Monday, May 07, 2007

The 800-Pound Gorilla Is Missing

The Milwaukee JS is running a series on the troubles with violence in the Milwaukee Public School system. It's not a happy-talk series, either:

But on a daily basis, the situation is more dire in Milwaukee Public Schools.

In recent weeks, the city has been rocked by a series of high-profile cases. A seventh-grader was arrested with an unloaded gun and ammunition. A staff member at Walker International Middle School was knocked unconscious while trying to break up a fight. On the same day, a series of fights at Hamilton High School led to a lockdown.

...More than once a day, a staff member reports being physically assaulted in MPS schools.

Over the last five years, the number of teachers, assistants and substitutes reporting assaults (including verbal ones) has stayed between 300 and 400. Physical assaults make up the majority of cases.

...Teachers and principals say the attacks have been more intense recently. Over the last two school years, for example, about a quarter of teachers reporting physical assaults went on to file worker's compensation claims. In the past, the percentage was lower - about 15%.

So when the MPS Board discussed employing physical-restraints for out-of-control students, the Board decided not to do it.

What's missing from this picture?

One of the most militant labor organizations in the State of Wisconsin: WEAC (MTEA branch), whose members are MPS teachers, whose "Who Are We?" page includes the following:

As a labor union, we work to attract and retain the best teachers and support personnel - by improving salaries, benefits, employment rights, and working conditions.

"Working conditions" used to include such niceties as "safety" and "workplace injury-reduction."

So where's the MTEA on the problems of MPS?

Nowhere to be found. Not a peep in the local coverage (at least, not yet.)

How many teachers have to be assaulted? How many have to file for WC?

Where's MTEA??


Peter said...

Cue those chirping crickets. It's embarrassing.

Jay Bullock said...

Wha? MTEA is in there:

Dennis Oulahan, the president of the teachers union, said he believes cutbacks in art, music, extracurricular programs and other opportunities for children make the problems worse.

"Teachers' assistants are being cut. Specialists are being cut. The class size goes up," he said. "It all leads to fewer adults and fewer outlets for kids." [. . .]

"We're seeing fewer (assaults) with an increased level of violence," said Sid Hatch, assistant executive director of the union. "Before, a young student might have kicked a teacher during a temper tantrum. Now it's a parent coming in and beating up a teacher."

I'm not sure what you want. Sarah Carr wrote the article, and the JS published it. MTEA has no control over how much of what they said in interveiws makes it into the paper.

What doesn't make the paper is the union's efforts to inform teachers of their rights and responsibilities surrounding violence; the MTEA's professional development offerings, which includes classroom management skills; and MTEA's work with principals to identify unsafe buildings and develop plans to bring them under control. I've seen all of that in action in the last couple of years.

Dad29 said...

Jay, that's an evasion.

First, as you can see from the 4th installment of the series, "Unsafe Building" classification in Wisconsin is a joke. And the definitions were written by WEAC stooges who happen to be in DPI.

Secondly, yapping about "less music classes" is NOT the same as saying "We DEMAND physical safety for our members. Handcuffs are only a beginning."

IOW, Jay, MTEA is missing in action.