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

To:
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.


43 comments:

  1. cc'd the Gov. and he was kind enough to send this thoughtful response:

    Thank you for your e-mail message. I welcome you expressing your views and concerns to me, and I commend you for participating in your state government. I take into account the views of all of the citizens of Wisconsin, and I will keep your specific comments in mind during my service as your Governor.

    If you would like more information about my positions on issues, or would like to read my public statements on issues, I encourage you to explore my website: www.walker.wi.gov. I like to respond individually to every letter and telephone call I receive; however, I cannot respond to each e-mail individually due to the volume. If your request is time sensitive, please call my office at (608) 266-1212. You may also write to me via conventional mail at Governor Scott Walker: PO Box 7863, Madison, WI 53707.

    As noted on our website, please know that any communications may be subject to release under Wisconsin's public records law and that our policy is generally to release communications sent to this email address.

    Once again, thank you for contacting me. Please feel free to contact me again if I can ever be of assistance to you.

    Sincerely,

    Scott Walker
    Governor

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  2. The nature of Governor Walker's response shows that he 1) hasn't read your letter and 2) probably won't because the staffer who sent you the form letter won't pass it on to him. This is a fantastic open letter you've written, and thanks for writing it.

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  3. GREAT letter, Heather! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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  4. Excellent letter.

    And I noticed that Walker didn't tell you to never contact him again. That's a good thing!

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  5. Recalling Walker is the just thing to do. If we allow him to stay and portrait our Wisconsin as a place that sells out, then we all lose. The sooner
    we recall him, the sooner he will be prosecuted for the crimes he has committed against the people and the State of Wisconsin. Moving forward needs to be without Walker

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  6. Wisconsin state motto: Forward
    Scott Walker's direction: Backward

    Anyone else see the problem?

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  7. I have gotten that exact same response every time I have sent the governor a letter or email. Clearly, neither he nor his staff read them. In contrast, nearly every time I have contacted one of the Dem. Senators I have received a personalized response.

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  8. Great letter, thank you so much for taking the time to send it...very well written...thanks again!!!

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  9. Perhaps the reason Brian Williams is allowing college dropout Walker to speak on education is because of Williams' own lack of a college degree. Although Williams calls leaving college (after 18 credits) one of his "great regrets", his accomplishments do not include a college degree. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Williams

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  10. Entertaining letter Heather. I hate to break it to you, but not all teachers in Wisconsin are with you. And further to that point, not all teachers across this country are with you. You see I've created a group online called Conservative Teachers of America and we have several members from Wisconsin who have expressed support of the Governor and his policies.

    Oh, and I hate to burst your little bubble on the recall, too. But Public Policy Polling just ran numbers in August, and they aren't in your favor. 50% of WI voters generally oppose a recall. You see, this is really bad because PPP is a Democratic polling firm and I have found their numbers to usually be friendly to Democrats. Agreed, his approval isn't as high, but it's not that bad in the grand scheme of things.

    Public unions are slowly but surely falling from the hearts of many Americans. I for one think public employees shouldn't even have the right to unionize, and I'm a public employee. You know it's funny, FDR agreed with that, too. And FDR was no conservative.

    I think all teachers ought to join the Association of American Educators and just ignore the unions if they can. Better benefits, no liberal politics, no union thuggery.

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  11. The US Department of Education gets the same results educating our children that the USDA gets managing our food system. Pre-processed mush that is passed off as "good for us" is shoved down our throats and we're told to like it. Flabby minds and flabby bodies emerge from the system you're cheerleading and stagger out to serve the corporate-government complex. That vampiric corporate-government complex sucks the energy of independent thinkers and risk takers through taxation. I'm not saying it's a conspiracy; I'm saying it is the nature of power and government. Being a beneficiary of this set up, it is difficult for you to see that true freedom lies in breaking that umbilical bond. That earthquake in DC recently? It was just the paradigm shifting.

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  12. I'm sorry, but you are wrong about Gov. Walker's initiatives. He has saved teacher's jobs, by disbanding the Wisconsin public sector unions - unions that should not have existed in the first place.

    You conflate public- and private-sector unions as having the same targets. Show me what 'evil' corporation or CEO is targeted by a public-sector union. You cant: public-sector unions target taxpayers.

    When the economy tanks, you cannot expect (as Wisconsin public sector-union employees did) to be 'protected' from the downturn just because you've some too-highly-paid thuggish 'representatives' to push your selfish agendas for you. You, being part of the Wisconsin community, were asked to share in the downturn; denying that to the State, you forced Gov. Walker's hand; you and yours subsequently lose your sensibilities and behave like spoiled children (you've seen those I'm sure).

    Try to understand: private unions have been losing ground for decades, because their demands have driven free enterprise capital out of this country. Very few American manufacturers are left, or have you noticed? Public-sector unions are now the largest Unions, and their membership is promoted by Democrats, since they are the recipient of Union donations. You've been led like sheep on tethers to your fall. Democrats are whipping you into a frenzy, and you, and yours, are chattel for their far-left ideology, an ideology that's destroying this Republic.

