I appreciated the respect for John Matthews' achievements conveyed by Madison labor mediator Howard Bellman's comment in Sunday's article, and his concern about the possible effect of Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to destroy the Madison teachers union and public employee unions throughout Wisconsin:
"It would be like somebody watching all their paintings burn up... What he's accomplished over the years would have been just a memory."
However, that analogy fails to give consideration to the value of his work beyond creating a robust and effective union. For the artist, the joy of the creation might be lasting, but the product of his efforts would be gone. That would not be the case for what Matthew's efforts have produced.
Through his skills of communication and negotiation, Madison schools have become places where working conditions and earning potential are sufficient to attract and keep a superior professional staff. Consequently, many thousands of students have received a top quality education that surely has enhanced their ability to compete in the job market and move on to higher education with confidence.
The efforts of Matthews, along with the School Board, administration, teachers and a supportive community, will have their positive effect for generations to come.