Polarizing our State: Wisconsin’s Budget Repair Bill

As the 14 Democratic Senators of Wisconsin have bought more time for their Republican counterparts to consume the Budget Repair Bill proposed by Governor Scott Walker, so, too do I have time for more reflection and one more post.  Yesterday’s post, Backward into the Fog: Wisconsin’s Budget Repair Bill, gained much attention and feedback.  With over 1000 hits on this blog, comments from both supporters and non-supporters of the Bill, and mention on WFRV Channel 5’s website, I feel compelled to make a few points crystal clear from my humble view point.

First, I have many colleagues who are much more informed and knowledgeable concerning politics and political rhetoric.  Historically, my political views and choices have not been party driven but people driven.  I believe in people and have always been willing to give the benefit of the doubt.  I have always believed, I suppose somewhat naively, that politicians  will back their promises.  I have learned much from the events currently polarizing the state of Wisconsin from my colleagues and the political rhetoric offered by the news media.

The views I write here within are based on my own personal experience and don’t necessarily reflect that of my employer or of the union I am proud to be a member of.   Teachers will be taking a hit on their salary to help offset the financial crisis our state is currently experiencing.  For the sake of my own children and the children of my community in which I teach, I will gladly do what I can to ensure their best opportunity to provide resources for their education today in hopes they will have the tools needed to compete tomorrow.  What we see happening in Madison and all over the state is not about salary, benefits, or pension, it’s about the right to fair bargaining.  Arguably, I work in the best school district in the state.  I know, I am biased.   Our teacher’s union has had a close working relationship with our Superintendent and School Board.  Yesterday, as many school districts were cancelling classes due to teachers heading to Madison to fight on the behalf of all teachers and all unions, our union members here were all present, accounted for, and working with the students of our community, 100%.  I have great respect for those that traveled to Madison to do their part and the teachers here will do their part as well by providing reinforcements in Madison over the weekend or being active locally.

Coming from a blue-collar family where I am the only member of my five siblings involved in a union, I have much respect for the private sector.  Unfortunately, this budget debate in Wisconsin has divided the private sector and the public sector, it has divided neighbors, and it has divided families.  I am proud of my father and brother who have owned their own plumbing business and have made a good living, albeit hard at times.  I am half the father my father is and not nearly as talented as my brother when it comes to construction and spatial intelligence.  I chose to take the road less traveled in my family and became an educator.  I have never really known what it meant to be ‘union’ as I have come to clearly understand in recent weeks.  I am proud to be an educator in Wisconsin.

The budget repair debate for me is not about money, it is about standing up for what is right.  It’s about people acting in good faith and not just spewing words for propaganda or posturing.  It’s about understanding the issue on both sides of the debate before slinging arrows.  The debate is about my children who I want to have a better life than me.  The debate is about truth.

I am humbled by the solidarity I have seen this week in our great state.  I am proud to be an educator in Wisconsin, and I will continue to work hard in educating the students of our community in hopes they can compete tomorrow.


About jpsteltz

Proud husband and father of four; Literacy Specialist; Reading Teacher; Literacy Coach; HS ELA Teacher; Published Author
This entry was posted in #edchat, Children, Education, Education Administration, Educational Leadership, Family, Friendship, Parenting, students, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Polarizing our State: Wisconsin’s Budget Repair Bill

  1. Leif Lautenbach says:


    Great post! As I mentioned before, ALL residents in this great state have much more in common than we disagree on. Although these may be difficult, confusing and even scary times for many, I truly beleive we can learn from these current events. I beleive it is a time we can remind ourselves of the great and neccessary importance of collective bargaining tools for employees. Whether through unions, professional organizations or simple open door policies. I hope that our voters and lawmakers take this opportunity to re-define our current unions, not to dismantle them as I feel the current bill attempts, but to move forward and make progress in establishing a healthy, respective and effective relationship between union members, non union members and employers alike.


    • Kaye says:

      Have there been union excesses? Yes, certainly. Every time I drive by a work crew filling potholes and see 2 people working and 3 more standing around supervising them,I am reminded of the perils of over-reaching what is reasonable. But because some deals along the way have been less than perfect doesn’t mean the structures for discussion and compromise and resolution of competing interests should be completely dismantled. I wholeheartedly agree that the need for healthy, respectful, and effective relationships between union, non-union, and employers is great. You could add politicians and government leaders into that list as well. Unfortunately, our national government is so divided, so unwilling to listen or speak with respect, and so set against compromise or reason that it’s not surprising that the populace as a whole is reflecting those same divisions. I hope you are right, that we can learn from the paralysis brought on by these events.


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