Unraveling the Union Debate

3/15/11

For over a week now I have wavered about how to go about writing this post. I have read about the chaos of my home state in headline after headline, and watched as pictures of the screaming protesters at the capitol were dutifully posted to facebook, and emotionally heated statuses flooded my newsfeed. I have listened to the rants of Republicans and Democrats,  and learned how many slices of Ian’s pizza were donated to the growling stomachs of hungry protestors (9,600 slices on one Wednesday alone according to nytimes.com.) I’ve heard comparisons of Wisconsinites to the oppressed peoples of Libya and Egypt, Scott Walker likened to the infamous Mubarak, and the actions of the “Dem-14″ put on the same level as the fits of whining children. However, for all of this information, I didn’t feel that I actually knew anything about what was going on in Wisconsin. I didn’t understand collective bargaining or what was actually being taken away with this controversial bill, or how it would affect the education system. I didn’t feel informed enough to have an opinion, but felt like I should somehow be swept up in the passion that has permeated the Midwest. So I hit the books. Or, rather, the New York Times. I began by re-reading the Wisconsin and Union focused articles of the last weeks. Acknowledging that the New York Times (which I tend to read every morning) is pretty liberally biased, I looked to other sources. I searched for the supporters of Scott Walker–people who called him a savior rather than a dictator. Reading these perspectives, I found my passion. Underlining with bold slashing motions, I filled the margins of these articles with angry question marks. I formed an opinion.

Before I delve into an explanation of how I’ve come to feel about the great Union/collective bargaining debate, I should recap what I’ve learned about collective bargaining. Before the NY Times and letters of Newt Gingrich found their way to my computer screen, I found it necessary to google search collective bargaining. It was pretty disheartening to have to search for something so simple–to admit that though I learned about unions and collective bargaining in dragging class periods of AP US History and American Government in high school, I didn’t actually retain it. I couldn’t apply the phrase “collective bargaining” to this context. My process of higher thought was at a standstill (I suppose this is where the CORE Standards could come in…maybe if I had learned about unions and collective bargaining by being authentically assessed, I wouldn’t be in this position. Furthermore, perhaps if our State governor were taught about collective bargaining and democracy through the utilization of the CORE principles as were the protestors screaming at his doorstep, compromise might be more achievable. But that’s a whole other can of worms.) To reach a level of critical thought, I went about the process of teaching myself a concept and applying it to an opinionated concept.

At the most basic level, collective bargaining “consists of negotiations between an employer and a group of employees so as to determine the conditions of employment”(topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/collective_bargaining). Collective bargaining is a sort of compromise arranged between employees in a labor union, their employees, and federal and state laws.In disputes between these groups, I have learned that the method of Arbitration is often used. In this case, a neutral third party is brought in to hold a hearing about the disagreement. Why are we incapable of using arbitration in this situation? As I understand it, Scott Walker (and the Republican Majority of the Wisconsin State Senate) has proposed (and since passed) a bill that requires state workers to pay more for their medical insurance, and  strips the bargaining rights of unions (like the Wisconsin Education Association Council–the largest teachers’ union in the state). All of this was done in the name of rescuing Wisconsin’s sinking economy. However, after 14 Democrats left the state to make a quorum for voting on the bill impossible, it was revised to cut bargaining rights without any fiscal component so that it could be passed without any Democrats present. The largest conflict here seems to come not from the actual stipulations of the bill, but from the way it was carried out.  Unions have been valued as an important representation of American “freedom” and “democracy” for centuries. Scott Walker’s bill, and the debate that followed, have provided a venue to question if they are still legitimate and necessary, or rarely a stale symbol. As I perused paragraph after paragraph, I found myself wondering:

1) How should we teach our students about Unions and rights? Should it be  from an unbiased perspective ? What do they need to be given to form their own opinions?

2) How has this issue been presented to students Madison schools and throughout Wisconsin after the protests began? Are teachers breaching the right of their students to learn when they do not come to work in order to uphold their own rights to protest?

3) Why do some people disagree with Union rights?

4)  How do teachers feel about Unions? I know that in some cases state workers are required to pay union dues even if they don’t want to be a part of a Union. Is this fair? How do Unions affect teacher quality and opportunity?

