22 February 2011

Are WI Governor's Consequences Really Unintended?

The storyline from Madison has featured everything from pizza for the protesters being ordered and paid for by people in Egypt to revelations about Scott Walker's curious spending decisions to precipitate the "crisis" and State Troopers in search of wayward state Senators. There are countless pictures, inflammatory comparisons between Walker and Hosni Mubarak, videos of members of the Firefighters Union, and stories of infiltrators hoping to discredit the participants. The eyes of the nation are on the struggle in Wisconsin, even as similar events unfold in other state capitols.

Leaving the children behind
But what about tomorrow's teachers? What about those dedicated young men and women just launching their careers, the ones who are student teachers right now? Why would any recent college graduate want to go into teaching now, particularly in a state that might defund pension plans and/or remove collective bargaining rights from public employees? Teaching has never been the way to get rich quick: it's a path rife with long hours, low pay, and in most cases even shelling out your own cash to provide classroom supplies.

GOP abandons NCLB?
Unlike the 5 states that don't allow collective bargaining for public employees, Wisconsin has historically turned out very accomplished, academically superior students, at least as measured by SAT/ACT scores. Sure, the students obviously get a lot of credit, but they're blessed by excellent school systems and teachers, too. Wisconsin has created a great education system, but Scott Walker has new priorities, and new spending plans, and his values clearly don't include looking out for children.

If, somehow, Wisconsin's new Governor pulls off this rollback of not just salaries and pensions but even the right of teachers and firefighters to rely on unions to negotiate for them, where will he find the next generation of public servants?

There are more creative ways to plug budget gaps; Scott Walker is steadfastly refusing to negotiate, holding the future of the children of Wisconsin hostage and threatening the standard of living of his entire state.

Two questions:
Just who is Governor Scott Walker really representing?

What would Laura Bush say?
“The question we must answer now is how do we nurture the development of the next generation...

The answer begins with education.

...Educated children grow up to be adults who have more opportunities to work, to support their families, and to fully participate in the life of their communities.”

Former First Lady Laura Bush

Let's not settle for ruining education and public service jobs in a rush to adjust spending priorities. We can do better than that. We are better than that.

Thomas Hayes is an entrepreneur, former Congressional Campaign Manager, strategist, journalist, and photographer who writes about topics ranging from economics and politics to culture and community.
You can follow him as @kabiu on twitter.

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