Interesting parent/teacher conference coming in Wisconsin

What do you want to bet Wisconsin Gov. David “Ahab” Walker will skip the conference with his son’s teacher next time?

(From the Wisconsin Democratic Party)

The woman, Leah Gustafson,  is very brave.  This is the sort of thing that invites local retaliation by administrators, without even consulting with the governor’s office.  Let’s hope her district’s administrators have a clear understanding of the law, and will back her right to state her views.

Heck, let’s hope they agree with her views.  If they don’t, they should get out of the business.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Michael A. Ryder.

18 Responses to Interesting parent/teacher conference coming in Wisconsin

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    o small number of Tea Party candidates stumped on a platform of eliminating the federal Department of Education which would, almost by default, end public education as we know it.

    Texas will make cuts much more severe than the loss of federal funding would be. To elementary and secondary education, at least.

    Federal monies to local school districts now averages well under 10% of the district’s total spending, in all but a tiny handful of our 15,000 local school districts (each locally-controlled — so much for the socialism argument).

    On the other hand, killing the Department of Education would hamstring U.S. students trying to get through college. It would be a white-flag-of-surrender waving in the competition to be the best, best technology-driven, best technology creating.

    American Exceptionalism? Walker, Rick Perry and Mitch McConnell are figuring out how to surrender America right now. They say we can’t afford to do well, to do right. Fie on them.


  2. jd2718 says:

    It was brave to speak for the cameras. I do hope that she is not retaliated against, but I worry for her.

    When Walker proposed a bill that would cripple collective bargaining, he essentially declared war. He broke the informal rules of engagement that have existed since this country legalized unions (remember, workers needed to break laws against unions to get them legalized in the first place).

    The teacher, is she using the kid? Yeah, but just as a claim to prominence, just to make the video more human-interest-y. No big deal. Which leaves me worrying more about them getting back at her.



  3. Nick K says:


    WASHINGTON — While Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has painted a dire picture of his state’s pension obligations, Wisconsin’s pension fund for public employees is among the nation’s strongest, according to a report by the nonpartisan Pew Center for the States.

    The Pew report, issued last year, concluded that Wisconsin is a “national leader in managing its long-term liabilities for both pension and retiree health care.” Walker has cited the fund’s lack of sustainability as grounds for his plan to revoke collective bargaining rights for state employees, but that proposal has sparked outrage among state employees and drawn tens of thousands of protesters to the state’s capitol.

    “We’re going to ask our state and local workers … to pay a little bit more, to sacrifice, to help to balance this budget,” Walker said in a Sunday interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, adding that he would be forced to lay off 5,000 to 6,000 state employees if his budget plan was not approved, as well as a comparable number of local public employees.

    But the Wisconsin pension fund is simply not in fiscal trouble. Its managers weren’t burned by subprime mortgage assets or mortgage-backed securities as the housing bubble collapsed. The fund also relies on an automated dividend system, which pays out benefits in years the system is making gains while restricting payouts in years when it takes losses. And while the pension fund had a rough year during 2008 due to stock market losses, it remains robust, both in terms of fundamental financial stability and in comparison to other state pension programs.

    According to the Pew study, Wisconsin had about $77 billion in total pension liabilities in 2008. But according to that same Pew study, those liabilities were 99.67 percent “funded,” giving Wisconsin one of the four-highest of such ratios in the nation. Other states had funding ratios as low as 54 percent. For comparison, expert analysts and the Government Accountability Office consider an 80 percent level to be a good benchmark for pension fund stability, while Fitch Ratings considers 70 percent adequate.

    Pension accounting relies on a very long-term outlook. When the state calculates its pension liabilities, it adds up the total expected pension expenditures for the entire lifetimes of everybody currently receiving a pension and all employees expected to receive pensions. That outlook routinely eclipses 30 years, depending on the ages of state employees. A $77 billion liability is only a problem if the state has no realistic way of meeting those expenses over that 30-plus year timeframe. But the Wisconsin pension system actually does have the vast majority of that money — in fact, in 2008, the pension fund had 99.67 percent percent of that $77 billion total on hand. If all of the assets in the fund had simply been sold at market values on June 30, the resulting cash would have been enough to pay 99.67 percent of the state’s total pension payouts for decades to come.