To answer my first question, I stumbled upon a creative article from The Learning Network of the New York Times, entitle “Of Budgets and Bargaining: Putting the Union Protests into Context.” An outline of a potential curriculum to be used in teaching students about unions in the context of the current Wisconsin debate, authors Shannon Doyne and Holly Epstein Ojalvo began by listing the same initial questions I had in my state of bewilderment about how little I actually knew. For example: What are labor unions? How do they work? How many workers belong to unions? How have unions shaped the way Americans work and live since they first arose in the 19th century? What are the arguments for and against collective bargaining?

This is the best way to begin a meaningful lesson. I am reminded of the days of my sophomore year of high school in my favorite class–U.S. history. Taught by a St. Olaf alumnus, we began most class periods by listing questions on the board in multicolored chalk–moving from the broad and basic to the specific. Too often I feel like history lessons begin with dates and facts, and aren’t put into a larger social context that students can actually relate to. The Wisconsin debate allows this opportunity. It lets students ask questions at a time when they are motivated to have opinions and to be able to participate in discussions. Doyne and Ojalvo’s article goes on to suggest activities that can be used in the classroom to create this sort of meaning and understanding. Ranging from splitting a class into three groups that each play the roles of governor, union leaders, non-union workers, and state lawmakers on each side of the issue in different states, to a lesson taught about “Strikes that Made History” (i.e. the Pullman Strike, the MAjor League Baseball Strike, the Homestead Strike etc.) and how they relate to the teacher strikes of the past few weeks, these activities encourage extrapolation and connection. The class-splitting activity (called “The State of the States”) in particular acts as a great form of alternative assessment. Though this article and its brilliant curricular suggestions couldn’t completely answer my first question, they were a fantastic beginning. As for the unbiased perspective of teachers, I think that this is pretty impossible to enforce. Though teachers should technically be unbiased (at least in public schools) I think that they have the right to strong opinions and public protest. They should not impose their beliefs upon their students, but they should be allowed to express them. This is a touchy issue for many parents, but I ultimately think that students should know what their teachers really think rather than have them spoon-fed completely neutrally. In cases like these, students should ideally be presented with both sides of the debate. No matter who they go to, bias will exist, but this is the nature of negotiating both sides of an argument and finding where you stand.

To answer question two pertaining to the way the debate is being presented in Madison classrooms, I went to an article from the Wisconsin State Journal about Madison students’ return to school after 4 days of teacher “sick-out.” According to the article, the district prohibits teachers from promoting political candidates or activities (which includes protests.) However, principals are able to decide to what extent teachers can discuss current events in the classroom. One teacher at Black Hawk Middle School allowed her students to reflect on the protests by asking them to write in their journals about what they did during the 4 days without class. In this way she was not asking directly about the protests, but allowing an opportunity to express an opinion about the event if they chose–knowing that most students had witnessed or been involved in the protest during their ways away from school. Other teachers are using the protests as an opportunity to talk about Wisconsin labor history, and still others avoid the topic all together and just “focus on learning.” Personally, I think that learning should include current events like this one, and to avoid discussion of the topic is a disservice to the students.

When it comes to addressing my third question regarding the use of Unions in the modern day and why people disagree with them, the supporters of Scott Walker must be called upon.

One argument that cropped up again and again in support of Walker was the assertion that we currently pay our state employees too much. In one such article, written by Joe Ohler as a letter to the editor for the UWM Post, it was stated that “It is unsustainable to have a starting wage of $13 an hour for a food service worker, custodian or receptionist. Such jobs are readily learned, and performance is easily quantifiable to eliminate deficient workers.” The last time I checked, minimum wage in Wisconsin falls at $7.25 an hour, not $13. Furthermore, someone needs to do these “readily learned” jobs if we plan on maintaining our current American “quality” of life. Maintaining our blatant consumer culture that depends on dollar menus at McDonalds and unrealistic product prices that don’t factor in the true costs of human labor and natural capital is not something I wish for, but I do predict that it is something this author would support. Ohler goes on to say that wages can be even further lowered if  current college students take the place of current adult employees. He also makes the point that it is “easy” to get a college degree at most UW System schools and MATC programs. Mr. Ohler believes that “any blue collar person can get a degree these days to qualify for white-collar positions.” Though I do believe that obtaining a college degree is something to strive for, and something that has become increasingly necessary to find a position in this difficult job market, I absolutely do not believe that it is “easy.” It is naive to believe that any person can obtain a white collar job. The American Dream of upward mobility is simply not something available to anyone. It is currently a myth of exceptional stories and expectations of people who find themselves at the upper rungs from an early age. I expect this is the case with Mr. Ohler. Though America claims not to have a hierarchy, it wouldn’t be able to function without one. If things were really as easy as Mr. Ohler believes they are, we wouldn’t have a middle or lower class. We would all have college degrees and be competing for positions that are not numerous enough for us to fill. Where would this lead us? Moving the discussion back to education, I do believe that teachers are largely underpaid. Though there are exceptions in private schools, charter schools, and at the college level, public school teachers are pretty under appreciated.

