Open Letter of the Year: Scott Walker Gets Schooled by Former Teacher Turned Small-Business Owner

Governor Scott Walker sent a letter of commendation to a small business owner in Milwaukee, congratulating him on being named one of the "Best Places to Work."  

The small business owner responded. And how [see below].

Turns out the small business owner, Ryan Clancy, is a former teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools, who was driven from his profession by the very policies Walker set in motion, including the largest cuts to public education funding in the nation,  which led to his own school being shut down.

I happen to think this open letter is the best one of the year, and not just because of the irony (though, oh! the irony! It is sublime!), but because I happen to know this teacher.  I had the honor to work with Ryan for many years and I know what kind of teacher he was. He was the kind of teacher whose respect and genuine concern for his students lit up the room. He was the kind of teacher whose enthusiasm for his subject matter was contagious, even for students who couldn't stand school. He was the kind of teacher who voluntarily took on countless hours of extra unpaid work and professional development just to give his students the opportunity to challenge themselves and see them shine. He was the kind of teacher who instilled in students the confidence to believe that they could succeed and achieve regardless of the many barriers standing in their way. He was the kind of teacher, in short, that you NEVER want to see leave the classroom.  I remember choking up when I found out his school was closing, and learning that he was changing careers.

I am honored to share Ryan Clancy's letter here and invite you to read it carefully, share it widely, and take to heart the message it reveals: when we support policies that undermine public schools and the educators entrusted to ensure they succeed, we turn our backs on the children of this state. A truly successful economy means everyone is respected, and everyone thrives.

Ryan Clancy deserves the applause he received from Governor Walker. He deserves it now, and he deserved it four years ago. And Governor Walker deserves the response he received from Ryan Clancy.

Governor Walker's letter:
Dear Mr. Ryan,

On behalf of the State of Wisconsin, we wanted to extend our sincere congratulations to you and your company on being named one of the Business Journal's "Best Places to Work."
Bounce Milwaukee
Score: 95.17
Small Business Category

You and your team have played a critical role in making sure your employees have the resources to be part of the success of the company. Through your hard work and an employee/customer-centric approach, you have inspired confidence in and earned the respect of the Wisconsin Business Community here in Wisconsin.

Again, congratulations on this award and best wishes on your continued success.


Governor Scott Walker
State of Wisconsin

Ryan Clancy's response:
Dear Mr. Scott,

On behalf of myself and my employees, we wanted to extend our sincere thanks to you for making this business possible. You and your team played a critical role in inspiring us to open our doors. As a former public school teacher, your legislation made abundantly clear how much you value the students and profession to which I had devoted my life.

Had I not been stripped of my autonomy and respect as an educator, and had my school closed by budget cuts, I never would have decided to become a job creator, thereby earning the acknowledgement from our governor that I never saw after more than a decade of teaching.

I do work hard, though I work fewer hours than most of the dedicated teachers that you frequently demonize and undermine. I also work less hard than my wife, who owns more than half of the company and also did not receive commendation from you. On the up side, I have more time to devote to politics now, especially if you decide to pursue a third term as governor.

We won this accolade because we treat and compensate our employees fairly, and realize that they are responsible for our success. If you'd like to stop by, we'd be happy to show you that valuing employees (and people) is not only the right thing to do, but leads to growth, success, and respect.

Condolences on your failed presidential bid and lack of job creation.

Ryan Clancy
Bounce Milwaukee


  1. Bravo Mr Ryan (sic) Congratulations on a "spot on reply" to Mr Scott who failed in his bid to become a presidential nominee. Nevetheless, I doubt that this Yahoo (a la Jonathan Swift) will understand your message. Thank you for posting it.

  2. Thank you first for you years of dedicated teachers so sad you had to leave. Good luck with your efforts to find our governor another job I stood on very cold corners to recall him and worked for both that ran against him and if he is stupid enough to run again I will back that person as well. Sincerely
    Gerry Brylski

  3. Ryan wasn't nearly as harsh as he could (and should)have been. I congratulate him on his sense of restraint. If I had written that letter, It would not be publishable. I despise what Walker and his minions have done, and continue to do to our once politically honest and progressively minded state. It will be a great day when democrats again control the legislature and governors office. Until then, we will continue to suffer under his and the legislatures demagoguery.

  4. Oh, you have SO brightened my holidays with your letter!

  5. Very well done. I can't believe that guy got and held that position. What are people thinking?

  6. Teachers are the best letter writers! Thanks Ryan Clancy for telling Scotty the truth!