    I'm seeing these public-sector unions disbanded across this Republic; it's happening, state by state. And it's a good thing, really. We do need to save this Republic from the far-Left.

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  13. Serr8d - see 'You Can't Fix Stupid' sign at
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shit-my-governor-says/165790640135652.

    Go back to school sit down shut up. Greedheads will move a factory union or not. You want that job paying $90/week feel free to drive to Mexico and apply.

    CONTACT that Education Governors Summit at
    http://www.educationnation.com/index.cfm?objectid=1E746CF0-66C2-11E0-85B0000C296BA163
    CONTACT NBC Nightly News at www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41625923

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  14. Seriously, MacGruber? No, you should go back to school, long enough to review basic biology; to wit: a parasite that damages it's host, causing it's death or decline is an unsuccessful parasite.

    Unions are parasites on businesses. Unions eat away at the lifeblood of businesses; it's no surprise to see them want to pull up stakes and leave the infested area, as Boeing left Seattle for South Carolina.

    We don't owe you jackwagons a thing, really. You are dependent on businesses for your livelyhoods. You don't even realize you're competing in a global marketplace nowadays, and that other nations welcome American corporations without saddling them with stinking little parasites.

    Sorry, but you are anathema to a free-market society, and your expectations are greater than the ability of the host to provide. Therefore, you will lose this contest. As it should be, as it will be.

    Now go home and take a bath.

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  15. Get a grip, Heather. Let go of the hatred. The majority of Wisconsinites do not want to recall the Governor, and his approval/disapproval is just about 50/50 (which I would bet is actually in the top half of governors in the country right now) Clearly, Scott Walker cares more about the students than the teachers, and I think that's a great thing. Evidently you don't, and that's pretty sad.

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  16. Great work Heather! I appreciate you penning the words so many of us are thinking. Our children are in trouble and all it takes is some critical thinking and scientific research to figure out why (Scott Walker and the bigotry against those who are poor). Everyday I hear from more people who want Walker recalled. They speak about how truly horrified they are at what he has done to our children and their education. It is people like you who keep us going, fighting the good fight. THANK YOU!

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  17. I see the conservative liars and fear spreaders found you. I love how your article is full of facts and links and explanation and information, 'speshly since the conservatroll sockpuppets try to counter your well researched and written article by bringing up the 'union thug' shibboleth.
    Conservatrolls will argue how many union thugs can dance on a pin and just how much that dancing is going to hypothetically cost future hypothetical people. And theyll let living people starve and suffer for lack of healthcare, shelter or nutritious food.
    Keep up the excellent work. Wisconsin is a great inspiration and you are too Heather. I follow all your posts on FB and the blog. 1st time poster and all that ;)

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  18. Very concerned parentSeptember 26, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    Heather, thanks for saying precisely what I think! Walker is the WORST WI governor in recent history (I won't comment too far back since I don't want to speak without personal knowledge, and I was born in the 70s) and I can't wait for him to go! He is extremely divisive and any claims he makes to bipartisanship are just more of his lies. Anonymous poster at 9/26, 8:10 p.m.: how can you say that "Walker cares more about the students than the teachers"?!?!?!?! Walker has decimated the public school system and his "tools" are forcing excellent teachers to retire early, putting even more "extras" like gym, music, art, etc. in jeopardy, and increasing class sizes. How -- seriously -- does that show that he cares about WI students?! And while this is happening to public schools, he hands MORE money to private schools for vouchers, even though studies have shown that kids who go to private schools through vouchers do not make significant strides in test scores! There is much more to education than test scores, but they are one valuable measure, and vouchers just don't add up. I have a 1-year-old and I am scared for his future in this state. My husband and I will definitely consider moving to another state if public schools continue to be decimated in this manner. We both want him to have a public education, but not a crappy one! If Walker's policies persist, WI will see a massive "brain drain", as well-educated parents seek other options for their children. We have no desire to send him to a private school (I grew up in private school, and can tell you firsthand that they are not without their own problems).
    And one more thing, Anonymous -- let go of your hatred. It's clear you really don't have a *$%^&* clue what you're talking about.

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  19. I am a Wisconsin teacher. I completely disagree with Walker and his stance on education. Instead of trying to attract the best and brightest, he is assuring Wisconsin students a dark future with teachers who might make more than a high school graduate. Countries with higher student achievement require more teacher training (not less) and pay more. Wisconsin's foundation is it's schools. Education is not where we should cut, but figure out how to strengthen.

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  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  21. Clearly public education has failed Jim Lockett. And to our great dismay, under Walker's plan we'll only have more Jim Lockett's roaming around. May God help us.....

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  22. Public High School. MFHS
    State college, BS UWSP
    State college, MS UWM
    Lockett's is plural possessive.
    Locketts would be plural.
    You didn't pay attention in your public school Anonymous.