In an article for “The Daily,” a woman from Wasau was interviewed about union workers and educators in particular. Following in the footsteps of Ohler, she stated; “[educators] teach what to think, not how to think…kids are taught political correctness in school. They are taught to go against the values I have…bad teachers can’t be fired, which means new teachers can’t find jobs because other teachers are taking up space.” Here we see the problem parents have with bias in the school system that I discussed earlier. The question remains: How much of their own opinions should teachers be allowed to express in school? As for the “bad” teachers who can’t be fired, I can acknowledge this as a valid concern. Studying the tenure system in Campus Ecology, I have come to see that it is often corrupt, and ends up leaving a school stuck with unmotivated teachers who are too secure in their positions rather than encouraging teachers to take more risks and increase their personal investment in their classes. Theoretically, tenure and union involvement should allow teachers to feel secure enough in their positions to push themselves and their students to learn more in ways that they might not if their positions were more precarious. However, this is not always how things play out. I think that the tenure and firing process need to be better regulated, and “bad” teachers should be removed immediately, but I also believe that when we lose union, collective bargaining, and tenure rights completely we lose a significant number of older teachers. Often, these are the teachers who make the most difference. A case can be made for young and relatable teachers, but one can also be made for experience. Our nation cannot afford to lose the older generation of teachers. Our fresh faced young teachers are promising, but they cannot replace the wisdom and experience of their peers overnight. Unions provide a sense of security in a profession that is currently on pretty unstable ground.

In a final analysis of the side of the debate that supports Walker and his cuts, I move to Newt Gingrich–former Republican Speaker of the House and Minority whip. In a letter calling on Republicans across the country to stand behind Scott Walker, stating that “64% of the American people do not think government employees should be represented by unions,” and “A victory for the forces of reform in Wisconsin would provide enormous energy on government reform efforts to balance budgets in Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere. It will also extend to other issues like meaningful education reform.” What these education reforms would entail, Gingrich does not say, but based on how Walker has dealt with bargaining rights and Unions (making significant cuts in the name of fiscal savings–despite the fact that the fiscal portion was actually removed from the Bill) I can only assume that our education system will be receiving reduced funding.

When schooling is looked at through an economic lens, problems occur. For example, in a NY Times article titled “For Detroit Schools, Mixed Picture on Reforms,” this was exactly the case. Recently, Michigan Republican-run legislature echoed Wisconsin and approved a bill that allows managers to void public worker contracts. In a district with a debt of $200 million dollars, this ability to void contracts holds true for teacher unions. The district is thinking of moving all students to the charter school system–believing that this will save the most money as charter schools don’t have unionization and can hire young teachers and pay them low salaries. Mr. Bobb, the manager of the district, has been closing schools that aren’t providing enough money for the district through enrollment mercilessly. Yet, many of these schools, educating the poorest children, are far more meaningful and successful than their standardized test scores and enrollment numbers give them credit for. Take Carstens elementary for example, a school that features free breakfast and lunch for its students, jacket and shoe drives for students without winter coats, a twice a year dentist visit , and teachers who give up their lunch hour to sit with their classes instead of hire a lunch aide. These are the schools that truly make a difference–developing a relationship with their students and instilling a sense of hope in their futures. And yet, these are also the schools that are closed in the name of money. These are the sorts of ramifications I worry about with Walker’s bill.

