A Note of Thanks to Brian Williams

27 September 2011
Dear Mr. Williams,

I want to thank you personally for hearing the call of so many thousands of us in Wisconsin who were outraged by the hubris and audacity of the future former governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, in daring to speak in "support" of education on your "The State of Education: The Governors' Perspective" panel yesterday.

Thank you, especially, for opening up the forum by reading from the letter I wrote to you and calling out Walker on his divisive policies. The look on Walker's face was priceless as you shared what so many Wisconsinites know to be true: Walker's education "reforms" (TM) are nothing more than devastating and avoidable cuts that will have long-term affects on our students and our schools. The fact that he looked so surprised as you read the letter is further confirmation that he truly does not take seriously, or even acknowledge, the dissent of his constituents, no matter how carefully thought-out or reasonably supported by evidence.  As you'll recall, he was cc'd on the original message. Too bad he doesn't check his email.

By opening your program with this challenge to Walker, you sent the message loud and clear, and I think set exactly the right tone for your event: Walker's constituents do not support his education agenda, and whatever slick and slimy talking points he might have up his sleeve to sugar-coat the impact of his massive cuts, we are not falling for it.

In my original letter, I said I was shocked that Walker would be included on a panel on education because he's so shamefully unqualified to speak on the topic, which is true, but in retrospect I am glad he was on this panel. I think having him on made a perfect example of what will go wrong if you try to balance the budget on the backs of our children. Walker, as always, was a shameful disappointment, and I was not surprised to see he said exactly what I predicted he would about how his "tools" and "reforms are working" - his delusional lies about teachers coming up to thank him for gutting the education budget and taking away their rights were a bit beyond the pale, but we're used to that in Wisconsin by now. His inclusion on this panel was a painful reminder of the many valid reasons we have for seeing him recalled from office, and the enthusiasm around the campaign to make our voices heard on this issue only helps build momentum as we move into recall season here in Wisconsin.

The letter I sent you resonated with so many people because I was just saying what needed to be said, and what so many people are thinking. I wouldn't have had the nerve to say it if I didn't know I was speaking on behalf of so many other regular people in Wisconsin and elsewhere who are just sick and tired of the arrogance, lies and deceit that have become the norm in political affairs.  I was really humbled by all the attention it received and did my best trying to represent all of us who are so fully engaged in this struggle to take back our democracy, our economy and our social programs from the same bullies who have bought our children out from under us. While those willing to vote against their own self-interests like to frame this as a struggle that's just about unions, or workers' rights, or pensions and benefits, this is in fact a struggle that should really unite all Americans. It's about the citizens of this country ensuring that we have a seat at the negotiating table of our own future, and the future of our children. It's about holding our elected officials accountable to the people rather than those who fund their campaigns. The people of Wisconsin made clear this year that we will not take these abuses of power sitting down, but when you follow the money, you'll see all of these issues are connected. We are all Wisconsin. We are all Wall Street. We are all in this together and the time to stand up say "enough!" is now. So we are standing. And we are saying it.

So I thank you, Mr. Williams, for listening and making our voices heard yesterday. I very much look forward to the day very soon when you'll slow-jam the news that Scott Walker has been recalled.

Yours sincerely,
Heather DuBois Bourenane
Wisconsin parent, educator, PTO member, state employee and public education advocate

Thanks, too, to The Ed Schultz Show and MSNBC for the 
continued coverage of Walker's abuses of power in Wisconsin.

And thanks most of all to everyone who stood up with me to send the message
that we do not support Scott Walker or his toxic education policies. Solidarity!

Scott Walker vs "The State of Education": An open letter to Brian Williams

Brian Williams
NBC News
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10112

cc: Scott Walker
22 Sept 2011
Dear Mr. Williams,

I was absolutely shocked to learn today that you are featuring Scott "Teachers are Thugs" Walker on your Sept. 26 "The State of Education" program.  While I'm something of an independent news junkie and not a regular viewer of NBC Nightly News, I am familiar with some of your work on the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon, and happen to know for a fact that you not only know that Scott Walker is an enemy of teachers, but have in fact slow-jammed that news yourself on at least one occasion:
Given your apparent familiarity with Walker's attacks on educators and other public servants, it seems unlikely that you aren't also aware of his equally devastating attacks on public education itself in Wisconsin. But the fact that he has been invited to participate in this summit, and the eagerness with which he has already begun to reveal the lies he plans to further espouse on your show compel me to provide you with a list of the many ways in which Scott Walker has waged war on public education in Wisconsin, in the hopes that you will use this information to expose Walker as the overtly anti-education policy-pusher that he is, and use this opportunity to reveal the truth about his sinister plans to privatize public education rather than provide him with a platform to spout his usual lies about "reform" (which is his codeword for defunding public education).

