The bad news is that with each passing day our elected officials reach a new low. Whether it is cutting school funding, lowering teacher standards, privatizing public schools or inventing new ways to interfere with what is working in the classroom, the Legislature just keeps increasing the pace in the race to the bottom.
The good news is that we as colleagues keep coming up with new ways of helping ourselves and helping each other regardless of what the Legislature and the governor do. As we act collectively to put pressure on the Legislature to act more rationally and humanely, we are building new relationships that make the Legislature less important.
On Saturday, May 30, dozens of delegates from Region 6 gathered in Madison for the WEAC Region 6 Representative Assembly. We set the direction for our organization, crafted a budget, and talked about how to replicate the success we are having in local elections and in our work with local partners and coalitions.
More than 100 Region 6 members attended the Region 6 student loan debt area events held throughout our region in the last couple of weeks. The emphasis in these meetings is on how we can help each other solve our personal student loan crises. We are working closely with WEAC, Summit Credit Union, and the Filene Research Institute to create new solutions to an increasingly dire problem.
Meanwhile, the Republicans on the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee are passing along a budget that removes the cap on the number of private school students who can use vouchers to siphon taxpayer money from public schools. Their budget also calls for the takeover of dozens of schools in Milwaukee to allow them to become privatized at great public expense. It requires high school seniors to pass a “civics” exam to graduate. And the budget allows individuals who have not even graduated from high school to be hired to teach in our middle schools and high schools. No, that is not a typo.
Even though we are finding ways around the Legislature’s crippling policies, we need to stand together and keep the calls and messages flowing to our legislators and local newspapers. Keep reminding everyone that educators know what works for students and extremist politicians do not. Our state’s great public schools are Wisconsin’s best investment strategy. WEAC’s website has great resources that make it easier for us to raise our voices.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and call the Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287 to find out more about the Region 6 RA, the student loan debt project, or any of the many things we are working on. Great things happen when we talk to each other.
President of WEAC Region 6