    According to the Wisconsin pension fund’s own 2010 annual report, the system had $69.1 billion in total assets at June 30, 2010, while paying out $3.7 billion in benefits over the course of the previous year. The value of those assets has since risen. According to Dave Stella, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, the retirement system’s assets were worth $79.8 billion at the end of last month. The most recent solvency test for the fund was conducted for the fund’s operations at Dec. 31, 2009. At the time, the funding ratio was 99.8 percent. The next solvency test is scheduled for June of this year.


    Have fun arguing with the Pew center there, David.


  4. Nick K says:

    James writes:
    to the consternation of many of my fellow liberals, that what the country needs is not fewer Republicans. I believe this country needs more serious, intellectual and rational Republicans.

    considering I’m a former Republican I’d be all for the Republican party going back to its serious, intellectual and rational form.

    Unfortunately…that isn’t the Republican party of today. Way too many Bachmanns, way too many Palins, way too many Hannitys, Limbaughs, Becks, O’Reilly’s, way too many Rand Paul’s, way too many Chip Craavacks…


  5. Jim says:

    Good morning, David! Some great thoughts in your last post. You really made me think and I applaud you. I honestly don’t think you (or any of us) are quite as extreme as we come across. :-)

    I am especially relieved to know you don’t want to gut or end public education. As to the label of “anarcho-conservative” or “anarcho-libertarian” applied to the Tea Party, I think it’s perfectly apt. No small number of Tea Party candidates stumped on a platform of eliminating the federal Department of Education which would, almost by default, end public education as we know it. Not one of the 50 states is prepared to handle such an austerity move. It would necessitate the closure of thousands of public schools, the firing of thousands of teachers and a dramatic surge in home-schooling. (Assuming the states would even maintain rubrics and laws requiring the education of children at all. Remember, for every two tea partiers whining about oversized, oppressive federal government…there is at least one complaining about intrusive and top-down state government. That’s part of the Libertarian and Anarchist game. They don’t want ANY government. And really, neither do most of the Tea Partiers.)

    I think your statement that I see agendas is certainly true. Everyone has an agenda. Do I see conspiracies? Well, none that are meaningful. Yes, I do think there is a religious right conspiracy to create a Christo-Sharia law in this country. But thankfully, it seems to be failing. South Dakota recently considered legislation (sponsored by a small-government tea partier, no less) that would make it perfectly legal to shoot and kill any doctor, nurse or midwife who performs or facilitates abortions. In effect, the law would allow me — if I lived in South Dakota and did not get stuck in a snowdrift — to murder the doctor in our community who occasionally does abortions. I am delighted to say the proposal failed. So the “conspiracy” — which is real — is blunted and therefore, I’m not wringing my hands. Democracy works more effectively than either the left or the right believes. Thought sometimes we do freak out and despair. I also breathed a sigh of relief when the proposed law making it a crime for women to bleed at the wrong time in Georgia went down or was withdrawn. It was also, amazingly, written by a small government conservative. (I think it failed, anyway…or was withdrawn.) I applaud anyone — conservative or liberal — who recognizes that they must keep their more embarrassing allies on a very short leash. The authors of these last two bits of legislation are clearly from a very shallow, toxic gene pool.

