The protests continue in Wisconsin. Busloads of teachers and students are departing all over the state headed for the capital. The solidarity of those individuals united is a great thing to see. And people are trying to stay positive and proactive as much as possible during this unrest. One protester joked, “They neglected to think they were fighting against people who stand on their feet all day.”
The Democratic lawmakers have left the state. They are boycotting the vote on this bill which directly impacts our Wisconsin state workers, with teachers being a direct target. Unless one democrat shows up, they cannot vote on this bill. The hope is to encourage negotiations that should have occurred a week ago.
Rallies all over the state are happening. Teacher and student walk outs are impacting everyone. Yesterday, I attended a rally in La Crosse. The teachers said it best, noting how Wisconsin has been a leader in education for 50+ years, how our state motto is “Forward!” and yet this bill will push us back so far, forcing some teachers to retire early and not have enough saved up to live on, forcing others to work for less year after year, resulting in schools being closed down and a middle class carrying the weight of the economic crisis on its back.
This is a Dr. Susan Crutchfield from UW-La Crosse. I will tell you that after one day of her class, I walked to the registrar office and signed up for my minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She also became my guidance counselor in the English Department. One day, for her to impact a life change in a student’s path. At the rally in La Crosse she spoke on behalf of Wisconsin workers and their voice as a union which requested a chance to speak with Governor Walker and negotiate this bill. She said, “We will work for less. We are not asking for a bigger slice of bread, but we will not take the CRUMBS leftover at a table to which we were never even given a seat to!”
My whole family has been protesting at the Capital all week long. My sister is a teacher, and my brother and his fiance’ are employed by the state too. My niece and nephew have been out of school for three days now due to closings and walk outs. My sister has been showing up and teaching every day, then driving an hour to the capital to protest with her fellow teachers because she thought that’s what she should do. Until yesterday…
Why I Walked Out: (An excerpt from a Wisconsin teacher) I thought I was doing the right thing when I reported to work this morning with the rest of my staff. I thought I’d show my support at the capitol as soon as school ended. Afterall, our district has a referendum to pass. Plus, not showing up would cost me a significant portion of my paycheck. As I looked at my smiling students I felt nothing but pain. The school I know and love will never be the same after this bill passes. I finally got the message that staying in school tells others that I’m o.k. with this legislature. Say what you want about how rich you think teachers are or how selfish you think we are, but understand that I’m going to the capitol because I want Wiscinsin schools to be the best in the nation! This fight is not about wages, benefits, or even my workers’ rights. It is about the war against Citizens’ United and their agenda to eliminate the middle class and the public schools we know and love. So, teachers at the capitol I apologize to you for not being there this morning. I’m on my way now and it’s because I love my students and because I want my daughter to one day attend a great Wisconsin school!
You can read more about what’s happening in Wisconsin by checking 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 battle is going to spread across the country and we need to tell our employees that we appreciate them.
Any thoughts on Wisconsin?