1. Scott Kevin Walker cut 1.6 BILLION dollars from the public education budget over the next two years, even as he passes out tax breaks like candy and increases public funding to private and charter schools. Most districts in the state were forced to deal with these cuts this year by forcing our top commodity, experienced teachers, into early retirement to get some short-term balance in hiring new, "less expensive" teachers. Programming cuts are rampant all over the state. Districts are forced to raise taxes up to the existing levies, if they haven't already.  Cuts, everywhere, across the board. Walker calls cuts "tools." Get ready to hear him say that word a lot on your show. He may also mention jobs, since he has a hard time not using "job" and "tool" in the same sentence, but don't fall for it. He's a total tooljob. And, as the people of Wisconsin have been telling him since February, myself included, he needs to keep his brown bag full of "tools" away from our schools.

2. Walker is heavily funded by, and answers to, anti-public education privatization policy-pushers like the Koch brothers, the Walton family and Betsy DeVos's ironically named American Federation for Children, at whose annual event Walker was a keynote speaker last spring. These groups have a proven and admitted goal of privatizing public education and are using Wisconsin as a staging ground for advancing their political aims for our schools, using the ready puppet, Scott Walker, who is more than willing to sell out our kids to such high-rolling bidders. They have trained him to use words like "choice" and "merit" as codes for long-term agendas toward privatization and segregation of schools. His efforts to "reform" education in Wisconsin are little more than a financial venture.

3. Scott Walker is a proven and habitual liar. His biggest, and most common lie, is that Wisconsin is "broke" and that we need his "reforms" to "balance the budget."   The financial "crisis," which Walker manufactured in order to attempt to illegally push through his draconian budget which revoked the rights of public employees in Wisconsin, was the direct result of the tax cuts he distributed (again, to his cronies) in the weeks before declaring this phony state of fiscal emergency.  Further, he pushes a myth that the Wisconsin education system is in need of major reform, often blaming our excellent teachers for problems that do not exist. Wisconsin public schools are a national model in many areas and we are #1 in the nation in graduation rates, even as we spend less per pupil than most other states. With many of our schools already running on bare-bones budgets, Walker's cuts are devastating and our kids are paying the price as Walker's funders cash in their checks.

4. The people of Wisconsin do not support Scott Walker. As soon as legally possible, recall efforts will begin full force and are in the planning stage as we speak.  Educators and educated people throughout the state are near-universally opposed to his policies and further disgusted by his arrogant contempt for the welfare of our children and our education system. He has an approval rating around 40% and sinking.  He is at the heart of an FBI "John Doe" investigation relating to illegal campaigning. He was asked to leave Marquette University for similar campaign ethics violations and he has made clear time and again throughout his many campaigns that he does not (and did not) value his own education; hardly the man we should trust to preserve and protect the education of our children. He does not speak for the people of Wisconsin, who see his power-grab for exactly what it was: a purely partisan bait-and-switch which led us down a whirlwind path of abuses of power and has produced painfully divisive policies that pit the erstwhile friendly and accommodating people of Wisconsin against each other.

When bragging about being part of your summit, Walker said "I believe we have a great story to tell about our reforms and our bipartisan collaborations to further improve our schools." This from the man who famously said "There's nothing to negotiate" when revoking teachers' rights and lying about how doing so would help "balance the budget." There has not been one single instance of bipartisan collaboration related to Scott Walker's education agenda since he took office. And I've been paying attention. I watched live as citizen after citizen, teacher after teacher, expert after expert, testified in opposition to his budget, his education-gutting, his plans to expand charter schools at the expense of traditional public schools across the state. Scott Walker shows open contempt for anyone who opposes him and refuses to even acknowledge citizens with whom he disagrees (I myself have been writing to him regularly since February and have never received more than an automated email response).  He continues to this day to suggest that the educators who gathered by the thousands to protest his cuts to education and his abuse of power in taking away their rights were "a handful of out-of-state protesters." He is perhaps the most deceitful and divisive governor in America, and a staggering example of how to destroy public education. I trust you will expose him as such.