    As to rail, your remarks about Amtrak are spot on. I wish I had the answer. My dad worked for the New York Central (later Penn Central and later, Conrail) for 45 years. This is purely anecdotal, only reliant upon his sole observation. So take it with a huge grain of salt. Dad believe the railroads…long before Amtrak was even a fart in the wind…were going belly up because of theft. The biggest problem, he said, was the culture of greed and theft that existed among top executives. There was rampant embezzlement and corruption on the part of management and top executives. But ever the “moderate hero”, Dad did not leave his union brethren without excuse either. He said the culture of corruption at the top trickled down to rank and file workers — union and not. He told me the story of one co-worker who really was a wonderful man. An Italian immigrant. A devout Catholic. A generous, warm, caring man. The same man left work every single Friday with a trunk full of toilet paper, light bulbs, tools, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, road salt, office supplies whatever he could get his hands on. His wife bragged that her Joe was a great provider. Because she never bought a single light bulb, roll of TP or bottle of dish soap in their entire married life. Dad said Joe was the rule. I am proud to say Dad was the exception. I’ll brag about my Dad’s honesty all day long. But his point to me was twofold. First, corruption at the top trickles down. When the muckity mucks are corrupt and crooked, it’s not long before the rank and file feel they need their slice of what’s left of the pie. Second, Dad wanted me to know that no one can be excused for being a crook…just because the boss is. A crook is a crook. So, from his perspective, the railroads were doomed.

    The question before us now is — can we do it right. Bill Clinton gave us a little phrase that can be applied in so many areas. It works with affirmative action (the original context), collective bargaining, entitlements, and just about everything. He said, “Things usually don’t need to be ENDED. They need to be MENDED.” This is where modern conservatives (most of them) get it wrong. They want to end things…public education, HUD, helping programs. In a few cases, these things are working almost perfectly and they are striking out at good government. WIC is a good example of a federal program that probably doesn’t even need to be mended. It’s great. Home loan assistance? Nope…some mending is definitely called for.

    The question of rail is simple. Can we afford NOT to be at the cutting edge of new rail technology? When corporations like Biomet, Medtronic, DePuy and Zimmer (ortho giants near me) are screaming for more and faster rail across northern Indiana…we need to respond. It’s in the public interest, it’s in the interest of job-creation, it’s in the interest of the environment and it’s also in the corporate interest. When Governor Walker and Ohio Governor Kasich killed the state’s high speed rail projects, do you know how many jobs they ended? Actual and potential? It was stupid. It was not even in the corporate interest…to say nothing of the public interest.

    Amtrak has been a sinkhole. I agree. Something needs to change. It needs to be mended. Not ended. That’s where I think thoughtful conservatives like you come in. I have been arguing, to the consternation of many of my fellow liberals, that what the country needs is not fewer Republicans. I believe this country needs more serious, intellectual and rational Republicans. Mending Amtrak is something I can see Richard Lugar and Sherrod Brown (conservative and liberal, respectively) working on together constructively. Unfortunately, Lugar is a dying breed. Where once, the GOP was peopled with brilliant minds like Jack Javits, Howard Baker, Mark Hatfield, Nancy Kassebaum, Alan Simpson and Gerald Ford. There were what Dad called, “serious men” (and women, of course). I would never give in to them and let them run the shop. But I would feel perfectly comfortable running it with them. Not so, the post-Reagan crowd. And it’s done nothing but get worse. There is good government and there is bad government. Democrats have been responsible for both. So have Republicans. But the notion that government itself is the problem is entirely counter to the societal concept on which this country was founded. We are a collective, a union, an interdependent community. So declared our founding fathers and so we are. Working together for the sake of GOOD government is the point.


  6. Nick K says:

    What shared sacrifice looks like in America (+)
    by: Alec
    Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 08:24:43 AM CST
    ( – promoted by The Big E)

    The Koch brothers have numerous holdings in Wisconsin. They are a big part of the Wisconsin economy. Koch owns a coal company subsidiary with facilities in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan; six timber plants throughout the state; and a large network of pipelines in Wisconsin. Source
    Public sector workers make up a large part of the Wisconsin economy. As a large group of consumers, changes in their take home pay have a large effect on the state’s economy.

    In these tough times, we are told that everyone must share the burden. It’s a great slogan, and easy to get behind. Governor Walker believes strongly in shared sacrifice. He has said so numerous times. Let’s look at what shared sacrifice means in Wisconsin.

