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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Rural Teacher Speaks Out

First, apologies for not blogging much in the past couple of weeks. My time has been limited due to some life events.

Recently I had an opportunity to have a rather casual conversation with a teacher from a mostly rural school district. I am going to avoid using her name here, or specifying what district she's from. As I said, it was a casual conversation, and the venue made it inappropriate to do a proper interview.

I'd also like to point out that, being a casual conversation, I did not have much of an opportunity to clarify some of the issues she discussed. I'd like to know more - and invite any of you who CAN clarify any of the points to contact me at icefishinglady@aol.com.

She teaches in Special Ed. She was one of many who went to Madison in the early days of our common struggle.

"Teacher" was there the day our 14 senators left. She spoke of a human chain that the protesters formed in an attempt to prevent the vote on the Budget Repair Bill. I'd definitely like to know more about this, so if anyone has insight, please share.

In her district, there was a rush to get contracts in place prior to the feared changes. Interestingly, the teachers were given a very minimal "raise" (1%?), while administrators were given MUCH larger ones (9%). Additionally, the administrators were given a substantial monthly amount over and above their salaries to offset the anticipated increases in costs of benefits.

Wow. I cannot understand the reasoning behind that, at all.

Teacher said that other budgetary changes not directly associated with the education system were also going to have a great impact on her students. Many come from poverty-stricken homes, and rely on Badger Care for health care. Again, these are students with challenges - physical, emotional, intellectual, and combinations of the above. Their need for health care services - both basic and more advanced - is greater than average... and she fears that they will not be getting essential care. "They did not choose to be born into these homes", she said. "They did not choose these challenges".

How very true this is. Our Republican legislative members - those ostensibly responsible for representing their constituents - DID have a choice. They CHOSE to neglect the most vulnerable among us in order to continue to sustain/create more tax breaks for those who in large part certainly do not need them.

It was not necessary - it was a CHOICE.

How any of them sleep at night is beyond me.

Teacher is facing a situation wherein, of necessity, she will have to take a second job - waitressing at night, during the summer, on weekends is likely.

How will this impact her family life? How will this impact her students?

How will this impact the job situation? If the Republicans are so concerned about creating jobs, why not pay our teachers adequately and allow others currently NOT working to take these jobs and have income to spend in their communities... thus sustaining more jobs, keeping businesses in business, preventing further loss of jobs and cost to taxpayers in the form of unemployment and what safety nets will be left, tax base when (I do not say IF) homes are lost and families are forced to move... the list goes on, and on, and on.

Perhaps some of our legislators are simply ignorant and not considering the ramifications of what they have done. I would prefer to think that rather than the alternative - that they are fully aware and simply do not care - at least on a human level, I would prefer that.

Yet ignorance, when there is so much at stake, is unconscionable for those responsible for representing these very real human beings. There are certainly educational resources widely available to anyone who cares to avail themselves of them and become truly informed.

If our legislators choose to slavishly follow their chosen ideology (ALEC) rather than do actual research, they are NOT DOING THEIR JOBS.

It is that simple - and that heinous.

I want to thank Teacher, as she took the time to talk to me and share some of the story of her district and the impact these changes have had and will have.

To all of you who teach, and to all who serve every citizen of our state as government workers - thank you for speaking out. Thank you for telling us the truth. Thank you for sharing your stories and those of the people you have dedicated your lives to serve. Thank you for your sacrifices - time, money, physical and emotional energy - to get the word out.

To those of you who are not government workers, who are just in this fight because it is morally inconceivable to remain silent - thank YOU.

In the unlikely event that any of our Republican lawmakers are reading this, I assure you that even many of your supporters WILL turn against you. Once they realize that they are mere pawns of an evil and corrupt system, once they realize the impact that this system has on their lives - they will. The system will chew them up and spit them out. There will be an uprising the likes of which has never been seen in our nation. I believe that.

I will do my utmost to expose you and the system you are supporting. Not a threat - a promise. I will stand up for Teacher and all citizens, all human beings. I will tell their stories.

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