Teacher Says His Profession's Reputation Has Taken a Hit in Recent Weeks

According to a Maple Grove Elementary School teacher, respect for the profession is dwindling.

Doug Perry used to feel like he was a pillar in society. He felt that his role as an educator made him an important part of the community.

But now, the 26-year teaching veteran is not so sure.  

He says the perception of teachers, both in the Greenfield School District and across the state, has deteriorated so drastically, especially over the last month in light of Gov. Scott Walker’s polarizing budget-repair bill that has made national headlines.

“To be called bottom-feeders and freeloaders and whiners, how we’ve been vilified, I don’t know when that (change in perception) happened,” Perry said Thursday. “There was a time when teachers were respected and we’re just not anymore."

Perry, a fifth-grade teacher at is also the vice president of the Greenfield Education Association teacher union and has been an active protester both in Madison and in Greenfield. He said he and his colleagues were shocked when the Senate Republicans passed a revised version of Walker’s budget-repair bill Wednesday.

“People are devastated,” he said. “People felt like things were moving in the right direction, like maybe we could get some compromise. Now, we’re just wondering where this leaves us.”

And though they are devastated, as Perry described, he expects Greenfield teachers will continue to do their jobs, just as they have the over the last month.

“We serve the public; that’s what we do,” he said. “I’m about to step back into my classroom right now and I’ll give those 27 or 28 kids everything I’ve given them every day of my entire career.

“It’s difficult to do, honestly it is, but you have step back from your personal life – and this is a personal attack – and you have to be professional.”

Perry said he will remain an activist for worker’s rights even though the bill has been passed. He said he and other protesters will be hitting the Milwaukee-area overpasses again Friday, , and he plans to participate in a rally in Madison over the weekend.

After that, he will help move forward recall efforts for eight Republican Senators.

“We’ll be turning our attention to bringing some new faces to Madison,” he said. “This is not what people voted for.

“(Walker) has polarized the state, and he lied to people. He mischaracterized what he was going to do. People are going to go after these eight senators (with recalls), and a year from today, he’s next.”

