Under Walker, widowed educator loses almost everything - except her strength to fight for public ed


An educator from southeast Wisconsin, who wishes to remain anonymous, took the MoD Open Letter Challenge to present this incredibly touching and heartfelt story of what Walker's cuts have meant to her life and her work, and her commitment to moving Wisconsin forward. I am honored to share it, and hope it inspires you to share your own story, pass it on, and - most of all - VOTE on May 8 and June 5.

My husband, Andy, died almost 3 years ago. He had always supported me in everything I ever wanted to do, even if it meant my being away from home a little bit more. He was disabled and wheelchair-bound for the last 10 years of his life, even though he and I went many places together every weekend. I went to work for Kerry in 2004 and Obama in 2008 - he was so proud of me for working for what I believed in.

When he died, to use a cliche, I was lost, even though I knew it would come eventually. So, I rescued another dog to keep our other baby company while I was at work. That helped, and I love her, but it wasn't fulfilling enough. So, finally, in the fall of 2010, I decided to go back to school for a masters in Secondary Math, starting in January 2011. I had gotten a math minor 2 years before he died in a two year program paid for by the district and he was so supportive of that because he knew that's what I'd always wanted to teach. So, in my view, he helped support me in that decision to go for a masters and I knew he was smiling down on me and telling me to go for it!  I could still feel his pride.

So, I took out loans (had never had to do that before since I went to college when dinosaurs were still walking the earth) and started weekend classes in January. I was so proud of myself! Then, February 2011 came and all hell broke loose. I was on my own with only my income, Bank of America had been dragging its feet for years to modify or refinance my house, and I was afraid of losing not only my home, but my last connection to my husband.

I couldn't believe the words out of Scott Walker's mouth. I kept thinking that something, anything, would stop the insanity and whole idea of taking money and collective bargaining would go away. But it didn't, and it kept getting worse.

I finally moved in April 2011 and just waited for BoA to take my house. They finally did last month. I took what I wanted from the house, including my precious memories, sold some of it, and left the rest for those bastards to clean up.

Although I'm one of the "lucky" ones who have a good contract through June 2013 (We signed it in October 2010, so it is a regular contract with protections and a 3% raise), our superintendent (who was new last year) is totally incompetent and she and the school board act like we don't have a contract. She usually ignores the union and either doesn't answer their requests or lies. She treats us like second-class citizens, hardly even acknowledging our presence or our hours of dedication day in and day out. Needless to say, morale is not good.

Unfortunately, I chose to leave the masters program because I saw the writing on the wall after about 120 teachers were let go last year and another 260 have been let go for next year. Not only was I in fear of being let go (I only have 10 years in the district and state), but I knew I'd never get paid for that extra education since we wouldn't have a contract anymore. Now, I get to pay loans for 3 semesters of classes that will never be used. I wish I could retire, but I'm in the same mess as many teachers - old enough, but not enough years. Most teachers have enough years, but aren't old enough, and they're also stuck. Thank you, Scott Walker.

Last year, 98 district employees retired, when the usual amount was 50. This year, 94 are retiring. They're not doing this because they suddenly decided they wanted to retire. They did this because they saw the writing on the wall. They had a future of a pension (however long it remains), healthcare, and no headaches anymore.

This wasn't just caused by our superintendent. This was started by Scott Walker himself when he declared teachers and other public employees as the "Haves" in February 2011. This by a man without even a college degree because he was expelled by Marquette for cheating on a campus election. Every teacher in every public school in this state has more education that he does. Every teacher in every public school in this state loves their students, respects them, and wants them to be tomorrow's leaders. Teachers only want respect and recognition in return.

Scott Walker respects neither teachers nor their students. If he respected teachers, he wouldn't be calling them the "Haves" and taking their hard-earned income from them, far less than other professions with the same education. If he respected the students of this state, he wouldn't be taking 1.6 billion dollars from public education and millions more from the state college system and the technical college system.

Scott Walker is a con man. He conned uninformed people with his slick commercials (bought by multi-billionaires) and catchy slogans (250,000 jobs!). It's time to call his bluff and let him see how it feels to have the rug pulled out from under you.

I can see Andy smiling down on me now. He's so proud that I'm standing up for what I believe in!

Save our schools. Recall Walker. Vote May 8 and June 5.

1 comment:

  1. I cried as I read her story. My heart goes out to her.