Mama Madison: Get up, stand up

On protesting the cuts for teachers in the budget bill

I read Vikki Kratz's incredibly compelling essay on the Walker budget proposal on Valentine's Day. It pierced my heart. While I've never met her, I'm pretty sure I'd love to see her at the helm of one of my kid's classrooms. Her obvious love of teaching is evident in every word.

I'm also pretty sure I am unlikely to meet her, or others like her, in any future classroom as the current budget proposal stands. Not just because she teaches pre-K, and my kids are whole lot older, but because frankly she won't be able to afford to teach much longer. Yes, there are many, many parts of the budget repair bill that I find distasteful. But anything that goes to make teaching a more difficult profession for a passionate educator to choose goes against every fiber of my being.

My father was an art teacher; my sister-in-law is an English teacher, my sister a college professor. For them, teaching isn't just a career choice; it's closer to a calling. My dad genuinely believed in the importance of shepherding kids in one of the poorest neighborhoods in DC toward creating something beautiful and positive in their lives. My sister-in-law feels privileged to be able to explain how to navigate financial aid forms (way after hours, mind you) to the families of first-generation college applicants. My sister, an intellectual historian, feels challenging college students to think differently about how ideas have changed the course of our history can actually change it.

My kids have had so many remarkable educators in the MMSD that it calls for a separate post. These teachers have inspired my children to work harder. They have hugged my kids when they needed it. These folks have instilled in my kids a love of learning that this mom would be hard-pressed to replicate on her own. I need these men and women, and I need them to be fairly compensated.

As those of you who have read this blog before know, I don't consider myself an overwhelmingly politically engaged person. I do a little research and always vote. Sure, I've been known to pass out a flier or two or make a few phone calls for candidates about whom I feel strongly. But at 44, I've never gone to a demonstration. I think that is about to change.

Ms. Kratz asked me to stand with her this week on the steps of the Capitol, a candlelight vigil (since she and other teachers need to be with their "kids" during the day) . No, my calling might not be as an educator, but as a parent I have heard her call and will answer. It is never too late to stand up for the things that will make a difference in the lives of my children, and all the children of Wisconsin.

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