Dear Public Teachers, Schools, and Families:
For nearly a year you and I have not been friends. I voted for Scott Walker and support his budget fixes while you will hear none of my reasons for doing so. Instead you choose to focus solely on yourselves and how you personally are affected by these new laws. Since I cannot express these thoughts without you rudely interrupting me or shouting over me, I have chosen a route of expression that you can choose to listen to or quit reading at your convenience without either of us becoming irrational. From this point on, if you do not agree with me or do not like what I write, stop reading. I am going to try to be as calm and civilized as is humanly possible, but I cannot make any promises.
First qualm I have with your protests and complaints: your unwillingness to pay small portions towards your health care and retirement plans. You and I both know that before these budget fixes, your health care and retirement were paid for by the tax payers of this state, whether they could afford their own plans themselves. Now you are asked to pay 5% of your retirement and 12% of your health care (or the other way around; I have lost track of it in my constant contemplation of your ridiculous logic). Do you not realize that those numbers are still BETTER than anyone else is paying? Don't you understand that while you are paying the basic bare minimum of both of those plans, you are saving the rest of us millions of dollars? You still have it better than anyone else! I myself pay 20% of my health insurance and 100% of my retirement fund; and I am lucky to only have to pay that much of my health! Most Americans do not have the luxury, and all you care about is the access money you are losing out on. Money that has turned our state's debt into a surplus.
One commercial you and your schools continue to run states that these changes never would have had to have been made if everyone would have just paid their fair share. The question I have in response is this: "What were you paying before?" You were taking and taking and taking more and more of my tax dollars and were still demanding more benefits and more money! From your perspective, everyone should pay their fair share except you. I don't know about you, but when I was young my parents taught me that things do not always work out that way and that I had to contribute like everyone else. If your parents neglected to teach that lesson, then your schools should have. And if they did not, then I am sorry for you. I am sorry that you have lived so long in the real world without actually being part of it. I understand that your ignorance has made this transition difficult. Please understand, though, that now you are the ones paying your fair share. The rest of us have been doing so for a long, long time.
To schools and parents, please cease insulting my intelligence by claiming that Scott Walker is responsible for your schools being overcrowded and your teachers losing their jobs. Every informed and logical Wisconsin citizen knows that all school districts that accepted Walker's budget fixes saved money and jobs. Those who did not accept the fixes had to make cuts and teachers were fired. If your schools are overcrowded and the class sizes are too big, the only ones you have to blame are yourselves. In addition, parents, you of all people should be outraged if your school did not accept the fixes. More and more districts that did apply Walker's plan have announced a decrease in property taxes while maintaining the same faculty as they had before. By going on television and speaking out against Walker, you are implying that you want to pay more taxes and do not care about those of us who may not be able to afford it. By labeling Walker and Republicans as greedy and ignorant, you are actually identifying yourself as those things.
Wisconsin is a great state with a great many opportunities to offer people and businesses. Walker's plan, while forcing schools and teachers to actually pay THEIR fair share, have made Wisconsin a destination for businesses searching for a venue in which they can make a profit. The profit these businesses will make is not only going benefit them, but our own economy. In a time where the federal economy is in recession, having a thriving state economy is that much more important. If you can open your eyes and look past your greedy, self-centered interests then you will be able to see that. I do not blame you for being upset; I would be to if my gravy train was suddenly taken away. But let's also be realistic; in a time where everyone is hurting, no one can be exempt from paying their dues. I realize this sounds socialist, but isn't that the kind of ideology you people love? And when you think about it, this isn't really that socialist of an idea (maybe that's why you hate it); rather, it is a logical idea, one that has the best interests of everyone in mind. You see, it is possible to provide for the common good by using capitalist methods. It just takes some sacrifice from everyone. We have all been making the sacrifice for many years. It is your turn to help us out too.
A 7th Grade Teacher