    Koch brothers sacrifice
    —Awarded themselves an extra $11 billion in income. In these tough times, they were limited to $11 billion.
    —They had to lay off 25% of the workers at a Green Bay plant. Demand was up, sales were great, but they needed to save some money, in these tough times. Source
    —Received corporate tax cuts that will increase the deficit by $100,000,000 over the bi-enium. Source

    Worker sacrifice
    —Will lose close to 20% of their take home pay
    —According to the Business Journal, public sector employees make 4.8% less than private sector workers doing similar work. Since they have less money, maybe this means taking 20% will hurt less? Source
    —A public worker with a Bachelor’s degree earns about $61,000. A Private sector worker with a Bachelor’s Degree earns $82,000. Public sector workers will sacrifice, on average, $13,000 to help Wisconsin.

    As you can see, Governor Walker is being very fair and acting with great integrity. I am positive that the Koch brother’s felt very sad when they had to lay off those workers. That was a huge sacrifice on their part. Then, when they took home an extra $11 billion, in these tough times, it probably made for a lot of stress figuring out which state to buy next.
    On the other hand, the public workers only have to sacrifice a meager $13,000 each. That’s no big deal for a working family. they were making $60,000 a year after all. They will just have to sell off their Porsche’s, mansions, and summer homes in the Bahamas.

    Shared sacrifice, the Republican way.


  7. david xavier says:


    By psycho , I am asking if she is a moral imbecile ( clinical definition)…in retrospect , a bit strident but I believe she has indirectly harmed a child in her care by her grandstanding ..which is immoral. Honestly want is she trying to say – “I’m a good person, look I am looking after the Gov’s son – he owes me and people like me, so by extention my union is good and therefore its bargaining rights are untouchable”. Give me a break , she has a job , she probably does it well , she is paid for it, she will continue to be paid for it with good benefits..but on the States terms , and in a way that the State can continue fund other services to all its residents and remain solvent.

    Ed and Jim
    Now for the straw man , how is my support for the ending of collective bargaining become me believing public education is a ‘waste of money’ or I am some how for the “crushing out ” ( public)education. That is not my position , Talk about hyperbole … lets face it , other States get by without collective bargaining. Its about addressing this State’s long term econonmic concerns , the econmic imperitive of growth through keeping a low tax base and what the citizens WANT in a State Government…

    I dont know about the “Anarcho-Libertarianism” label for the tea party sounds awfully big for a bunch of people who just want to halt the expansion of government and the inevitable tax burden that will ultimately kill the golden goose if its not stopped. You do know the US owes a bunch of dollars. You see agendas and conspiracy when all that exists are a bunch of folk scared about their kids and grand kids..because of the Bush/Obama and State debt load. They see decline on the horizon, they hear it from you guys, and are trying to reform government to stop it.

    But You guys dont want reform , you say no problem – just borrow more and raise taxes and expand government more – ostensibly help the battlers , but always to make them clients of the State… I truly believe to join your side is to join the side of the insane. As for the high speed rail/fascist allusion, I am sure Amtrak will make a profit one day – perhaps when they ban air flight ( too much carbon pollution) , but as Governor , he sets the proirities for infrastructure …again he was elected on this issue.


    Did Sarah Palin use her kids as props ..absolutely. But they are her kids and I pretty much condemned McCain for choosing her at the time… of course your side went after them too didnt they. The only reference that Rush Limbaugh ever gave to Chelsea Clinton was during his TV show while showing pictures of Bill Clinton in the White House, the picture of Chelsea Clinton turned out to be the Clinton’s dog picture and the person responsible for this was fired. ( And if you dont buy that: Rush isnt a teacher and she wasnt in his care and it wasnt political in nature just a rank joke and Rush was probably high on pain killers or something)

    As for ‘fetuses as props’ , I agree this is disturbing , but as the child has been killed further harm can be done to the child.

