Wisconsin’s teachers union will not join Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to create a new state accountability system to replace the federal No Child Left Behind after lingering mistrust following his cuts to their collective bargaining rights.
“We simply do not have the necessary trust or confidence,” union president Mary Bell said of Walker and two other Republicans on the panel–Sen. Luther Olsen and Rep. Steve Kestell. “Our decision is based on experience with the governor and these legislative leaders over the last four months.”
Walker wanted the Wisconsin Education Association Council’s participation in establishing a new accountability system even if they didn’t support him in the past. Walker joined forces with state superintendent Tony Evers, who also opposed his union plan.
“Improving education isn’t a partisan issue,” Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said Friday. “We’ll continue to put aside disagreements on other issues to collaborate with education leaders and improve Wisconsin schools for our children.”
While the governor’s group includes organizations such as the American Federation of Teachers, the School Boards Association, and district administrators, it wasn’t enough to sway WEAC, which represents more than 66,000 teachers and 98,000 members.
Bell said while considering Walker’s offer, she kept returning to the events leading up to his successful efforts to strip the union bargaining rights of the state’s public school teachers and other public workers.
“Our members wanted to sit down and talk with the governor, they wanted him to hear them out on the reason collective bargaining was so important to our schools, but he refused,” Bell said. “Actions speak louder than words, and through the state budget process we saw that public schools are not a priority with the governor and those who follow him.”