Now that I have outlined a few of the supporting arguments for Walker and my reactions to them, I should say something about the side that I have come to support–the opposition to Walker’s bill. I have read several articles objecting to the bill, but I find that the points made in all of these are best summed up in Diane Ravitch’s “Eight Civics Lessons from Governor Walker” written for the Huffington Post. In this article, Ravitch passionately criticizes Walker’s manipulative union breaking despite initial union compliance to his budget cuts, expresses her disappointment in Wisconsin voters for their extremely poor turnout in the November elections (Scott Walker really should never have been elected,) reminds us to fight for the right to compromise in a democracy, declares that Walker’s “school reform” is actually an attempt to cut $1 billion from education budgets, laments the loss of senior teachers due to the cuts of the bill, and claims that Walker has “demolish[ed] one of the pillars of a democratic society.” As someone whose views have come full circle throughout her career, I have come to value Diane Ravitch’s perspective when it comes to the education system. Like her, I am concerned about the future of my own children and their place in the public schooling system someday. Reading and reflecting upon both sides of this debate, I find that though I can see merit in some of the motives behind Walker’s Bill, I am completely disillusioned by the way it was carried through congress. I find it more coercive than corrective, and I think that ultimately it has done a lot more harm than good.

Here is an especially telling video of the Wisconsin Republicans voting in a Conference Committee

For a look at what I see as the ideal education system, check out my Utopia Paper–written for my American Conversations Course (co-written with Steve Kannenberg.)

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2 Responses to Unraveling the Union Debate