Mr. Conservative March 12, 2011 at 05:33 PM
Lyle,the free market has taken care of those things in the private sector, why would teaching be any different? Niether I, nor the majority of my freinds, work at unionized employers yet no one I know pays 100% towards healthcare. I pay 15%, most folks are at 20%. Most employers willonly unload the high cost employees that do not deliver. Schoolswant tokeep their testing scores up, to do this they need the good teahcers. Again,actually performing on your job should help you. These are "Chicken Little" arguments Lyle.
Lyle Ruble March 12, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Fiscal Conservative, Good morning. I see you're up and feisty as usual. Just a couple of minor points. First, unions are made up of individual members and deriding the union is by extension deriding the individual members, good and bad. Are we to hold teachers and public employees to a different standard than we generally hold others too? When did self interest become a sin in the United States; I hear a great deal of self interest in your statements. Over the course of my long private career I have seen a good share of private workers who were being overpaid for what they were actually doing. In general, Americans spend a lot of time at work, but very little time actually working. The old days of assembly production is long gone and now we have cubicle production. I respect workers for providing a good or service receiving an honest days pay for an honest day's work. You criticize Doug Perry for what he has achieved in his career. I don't know, but I am sure he has spent many years educating himself and practicing his profession. Would you level the same criticism if Mr. Perry was a physician? Final point for those who anecdotally point out poor teachers; having raised four kids in the public school system, it is my role as a parent and taxpayer to hold them accountable for the job they do. If I don't like what I see, I grab the teacher and the principal and sit them down and hash it out. My kids' education is my responsibility and I will insure they get the best!
Mr. Conservative March 12, 2011 at 05:37 PM
Lyle, in response to #5, in reviewing the emails between the republicans you'll note that the Governor offered to put many of those workplace issues back into the CB portion and had the DEms come back to vote the teachers would have those assurances in place right now. The blame for those issue being removes rests squarely on Union bosses and the 14 Dems.
Mr. Conservative March 12, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Are we to holdpublic employees to a different standard?? According to those freinds of Labor Gearge Meany and FDR, YES, ABSOLUTELY. "It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government. Unions, as well as employers, would vastly prefer to have even Government regulation of labor-management relations reduced to a minimum consistent with the protection of the public welfare..." ~George Meany "Meticulous attention, should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government....The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service." ~FDR
Lyle Ruble March 12, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Fiscal Conservative, Wow are you naive. I've lived too long and seen too much. I was in the business of doing risk analysis, business start ups and closures in the corporate world. In the first place the public sector does not function like the private sector's free market forces (the free market doesn't really exist it's only a myth). If what you're saying is that if a company deviates too far from Standard Business Practice for their given industry they will meet the going rates to attract and retain employees. In your position it is 15% and your friends it is 20%, but what is to prevent them from not offering health care at all. If they could do it, trust me, they would. Business is far from ethical nor do they care whether or not they retain you. You are considered like any other resource that is to used and once consumed, discarded. Over the last thirty years I have seen "Chicken Little" stories as you characterize it, all too often come true and no one is immune.
Mr. Conservative March 12, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Laura, to help you out I'm posting this video. The first part of it give a pretty good desription of what really caused the economic meltdown, the latter part goes into a diatribe about Obama which doesn't belong in this argument so Understand that I'm posting this just for the timeline and reasoning,not because I think "It's all Obama's fault". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU6fuFrdCJY
Lyle Ruble March 12, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Fiscal Conservative, Why didn't the Republicans and Walker leave the changes in the CB agreement? They could of and didn't and I don't think they ever planned to honor the concessions. Read Fitzgerald's interviews after the bill was passed and you'll find that basically it was a ploy to get one Dem to come back and pass the original bill. Quit the blame game and realize the realities of rough and tumble politics. This is hardball baby!
Michael Matuswic March 12, 2011 at 06:12 PM
Somebody is bull pooping somebody here. Collective Bargaining may empower those who have a union. Result is that when a contract is up you bargain for more, if you don't get it you go on strike, depending how critical of a need there is for that service will determine how long a strike lasts. Once setteled the cost always comes back to the tax payer. Alot of people cannot afford to pay anymore. How do you stop a runaway train? I guess Walker did. And a final note, I don't care how you cut it, those 14 democrats who took off to Illinois were elected to represent all the people in Wisconsin not just union people, they did not do their job as elected officials.
Lyle Ruble March 12, 2011 at 06:16 PM
Fiscal Conservative, First of all, look at the date of the quotations and the full context. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since the 1930s. To make it possible for public employees to organize they had to give up the right for job actions. I would just as soon that there wasn't a need for public unions and collective bargaining. Let's get smart and take on the task of rewriting the antiquated Civil Service Statutes. That's what the federal government did and their workers don't need unions, they have statutory law to protect the workers. You can't talk out of both sides of your mouth and say that public employees or no different than you and yet on the other hand hold them to a set of different standards that you aren't subject to.
Mr. Conservative March 12, 2011 at 06:19 PM
