It has been a fairly quiet summer, or so I thought. I just realized that protests at the Wisconsin state capital have continued for a long time. I thought they had been shut down long ago by Governor Walker and his austerity plan for unions. They just haven’t been getting the national coverage they got when the “Ed” show managed to showcase them on MSNBC. I watched daily on Big Eddie’s show to see what was going to happen. Of course what happened was the same thing that happened here in Michigan. Unions took a giant hit with Republican legislatures and governors. Here, in Michigan, we became a “right to work” state which loosely translates into a “right to work for less” state.
As an art teacher, I saw the pinch of what all of this means immediately last fall when I had to have my union dues taken out of my bank account and not out of my paycheck. They can take money for other things including charities, but union dues, not so much. It really annoys me and I do my own form of protest for this. It was set up this way to really try to break the union by hitting them in the pocketbook. Who knows? Perhaps some teachers have opted to not pay their union dues, thinking that they aren’t getting anything for their money. However, I am not willing to go back to the dark ages of no representation other than who you know and how popular you personally are with them. It is sad really as this past school year was the most stressful that I have witnessed in all of my years of teaching.
The stress was caused by all of the legislation going on at the state level. Most interestingly is the way teacher evaluations are configured. All teachers at my school have a portion of their evaluation tied to a group of student test scores in reading and math. This means I have a mentor class that I see for 35 minutes each day that I must nurture so they can perform on a standardized test. If they improve, I get more points on my evaluation and get to breathe for another year. If they don’t, well, in time it means I’m a lousy art teacher I guess. This group is not handpicked by me or any of the other teachers. Although, if an administrator was so inclined I suppose they could give a teacher a tough load just for fun, to drive them crazy, or to try and get them to retire. So, we have our own little hell here in Michigan. What I didn’t know was that Wisconsin union workers have continued to protest.
I want to share a couple video links here so people can become more aware of what is still going on in Wisconsin. We, as teachers, and other union members, have really taken a hit in the past few years. We have had changes made to our pensions, pay, union rights, and insurance all because of the Republican power at the state level. I’m calling it like it is as there is no way this would have happened to this extent under Democrats. Often I say there is no difference between the two parties anymore but this is really not true. The right wing agenda is about privatization of everything and spreading the word of God as they take away programs for the poor, women, and disenfranchised.
We must be diligent in understanding what is going on across our nation. We cannot sit back and idly play through the summer months without being more aware of what is happening to unions, the middle class, and the poor. I am not saying to skip any vacations. I just want people to be aware of what is happening.
From Blue Cheddar (They will be doing a live stream today at 12:00 Central time here as well.)