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?
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!
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 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
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
and never stop SPEAKING!
Have you ever seen the movie The Dead Poet’s Society? I love that film. Growing up feeling estranged from my small town upbringing and a writing future that looked bleak and penniless, it meant the world to me to have a few teachers throughout the years that encouraged passion for writing and creativity. In the film Robin Williams plays an english teacher who introduces his students, impressionable young men with a thirst for freedom and newness, to the Dead Poet’s Society. The society is a secret group that meets to read poetry about everything raw in life.
With a helpful nudge from fellow blogger, CM Stewart, I was given a quick review of what my blog says about me as a platform, or writer’s profile. “Close to Home” she said, and urged me to expound on my About page and explain why I panicked the moment college graduation started ticking down. Here goes.
I wanted to be a writer since I was three. My first story, entitled “Ho-Ho and the Missing Key” was a story about a bear named Ho-Ho who loses a key. It ended with him finding the key, in case you were curious. My parents were always supportive of my writing endeavors and praised me as their gifted youngest child. Now and again, as I got older, my father would be pouring his morning glass of orange juice and fill his cup with flax seed, stare up at me and ask, “What are you going to do for money?” Sitting on the counter top staring out the same kitchen windows I had for years, swinging my sock feet over the cupboard door my mother repeatedly told me not to do as it would break the hinges, but it never did, I shrugged. I’ll figure it all out. You all know what I thought. I’ll be so brilliant the agents will clamor at my door and beg to publish my work. I’m going to be the next Adrienne Rich of poetry, the next Sloane Crosley of satire, the next best thing to hit Hollywood!
My middle and high school years included some amazing literature teachers who read my scribbles and said “bravo!” In fact, I got the greatest written recommendation letter for a college scholarship I’ve ever read from one those teachers. She described me as having an arsenal of strength. Who wouldn’t be flattered? This teacher had also stood up for me and spoken to the principal about my senior exit interview. My interviewer was a retired Doctor Hartwick. He was a tall, midwest bellied man who always wore a tie. He had combed wavy gray hair and typically read Bible passages at the Catholic church I grew up in. Going through my portfolio, he skimmed right over all my extra writing samples, my forensics awards, my extracurricular activity participation and told me I didn’t have enough math examples. And that writing was fine for free time, but what was my fallback plan? When I told my teacher about how I was grilled about making a better realistic choice for my college plan, she went straight to the principal, “You don’t tell a top 20 honor student that her dream is unrealistic!” Dr. Hartwick was never asked to help with senior exit interviews again.
In college, I found similar professors who encouraged my out of the box project delivery. Instead of papers, I often wrote and performed spoken word pieces. I became involved with performance pedagogy groups and worked on a few literary journals. Hell, I was a student slave in the English department copy room, making copies of all the professors’ class assignments and reading!
My senior year I joined the company I currently manage for. It’s a higher end retail department store, and I began in customer service. Happy in my new job, I was drawn to their service manager position, which focused on answering the customer issues on the floor. I spoke with the store manager several times that I’d be interested in doing it. I hadn’t made any plans after graduation, stalling at the time unsure of how life would affect the relationship I was in and suddenly unsure of what I wanted to do with my life anyway. A month before graduation and I seriously considered not going through with it and changing my major to business management! Chaos broke loose. I was interviewing with Americorp, I had bookmarked the peacecorp site on my computer, and talked to my boss again saying please please please. Obviously, you know where I ended up. I was given a full time sales position to learn the floor before moving a few months later into the service lead, and few months later into the sales manager position I currently am in.
I go back and forth remembering my decision making process after graduation. I am currently in a well paying job that is allowing me to pay off my student loans much faster than my siblings were able. And I hadn’t wanted to go to grad school right away anyway. My panic about what field to study made adding more loan payments on while being unsure of the course seem like a bad idea. So, I decided I’ll work a few years and then decide what and where I really want to be.
The problem, which now brings you all up to speed, was that two going on three years have passed and I miss writing. I wasn’t doing it anymore. And this blog, which I started to document my return to words, has been difficult to maintain regularly, but feels like the best thing going on in my life right now. So, here I am, talking about things “close to home,” sharing stories, memoirs, and support for anyone making a teensy weensy change or a monumental move in their life. If your ambitions are in writing like myself, I highly recommend you check out Kristen Lamb and her book We Are Not Alone. She is just one of the many wise men I am meeting on my happiness project.