the educational goal of meeting “the state’s work force needs.” When all hell broke loose, Walker blamed that one on a drafting error.


She notes that Walker wants to change teacher licensing, so teachers need not have any teacher education or training to teach. “Life experience” would count instead. Anyone should be able to teach, like in the early 19th century. This is a man who seriously doesn’t care about education.





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