Yours sincerely,

Heather DuBois Bourenane
Wisconsin parent, educator, PTO member, state employee and public education advocate

Update:  Citizen action works.  Mr. Williams actually opened his event by reading aloud from this letter to Scott Walker, asking him if it wasn't true that his divisive policies will ultimately cause irreparable harm. More here.

Thanks to The Ed Schultz Show and MSNBC for the 
continued coverage of Walker's abuses of power in Wisconsin.

Letter from the Northwest: What would Walker do?

Despite the impressive effort to recall her, Sheila Harsdorf retained her seat in the Wisconsin Senate this August. Sore winner Elizabeth Frederick, of Frederic, took this as an opportunity to share a very tellingly uninformed perspective in a letter to the editor of The Leader titled "We the People."

Not everyone was in District 10, however, was fooled. This guest post is Kristine Emerson's response, an abbreviated version of which was published in The Leader.

There is a lot of talk in Wisconsin about how Madison and Milwaukee - and progressives in general - don't represent the rest of the state, about how "the silent majority" possesses "conservative values" that are somehow out of touch with our big-city ways.  Not only is this patently untrue, it's utter nonsense.  The threat Scott Kevin Walker poses to our state is bipartisan and knows no bounds: if you are not rich, you lose in his Wisconsin.  Positioning this crisis as a conflict of "values" is a distraction and an absurdity, and - from the sound of Ms. Frederick's letter - working.  Thank goodness for people like Kristine Emerson, who stand up for the voice of reason and exposing the hypocrisy of using the Bible to defend and promote political agendas which only hurt the majority of people, and most significantly the most vulnerable among us, wherever we live.  We're all in this together, and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can get to work together. Thank you, Kristine, for sharing your letter and moving us one step forward.

It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve been very restrained after reading the Letters to the Editor of this paper since Scott Walker pulled his bait and switch back in February.   I had hoped to continue to restrain myself, but last week’s letter from Elizabeth Peterson was the last I can read and stay silent.

What set me over the edge was her assertation that that “it is impossible to be a true, Bible-believing Christian and support the Democratic Party” if we are pro-choice, combined with her opinion that Gov. Walker’s attack on the teacher’s union was necessary to make changes to “bring everything back in perspective.”

The facts are: none of the Democrats were recalled, and two Republican seats were lost.  If that look “triumphant” to you, I guess that’s okay.  It took me days to feel good about taking the two seats away from Republicans, but I’m good with it now.  Absolutely better than losing two of our own!

I know many teachers, both in Wisconsin and in other states.  I don’t know of even one who does not spend their own money providing supplies for their classrooms, and spending a fair amount of time at home, in the evenings, grading papers and working on lesson plans.  They are teachers because it is a calling, they love sharing knowledge with the next generation.  If we don’t take care of our teachers, we will have a much bigger mess than the huge failure called No Child Left Behind.  These children are the future of our country!

Scott Walker didn’t get much press up here.  We got a lot about Bachman and Dayton and the Minnesota leaders, but precious little about Scott Walker.   I will never let that happen again.  His history as Milwaukee County Executive was not unlike what we are seeing as him in the Governor’s Office.   That is pretty impressive for a college dropout.

During his run for the Milwaukee County Executive seat, he announced to a large crowd that he would not cut treatment funding to AODA (Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse).  Of course, that is exactly what he did.  Treatment advocates were enraged, and many in the faith community were shocked that he would say one thing and do the opposite!  He was reminded that they had video showing his promise, and the County board later restored part of the money.  Under such pressure, he didn’t veto the restored funding.

He also cut the General Assistance Medical Program.  The uninsured relied on that program for years to provide health care for the poor.  He instituted a $35 fee for people to use the program, which seems reasonable until you realize the poor and/or indigent do not have $35.  Hospitals experienced a spike in ER visits, which brought about higher insurance premiums to those who did have insurance.

He cut funding to shelters for Battered Women.  These women, often along with their children, are victims of domestic violence and have few safe havens.  What a great guy he is!  He’s definitely living by the Bible in terms of taking care of the less fortunate.

The true precursor, which I was not aware of and I never read in any media up here, was that in early 2010, he fired 26 security guards, public employees represented by a union, who worked at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.  He fired them anyway, and hired private security contractor Wackenhut G4S to provide security at the Courthouse and two other venues in the county, under a $1.1 million contract.  He made this choice because of a “budget emergency”.  Does that sound familiar?  In January of 2011, an arbitrator ruled that there was no budget crisis at the time the guards were fired, the County failed to give the union a chance to propose alternatives, and that the savings Walker claimed were overstated.   The County had to rehire the fired guards, with back pay.  They were promised at least 180 days of work to make up for the time that should have been given to the union to react.