  1. [Note: This response is re-posted from the URL to which my name links, obviously with my own permission. This way, I’ve asserted that my response is my content, yet that content is accessible without having to leave this blog post.]
    March 25, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.
    Dear GUIA Blogger:
    Although I appreciate the cursory mention of my Feb. 28th UWM Post op-ed, I must address the fallacious basis on which you critique it, namely your dismissal of the union wage premium. $6.50 was my starting wage because I began the position before the increase to a $7.25 minimum wage near the end of July 2009. That statutory hike roughly matched the raise I earned from performance bonuses alone, so the increase was a wash to those already earning raises at or above $0.75 per evaluation period, as many employers scheduled performance evaluations to coincide with the increase to absorb most of the extra cost as performance bonuses which would have been given anyway. (You could argue that some employers deflated performance bonuses to compensate for the statutory hike, but businesses need to stay in business, and even Work Study departments need to maintain positive revenue.) Hence, my mention of $6.50 is valid because it was in effect for the autobiographical period I mention, i.e. when I was a student worker. The $13 union wage I compare it to was in effect both then as well as the month of publication of my op-ed.
    You erroneously dismiss the union wage of $13 as misrepresenting the typical union wage because a lower statutory minimum wage exists. Pardon me for being pedantic, but the vast majority of unionized workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere have a starting wage well above minimum wage because they are paid a mean wage significantly greater than the mean wage of non-unionized workers, controlled for job type. This difference is what economists refer to as the “wage premium,” typically expressed as a percentage above the wages of non-unionized workers within the same sector and region. Thus, the difference between unionized starting wage and statutory minimum wage is only the beginning; the wage difference intensifies as the worker remains in the unionized position due to the greater factor seniority plays in determining compensation (per collectively bargained provisions) relative to a comparable non-represented position in which merit factors more heavily in determining change in compensation.
    Let’s begin by comparing absolute minima wages of blue-collar jobs I mentioned in my op-ed, both before and after the most recent minimum wage hike.
    Before: $13/$6.50 = 200% union wage premium, or twice the non-union wage
    After: $13/$7.25 = 179% union wage premium, or 1.79 times the non-union wage
    So although the July 24, 2009 wage increase reduced the earnings gap between non-unionized UW student workers and unionized (non-student) UW workers, payroll savings would ensue from a reclassification of union positions to student-only positions. (In fact, I am working on a position paper which cites concrete reductions in payroll expense. I will send you a link to it once finished, as it will be another few months to crunch all the numbers and double-check everything.)
    To adopt a broader perspective, compare means of unionized wages for a given position to means of non-unionized wages for the same. Unlike starting wages, which are codified in statute and/or in position descriptions, mean wages are more difficult to obtain reliable data for because many time-sensitive factors act over time, and hence throughout eras of wage minima, to collectively average a job class’ actual wage paid. Such factors include but are not limited to mean performance bonus, mean seniority bonus, mean overtime hours, and mean sick leave (all of which are critical for calculating sums of hourly compensation for subsequent division among the number of workers within the field, which may of course expand or contract during our data collection period). Thus, we need to work backwards from the state union wage premium, which is cited at 11.9% on page 2 of the following American Progress position paper:
    http://images2.americanprogress.org/CAPAF/2009/02/WI_EFCA.pdf
    Considering the aforementioned paper cites “Current Population Survey Micro-Data” from 2004 through 2007, we must adjust the statutory minimum wage by weighing its value for each portion of the study period relative to the entire period for which the 11.9% wage premium is cited. Wage minima were taken from the WI Department of Workforce Development website and corroborated by an Internet search:
    http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/dwdhistory/Year_Pages/2000_present.htm
    June 1, 1997 – May 31, 2005: $5.15 per hour
    June 1, 2005 – May 31, 2006: $5.70 per hour
    June 1, 2006 – July 23, 2009: $6.50 per hour
    July 24, 2009 – Present: $7.25 per hour
    We determine the portion of the data collection period for which a given minimum wage was effective by dividing the number of months in the period having that minimum wage by the total number of months in the period. Hence, $5.15 was in effect during 35.42% of the data period (17 months/48 months), $5.70 was in effect during 25% of the period (12 months/48 months), $6.50 was in effect during 39.58% of the period (19 months/48 months), and $7.25 was not in effect during the period.
    Therefore, the statutory minimum wage for 2004-2007 is $5.82, or (5.15*0.3542)+(5.7*0.25)+(6.5*0.3958). Because the cited union premium was calculated by comparing wage means of all unionized labor in a job classification to wage means of all non-unionized labor in the same job classification, we estimate the weighted mean non-unionized wage to be $8.73, or 50% above the statutory minimum wage. Finally, we derive the mean unionized wage by working backwards from the union wage premium equation:
    Un.Premium = (Un.Avg. – Non-Un.Avg.)/Non-Un.Avg.
    From this, we multiply the stated wage premium of 11.9% by the non-union wage: (8.73*0.119=1.0389)
    We now have $1.04 as the difference between mean union wage and mean non-union wage, controlled by industry. Then, we merely add the mean non-union wage to this difference to arrive at the mean union wage of $9.77 for the period 2004-2007: (1.04+8.73=9.77)
    The UW System’s current starting wage of $14 for a receptionist (a.k.a. university services associate) is 60.3% greater than the mean non-union wage of $8.73 and 43.3% greater than the mean union wage of $9.77.
    UW’s starting wage of $13 for a custodian at the time of my op-ed was 48.9% greater than the mean non-union wage of $8.73 and 33.1% greater than the mean union wage of $9.77.
    UW’s starting wage of $12 for a custodian at the time of this writing is 37.5% greater than the mean non-union wage of $8.73 and 22.8% greater than the mean union wage of $9.77.
