I sat down a few weeks ago to knock out my monthly blogpost the night before deadline. Little did I know that my Open Letter to Governor Walker would go viral, traversing the Internet, radiowaves, and newsprint, even landing (still surreal to me) in the New York Times. It seems to have struck a chord with many. And it seems, whenever that happens, a slew of corrections is not far behind. So here are mine, a “P.S. Governor Walker” addendum to my original letter.
Dear Governor Walker:
Please note the following corrections to my earlier letter:
Though you didn't respond directly to me (I didn't suspect you would) I’d like to start by correcting the indirect response you gave reporters when asked about my letter. You called it a distraction and you insisted that the story you had told was true. I take issue with both points. First, calling educational policy, the state of Wisconsin schools, and the concerns of those teaching our children a distraction wholly disregards and disrespects the children of Wisconsin and those who care about their future. Another gaffe, or was that your intent?
I’m also offended by your evolving characterization of teachers: In 2011, you called us “thugs”; in reference to my letter, we were a distraction; and most recently, you actually likened us to “terrorists” (equating your ability to handle the 2011 Wisconsin protestors with your ability to handle the Islamic extremist group, Isis).
To be honest, we are far too busy trying to educate Wisconsin youth and far too exhausted trying to do more with less these days than to partake in terrorist activities unless questioning policies which harm Wisconsin children truly is, in your mind, tantamount to terrorism.
As for your truth telling, I’ll leave that to Politifact Wisconsin which generously declared the anti-union story you wove at the Iowa Freedom Summit “half true.”
The next correction concerns my own words. In my letter, I mentioned that you were waging war on public education in Wisconsin through your draconian budget cuts and questionable reforms. Therein lies my error. In reality, you are not only waging war on public education in Wisconsin, you are waging war on the entire middle class.
While running for re-election, you repeatedly voiced your intent not to move forward with Right to Work legislation. After re-election, however, you swiftly and proudly announced that you’d sign Right to Work into law. It’s pretty clear now that was your intent all along. Interesting that the timing of your announcement so tightly coincided with your presidential fundraising tour. Most clear, despite your claims to the contrary, is the ruinous legacy this legislation will leave Wisconsin families: plummeting wages, reduced benefits, and increased poverty.
So where did all of this come from?
It turns out that Deep Throat's famous "Follow the money" mantra coupled with Elizabeth Warren's recent tweet (“If Scott Walker sees 100,000 teachers & firefighters as his enemies, maybe it’s time we take a closer look at his friends”) makes for a fruitful examination.
A closer look at your friends, Governor Walker, reveals the impetus for your educational “reforms” and your Right to Work legislation. A closer look divulges your BFF status with ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council] a private organization of lobbyists, politicians and multinational corporations which have included Coca-Cola, ExxonMobile, GE, Walmart and others whose aim is to push pro-corporate legislation nation-wide, state by state, at the expense of the American public.
Your ALEC loyalty is now well documented and astonishingly reveals that Wisconsin’s Right to Work legislation was lifted verbatim from ALEC model legislation. I hope Wisconsin citizens learn about your special friendships and the lasting impact they will have on Wisconsin families. While you can certainly be accused of fleecing Wisconsin, no one can ever accuse you of not being a good friend to your corporate BFFs.
My final correction concerns my signature: I signed my letter in the singular, and at the time, I thought that was appropriate. But after realizing 300,000+ people read my blogpost and after receiving a barrage of grateful calls and emails from teachers, parents, and other citizens, many of whom I’ve never met, it’s clear to me that my letter voiced not just my concerns, but the concerns of many.
Once more, my letter was not an isolated incident. In recent weeks, an abundance of letters to the editor, penned by school boards, administrators and teachers from localities across the state, have been published in newspapers and distributed to local taxpayers, Wisconsin legislators and the Governor’s office. I hope that you have not ignored these many letters, Governor Walker.
They differ in their local details, but they collectively express the deep concerns of those of us who have experienced your “reforms” first hand and those of us who have carefully examined your most recent proposals and projected their impact on the children in our local schools. It seems that all of these letters converge on one perpetually unanswered question:
Governor Walker, what exactly is your real vision for Wisconsin Schools?
(and many others)
(and many others)