Ok, it’s time for the claws to come out. (Boy, that didn’t take very long, did it?) It’s easy to take pot shots at politicians because well, usually they deserve it. And they are easy targets. But few get under my skin like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
He made a big splash in that state when not even two years into his term, he had hundreds of thousands of his constituents clamoring for his ousting. By ending the collective bargaining power of state employees, including teachers, he triggered a backlash so powerful that there was a recall election held in 2012. Sadly, too many Wisconsinites were fooled into thinking he was not the snake in the grass that he’s turned out to be and he remained in office.
One may wonder how a slimeball like this could ever get enough backing to launch a successful political campaign. Enter the Koch brothers. These two billionaires buy and sell politicians like trading cards. And Walker has been firmly in their pocket for some time. He even got busted by a blogger who was able to get a hold of Walker by phone by pretending to be David Koch (it’s worth it to listen to the entire audio).
And it seems the fun never ends. Walker is being investigated for possibly violating state campaign finance law. But what got me fired up was actually a very terse and well written (the woman is a teacher after all) open letter to the Governor from a former Wisconsin Teacher of the Year. Claudia Klein Felske wrote a blistering response to a gaff he made a week prior by calling someone else the Teacher of the Year. Not only does she correct him on that matter, she goes on to lambaste him for his hypocritical comments regarding the Wisconsin educational system. The teacher he falsely touted as Teacher of the Year, Megan Sampson was a first year teacher that had been laid off and Walker decided to use her as a way to bash the states school system.
Klein Felske responded:
You blamed the seniority system for Sampson’s lay-off when, in good conscience, you should have done some serious soul searching and placed the blame squarely on your systematic defunding of public education to the tune of $2.6 billion that you cut from school districts, state aid to localities, the UW-System and technical colleges.
She goes on to itemize his latest transgressions against the states education system, noting things like initiating actions that would certify anyone with a degree as a certified teacher, regardless of whether they have had any training or experience teaching in the classroom and proposing a 13% across the board cut to the state University funding.
My favorite part of the letter is the following quote which really gets to the heart of the matter. I think it captures the essence of Republican indifference (at best) to outright hostility towards education in our country. She says:
Your tenure as Governor has demonstrated nothing less than a systematic attempt to dismantle public education, the cornerstone of democracy and the ladder of social mobility for any society.
Walker is a big brown skidmark on today’s political landscape. Sadly, he’s not alone and he’s well funded. We often forget that we are not peasants in a feudal society and that We the People still have power through our voice, written word and above all, our vote. Use your voice.
I’m using mine.