Why I went to Madison to protest the Budget Repair Bill

February 21, 2011 — 12 Comments

I have something important to share with you.

Please follow this link to watch video of “02.18.11 | Assembly Floor Session (Part 4)”

Once at the site, please scroll down to the bottom (at least it was at the bottom at the time of this writing) to “02.18.11 | Assembly Floor Session (Part 4)” and watch the video.

Notice that only 1/2 the room is full as attendance is taken. Be patient. Keep watching for THE most dramatic thing you’ve ever seen. I promise.

Pay close attention to the running time at the bottom of the page. Nothing. NOTHING illustrates better the reason I went to Madison last Friday. Nothing. In total, this video is 31-ish minutes long. But it’s better drama than anything you’ll EVER see on nighttime T.V. This actually happened.

And I was there.

Just a little more back story to help you to understand what you are watching:

During this portion of the Assembly Special Floor Session, a quorum call was ordered at 5:00. Roll call was taken. And Voting began BEFORE 5:00 WHEN DEMOCRATS WERE TOLD TO BE THERE.

At 4:57 Assembly Democrats (in orange) begin to show up.

Eventually, they are able to stop the voting on Special Session Assembly Bill 11 arguing that they had amendments that needed to be taken up. The Assembly speaker agreed and the floor session adjourned until Tuesday, February 22nd.

Please share this. Nothing I can say, or write, or argue, or link to can explain it better.

Again, the only other thing I’d like to say is, please seek to understand.

If you just want to be mad. Be mad.  If you want this bill to pass–that’s fine.  But this is bigger than that.  Way bigger.

If you want to know why, if you want to understand, please watch. I’m a teacher. At my core I work for truth. I work for understanding.  This video of our government at work explains it better than I ever could.  There is no editorializing here.  There are no opinions.

This happened.  And this is what is happening in Wisconsin.  And this is why there were 100,000 people there on Saturday.

Things are happening way too quickly with no opportunity for collaboration or discussion or creative problem solving.

THAT is what is why I can’t sleep at night. THAT is why I’m not eating. THAT is why I HAD to go to Madison on Friday.

Chris Wondra

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12 responses to Why I went to Madison to protest the Budget Repair Bill

  1. Did you get a sick note?

    • No, I did not and will be facing discipline. Proudly.

      • Good, I hope you lose your job. Then you will have plenty of free time to continue protesting in other states as the same events unfold across the country. Have no fear, you can keep mooching for 99 weeks on unenjoyment to help pay for your travel expenses. Or will the union pay you direct from their general fund?

        • Pat, I’m sorry you feel I’m mooching. I will work harder–because I love you. I am not afraid. I know I can do this. My students mean so much to me–to all of us. Their future. Our future. It is so easy, without support, for them to slide, to lose confidence. To lose hope. And there is so much to hope for! Our futures are filled with amazing possibilities! So much potential!! But now–these kids need so much. With broken families, and lost jobs, and the temptations of drugs and sex. This is a difficult time. I offer all that I have to take away, for as long as I can, the pain, the worry, the uncertainty. I offer you, and everyone who needs it, my love and comfort. We will get through this. Together. Let me know what you need. I will do my best to provide it.

      • You Have NO Bargaining Rights Got It.I agree with Pat Your Fired Shame On You And The Likes

  2. Good luck – I fervently hope that this works out for you. For all of us. Eventually.

    By the way, a commenter posted your blog address in a comment on an article over at RedState. Just a warning that your blog traffic/comments may increase.

    On a final note, after reading these comments, it seems that you have either the patience of a saint or a very, very dry sense of humor. Again, good luck.

    • RedState link: Ah. . . that explains all the hateful comments I’ve been deleting. I loath deleting comments. But calling me nasty names won’t stand. I expect (and receive) better from my eight graders.

      Thanks for the heads up Sig.

  3. Chris,
    I don’t understand the connection you are trying to make between; taking away your collective bargaining rights, and our children’s future. During your union’s contract talks, how much time is spent on class room issues? How much time is spent on how to teach our kids better? How much time is spent on new equipment for the class room?

    Contrast that with how much time is spent on salary increases? On benefit increases? On protecting tenure?

    Chris I don’t blame you so much as I blame the union and the system it is exploiting. I see you as someone who has been spoon fed some great benefits, which I would take myself if my employer offered them. But you must see that what your union and other public sector unions are doing is destroying our country financially.

    Unions were created to prevent the horrors that occurred in the mines of West Virginia, or the child labor abuses in the early manufacturing industry. Show me where a public sector worker was killed by a mine collapse because the government didn’t care about their employees, and I might have some sympathy for your cause. But you won’t be able to show me that, because the government had laws in place to protect its employees long before public sector unions ever came along.