    Clearly, the UW System pays more per hourly worker not only relative to non-unionized hourly jobs but also relative to other unionized hourly jobs within the State of Wisconsin. Do these workers necessarily provide better service than non-unionized workers of the same job type? Although I lack access to performance data (due to UW citing its handy “confidentiality rule” on HR records of performance), six years of observational experience as a student revealed that UW receptionists always ask, as a matter of protocol, whether the caller would like to leave a voicemail on the intended recipient’s answering machine. A note written by the receptionist accomplishes the same objective. I’ve also noticed receptionists habitually absent during the busiest office hours, e.g. 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. (when many students and staff are returning from lunch) and 3:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. (when the fewest classes are in session at UW, and hence when the greatest number of students are available to walk in). I’ve reported this to the department head (including the public administration department from which I graduated) but always received the response that the receptionist was “entitled to it due to union provisions.” And of course, I already mentioned in my op-ed the seat-warming custodians (who have a television in their break room) who get paid twice as much as the always-scrambling dishwashers. So in the absence of “confidential” UW performance data, my answer to the equal-or-better-efficiency question of unionized workers is an unequivocal “no.”
    To see where I obtained my unionized starting wage data from, visit this link and search for any of the jobs I mentioned:
    https://wisc.jobs/public/
    It should be noted that although some starting wages, such as the ones for Food Service Worker I & II, have been lowered from $13 to just under $12 since I wrote my op-ed, other starting wages have risen to $14 and above, such as for University Services Associate (traditionally known as “receptionist”). I already showed this by calculating the wage premia above for these positions both relative to non-unionized jobs and to other unionized jobs through Wisconsin.
    Even without my detailed calculations, it would be evident to the observer that the union wage premium is in effect, as otherwise the starting wages of UW hourly jobs would be the statutory minimum of $7.25 just as they are for Work Study positions. And your decision to refer to non-student workers as “adult workers” is specious because college students, except for the small minority under age 18 (typically freshmen who skipped a grade), are adults as well. If you ever doubt the work ethic of a newly-of-age adult, walk into any Best Buy, Texas Roadhouse, or other performance-oriented franchise and witness the youth of today working hungrily to advance through merit.
    Additionally, I closed my Feb. 28th op-ed with a step-by-step plan by which almost anyone, except perhaps a genuine dullard and/or someone with too many pre-existing childrearing obligations, may acquire an accredited college degree. (I refrained from addressing the quality or prestige of the degree, other than presuming it would be accredited.) Though I have wondered myself at the value of a degree from a public university, the fact remains that anyone who can obtain admission to a state community college (typically with acceptance rates between %70 and 90%) and has a not-too-horrible credit score (around 500 or better to get a federally underwritten student loan) can afford to earn college credit and, if their grades are sufficient, transfer into a baccalaureate university (typically a public university within the same state to maximize transferability of completed credits to the next university’s program). I never said the process would be enjoyable or stress-free, but it is achievable for the person of average ability and above-average persistence. I’m a working-class person who made it happen.
    You also pose the question as to what would happen if college graduates became so abundant that jobs utilizing skills learned in college (which many employers consider to be an oxymoron) were in short supply, thereby making the benefit conferred to degree holders primarily aesthetic rather than economic (in terms of a weak or non-existent compensation premium from the degree). The sad part is that this is already happening due to low-quality, too-little-too-late information on the supply and demand of various types of jobs and actual training necessary to be hired. Bureau of Labor Statistics information is primarily after the fact, and so projected job increases are not to be relied upon. What are other sources of job projections in terms of regional demand and, just as importantly, in terms of extent college graduates or individuals already trained to perform the work? Armed with this occupational ignorance, many high school and college counselors “advise” students to, “Do what you like.” That’s nice in theory, but in many cases it does not pay the bills because satisfying oneself does not necessarily satisfy the demands of the job market or carry economic value to others.
    Hence, I do not believe the working class would disappear if eventually 90% of citizens have a college degree; the number of jobs permitting a middle- or upper-class lifestyle would not increase in direct proportion to the mean education level of citizens because businesses exist to generate revenue for themselves, not to pay the student loans of college graduates. The only type of employer which might magnanimously increase its number of jobs requiring a college degree, without any economic incentive to do so, would be a non-profit organization founded with the precise mission to hire and promote under-employed college graduates into their full potential. Of course, such an institution is as absurd as your premise that employers would naturally increase their proportion of high-paying jobs just because an otherwise under-utilized workforce grows in its ability to perform specialized or intellectual labor for which the employers have no profitable use.
    I know this response is lengthy, but I had to thoroughly explain why the stated objections to my op-ed are unfounded. I’d like to see nitpickers try to take apart my argument, because my methodology is flawless given the publicly available data. If contrary data exist, the UW System and other institutions are hiding it. Remember, “What’s counted is what counts.” If institutions are not maintaining or making available cost efficiency data, there is likely a self-preservation rationale for such willful omission.Sincerely,Joe Ohler, Jr.

  2. Andi,
    I read your paper on your ideal education system. Several issues about this leapt to me:

    1) The “Dreamer” job class sounds like it would be super-saturated with applicants. How would your ideal education system accommodate or control the number of graduates allowed to be “Dreamers” instead of “Carers,” Skillers,” or such?

    2) Without efficiency driving the education system any longer (as revealed by the old man’s thoughts on Henry Ford’s efficiency doctrine becoming obsolete during the Transformation), on what basis does the economy run, if not on efficiency? What are the implications for the unemployment rate and for median income? For that matter, are poor people prohibited from segregating themselves from wealthier people, or would this “ideal education system” discourage the accumulation of personal wealth?

    3) If the typical resident during this period, i.e. “71 years after the Transformation,” does not “live in a box” for shelter, what type of shelters do people use in cold weather (such as during a Wisconsin winter)?

    I look forward to reading an elaboration on these points, as there are potent reasons for maintaining our current educational system instead of implementing the one proposed by you and Steve. If you and he address these points, then I could seriously consider your proposal.
    Joe

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