Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wisconsin's 2010 Teacher of the Year Speaks Out

When people say that public sector employees live high off the hog, I'd like to share that for 13 of my 19 year teaching career I have held a part-time job either in the summer or teaching night class at the local technical college. In addition to tightening the belt even more and crossing our fingers that nothing breaks, I will need to find part-time work again.
I am a teacher. I am not a politician or an economist. The reports coming out of Madison and the interpretations of those reports are confusing at best. I wish we could get to a point in this dialog, where we can be honest with each other and really be clear about what the shortfall may or may not be. Ramrodding the Budget Repair Bill through in less than a week, and just ahead of release of the state budget, doesn't feel like honest dialog.

Additionally, I am just not understanding why even after union leaders have offered to accept the pension and health insurance parts of the Emergency Budget Repair Bill, there is still this level of stubbornness and animosity. It certainly comes off as being about so much more than just balancing the state budget.
I am in no way a political person. Shoot, I don't even know if I am republican, democrat, tea-party, libertarian, progressive...whatever. When I vote I research candidates and vote for the best individual. Sometimes I vote for the candidate my union endorses, sometimes I don't.

What has happened to this country that we have become so polarized? Where our legislators are afraid to step out of line and vote their conscience rather than the party line? I know a couple of these state legislators personally. They're "buena gente"–good people. I'd love to sit down and have an honest conversation with them. But we are all caught in a much larger battle now.

I spoke at a rally early last week–well before the numbers swelled into the tens of thousands–because I saw some basic democratic principles being ignored. That concerns me deeply. I also spoke because in 2010 I represented the 98,000 public educators as Wisconsin State Teacher of the Year and I felt an obligation to be a voice for them.

Truthfully, all I really want to do is close my door and teach.

Wisconsin's 2010 Teacher of the Year says, "We are all caught in a much larger battle"

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