Monday, December 12, 2011

Burlington Educators Attacked with Flawed Logic

Philip Ketterhagen must think the readers of the Standard Press are fools and wouldn't see through the apples to oranges analysis of Burlington Area School District (BASD) compensation he included in his letter to the editor last week. Ketterhagen's focus is on money alone as he states that "the BASD staff is in the elite percentile of income." True, but what he leaves out, is that the BASD staff is in an even more elite percentile for educational attainment. Philip says he's a college graduate so I'm going to assume the statistics he quotes are accurate. The way he uses them however, is deceptive and inappropriate as demonstrated below using 2010 census data for education level obtained here: and here: for adults 25 years and older.

For his analysis, Mr. Ketterhagen states that he used numbers from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal for the top 128 BASD employees in terms of compensation, skewing his sample right off the bat. He then goes on to compare BASD employee compensation to the of average income for Wisconsin citizens. Now the average income includes people who hold down jobs stocking shelves or driving a delivery van, for example. These jobs are critical to the functioning of our economy and the people who do them deserve our respect, a family supporting wage, family healthcare and a decent retirement, but they're not qualified to educate America's children and naturally they're not compensated as well as those who are and rightly so.

Ketterhagen stated that BASD administrator salaries are in the 76th percentile nationally and in the 86th percentile when benefits are considered, implying that they are over compensated. But BASD administrators have a minimum of a masters degree, putting them in the 92nd percentile for educational attainment nationally (92nd for Wisconsin). They are more likely to have a professional or doctoral degree, both in the 99th percentile nationally! These are management positions where people are responsible for million dollar budgets and hundreds of employees, corresponding to the highest paid jobs in the private sector. People in the 92-99 percentile for their education that are compensated in the 86th percentile nationally are clearly NOT over paid!

Then there are the teachers. First of all it should be recognized that all teachers have continuing education requirements and must obtain a teaching certificate which is an additional requirement beyond a bachelors degree that is not reflected separately in the census data for educational attainment. All of the teachers have minimum of a bachelors degree, which puts them in the 81st percentile nationally and the 74th percentile for citizens of Wisconsin. Fifty-two percent of Wisconsin teachers also have a masters degrees, which places those individuals in the 93rd percentile nationally and the 92nd percentile for Wisconsinites. Assuming the 52% also applies to BASD and aggregating these numbers for teachers with bachelors and masters degrees we come up with a teaching staff at BASD with average educational attainment levels that fall in the 86th percentile nationally and 83rd percentile for our once fair state. And where do the teachers fall in terms of compensation? According to Ketterhagen, the Wall Street Journal says they average in the 68th percentile nationally for pay and the 83rd percentile with benefits included, which they negotiated for in good faith. So BASD teachers are in the 86th percentile nationally for the level of education achieved, but they're compensation falls in the 83rd percentile.

What is Ketterhagen complaining about, why the need for flawed apples to oranges analysis and why his relentless and baseless attack on our educators?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Recall Misinformation

There's some misinformation being spread about the recall effort. First let me tell you that if you want to sign legitimate recall petitions you can go to the SLUE office at 616 Droster Ave. Burlington from 9 am to 6 pm, 7 days per week, behind Coop Plus and across Hwy 36 from Miller Motors. However, if you're going to go there with the intent of destroying a petition as one couple did recently, don't. It's both a felony and an affront to freedom and democracy.

Secondly, the recall process is not being abused at all, but is operating as intended. The recall was put into the Wisconsin State Constitution by our forbearers who were far wiser than we. The founders left the grounds for recalling a public official up to the judgment of we the people. They set the bar high in terms of the number of signatures required to trigger a recall election, which is why they are rare. A lot of citizens have to be very unhappy with an official and very motivated to put forth the level of effort necessary to be successful in gathering the expressed will of the people in the form of their signatures. And there is no reason to change our Constitution or the recall process. Malfeasance or illegal activity in office is already grounds for removal under Wisconsin state law. Did State Senator George Petak commit malfeasance or an illegal act when he voted to include Racine County in the Brewers stadium tax prompting his recall? No. Heck it was the impending recall and subsequent resignation of Tom Ament that cleared the way for Scott Walker to become Milwaukee County Executive.

Then there is the GOPropaganda generated nonsense about Wisconsin being flooded with people from out of state being paid to circulate petitions. Even if I could, I wouldn’t go to another state and stick my nose in their business and we don’t need or want any outside help in this grassroots effort. I’ve yet to meet one person in this cause who is not a local resident, let alone from outside Wisconsin. But today's republicon party runs on this sort of misinformation so one should not be surprised by it. What is already flowing into the state from elsewhere is gobs of money which Walker is using to flood the airwaves in an attempt convince us that “it’s working” despite the fact that Wisconsin lost almost 10,000 mostly private sector jobs in October and that his budget was balanced with one time gimmicks that increase the debt service payments after 2012 according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Walker, like his republicon counter parts in states like Ohio, Michigan and Indiana has worked to implement a radical hidden agenda on which he did not campaign, that was handed down to him from far beyond Wisconsin. This agenda, including tax breaks for the wealthy few on the backs of the poor and middle class has divided our state as never before and Walker has shown nothing but disdain and disregard for the opinions of a large percentage of Wisconsinites. And in a stark demonstration of the kind of person he is the Governor is now poised to kick 75,000 of our fellow citizens off of Badger Care, a program started by Republican Governor Tommy Thompson. Some of these people will surely die without access to medical care. Apparently Walker doesn't care, better they do so and decrease the surplus population. 25,000 of these rejects are innocent children. No health care for you kiddies, only a lump of coal. Merry Christmas!

Actions have consequences and it’s time for Walker to face his, as provided for by our Wisconsin State Constitution.