In a Jan. 23 letter to the editor, Mr. Doug Curtis asserts that Right To Work (RTW) legislation means workers bring home less money. Simple logic suggests otherwise, because if I work in a forced unionism state rather than a right to work one, union dues would be deducted from my pay (whether I want to join a union or not) meaning I take home less money, not more.
He then claimed that poverty rates are higher in RTW states. However, facts indicate that just isn’t true. Three of the top ten states with the lowest poverty rates are RTW (Utah, Virginia, Nebraska), and 13 RTW states are at or below the national average. Conversely, there are some forced unionism states among those with the highest poverty rates in the nation (New Mexico, West Virginia, Kentucky, New York, etc.).
His next assertion is that RTW states have higher fatality rates. But according to a March 2011 report published by Roland Zullo, research scientist at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, “Right-to-work laws show no association with fatality rates.” He also wrote “industry fatality rates in RTW states are relatively flat regardless of the level of industry unionization.”
Finally, he claims there are fewer new business start ups in RTW states. Predictably, this too is false. CNN Money reports that in 2011, people in Arizona “were more likely to launch businesses than in any other state.” You guessed it – Arizona is a RTW state.
I realize these facts are probably inconvenient to Mr. Curtis, but they are facts. If I want to join a union I should be able to. And if I don’t want to join a union, I should not be forced. Plain and simple, that’s what RTW legislation affords – a choice.
Participation Fees for Extra-curricular Sports:
The issue of charging a fee for participation in extra-curricular activities, especially sports, has come before the nine members of the Merrill Area Public School District Board of Education on numerous occasions. The question is, whether a student should be charged a participation fee
(ie: $50 per sport) or whether all fees should be waived. (In past years, students were charged a participation fee, but for the past two years, per the school board, this fee was dropped. In her Dec. 26, 2012, letter to the editor in the Merrill Foto News, Vicky Lindstrom stated her apparent support of eliminating fees for sports and seems to feel, that this is necessary for anyone who is “watching out for the taxpayer.”
As it turns out, Ms. Lindstrom is seeking a position on our school board, and she apparently feels, that she is someone “with common sense who cares about the taxpayers and our children.” Does she really care about our children and our school system and the tax payers or will she be a one issue candidate?
Perhaps we should first look at some of the facts, in order to better put this issue of sports fees into perspective. First: in no other developed country are extra-curricular activities, especially sports, a responsibility of the public schools. Should a student wish to participate in a sport, that student joins a club, which meets after school, and is in no way affiliated with school. Thus, the mere fact that our public schools offer such activities on site, is quite extraordinary.
Second: from where do the funds come, for the wonderful array of extra-curricular sports offered to our students? The funds for uniforms, maintenance of facilities, bus transportation, coaches, referees, etc, come from a variety of sources. Most of the cost of uniforms and equipment comes from fund-raising and from booster clubs. And who purchases all those chocolate bars and pizza and cookie dough, etc., all of which are, by necessity, sold at inflated prices? We, the taxpayers, of course.
Previously, the participation fees were able to offset between $50,000 to $60,000 of the cost of extra-curricular sports. Currently, this $50,000 to $60,000 is taken from the MAPS General Operating Budget. As a result, how is the quality of education being impacted? The question of whether we should continue to rob the General Operating Budget, in order to fund extra-curricular sports, is one that anyone seeking a position on our school board should contemplate.
In past years, no student has been denied participation in a sport, due to financial reasons and students, who have free or reduced fee lunches have paid on a graduated scale. Paying $50 per sport, with a cap of perhaps $200, is not a problem for most students. After all, extra-curricular activities are exactly that: they are “extras,” and the cost for such, should not be taken from the general operating budget nor charged to the taxpayer.
It is my hope, that our candidates for school board have the best interest of all of the students and of the entire district in mind, and not be one issue candidates. It is also my hope, that our candidates do their homework, and not make vague, general statements, such as “watching out for the taxpayer.”
I am a taxpayer and a parent, and I wonder, if Ms. Lindstrom would be watching out for me, and for the best interests of all our students and our entire school district, were she to be elected.
To the Editor and the Community:
On Feb. 9, St John Lutheran Church and School in Merrill will host its second annual auction event! We on the auction committee want to take a moment to write a thank you to all those individuals and businesses who responded to our request for donations.
St. John Lutheran School is an excellent school where on a daily basis students develop and maintain a close relationship with God, their peers and teachers. We have created a safe learning environment where students grow in faith and knowledge.
In recent weeks, we have been amazed at the generosity of business leaders and the entire community, who truly believe our mission is important. Your support for our school has been tremendous!
With the growing list of donations, we are assured a fine event on the 9th that will allow our community to come together for an evening of food, fun and celebration!
St John Auction Committee Members: Meredith Heldt, Lisa Casper, Andrea Bennett, Kimberly Kotlar, Dawn Henrich, Terri Marnholtz, Tammie Mrachek, Tracey Polak, Kay Tautges, Julie Thorson and Dawn Lemke
My name is Linda Yingling and I am one of the candidates running for school board. I have lived in the Merrill area my whole life. I am also a 2002 Merrill High School graduate. I live in the Town of Pine River with my husband and two children. My oldest is a 3rd grader at Washington and my youngest will be entering the public school system this fall. My daughter was a student at Pine River Elementary. I was one of the many parents that fought to the bitter end to keep it open as an elementary school. Unfortunately the school board didn’t listen to the concerns of our community and that needs to change, someone has to step up and be a voice for our children. So that is why I Linda Yingling made the decision to run for Merrill’s school board. I want to make sure our children get and have the best education they deserve. I also want to crack down on school bullying in our district and get our finances headed in the right direction. I will also listen to our community and keep all of their suggestions and ideas in mind when making big decisions that will affect our children and community. So that’s why I am asking the community to vote for me Linda Yingling. I will be a dedicated and motivated member with new ideas that will bring positive changes to our schools. Please vote Feb. 19 and April 2.
