The following editorial appeared recently in the Crookston Daily Times.
Gov. Jesse Ventura said recently that some local school boards lack his toughness, and spend too much money on teacher salaries. As a result, he said he may seek a state law that declares teachers an "essential service," like firefighters and police officers, and makes labor-related strikes in the profession illegal.
Teachers are, of course, essential to our state, but Gov. Ventura's attempt to insert himself into the collective bargaining process is poorly timed and ill-considered. ...
No school district in the state is currently on strike. No school is about to go on strike, so Ventura's comments seem calculated more to divert attention from his parsimonious budget than actually deal with any breakdown of the collective bargaining process.
Gov. Ventura says he wants school boards to be tougher with teachers, but it's the voters of the school districts of this state who should decide how tough their school boards should be. Of course, it's a bad idea for school boards to approve teacher salaries when they don't have money to pay them. It's a bad idea when school districts spend more money than they have to spend, but the governor's proposed budget is a bigger problem for school district budgets in the state right now than teacher strikes.
For Gov. Ventura to start talking about the issue of strikes now serves no real purpose. All it does is arouse resentments that could help poison teacher salary negotiations in some districts later on. Instead of helping to avoid strikes, the governor's comments, if anything, do the reverse.
During his first year in office, Governor Ventura brought a breath or two of fresh air to politics in Minnesota. Some of his recent behavior, however -- from his off-hours job with the XFL to his comments about collective bargaining rights for teachers and his proposed budget for education -- suggest air of a different quality.
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