Walker doesn’t like unions, period.  And he doesn’t care much whether he follows the rules or not.  That’s scary.

That’s just a few of his moves during his time as Milwaukee County Executive.  We’ve seen similar bait and switch from him since he took office.  Research is your best friend when choosing who to vote for – you can’t believe the mail you get from the candidates, nor can you believe any ad you see or hear in the media.  A very good example is Shelly Moore’s comment, “We breathe Union” that was used repeatedly to boost Sheila Harsdorf.

You know you want to know the context of that clip, because if you don’t you fell for propaganda in a mud-slinging party.   The clip was taken as Shelly was introducing herself as a first time political candidate.  She said, “We bleed Packer green, Brewer blue and Badger red.  We believe that the three major food groups are beer, cheese and bratwurst.  And we breathe unions, too.”

Once upon a time, that was true.  Gov. Walker’s hard line of anti-union rhetoric created the need for her to even consider running.  Many people in Wisconsin are union, even if they don’t live in this corner of the state.

So let me ask you which is worse?  That Shelly Moore added a pro-union line to her announcement that she would run against Harsdorf, or that the Republicans felt it was just and correct to run bogus candidates to force a primary?  They didn’t even try to hide it!   The Republican I share my life with voted for Shelly Moore, calling the primary election “dirty politics”.  And it was.  If you can find triumph in that well known, well publicized thumbing of the nose at our political system, you have more ethical issues than most.

Let’s get to Ms. Peterson’s point of abortion and what God says in the Bible about it.  But first, let me clarify my own Christianity.  My faith is Gnostic.  My path is to follow the words of Jesus only.

I spent my childhood in a church more fundamental than most up here.  No cushions on the pews, no musical accompaniment – just straight, hard line dogma.  The Bible was drilled into me there, and I studied it was joy and fervor in high school when we found a church that actually celebrated the gift that Jesus brought for us.  I am not unschooled in the Bible, by any means.

I have never seen abortion addressed in the Bible.   After reading Ms. Peterson’s letter, I thought maybe I had missed something about God having an opinion on abortion.   So I hit the codex, and researched the internet for Pro-Choice groups that use scripture as a means to support their stand.   I even went to the Pro-Life website, which was pretty tough to do since before moving here in 1995, I attended more than one Pro-Choice rally with my son in a Snuggie on my chest.

Yes, I am pro-choice, but I do have an issue with late term abortion.  I have two children that were premature; one was born at 32 weeks, one at 31 weeks.   Both of them are healthy.   If people do not want an abortion, they should not have one.  But to call it “pro-abortion” is ludicrous.  No one is “pro-abortion”.  It is a painful, difficult decision for 99% of the women who make the choice.  The Pro-Life groups are adamant that abortion should be made illegal because it offends their sense of righteousness.  Here’s what Jesus said about a situation not unlike this one:

“Two men went to the Temple to pray.  One was a proud, self-righteous Pharisee, and the other a cheating tax collector.  The proud Pharisee ‘prayed’ this prayer: ‘Thank God, I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there!  For I never cheat, I don’t commit adultery, I got without food twice a week, and I give to God a tenth of everything I earn.’  But the corrupt tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed, but beat upon his chest in sorrow, exclaiming, ‘ God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’  I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home forgiven!  For the proud shall be humbled, but the humble shall be honored.”  Luke 18:9-14

The Pro-Life groups have a great deal of Biblical quotes, but not much that really indicates what God thinks in terms of ending a pregnancy before the child is viable outside the womb; they have taken the verses out of context to make their point.  I could easily do that as well to show that there were thoughts of not being born reflected in the Bible.  Solomon and Job are two examples I found right away, I’m sure there are more.
I can understand feeling anti-abortion.  It is an abhorrent situation, and a difficult decision.  Making it illegal will not cause it to stop.  The past shows that.

My biggest problem with the pro-life movement is that once a child is born, they really don’t seem to care much anymore.   Look at the cuts to Badger Care, WIC, the Food Assistance programs, all cheered by the Religious Right. 

Ah, say the conservatives.  Those people are just using the system, and those of us who work hard are paying for them it leach off of us!  Guess what?  With the economy the way it is, especially since the trillions and trillions of dollars that bailed out corporate thieves like Bank of America and AIG, working isn’t enough to feed our kids anymore.  If Insurance is available, it’s too expensive to afford.  And with all the small businesses up here, not many of them offer insurance for employees.  It’s not leaching.  It’s helping the less fortunate.

