Wisconsin: The National Uproar and the Rolling Stones

4 Mar

The longer the Wisconsin fiasco is dragged out, the further the issue moves from the heart of education: the kids.

Governor Scott Walker recognizes there needs to be drastic reform to the education system. However, the governor is looking at the issue from a purely financial standpoint: he needs to cut the budget. Those employed in the public school systems also recognize the need for education reform: they work daily under laws and legislatures that are failing to improve public schools. However, both sides are so caught up in their rigorous political agendas that one key element is being forgotten: the kids in the Wisconsin public schools.

Let’s face it: bargaining rights, pension payments, health care, and Scott Walker’s bill have nothing to do with the actual education (i.e. improving the achievement) of Wisconsin’s kids. These components of the great Wisconsin debate have everything to do with the politics of education. We have Republicans and Democrats doing what they always seem to do best: rigidly advocating the agenda, regardless of the cost.

14 Democrats have abandoned their public duty to the people of Wisconsin. They have been absent since February 17th.

Teachers all over the state are leaving the classroom to protest the bill. While this is very much their right, all leave of absence taken should be personal leave, not medical.

Scott Walker and his 19 Republicans refuse to negotiate, although the unions have conceded to most of the bill’s proposals, including the money-saving increase in pension and health care payments.

Scott Walker would rather lay off 1,500 public employees than negotiate the bill.

The whole situation has become a bit ridiculous. Isn’t it in a government leader’s best interest to find the common ground of all his people, regardless of political stigma? Shouldn’t publicly elected officials show up for their jobs, as is the requirement of every other working-class American?

Instead, we have two groups of spoiled children spitting at each other from behind a fence.

Because of all the political rigmarole, people who have no voice in politics are being affected: the kids in public schools. Trained, competent teachers are absent, schools have been shut down, and the uproar continues.

It would be nice if politics were black and white, and we could easily lay blame to one side. However, this is simply not the case. While Democrats continue to elude their public duty, Republicans, rather than consider negotiation, have voted on the decision to find the Democrats in contempt and are considering additional “disciplines” such as “reprimanding” or “censuring” them (See “Wis. GOP lawmakers growing impatient“).

However, it seems that one clear, strong voice has risen amongst the mass of political excrement:

“All I know is, we’re not talking. We’re wasting valuable time about collective bargaining, which I don’t ever remember being a part of the last election whatsoever. But most of all, you know, to me, this just looks like the classic overreach we see every two years,” Schultz said.

Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) is so far the only Republican seeking to amend the bill. Schultz, who has served in the state Senate for 20 years, criticized the bill earlier this week with interviewer Scott Thompson on WEKZ-AM (1260) in Monroe. (Source: Education Week “Absent Wisconsin Democrats Found in Contempt“).

Senator Schultz hit the proverbial nail on the head with his phrase “classic overreach.”  The push and pull of the bipartisan system needs to end and make way for the logic of compromise. It is time for politicians, citizens, and America to wake up and relinquish the grip on political agenda and partisan terms. In times like these, politicians and people alike would be wise to remember the words of Mick Jagger:

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

Let’s keep the true goals of education at the core of the matter and remember the kids who need us the most.

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