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After reading Laura Clawson’s post about the punitive rules being put in the New Berlin School district it comes as no surprise that teachers are retiring in record numbers in Wisconsin.
Documents obtained by The Associated Press under the state's open records law show that about twice as many public school teachers decided to hang it up in the first half of this year as in each of the past two full years, part of a mass exit of public employees.
These retirements came after Scott Walker and his Republican faction of the State Senate and State Assembly decimated collective bargaining rights for public sector workers in Wisconsin. Five thousand teachers from across the state will not be returning to the classroom next week as school starts. Some will have been replaced; others, due to severe budget cuts will not be. Class sizes will grow and children will be the ones who suffer.
Teachers weren't the only ones heading for the exits. State agency retirements were particularly dramatic, nearly tripling from 747 in all of 2010 to 1,966 through June. Retirements from the University of Wisconsin System more than doubled, up from 480 last year to 1,091 this year. All told, 9,933 public workers had retired by the end of June, a 93 percent increase from 5,133 in 2010. The year before, there were 4,876 retirements.
The state Department of Administration said no decision has been made on how many of the government jobs will be filled.
My brother is one of those nine thousand plus workers who have retired from public service (just don’t tell him he is retired, he will tell you he is still working, just not at the same job). A close friend of mine recently retired after many years plowing our roads in the dead of winter and repairing those same roads in the heat of summer (you can tell him he is retired, he is enjoying himself).
At one point in my life public service was considered a noble profession. As a child, my father would talk to me about serving for the greater public good. Teachers, police, fire fighters, plow drivers and garbage men were considered vital public servants, people to be looked up to. A career in public service today is not one looked on nobly. No, the right wing in America has decided that public servants are leeches on society, that they add no value to our society.
Public employees pay taxes just like the rest of us; they are not leeches on society. No, far from it. They are the very lifeblood of society and they deserve better than the way right wing talk radio has treated them and they sure as hell deserve better than how Governor Walker and his minions have treated them.