What did Jesus think of that kind of thinking?

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones…For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me.  I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink.  I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home.  I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing.  I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’  Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’  And He will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’”

Do you worship God and His Son, or do you worship the Republican Party?

Kristine Emerson
Luck, WI

Back to School, and other reasons to recall Scott Walker

2 September 2011
Dear Scott Walker,

My son started the new school year yesterday, and it turns out I didn't need the few dozen photos I took that morning to remember the day, because I'll never forget the look of pure joy on his face when he RAN into the house when he got off the bus with a huge smile on his face: "Second grade is AWESOME! We had so much fun, and [my teacher] is hilarious! We even had an assembly - and they played 'I can tell that we are gonna be friends! I can't wait for tomorrow!"

Seeing him so excited, so engaged and ready to learn, so committed to his own education, makes me feel so proud.  Proud of him, yes, for being such an amazing child. And proud of myself a little, I admit, for raising someone who loves learning. But mostly, proud of the educators who managed to transform - in just over three hours - all the fears and anxieties associated with giving up the freedoms of summer and being put in a new and unfamiliar environment into passion and excitement for what's to come.  My son is 6 years old. He was equally excited and apprehensive about starting school because he doesn't know his new teacher well and most the kids in his class are new to him. He went to bed early, but stayed awake for hours - worrying and fretting and fantasizing about what the day had in store. By morning, he was a conflicted mess of high hopes and preparations for the worst possible scenario.  But something happened in those 3 hours that convinced him he was going to have a great year.  I didn't do that. His teachers did.

The teachers at my son's school, like teachers all over the state, returned from summer break with the weight of so many worries on their shoulders. Many experienced teachers in our district were forced into early retirement so that we could balance our budget using your "tools" (ie: cuts), so other teachers are forced to pick up the slack and work without the guidance and support those teachers provide. And the school year starts the very same week that teachers, like all other state employees, are seeing massive cuts to their take home pay and increases to their insurance contributions - something especially painful to teachers on shoe-string budgets already who spend an average of over $350 on out-of-pocket expenses for their classrooms - a figure which undoubtedly went up this year with the application of your helpful "tools."  Teachers are still reeling from the tumult of last spring, when they were put - unfairly and unjustifiably - on the defensive by you as you attempted to scapegoat them, and other public workers, as the root of all fiscal evils, even as you granted tax cuts to your friends who don't need them. Thus began your marvelous assault on the intelligence of the people of Wisconsin (which continues, I might add, to this day), in which you continue to imply that state workers don't pay taxes and do not deserve to earn a wage commensurate with their education and experience or receive the benefits that they have historically and lawfully negotiated into their compensation packages.

"Walker supporters" celebrate their right to publicly denounce educators.
Worse, they're starting the school year with the echoes of hateful jeers in their ears, as just this week their colleagues in the New Berlin school district were mocked, insulted and shouted down at a public hearing on Monday. These teachers were providing public testimony, trying to share the facts about how the vindictive restrictions of the new Employee Handbook (no microwaves, no coffeepot, no jeans or sweatshirts - not to mention the outrageously uninformed restrictions to their daily schedules and demands that they work more hours for less pay) - will hurt students in the district, as well as teachers. "Walker supporters" from New Berlin and other parts of the state, who were strongly encouraged by right-wing talk show hosts to attend the hearing, took every opportunity to interrupt and disrespect the educators, and reportedly handed these teachers pacifiers as they entered the school. Implementation of the handbook was unanimously approved by the board. But the credit for this one is yours, partly for granting the school board authority to write such a ridiculously counterproductive and untenable set of rules, but moreso for granting them - and those who came to cheer them on - the confidence to publicly demean educators with a visible contempt for both their profession and their work.

Teacher morale seems to be at an all-time low. With the cost of living and unemployment up, paychecks down, and Wisconsin's majority legislators proud as peacocks over their unprecedented cuts to the education budget, it's no wonder.  And as someone who is not only well aware of this, but has been trying since February, sometimes seemingly in vain, to counter it with support for educators and public schools, I worried about how that would translate into depression, apathy, anger and dejection, all of which are hard to hide in the classroom. And, quite frankly, as a public employee feeling all those emotions myself, I wouldn't have blamed them.  But at least in our district the school board stepped up to speak in defense of teachers' rights by issuing a resolution opposing your budget bill, instead of capitalizing on all the ways to disrespect them once they were kicked down like other boards have done in other parts of the state.

