MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker may have thought a Green Bay Packers analogy about teachers would be a political touchdown. Instead, his opponents tried to sack him Tuesday for comparing free agency in the NFL with how teachers are paid in his state.
The Republican governor's remarks came after a closed-door listening session in Coon Valley, Wisconsin, when reporters asked whether he thought incentive-driven salary programs would make it harder for K-12 schools to retain teachers.
"If the Green Bay Packers pay people to perform and if they perform well on their team, (the Packers) pay them to do that," Walker said, according to the LaCrosse Tribune. "They don't pay them for how many years they've been on the football team. They pay them whether or not they help (the Packers) win football games."
That drew a sharp rebuke from Democratic state Rep. Sondy Pope, of Mount Horeb, who said Walker's analogy comparing teacher salaries — which average $54,766 in Wisconsin based on National Education Association figures — to NFL players who make millions was "simply ridiculous."
"This callous disregard of professional educators is insulting," Pope said.
Walker doesn't understand that NFL players have comprehensive representation from union officials to protect and bargain for their wages and benefits, said Democratic Rep. Katrina Shankland, of Stevens Point, a dig at Walker's signature legislative initiative that disallowed collective bargaining for teachers and other public workers.
Shankland also pointed out that NFL players get raises for each year they're in the league regardless of how they play or how many games they win.
"Ask the Chicago Bears about this," she joked in a statement.
Wisconsin Education Association Council President Betsy Kippers said Walker was wrong to suggest "our children's futures are a game to be won or lost."
Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said Tuesday that the governor was trying to make a point that good employers reward employees based on performance, "not just seniority."
"That is what we can now do in Wisconsin after our reforms, to make sure we have the best and brightest teaching in our classrooms," Evenson said.
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