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Wisconsin Teachers Sick-Out Under GOP Attack

May 25, 2011

Huffington Post reports: A recent spate of Wisconsin public information requests forced school districts to determine whether citizens deserve to know if teachers who took sick days on Feb. 16 were really suffering from the flu, or instead were protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) policies.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported online Tuesday that conservative groups filed public records requests to uncover the names of the teachers who played hooky to protest legislation that drastically altered the laws governing their profession. The sick-out led to school closures, as teachers rallied en masse against Walker’s proposal to end collective bargaining for civil employees, including teachers.

The Wisconsin law and subsequent protests contributed to igniting a national debate about the role of public employees — and particularly work protections for teachers. While job security for teachers was traditionally pegged to senority, new laws are taking student test scores into consideration and limiting teachers’ right to collectively bargain their salaries.

In Wisconsin, most districts complied with the information request, but not Madison, which cited concern for protecting both teacher morale and safety. And in response to arguments from local divisions of the state’s largest teachers union, a judge blocked the release of names in the Holmen and La Crosse districts.

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