    The history of public sector unions can be directly traced to JFK and his executive order 10988, which was as much a payback for helping him win than anything else. There was no pressing need for them; they were simply a political ploy to get more votes.

    I don’t hate you Chris, I hope you can see that in my post here, my wife works in special education, and is part of 3 unions as well. But she doesn’t blindly believe everything they tell her, as a teacher I implore you to think critically about this issue, and do some research about what really is going on with your union. They don’t care about you, they only care about money and power, which is why they are willing to give up almost anything to the Gov, as long as they can keep getting their dues auto-deducted from your paycheck, and bargain for your wages and benefits.

    Ben

    • Ben,

      Much of what you say here rings true with me. If you would have told me, three weeks ago, that I would be fighting for my union like I was fighting for my life, I would have called you a loony. I agree there is a TON of waste. The health care plan the district is forced to pay for me is insanely expensive. I don’t need it. So, Ben, I’m with you there.

      Truthfully, here’s the thing. Negotiation and collaboration and working together to solve problems. No union, no voice, and we’re left to the mercy of the school board. Teachers are supposed to be the experts. Why not listen to them? But, more to the point–taking away avenues for ideas just goes against everything I stand for. In any field. Anywhere. I just simply can’t stand that. We need more ideas, more voices. We need to listen to each other. Work together. Now more than ever.

      Good leadership brings out the best in people. Brings them together. Walker is doing the opposite. Pitting neighbor against neighbor now. Everybody wants to know how much I make and judge me and if it’s fair.

      What do you think of this article: http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/02/22/ravitch.follow.up/index.html

      “If the voices of their teachers are silenced, who will stand up for students?”

      So there’s that. Plus I’m sick and tired of people thinking I’m riding the gravy train. First of all, if this is a gravy train, I want you to have gravy too. Secondly, if this IS indeed a gravy train, why not hop the hell on?

      • Chris,

        First, thank you for allowing my comment when it was the opposite view point of your own, not all blogs would do that. I appreciate the opportunity you have given me to discuss this with you.

        I see that first you do agree with me that the total benefit package for the public union employee is out of hand. Like I said before my wife works in special education, so we also benefit from a good health plan, it is nice to have, but if we were required to pay the average in the state, that wouldn’t be so bad either.

        I agree with you on your second point, teachers must have a voice with the administration and school boards for our public school system produce quality students. Where we disagree is how that should happen, I don’t believe that your voice as a teacher is impacted by your unions’ ability to collectively bargain with the school board, that they helped elect.

        One of the problems that is going on in our schools that most upsets me is the lack of leadership that is displayed by administrators around the country. My wife has worked in several different school districts, and each has had the same problem, while there are a few administrators who are good leaders, they are few and far between. Teachers are constantly fighting with their administrators over class room politics, that the teacher should really have control over. But these types of problems are not solved by asking for higher wages, better retirement, or free health care plans.

        Your 3rd point about good leadership is also something I agree with, although not how you phrased it. I believe the Gov, is showing tremendous leadership right now, he is standing tall telling the people of his state what is needed to fix their financial problems, even though he knows it will cost him votes come his next election. There are not many politicians who would do this, as we can see from our federal representatives in D.C. Good leadership does bring people together, but we need that at the school board level, and at the local school level. Everything in our world is very political these days, and we need a little bit less of it, not more. Your schools officials need to listen to you and your fellow teachers, as you are the best trained people to educate our children, if they don’t, then they need to be voted out. But once again, I fail to see how that is tied to your unions’ ability to collectively bargain for wages or benefits.

        I loved the article you linked, teachers have been scapegoated over the past few years, most of that is unfair, and is a politician playing politics. I would much rather see administrator salaries cut way back, (a good friend of mine got his degree, taught for 2 years, then became a vice-principal with a starting wage of $75k a year + benefits, how is that fair to teachers in the same school who had taught for 10 years and were making $40k a year?) than teachers take a cut in pay or benefits. Gov. Walker has decided to lump all of the unions together with this bill, which I disagree with, but I also can’t complain too much about, because more good than bad would be done if it passed.

        Public unions must be removed from our society if we are to fix the financial mess that is brewing in every city and state in the country. I don’t want your voice squashed; I want powerful teachers in our schools, much more so than they are now. But I don’t believe you need collective bargaining to achieve that, in fact I believe it hurts your goal.

        Ben

        • Ben,

          There’s a reason I allow opposing viewpoints on this blog. It allows smart people to say smart things. As you have just done. I’ll be back to continue this discussion with you soon. Right now I have to get dinner on the table for my kids. I just wanted you to know (as soon as possible) that I appreciate your perspective here.

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