I Heard the Cry on the Capital Stairs

Thousands rally at the capital to speak up for State Worker's Rights

I know the rules of blogging platform.  We are not supposed to dive into the political, so if you don’t want to listen just click on my Jane Austen post instead.  But I can’t silence my head.  I’ve argued with people, paced around the house, drove around listening to NPR, and spent countless hours worrying about the future and my family.  If you didn’t know, Wisconsin is in an uproar regarding Governor Scott Walker’s plan to end all unions.  Thousands of state workers and teachers have rallied in protest at the capital all week long.  I really do understand the downsides to a union, in fact, in my job I educate new hires on why our company opts to do without a union, but four people in my family are union members through WEAC or other state positions.  And with the plans Governor Walker wants to put forward it will mean less pay every year for our educators and increased pay ins for health benefits.  All I’m doing is sharing a spoken word I wrote today because it’s heavily on my mind.  I thank you for listening, and whichever side of the struggle you fall on, please send support to my family as I know a battle lies ahead.

I Heard the Cry on the Capital Stairs

This is an appreciation.

You’ll have to forgive my fixation

but this crowd-

balled up against the capital stairs

speaking out so loudly

I can hear it from 200 miles away!

They say

Kill the Bill

to those who won’t even agree to listen

yet admit that their legislation

could use a little editing.

Well I learned how to proofread,

but sometimes a mistake

is not so easily repaired by the

force of an eraser on paper.

Sometimes it can never be taken back

and it becomes a mandatory civil disobedience,

a role call of citizens who speak up

and speak out about why

you can’t tear down a structure

like a building and not acknowledge

you’re leaving a mess.

And that is why we are here today!

That is why some of your children

could not attend school

because their teachers chose to walk out

rather than spend the day in denial of their own voice

their own voice

handling the matters that impact them directly.

So if you know a teacher,

are related to a teacher,

and Heaven bless you if you are a teacher,

SPEAK

SPEAK

SPEAK now SPEAK strongly

SPEAK with the conviction

of a child raising their hand and asking WHY?

Never stop asking questions!

Never doubt for a moment that our nation

would never learn how to read or count

or grow without our teachers preparing

every class lesson and opportunity

a child is given

by devoting their own free time

to the success and the future

of the next generation!

Say thank you!

Say you hear them!

Say you know there are changes yet to come,

but not from a tumbling structure undone,

in this day, while we stand

united on the capital steps

let us SPEAK,

even if you find yourself only able

to whisper.

Let all voices be known as a face,

a part of the answer,

not the problem!

Say thank you!

Say you hear them!

Say you have the courage

and the remembrance of a teacher

who has shaped your own life

to SPEAK out

SPEAK now

SPEAK strongly

and never stop SPEAKING!

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15 responses

  1. I don’t mind you voicing your political opinion, but if you open that door I trust you won’t take offence if I voice mine.
    First, from what I’ve read, Gov. Walker is not trying to “end all unions.” He is trying to restrict the power of state employee unions. There is a world of difference between those two statements.
    Will it mean teachers might not get as much of a raise next year? Yes. And from an economic standpoint that leaves those teachers with two options: a. they can keep working for what they’re being paid, or b. they can decide that the pay they’re getting is not enough and move on to somewhere or something else. They are simply losing the option to demand more money.
    I understand people are very emotional about this issue, but to me it looks like simple economics. Spend less. Save more.

    1. He is being funded by the group Citizens United, who have on their agenda to end all unions. I’m not even pro-union, but I don’t think it’s safe or economically healthy to just cut it down and not have something to fall back on. Teachers like my sister who have taught for over 10 years will not make a dollar more unless it goes to referendum, and we all know that the public isn’t going to vote on increasing the salaries of state workers, and with health care going up every year, more and more will come out of a stagnant paycheck. She is the sole provider for her family right now and I feel for her trying to raise a toddler, give so much of herself at her job, and come out with little to show for it. She isn’t a frivolous spender so to tell her to “spend less, save more” isn’t just economics, it is a slap in the face. I know she is not the only person affected in this. I do respect your opinion, and as I said before, there is improvement to be made with how unions are run, but Gov. Walker isn’t letting any of the affected parties speak with him, and shouldn’t you listen to the voice of the lives you’re planning to change? I am deeply scared for WI education and educators future.

  2. Hmmm. My husband is a teacher with a grad degree who earns less than a nurse with a 2-year degree at my hospice, and his raise was 1.5%, so that kinda shoots that arguement down, Albert. Coming from a governor who has no degree, it doesn’t surprise me that “simple economics” are the best he can handle: unfortunately, simple economics are not a long-range solution and neither is the demonstrated paucity of morality that led to this. It’s bad economics and worse ethics. Do you really want great and experienced teachers to walk away? Who do think will take their jobs?

    Thanks for your passion, Jessie: there is much to consider on both sides, and listening is important, as is intellectual depth and reason…

    1. What part exactly of my argument does that shoot down? I said that if teachers are not happy with what they are being paid they can do something that earns more. If your husband could make more money being a nurse with less education…well hey, that sounds like a fantastic opportunity.
      And “simple economics” are the best economics. The greatest work on economics ever written (in my opinion) is the Wealth of Nations, and it is related in language any layman could understand. Where have you gotten this elitist notion that only heavily educated people can make sound economic judgments?