    And when you parrot the smear “After all..its not like your party gives a damn what happens to them after they’re born.” I can only repeat what an old dear friend who was adopted said in response…” Better to be born to indifference than indiffernce deciding whether I am to be born”

    I leave you all with the last word , its your blog.


  8. Nick K says:

    David writes:
    David says, “Calling people fascists and indulging in the usual ‘boot grinding’ cliches is as dehumanising as it gets…especially when you use ‘rape’ and ‘murder’ metaphors. This woman lost her humanity when she started using children as props.”

    So Sarah Palin lost her humanity when she used and continues to use her children as props? The Republicans lost their humanity when they continue to use fetuses as props? After all..its not like your party gives a damn what happens to them after they’re born. Rush Limbaugh lost his humanity when he used Chelsea Clinton as a prop in a “joke”? You mean like how Governor Walker lost his humanity when he used union workers as props in an attempt to “fix” a mess that he himself created?

    And as for what you said about fascism…do remember that the next time the term “socialism” or “socialist” or “marxist” passes your lips or the lips of any Republican.

    Sorry, David, you’re not in a position to play innocent victim. Your side doesn’t play with kid gloves, don’t expect it from us.

    David writes:
    The Governor was handily elected with a policy platform, just like Obama. Obama introduced a major policy promise without compromise because , to paraphrase “We Won!”

    And yet you expect the Democrats and the unions to roll over and let him do what he wants when you and your party didn’t do so with Obama. I’ll make you a deal. We’ll let Walker do what he wants…when your party lets the Democrats have what they want in payment for the last four years of your party doing everything possible blocking it. Start with single payer health insurance.

    Until then your “He won” when it comes to compromise means about as much as Obama’s supposed “I won” bit.

    But then of course Obama has compromised. Far too much, imo. Let me know when you can honestly say the same about Walker without it damaging your soul via lies.


  9. […] then Jim made me smile with this one, in comments down below that really need to be lifted up a bit to higher visibility: The Anarcho-Libertarianism advocated by the Tea Party and much of the modern GOP is far, far more […]


  10. Ed Darrell says:

    The Governor was handily elected with a policy platform, just like Obama. Obama introduced a major policy promise without compromise because , to paraphrase “We Won!”

    Can you point me to the speech or the ad in which Walker says he plans to crush out education in Wisconsin, or in which he calls out the cops and firemen as greedy unionists whose funding must be cut?

    Please do.


  11. Jim says:

    David says, “Calling people fascists and indulging in the usual ‘boot grinding’ cliches is as dehumanising as it gets…especially when you use ‘rape’ and ‘murder’ metaphors. This woman lost her humanity when she started using children as props.”

    Hi again! Didn’t see this latest from you. To quote Samuel L. Jackson, “Allow me to retort…”

    I share your consternation over the overworked “fascist” moniker. I think it’s almost as played out as “socialist”, “marxist”, “leninist”, “commie”, and all the others people on the right use to describe us.

    Most of us are not true socialists, even though I probably come close on individual issues. And even then…there’s Norwegian or Canadian socialist…and there’s North Korean “socialist”. Which is really communist… But I digress.

    Fascist is probably not an apt term for any of the people on the right. I suppose old Pat Buchanan could have the taint of Fascism since he’s expressed some sympathy for government control of industry, etc. Fascism just doesn’t fit.

    See, as crazy-wrong as Mussolini-style fascism is…

    The Anarcho-Libertarianism advocated by the Tea Party and much of the modern GOP is far, far more dangerous. You see, say what you will about the Fascists…but they make the trains run on time. Under the Anarcho-Libertarians, there either ARE no trains…or they operate when and where the privatized rail companies please…and without such pesky intrusions or encumberances like safety checks. Who needs safe tracks anyway? Let the buyer beware, right? Sure…the market will solve everything. If one trainload of passengers (or toxic waste) derails…not to worry! The free market fairies will sprinkle their magic free market dust all over the wreckage and next time…it won’t happen. Probably. Maybe. Well…what do you expect? We can’t have gub’mint involved, can we?