WOW Lyle, if you truly believe that was nothing but a ploy there's really no point in discussing this with you any further. You've sung one too many verses of "The Union keeps us strong" to be even mildly objective here. My belief is that it was the Dems that were not bargaining in good faith. They never planned to come back. More evidence points to this than your theory. Obama's organizers flooding the state for recalls, Dem senators already asking for absentee ballots for the April elections, the different stories coming from the Dem senators on coming back, not coming back, were meeting with the repubs, were not meeting with the repubs, etc. Why not leave it in originally? Now who'sbeing naive? If you've been involved in negotiations, do you always put on the table your minimum your willing to take on the first go round?? No, you ask for more than your willing to take, the other side asks for more as well and in an even playing field you reach a fair compromise. There in lies the problem with CB in the public sector. The folks who bargain for the taxpayers tend to have the best interests of the unions at heart, not us.
Lyle Ruble March 12, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Michael, Public employees cannot strike, it's illegal.
Mr. Conservative March 12, 2011 at 06:21 PM
SOoo, you're saying the Dem 14 broke the law??
tired of arrogant people March 12, 2011 at 06:41 PM
I am always amazed at what people are willing to believe. The republican governor and his cohorts have many, many people fooled. Open your eyes people. Do you realize what just happened? Sure it targets one group of people this time, but they got away with something that will certainly be tried again with some other issue that will affect even more people in ways we can only imagine. My other question is why people like Thom attack teachers. He thinks he knows what teachers do everyday in a classroom with 27 or 28 kids (which by the way will certainly increase to over 30 once walker is done with this state) because he sat in a classroom when he was a kid. That's a small part of the job. I challenge him to contact Mr. Perry and shadow for a couple of days. My money says Thom will crap out after lunch on the first day. I challenge all people like Thom - put your money where your uniformed mouth is. Live it, buddy. Thom saw one report that the average teacher salary in MPS is over $100,ooo. I know many, many teachers would love to live that dream! I also read that report and it also cited another source that said average MPS teacher salaries are less than $89,000. Your average 1st grader could tell that those 2 numbers don't match and that there must be something wrong with the source because how can both situations be true? Maybe the source is wrong??? Just a side note, the district I work in has even lower average pay for their teachers.
Lyle Ruble March 12, 2011 at 06:50 PM
Laura, There's plenty of blame to go around and it can't be singled out at just one person or group. Chris Dodd and Barney Frank should both be spending time in jail with their complicity to deregulation and self interest. It started in earnest with Jimmie Carter and grew from there. The regulatory agencies have been playing along for years with those they have been supposed to regulate. In fact, financial regulation has become so complicated that Wall Streeters go from being regulated to becoming the regulators and back again. The excuse you hear is that it is so complicated that it is only insiders who understand it. Sort of like the fox watching the hen house. Jimmie Carter, bless his little peanut digging soul, wanted to overcome the excessive "red lining" of the time and got legislation passed to solve one problem but the financial horse took the bit into their teeth and ran away with it. From the 70s, 80s, 90s up to 2008, they couldn't deregulate fast enough, all in the name of helping the consumer and making it easier on business. Just like with 401(k) supplemental retirement plans; they weren't ever designed to replace qualified pension programs, but yet they did. It is Big Money that has benefited and the rest of us can take it in the shorts and not allow them to fail. Money talks and BS walks. We've all been had and the whole damn system is corrupt. Walker and his bunch, with their Libertarian approach, want to create a regulation free zone and attract business.
Lyle Ruble March 12, 2011 at 06:57 PM
No they didn't break the law, they are not part of a public union.
Lyle Ruble March 12, 2011 at 07:00 PM
It's not a case of being objective or not, look, listen and read the interviews with Senator Fitzgerald, one on Fox.
Dee March 13, 2011 at 04:29 AM
Yes, summers off! In other words, 2.5 months without an income, but an obligation to continue your education at your own expense!
Mr. Conservative March 13, 2011 at 06:15 AM
Dee, Teachers have the option to be paid out over twelve months,of just the months they work, but you knew that didn't you. Just trying to make a point with a half truth.
Rolf S March 13, 2011 at 10:29 AM
The average teachers compensation is over $100,000, pay including benefits. The source is video of an MPS administrator reciting salary and fringe benefit numbers during a school board meeting. Have you seen the numbers for literacy lvls, and graduation rates for public schools in Milwaukee? Around 50% or lower across the board. Greenfield school district is "ALOT" better. They probably receive similar compensation, within 5%, because negotiations are based on surrounding districts. The problem is not the hard working teachers or the hard working public employees. The problem is the employee unions. Stonewalling in negotiations, and not bargaining in good faith. If they had, we would not be in this position. All school employees should have one thing in mind, one goal, and that is the children. What is best for the children. Unions forgot that along the way, so have some of teachers.
Rolf S March 13, 2011 at 11:31 AM
Lyle, Collective bargaining is an impediment to progress. Proven impediment in teaching. You say it prevents 100% healthcare contributions. I disagree. Not being able to hire an employee, when you make them contribute 100% of health care is what stops it. Seniority is as much a problem as it is a benefit. Removing seniority lets you weed out the bad senior employees. You honestly think a manager would let go, a senior employee that has more experience and produced, with a proven track record, to hire an unproven, less expeienced, without. Known vs. unknown? Highly unlikely.Collective bargaining is not a good thing to have in place, when unique conditions and safety concerns arise. Without CB a manager can act the same day a problem is brought up. With CB they must first check with the union. You seem to think collective bargaining is this efficient machination Have you not seen basic CB agreements that actually give more to employees, but not enough to suit them,are negotiated for years? Since scott walker started this process,negotiations that were 1.5 yrs old and, not close to being settled, were settled in 1 weeks time. Sorry my friend, collective bargaining for public employees, is a negative, not a plus.