      1. If it were only about money, Albert, maybe your plan would work. But it’s not. I emphasize again, that teachers love their job because they like helping their students. No teacher goes into this profession for the money. Many teachers do work second jobs or teach summer school, or mentor student teachers as means of supplementing their income. This bill is about an attack on the middle class and relying on them to boost the economy, but if it passes many schools will suffer closing doors, and tuition costs are going to rise even further, especially if UW-Madison gets excluded from the UW system, which they’re now admitting has been in the process since November but the UW schools just learned about it this week. I appreciate your passion, as I’m sure you do mine. But if you saw the faces and heard the voices of the protesters, I just feel so very saddened and worried about WI education’s future. Nothing seems so unethical to me as what is happening in my state right now.

  3. Thank you for your words. They bring me to tears because I truly cannot believe that it has come to this. I will be sharing your piece with everyone I know.

  4. Very nice. Very, very nice.

  5. There’s no need to back off from politics here. Your blog can be about whatever you want it to be. Go forth and politicize, I say!

    1. Thanks Mark! As so many of my family and dear friends will be impacted by this bill it is a subject close to heart. Blogging about anything else seemed false. I attended a rally on campus today where hundreds of professors and students gathered. My whole family was at the state capital protesting. And the senate democrats have left the state, refusing to be present thereby making it impossible to vote on the bill until negotiations finally occur. At work today, half my team shared stories with me about how they or their spouses will be impacted by this bill. Many of them making only around $30,000 a year, and yet their pay in for health benefits will jump from $70 to $200+ dollars in the matter of 3 months if this bill goes through. And that $30,000 earner, yah, she’s the sole income for her family right now.

  6. I think the “No Politics” idea is to prevent too much heated discussion blowing up into something else. As a part time worker for most of my life, I’ve had no direct involvement in unions. Mrs Dim has dealt with them in various forms, and tells me the good ones are great and the bad ones are beyond the pale. Like all things in this world, they tend to come down to the people that represent them.
    From an intellectual standpoint, the idea of unions is a fine one: employees have a stronger voice through collective bargaining, and employers are less likely to run rough-shod over workers if they can all stand together. On the negative side, you get monstrous unions that believe the employer exists to provide their members with potloads of money. They are anti anything that might involve their workers doing more hours, new duties, taking on responsibilities, and who cares if that will save the company or make it perform better? That’s not what the unions are FOR.

    In this case I hold up my hands and step back. If you’re a Governor, you should have a good enough understanding of what you’re doing to be sure it’s the best thing all round, or trust your advisors to give you the right advice. Sometimes that action is going to run contrary to what someone else wants. The point of a democracy, (as I see it) is to make sure that if ENOUGH PEOPLE are opposed to the actions of an elected representative, they should be able to change those actions.

    *Hands soap box to next commenter*

    1. I absolutely agree with you on the point of a democracy. But the problem with our Governor is that he hasn’t once spoken to any of the union reps or union members! When asked, he flees! He says he’s willing to negotiate but no meetings have as yet occurred. And this governor, who is directly impacting the lives of a target union group like our teachers, doesn’t even have a college degree! He has excluded state workers like police and firefighters saying they save lives so they give back to the community. What are teachers doing if not SAVING LIVES every day in the classroom?! He called in the national guard and publicly announced he’ll use force if necessary to stop the protesters. The rallies have always been peaceful, they just want their voices heard!

      Coincidentally, this governor of ours (who you should all be well aware I did NOT vote for) has on his campaign agenda labor busting, and after that he’s going to say that date rape really isn’t rape at all. He’s just so full of democracy I could puke.

  7. Thank you. We are also impacted by this.

  8. […] out this news article from TPM.  You can see how it affects people by reading my last post, I Heard the Cry on the Capital Stairs.  Please spend a little of your time today thanking a state worker, or a teacher, I know this […]

  9. I appreciate your post. Politics aside and looking at the real life issues we need to face head-on, I’m saying this only to add my perspective. I don’t live in Wisconsin but honestly $30,000 would be delightful to me. I’ve been supporting my family for over two years on a fraction of that with no assistance at all. I have two friends who are also laid-off teachers. One, with over twenty years teaching experience, is now cleaning hotel rooms. The other, with six years of teaching experience, sells cell phones. Never once have I heard them complain. They are single mothers and glad they have jobs. Again, I’m not disputing your points which are valid.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story and the stories of your friends. These are very real life situations that our families find themselves in. The battle is reaching a turning point, or perhaps just a stronger realization, that it isn’t about the money. WI workers understand they may work for less, but what scares us all is how it feels like an attack on the middle class. Last night on the news, they announced UW-Madison may leave the UW system, thereby being able to increase its tuition costs without a UW union move too. And unions are the only thing standing in the way of the Republican party when it comes to campaign funding. That’s really scary. If this bill passes, will we even have a true democracy? I just don’t know right now. Thank you again for sharing your experience.

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