Thursday, February 17, 2011

On Wisconsin?

So things in the Badger State are getting pretty crazy. I'll just provide a few facts and clearly label my opinions so that you know I am not trying to persuade my readers (I do have three followers so I can justifiably use plural pronouns here). Plus, I'm not using my "work time" so my students will still have their labs graded for tomorrow.

Fact: Wisconsin's budget is not simple, nor is it suffering from a surfeit of positive income.

Fact: The Budget Proposal from the Governor removes most opportunities for State workers to bargain as a collective (Full 12+ pp Bill here. ca. 48 pp. Summary here).

Fact: Many people disagree with each other about the above budget.

Fact: Students, teachers, and thousands of other people have taken time to voice opposition to the Governor's budget proposal.

Fact: Some of the deficit numbers cited do not conform to any sense of an "actual" deficit.

Opinion: Reward or not, any feeling of crisis - real or imagined - is a great way to motivate people.

Fact: The Governor has called his budget a "Modest Proposal."

Fact: Almost 300 years ago, Jonathan Swift also made a "Modest Proposal."

Fact: Under the budget proposal, wage increases to state employees can not be larger than the Consumer Price Index. Fun bonus fact: there is more than one way to calculate a consumer price index; some indices are much less than others.

Fact: Under the budget proposal, state employees will pay more for health care. Extra bonus fact: The cost of health care has been increasing faster than the CPI. (How much faster depends on how you figure the CPI and how you define "care.")

Opinion: This would lock state employees into salaries that is guaranteed to decrease every year. Wait, would that be "Fact?"

Opinion: I find it difficult to imagine how this enables a University to recruit the best candidates (or any school, for that matter).

Fact: I work more than 50 hours per week during the school year (9-months).

Fact: I do not draw a salary during the summer.

Fact: This summer, I will be paid for about four weeks of work through grant proposals (for 40 hrs/wk). Bonus Fact: I usually work on research projects for 8-10 weeks over the summer. Double Bonus Fact: I will often work more than 8 hrs/day over the summer. Triple-scoop Yummy Fact: One of my grant funding sources is on the chopping block at the federal level, leaving me with half of the summer salary I assumed I would have.

Opinion: Like all of my other colleagues involved in education at all levels, I work hard. And like them, I fully acknowledge the fiscal difficulties and am prepared to do my part. But any proposal that would lock me permanently into a diminishing paycheck yet ask more of my time in return doesn't make sense to me.

Fact: I am not alone. Seeing this firsthand made me feel good about being an educator for the first time in several weeks.

For those of you in Wisconsin - pay attention and participate as you will. For those of you outside the state - pay attention because we're just riding the bow wave. The ship won't come in for some time yet. And there's all sorts of exciting stuff for Universities to consider - our flagship campus may be cut away from the herd.


  1. Does anyone have any idea why they want to separate Madison from the rest of us?

  2. Nice post, thanks. And super bonus double thanks for the funny :-)