Rolf S March 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM
I also would like to thank, District of Greenfield, school teachers. I should have thought about it 2 weeks ago when My sons school stayed open. Thanks hunky for reminding me. A huge Thank You! To all those who disagreed with Walker's proposal, but did their jobs like professionals.
Rolf S March 13, 2011 at 12:14 PM
Mr Perry, I cannot speak for everyone. Greenfield teachers, overall, had my full respect. I can tell you why teachers, in general, lost my respect. Schools are for teaching the children. They are not there for your salaries and benefits. We did not say"Hey, We have lots of dedicated teachers here, lets start a school." We started schools to teach children. When a school, or a teacher, does not do that, they should be fixed. Instead you hear comments like, "there is not enough money", "the kids do not want to learn", and "they are to poor to learn". The attacks on voucher programs and school choice, by teachers unions. In the article, when you say this“It’s difficult to do, honestly it is, but you have step back from your personal life – and this is a personal attack – and you have to be professional.” The first thing that pops in my head is that you do not like teaching, its never difficult doing something you like. The second is Walkers bill was not an attack. He put the matters into the hands of local officials, who deal with the unions. Right to work is another thing. Please watch the documentaries "kids aren't cars", and "waiting for superman", they are part of the reason I support walker. Greenfield School District is one of the reasons, we live in greenfield. I do not want to see the unions, turn it into a district like milwaukee.
Michael Matuswic March 13, 2011 at 02:17 PM
the biggest portion of your property tax bill is for the school district. Watch who you elect to the school board and don't forget how we were misled on the issue of the High School.Let two walls of the old cafateria stand and it falls under the term of maintaing rather than replacing. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
Lyle Ruble March 13, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Rolf, I don't like collective bargaining because it is a poor substitute to fair and effective statutory law that will protect the interests of the workers and also management. CB is only expedient when it doesn't make sense to rewrite the entire statutory code to address the needs of specific groups. I hope you aren't so committed to your position that you don't see the risk that older workers are facing in this legislation. Layoffs should never be used to get rid of "bad apples". Poor performing employees need to be dealt with on performance issues and separated if necessary. As it stands now with all public employee contracts either null and void or at the end of the force period, will then stand unprotected. I know for a fact that many pending grievances have or will be thrown away because of the change. The current civil service code does not address the issues of bad management, it is all focused on worker regulation. I am not so naive or trusting that politics will not enter into decisions to raise health care contributions, retirement contributions and work place safety. Also, the 800 pound gorilla in the room is the Libertarian goal of privatizing as many as possible of the current services provided by government agencies; including schools, W2, etc. Finally, if as you say CB for public employees is a negative and impedes progress, then how are we going to protect the dedicated public employees from the potential excesses? I am open to suggestions.
Mike Brooks March 14, 2011 at 09:25 PM
For once I'd like to hear how the "fabulous fourteen" intend to cover the budget deficit. Up to now all we have heard is how much they hate Scott Walker and how basic human rights have been stolen from public employees. What are you going to cut, fab 14? No cuts? You have a lot taxes to choose from, which ones are you planning to raise? Your favorite - property taxes? Now how is jacking taxes fair to "working families"? I guess I'm not the right kind of working family, right? Come election time all of you great heroes of Madison better get your story straight and your plans for deficit reduction made clear. Then we can have a debate. PS All teachers deserve our respect and support - thanks to all teachers for doing a great job that most of the rest of us can not.
Lyle Ruble March 14, 2011 at 10:14 PM
Mike Brooks, Following the governor's lead he is going to push the problem down to the municipal and county levels. His means to accomplish this is to cut the state contribution to local government, schools, cutting senior care, Badger Care, freezing state wages, reduce the state workforce through attrition and not replacing retirees in non critical areas, have the public sector workers contribute more to their healthcare and retirement, and cut Medicaid funding. His plan will close about half the deficit. That still leaves half and that's where the problem lies; the state will have to come up with additional revenue streams without raising property taxes or income taxes. Suggestions have been forwarded such as: 1) Reduce the goods and services exemption for sales taxes except for food and prescriptions; 2) Increase the state's sales tax; 3) Minimally increase the tax on alcohol; 4) Impose VAT (Value Added Taxes) on luxury goods; and; 5) Increase the state's dumping fees on out of state waste haulers. This is what the Democratic senators will probably push, attempting to reduce Walker's cuts and replacing them with new revenues. With Governor Walker's Libertarian agenda, I think he will attempt to push privatization of a number of non-essential government services and would eventually like to reduce public schools, replacing with charter and private schools. In my opinion it is going to take a combination of cuts and increases in certain taxes.
BassGreat May 19, 2011 at 09:36 PM
What a jerk you are!
BassGreat May 19, 2011 at 09:44 PM
So what should teachers who have earned degrees get? The governor has six-figures with none. Me thinks you all are looneys. And guess what else, teachers deal with kids just like the one who axed his grand pa. Now tell me how over paid they are. They do the work of cops, psychiatrists, mothers and fathers, then have to try and teach a subject, administer tests, while you ingrates beef. Just mind boggling.
BassGreat May 19, 2011 at 09:46 PM
Sounds more like your lecture was a bore. Was it?
JustMe March 17, 2012 at 01:38 AM


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