By Nicholas Riccardi, Los Angeles Times
May 18, 2011

There are some serious issues here...... Good luck.

Reporting from Milwaukee

Last year, Milwaukee's struggling public school system fired the woman named Wisconsin's outstanding first-year teacher because of union rules that protect senior teachers and require newer ones to be laid off first.

As it cuts 560 more teaching jobs this year, the district faces a bill more than double its entire $1-billion budget to pay for retired teachers' health benefits, a deal that one former school board member described as "the most opulent healthcare package in the world, including Sweden."

When leading Democrats last year tried to place control of the district under Milwaukee's mayor, similar to reform efforts in Chicago and New York, the powerful Milwaukee Teachers' Education Assn. killed the attempt.

For decades, critics have railed against the union.

"Teachers unions do what they're supposed to do, which is protect teachers," said Howard Fuller, a former Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent who has fought the union over the district's voucher program. "In the process of protecting teachers, they make it very difficult to ensure a quality education for the kids. The question is, what do we do about it?"

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