Candidate for Merrill School Board
The right of citizens in the US to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the US or any state on account of race, color, sex or by having to pay a poll tax or any other tax. The 15, 19, 24 amendments to the Constitution are very clear. It was only after the 2010 election that some in the Republican party asserted that massive voter fraud had occurred and needed to be prevented by a very strict and particular ID.
The ID that had always been used was not deemed sufficient to prevent the .0005 cases of fraud that could be found. Therefore we spent more dollars to enact laws, retrain poll workers and DMV employees, educate the citizenry as to the changes and how to attain this special ID, all while Gov. Walker asserted that our state was “broke.” This was to be accomplished by decreasing the amount of time DMV offices were open to process applications for the new ID.
My husband and I have always voted the past 50 years. He was born at home and did not have a state issued birth certificate, so even though he had a legal driver’s license, he would not have been able to vote in this election had the law been in effect. Fortunately, we had previously traveled abroad and my husband paid to receive a birth certificate that complied with the law and was then able to obtain a passport.
When passing the new law, consideration wasn’t given to citizens who couldn’t afford to do this. We now wait to see what changes in voting will be brought up in our legislature as Republicans look to increase their advantage while they are in charge. Will same-day registration be gone despite how well it works? Will the way WI votes for its electoral college delegates be changed? Why does the Republican party continue to try to suppress and manipulate voting by purging voter rolls, shortening early voting days and hours and times to register, not providing enough ballots or voting machines and other measures in WI and other states.
With unlimited dollars one would expect that everyone running for an elective office could make the case for their election, rather than suppressing voting, but evidently that is not the case. In that the fundamental ideal of our country is to give a voice to each citizen to determine their elected officials, it is ironic that we do not set the standard for “best practices” of voting for other governments in the world as we profess to do.
Board of Education Elections
As of this writing, five teachers from the MAPS district have paid the mandatory $1,000 fine and resigned since Sept.1, 2012. In the previous school year, 33 teachers resigned and left Merrill for greener pastures. These numbers do not include the teachers who retired.
You might ask, why would 38 teachers elect to leave our fair city?
The answer lies in eight words: “Merrill Area Public School District Board of Education,” elected by the citizens of Merrill.
An exit survey was mailed this past summer to the 33 teachers, who resigned at the end of the 2011-12 academic year; 18 surveys were returned, stating the reasons for resigning. Most former MAPS teachers were receiving better pay and benefits elsewhere. 18 out of 18 respondents said they left because of the MAPS Board of Education and its policies.
This is dismal news, for a community, which previously prided itself on its fine schools. The decisions made by our present board of education are forcing our teachers to leave.
It all started with Governor Scott Walker, who, from the outset, chose to vilify the thousands of teachers in Wisconsin, who dedicate their lives to educating and mentoring and loving our children.
Following the dissolution of public employee unions, the members of our school board elected to follow in the footsteps of our governor and exert their power and control over the MAPS teaching staff and demoralize each and every teacher.
A contract, as previously existed, was no longer required. Thus, a committee was formed, with the goal of creating a teacher handbook. This committee was to be comprised of members of the administration and members of the school board, with input from the teachers. In short time, the school board disbanded the committee and bypassed the democratic process, as the board felt, that the committee was taking too much time, the teachers had too much input, and, to put it in simple terms: the school board wanted to make all decisions regarding the language and content of the Handbook.
The Teacher Handbook, approved on June 26, 2012, is available at the MAPS Central Office, and makes for interesting reading. The message that the MAPS School Board sends to its teachers is: we do not value you, nor do we respect you, although we expect, that you respect us. In six separate places in the Handbook, teachers are told in brief: “employment may be terminated at any time, with or without cause and without prior notice.”
This language, in its very nature, is intimidating and reminiscent of a fascist state.
Yet, the Handbook states: “It shall be the practice of the Merrill Area Public School District to hire the best qualified, highest caliber of professional personnel available for each vacancy.”
Also, “It is expected that at all times teachers’ behavior and conduct toward fellow staff, students, parents, school board members and the public portrays respect, trust and integrity.” Where is it stated, that school board members and students will treat teachers, who are well educated professionals, with mutual respect.
On Feb.19, the primary election for members of the MAPS Board of Education will be held. In this election, and the following election on April 2, my fellow voters will select board members, who will set the tone of our school board, possibly, for longer than their three-year terms. How the people we elect use their power, will determine whether our teachers stay or leave, and ultimately, whether our schools succeed or fail in providing the quality education that previously attracted new residents to our town. In my estimation, there are only three candidates, who have the potential to bring a new spirit to our school board, and they are: John Shull, Jeffrey Verdoorn and Lin Kautza. Please pay attention to this election and the one to follow. You, the voters, will decide.