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  23. Heather, we might disagree on a few things here and there, but allow me to offer you a huge congrats on your efforts to mobilize your troops and have yourself/them heard! Impressive! (I truly enjoy your writing)

    Brenda

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  24. Wow, Jim, you didn't even comprehend what I said. Whew......scary.

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  25. You are right on target! Thanks for your persistance. It will be interesting to see if walker responds to you now...LOVED IT!!!

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  26. Very classy posting Mr. Lockett. Typical of what we have come to expect from the die-hard Scott Walker supporters. Such hate and venom that abides in your heart. Still, some hope for you; unlike most Walker supporters, you appear to be capable of original thought, however vile and disgusting it may be. Most Walker supporters, will post their own version tomorrow morning after Charlie Sykes tells them what to say. After all the education that you profess to have, sure seems beneath you to engage in the vile name-calling of someone with whom you disagree.

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  27. THANK YOU FOR ENCOURAGING THE NATIONAL MEDIA TO ASK WALKER THE TOUGH QUESTIONS! YOU GO, GIRL!

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  28. Great job Heather. Your well thought out letter provides inspiration to all of us that one person CAN make a difference. How fortunate for the children who are lucky enough to have a courageous woman like you as their teacher. Thank you for standing up for education and giving hope to the tens of thousands of dedicated teachers who are under siege in Wisconsin. Absolutely EXCELLENT!

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  29. Spot on letter Heather. I loved how Brian Williams took Walker to task today and, as usual, Walker spins it all and babbles on with his pants on fire lies.

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  30. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  31. * intervention *

    I truly appreciate both positive and negative feedback on my posts. Thank you for all your comments! This whole blog is about restoring dialogue. We can, and should, have civil debates about these things.

    That said, this is my blog and I will not tolerate misogynistic, hateful or profane comments which do not contribute to that conversation in a meaningful way. Such comments are deleted and ignored. Thanks for respecting my right to set boundaries on my own page!

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  32. Tired of teachers being blamed for the lack of student success. Parents need to realize and encourage their children to strive to be the best they can and value education. It's been a looongg time coming that education is seen as a necessity, and not enough Americans get it. What the Walker bunch (supporters included) has succeeded in doing is demoralizing our educators and dividing us all. So, we reap what we sow. I fear what our society will look like in the next generation of cheap education.

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  33. Thank you Heather for your articulate letter on the conditions we are forced to endure at this time. Some Wisconsinites will always choose loyalty to their political party no matter what. Let's hope the parent, protector, nurturer of us all can see what is to be if we follow Walker and his agenda.

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  34. Heather, I just found you, thanks to the Brian Williams story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Thank you so much for verbalizing many of the things I've been thinking and feeling. I believe in always seeking alternate points of view, even if it's kind of disgusting to step into those worlds sometimes, so I've been reading plenty of articles/comments about Wisconsin being "open for business" and "tools" and "being broke." I keep wondering why people actually fall for those lies (and before anyone accuses me of "typical lefty rhetoric," I'm not a diehard Democrat). I've never been as concerned for our state, and our future, as I am right now. I appreciate that you've taken the time to state things clearly, based on fact, and that you aren't afraid to fight the lies.

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  35. Heather, why don't you write something useful and tell us what your plan is. What is your plan for balancing the state budget? What is your plan for improving the literacy rate and test scores of our children in Wisconsin? Do you have a plan? Have you thought of a plan? How are you going to improve the business climate in Wisconsin? How will you lower or maintain taxes? Fact - spending on public eductation in Wisconsin increased at a rate of 9% per year for the 25 years before Scott Walker. 9% and during the same time period the cost of living increased at an average of around 2% per year. What did the 9% per year get us? More literate children? Better test scores? Higher graduation rates? So in the one year in the last 25 that spending was cut - by 5% - it's the end of the world? Do you have a better plan Heather?

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  36. Caution - if you are a liberal DO NOT READ THIS. It contains facts that will make your head explode. My wife is a teacher. Her district saved so much money by being able to bid out thier health insurance and slightly raise copays and deductibles, that she still DOES NOT have to pay ANYTHING toward her premiums. Her paychecks are MORE this year because they kept their steps for years of service and continuing education credits. She only pays her half of her pension contribution. Imagine that, what a novel idea - paying for your own share of your own pension! Her district now has smaller class sizes, had no layoffs and had enough left in their budget to buy more technology for the classrooms, Smartboards, laptops and more books. Imagine that! Books! In a school! It's a common story going on all over the state. But hey - don't let the facts get in the way of your rhetoric.

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  37. @ Anonymous - Which district is that? What are the other districts where this is occurring? I don't think it's as common as you think across the state. Possibly a hand full of the over 400 districts in Wisconsin.

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  38. Appleton, was, I read, the first to save money and be able to operate fluidly. Add to that about 299 more in the last months.

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  39. Median student to teacher ratio in Wisconsin - 13.5 to 1. National median - 15.5 to 1.

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  40. Still waiting for your plan Heather. I'm sure by now you have come up with a better plan to balance the state budget once you remove Scott Walker. Will you be sharing it with us soon?

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