The Weekly Standard posted an article today with the following headline, “NYT Columnist Blames Scott Walker for Teacher Layoffs That Occurred Before He Was Governor.” Details, details, details.
The attack on Scott Walker is moving full speed ahead. It is up to Americans to do their homework and figure out how many of the horrible things this man is being accused of actually happened.
The article at The Weekly Standard quotes a New York Times article by Gail Collins. Ms. Collins describes a recent speech given by Scott Walker in Iowa:
Mainly, though, The Speech was about waging war on public employee unions, particularly the ones for teachers. “In 2010, there was a young woman named Megan Sampson who was honored as the outstanding teacher of the year in my state. And not long after she got that distinction, she was laid off by her school district,” said Walker, lacing into teacher contracts that require layoffs be done by seniority.
Well, there are some problems with that description.
The Weekly Standard reports:
There are two problems in this section of Collins’s column: First, she accuses Walker of dishonesty, but she’s just quibbling over semantics. Is it really inaccurate to describe someone named an “outstanding first-year teacher” by the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English as a “teacher of the year” for short? I’ve never seen much of a difference: In the headline of this 2011 piece, I described Sampson as a “teacher of the year,” but in the body of the piece I precisely described her award. Walker has been telling this story for four years, and no one thought his description of Sampson was dishonest until Gail Collins heard about it.
But the big error in Collins’s piece is her claim that “those layoffs happened because Walker cut state aid to education.” As you can see in the excerpt above, Collins is talking about teacher layoffs that occurred in 2010. Walker did not become governor until 2011.
If you are a casual reader of the New York Times, the newspaper of record has just misled you. I seriously doubt they will bother to correct their mistake, so you are left with the impression that Scott Walker cut education funding and laid off teachers. What a horrible person! Only, what you have been told is a lie.
The article at The Weekly Standard also points out:
The truth is that Walker’s reforms actually saved teachers’ jobs. Right before the 2012 Wisconsin recall election, Walker’s Democratic opponent Tom Barrett couldn’t name a single school that had been hurt by Walker’s policies. When Walker’s 2014 Democratic opponent Mary Burke was asked to name any schools hurt by Walker’s collective bargaining reform, she relayed an anecdote she’d heard secondhand about one school. Burke’s story didn’t check out, and the superintendent of that school wrote a letter telling Burke she didn’t know what she was talking about.
The message here is clear–do your own research.