Posted In: Educator Voices, Wisconsin, Workers' Rights
by Félix Pérez
With six days to go before the neck-and-neck election to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, some Walker supporters are desperate, afraid their candidate is going to lose, and have resorted to hateful tactics that target teachers.
An anonymous group stuffed newspaper delivery chutes at the homes of Janesville residents this month with a flier that lists the names and salaries of more than 300 teachers in the rural town. The flier directs residents to go to a website to find out if their child’s teachers signed the petition to recall Walker. The flier has a preprinted, tear-off card at the bottom that urges parents to contact their school superintendent and school board members to request that their child be assigned next school year to a classroom taught by a “non-radical teacher.”
The conservative Milwaukee organization Citizens for Responsible Government, or CRG Network, admitted it compiled the salary and name information by making an open records request with the school district. The group refuses to disclose to whom it gave the information.
Mary McPherson, a Janesville teacher, told a local TV news reporter she wasn’t upset her salary was released. She had strong words, though, for the anonymous group or person who distributed the flier. “I think if they’re trying to say go after this person, then they’re doing it in an anger-driven way and their motive has to be seen for what it is. They’re just out to lynch someone.”
Janesville Superintendent Karen Schulte told a local news radio station that the “flier is pretty sad.” Said Schulte: “This flier is being passed out by this group that are vilifying our teachers, and here, we have so many wonderful, good teachers that donate their time, and they’re very passionate about education.”
Schulte said if she received any signed cards, “they’re going in the trash.”
All eyes are on Wisconsin, as the June 5 election to recall Walker draws near. Walker, who has become the national poster child for the elimination of public worker rights, is only the third governor to face a recall in American history. Walker’s stripped teachers and other public service workers of their collective bargaining rights and also cut public school funding by $1.6 billion while extending large tax cuts to corporations.
Walker has also come under scathing criticism nationwide recently for promising a $500,000 donor he had a plan to “divide & conquer” unions. The comment was caught on video.
The most recent polls show Walker and his opponent, Tom Barrett, in a dead heat. Barrett closed the gap within the last few days and appears to be gaining momentum despite being outspent 25-1 largely by out-of-state contributions to Walker from wealthy donors and conservative groups.
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