Citizens for Responsible Government tied to anti-teacher flier
By STAN MILAM WTMJ Tuesday, May 22, 2012
JANESVILLE — An anti-teacher flier distributed over the weekend in Janesville is the work of a conservative Milwaukee organization with local representation.
Citizens for Responsible Government, also known as CRG Network, filed a freedom of information request with the School District of Janesville on March 29, said Brett Berg, spokesman for the district. Those figures were used to create the flier, said CRG Executive Administrator Chris Kliesmet.
“The group and its representative, Orville Seymer, filed a freedom of information request for a list of all Janesville district teachers, their job titles and annual salaries,” Berg said.
When contacted by The Gazette, Seymer said he knew the names of local participants but was asked not to release them.
“They want to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation,” Seymer said. “However, this is all public information.”
The flier lists the names and salaries of 321 teachers whose salaries range from $59,344 to $75,695. The district employs 765 teachers; the lowest salary is $34,676.
“We did most of the grunt work at the request of people over there,” Kliesmet said. “We did the freedom of information request and gathered the data. People in the area printed the flier and distributed it.”
At the bottom of the flier is a “Parents’ Rights Protection Form” urging parents to send it to Superintendent Karen Schulte and request that “my child be assigned to a classroom taught by a non-radical teacher during the 2012-2013 school year.”
When asked about comments regarding “radicals” and taking students out of classes, Seymer said he did not have any input on the content of the flier.
The flier does not say what its authors mean by “radical,” but it does include information directing people to a website listing state residents who signed the petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker.
Schulte said if she receives any of the requests, “they’re going in the trash.”
CRG conducted a similar exercise in 2008 highlighting Milwaukee Public Schools expenditures. The group was also involved in an unsuccessful effort earlier this month to recall state Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, and boasts on its website of the successful effort to recall former Milwaukee County Executive Tom Ament.
The flier did not state who produced it.
Stephanie Kortyna, a fifth-grade teacher at Jackson Elementary School, said she wasn’t bothered to see her name on the list, but she objected to being classified as a radical.
“I couldn’t care less about people knowing my salary,” she said. “But if these people are this concerned with this, why the anonymity?
“Why are they not saying who is this group, who is the leader of this group, where is the money coming from to make these fliers? If you have a beef with us, or if you are angry with us, make yourself known,” Kortyna said.
The flier was distributed in Gazette home-delivery tubes.
Gazette representatives said the newspaper did not authorize the use of its tubes, and the flier is not connected to the newspaper.
Gazette Circulation Manager Lon Haenel said Gazette tubes are for newspaper use only. The paper asks unauthorized people or groups to stop using The Gazette’s tubes, Haenel said, and will contact the police if they do not.
Schulte said she was shocked when someone showed her the flier Saturday. She said it was interesting that she saw the flier at Craig High School, where 400 people including teachers were volunteering to package food to be sent to feed the hungry in Haiti.
“I think it’s wrong to go after any group that has an honest profession,” Schulte said. “I don’t understand where this intense anger is coming from.”
The flier distributed this weekend is done in the same style as a flier stuffed in some Janesville mailboxes in March. Those fliers listed the salaries of some district administrators and teachers and made specific charges against public schools, including “dumbed-down curriculum,” “Marxist/globalist agenda,” “sexualization of children” and “union bullying and vindictive targeting of students.”
The first flier also contained no information about who made it. It suggested parents pull their children from public schools and put them in private schools.
The Gazette contacted local private schools at the time, and officials said they had nothing to do with it. Some were upset because their schools were listed on the flier.
Only two teachers make more than $74,000. Salaries are based on a salary schedule that awards pay raises for years on the job to a maximum of 17 years and for continuing education up to the doctoral level. Teachers pay out of their own pockets to take the graduate courses. Teachers also receive extra pay for additional duties, such as coaching.