Speak up

To the Editor:

For the last 18 years I have worked as a union representative for public school educators. Prior to that, I spent a dozen years in the classroom as a teacher. My entire professional life has been connected to public education. It is my profession and my cause.

Over those 30 years, I have worked with scores of school district administrators in dozens of Wisconsin school districts. Almost to a person, these have been hardworking and dedicated professionals who have committed their professional lives to the great institution of public education and the children that institution serves. I have come to know these people, some as friends and others as collaborative peers. These are decent people committed to the most important of causes.

Privately, these educational leaders generally loathe the education policies of the Walker administration. They understand that the inadequate state funding provided by this administration is inhibiting their ability to attract and retain the best available talent. They recognize that the expansion of vouchers is a thinly veiled attempt to privatize public education, turning the bedrock of our democracy into for-profit industries. They know that the recent legislative spat over Common Core Standards was nothing but an attempt to politicize education. They are frustrated by the expansion of bureaucratic mandates, generated by politicians, not educators, and realize these policies are not reforming education but, rather, eroding it.

Yet, during all of these so-called education reforms, these same education leaders have remained largely silent. The very people who have committed their lives to one of the most important causes in our nation have been publicly silent while the greatest education system in the nation slowly erodes into mediocrity.

Why? Why are our education leaders silent at a time when Wisconsin public education is under attack like no other time in our history? I certainly hope it is not for fear of political reprisal. Every strong advocate understands that reprisal comes with the territory. An advocate’s responsibility is advocacy, not fear.

I ask, no, I implore my district administrator friends and colleagues to publicly stand up for the institution to which they have committed their lives. It is time they expose to their respective communities the travesty that is Walker’s education policy. Please, speak out now before the damage is irreparable.

If not now, when?

Jim Carlson, executive director, Kettle Moraine UniServ Council, affiliated with the Wisconsin Education Association Council


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