Know Your Madisonian: Mike Lipp, president of Madison Teachers Inc.

Know Your Madisonian: Mike Lipp, president of Madison Teachers Inc.


Mike Lipp is athletic director at Madison's West High School. Previously, he was a science teacher at the school for 20 years, and coached swimming, soccer and baseball. He also was a science teacher in DeForest for 15 years.

Lipp, 59, this month began a one-year term as president of the teacher unit of Madison Teachers Inc., the union that represents teachers, related professionals and school support personnel. His grandmother and father-in-law were union members and he was in the United Auto Workers during a summer when he was a graduate student.

In your personal finances, what would you do if your expenses exceeded your revenue?

That happens in several levels, when you get a mortgage or when you get a car loan. I have never bought a car with cash. ... Personally, you can operate in the red but governments have to operate in the black. It's a funny system.

Is there something or anything that people don't understand about unions?

Probably. And a lot of that is differences in states. ... In Michigan, for example, everybody joins the union. The tendency in this state is for unions to be civil-service-type unions.

I always thought more important than money and benefits is the right to redress a grievance without fear of retribution. ... It's so fundamental to human dignity. That's what I think keeps the labor movement going. ... I found that in a field in which 70 percent of the teachers are women, and most of the administrators are men, we needed a union.

Why did you agree to become MTI's president?

One of the greatest fears I have is to let down my teammates. My second year in teaching I joined the bargaining team. I have always been involved in the union. Anything to give back or assist others is part of what I wanted to do.

How do you get through to kids?

Honesty. Having some humor. Always being there. ... Part of being a teen is you rebel. People ask me, "How are kids different today than in the '70s?" They have different toys, but they're the same kids.

How do you learn?

I learn by listening to others who are experts. I learn by reading, and I learn by drills. ... Most summers I take a class. It's easier to learn now that I know both sides of the game.

How do you coach?

Kids come out for sports because it's a passion for them. At West, we get a lot of kids that come out for something for the first time. ... With them, you approach it a little differently. It has to be fun. You try to do something instructive every day.

What's your favorite sport?

I can't even answer that, but I really enjoyed the Big Eight track meet (Tuesday) night, I'll tell you that.

- Interview by Ken Singletary


Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

Subscribe to our Politics email!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

MADISON—Linda M. Muller, 52, passed away on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, after years of struggle with multiple cancers, at University Hospital. She…

BLUE MOUNDS — Nick Day, age 26, of Blue Mounds died unexpectedly on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Nick excelled in track in high school, running c…

MADISON — Debra K. Clark, age 58, died on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at Agrace Hospice, after a battle with lung cancer, due to smoking.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Badger Sports

Breaking News