But I forgot the most important thing about teachers: as much as "Walker supporters" might want them to shut up and pretend they're just easily replaced cogs in the education factory, being a teacher isn't a McJob that anyone can do (you know, like the ones you're trying to bring to our state to choke out local businesses and the possibility of earning a living wage - there's a good example of those "jobs" in our town). Educators, who earn significantly less and work more hours than people in professions requiring similar training and education, are equally professional and equally (if not moreso) dedicated to their craft, and my children. They are doing the best they can to fight this fight outside of the classroom while still providing our kids with the best education they can given the disgustingly punitive circumstances into which you've forced them. But they're human. And you can't sustain an environment of hate forever, as much as "Walker supporters" might like to.  Your "tools" are tearing our education system apart. And, as a parent, I'm standing up with teachers to hold the roof up in spite of you.
The key word is "removable." Photo: SSWIDTMS
This week, in your typical weasel style, you met with educators and others to discussion education - at an event coordinated by American Institutes for Research, an organization that apparently profits from testing and privatization (and I have it from good sources that we can expect more on this soon).  For most of this meeting, you stared blankly, open-mouthed and unlistening as others spoke and your head bobbed up and down at words you recognized, undoubtedly flashing back to the reasons you dropped out of college in the first place (it's so boring! who cares? when do I get to talk?!). But at one point you said, "What we should begin with is what is right about education in Wisconsin and how do we replicate that." Seriously. You said that. And it's funny, because we already knew exactly what's right with Wisconsin education, and we already know exactly how your "tools" will hurt the schools that need help most as you work to repay your privatization funders and destroy public education as we know it in Wisconsin.

You can defund the schools, it's true. You can stand by idly as teachers are insulted and harassed. You can sit around pretending to listen to people who actually finished college all day long. You can ignore me, and parents like me, until you're not governor anymore. But you can't stop teachers from loving to teach. And you can't stop kids from loving to learn.  You cannot stop every district from supporting its teachers, like they did in Oshkosh and Fall Creek this week. And, perhaps above all, you cannot manipulate the smart people of Wisconsin into thinking you support public education.  You cannot take any credit for the good in our schools, try as you might. Our schools and our teachers will succeed in spite of you and your shameful efforts to disrespect them, and your glaring silence of approval when your "supporters" do the same. You can try all you want to "reform" the public education system out of existence.
But you cannot stop my son from coming home from school with a smile on his face.

You can try, Scott Walker, but you cannot ruin my kids' school. We will not let you ruin our kids' teachers. We will not let you sell our future.

Here's what we will let you do: resign.  And go back to school. Get your degree. Learn something about how the world works by listening, laughing, and - most of all - making friends. Because you clearly never learned that lesson, and your impulse to rule by pushing people out and ignoring voices of dissent isn't really working out for any of us, is it?  My son's wonderful teachers taught him that lesson in a couple of hours. How sad it truly is that you never learned how to listen, in or outside of the classroom, yourself.
Here's to an excellent school year, in spite of you and your "tools," and to an even better one next fall, under our new governor. Or sooner, if you resign.  Although then I'd have to start writing to Kleefisch (remember her? She's Rick Perry-crazy!), and I don't think any of us want that to happen. Maybe we'll just hold out for the recall. I trust the dedicated teachers of Wisconsin to make do with the shameful scraps you've left them for that long. But I promise them I'll keep fighting to make it better. And I call on all other parents to do the same. What happened in New Berlin is a sobering lesson on the absurd authority school boards have to dictate policy without regard for the well-being of our children. I think we all have some work to do in terms of looking at our own school boards and thinking about who in our communities might better serve public education in the future. We might not get any help from you, Walker, but we can still help save our schools. We'll just have to work a little harder, until you're gone.

Your shamefully ignored constituent,

Heather DuBois Bourenane
Wisconsin parent, taxpayer and proud supporter of educators and public education
This video captures the heart of the tragedy in Wisconsin: math teacher Dale Destache shares his carefully prepared testimony before the New Berlin School Board, outlining all the ways teachers and students will be impacted by the new policies. While he's explaining how the new guidelines of their abusive Handbook will prevent him from tutoring students before school, someone shouts out "Get a new job!" while others boo and shout him down.The members of the school board made no effort to silence the interruptions.