    And of course, the screaming irony here behind trains and fascism and anarcho-conservatism and Scott Walker is that he queered the deal on high speed rail to begin with. Who needs thousands of new jobs in this humming economy?

    Yeah, I know. I am all over the place on this one. But I really do agree with you. Equating Governor Walker with a stupid and evil form of governance like fascism is just plain wrong.

    And an insult to fascists.


  12. Jim says:

    Good morning, David!

    You ask if Governor Walker’s son’s schoolteacher is a psycho. I find that a particularly unhelpful question. You’ve shed no light on anything, particularly because she said nothing that could remotely be construed to be psychotic. Or even mildly unbalanced.

    I would hope she inspires and protects the lad. I expect as much of my daughter’s teachers.

    Fine if you think public education is a waste of money. It’s your right to believe that as much as it’s my right to believe it’s one of the best investments we can make. I think people with both views mean well.

    You might do well to save the psycho label for those who warrant it. Our side has its share, so I am not suggesting psycho = conservative. If this is the best the right wing can do to find an example of a “psycho” in this particular debate, then the left is turning in a flawless and sterling accounting of itself. I am encouraged.


  13. David Xavier says:

    Calling people fascists and indulging in the usual ‘boot grinding’ cliches is as dehumanising as it gets…especially when you use ‘rape’ and ‘murder’ metaphors. This woman lost her humanity when she started using children as props.


    The Governor was handily elected with a policy platform, just like Obama. Obama introduced a major policy promise without compromise because , to paraphrase “We Won!” So we know that ‘your side’ cares nothing for the concerns of their opponents. Now compromise is mandatory? please! You like democracy only when it suits you. And what of these rights , where do they come from? They have no content they are arbitary and can be removed when their ulimate bosses (citizen taxpayers) elect someone who promises to do this… opps already happened.


  14. Nick K says:

    His child, David, has as much to do with it as the unions have to do with causing Wisconsin’s budget problem.

    Absolutely none.

    But since Walker wants to cause a budget mess and then falsely blame it on the unions so he can screw citizens of Wisconsin over and screw them out of their rights…well…all is fair in love and war as the saying goes. If he wants to be a hardass and you want to defend him for doing so then you lose your ability to kvetch about his opposition being hardasses in turn.

    Compromise means your side gives up something too. And I would suggest that your side does compromise here. Because if your side doesn’t…the next time our side is fully in power you aren’t going to like the result.

    If he and your party doesn’t give a damn what we think and want then well go to hell because we’re not going to give a damn what your side thinks and wants. Kiss businesses ability to intefere with union drives goodbye. And thats just for starters.


  15. Ed Darrell says:

    Fascism is the well-heeled boot of the rich grinding forever into the face of the intellectual. In this case, she has a pretty face, and has seen fit to point out that the boot wearer should have better manners, especially toward someone he knows.

    It’s always easier to shoot someone you don’t know, or to order the rape of someone you’ve never met. This woman is putting hope out there, hope that Gov. Ahab Walker is really David Walker, the father of her daily charge. You think that’s too much to hope for, that Walker is human?


  16. David Xavier says:

    Is this woman a complete f–king psycho? What has Governor’s children got to do with this …read the sign and add the following addenums: I teach him , I “protect” him , I inspire him , I will use him , I will make him an object of scorn , I will make him ashamed of his parents , I will make him the butt of jokes, I will ‘fuck his life up’ by injecting him into a political campagin — because I believe it serves my political purpose. I hope she is fired for failing in her duty of care toward a child.

    Imagine what his class mates will do to this kid. Bastardry!


  17. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dale Alison, Alltop Education. Alltop Education said: Interesting parent/teacher conference coming in Wisconsin […]


  18. Ellie says:

    Yes, I agree, she is a brave woman. I wish there would be no retaliation, but I doubt it.

    I must admit though, what struck me most was the next video on the list — Raging Grannies — because I have a friend who is one, although out in Fresno. I just sent her that video along with this one.


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