Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wisconsin, we are with you!

Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill Protest from Matt Wisniewski on ;Vimeo.

This video shows the energy and seriousness of the gathered Wisconsin protesters, who will not sit by as their state's education and services are demolished. They rise up to speak, to protest peacefully and to exercise their democratic rights.

The "blindsided attack" on public workers, that we see Governor Walker engaging in, is a rising tide across this country, built on pitting the public against public employees. This is a distraction technique designed to find a scapegoat for our fiscal woes. What's more, Governor Walker is trying to set a tone for the rest of the nation. He must not be permitted to dismantle the hard-won educational strides in his state, to devalue teacher and public voices.

What is happening in Wisconsin is vitally important to all of us! We must support these public workers by standing up, each in our own way, learning about the sacrifices that they have already made and by speaking reasonably in the context of public misinformation about the facts of our time.

Being practical means supporting our children. If we want to attract and retain highly qualified teachers, we must create states which value their voices, the voices of their representatives and which engage them in conversations about the future of our states.

This harsh and unfair treatment of public employees who teach, protect, inform and transport our nation's people is an inexcusable manifestation of misguided priorities.

What's more, we are irresponsibly jeopardizing the public good.

We, the people of these United States, do believe that this democracy is organized in a fashion where all our young must be educated, where the teachers who guide them, must be supported and the public workers must not be used as a convenient source of funds to make up for misused state monies.

My fellow Teacher of the Year, Leah Luke, from Wisconsin is a leader among leaders, an articulate voice for and with her peers. She is a dedicated, responsible, intelligent teacher who will not stand down when her state is in trouble. We need to stand by Leah and stand up to the misguided practices in Wisconsin, Florida and my own state of New Jersey.

If State Teachers of the Year are standing up, in this climate, the public should know that something is very wrong. State Teachers have all been selected based on their classroom and academic abilities, but most of all - for their dedication to the students they teach.

The STOYS, as we call ourselves, have diverse viewpoints and are all across the political spectrum. Not one state teacher, however, would tolerate an attack on education. Listen especially carefully to Leah in Wisconsin and Megan Allen, who is working hard in Florida and my other colleagues among the STOYS, who offer clear and informed perspectives which should be considered.

Soundbites which bash teachers and aim to pit the public against them are bad for our students and ultimately, bad for the economy and our country.

I salute you, Wisconsin, from my home in New Jersey! You must keep fighting for your rights and to find a point where collaboration ensures the audacious belief that all children deserve a fine public education. Follow justice and your voices will prevail!

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