April 4, 2011

A letter from a Racine teacher.

This letter was received by Bill Folk, Racine County GOP Chairman, from a teacher who didn't feel emotionally safe enough to attend a dinner that was being picketed by her colleagues. I asked Chairman Folk to forward this to me so I could share it.

Dear Mr. Folk,

Thank you for the reply. I will not be attending. My coworkers are planning on picketing and after the day-in and day-out listening to the bashing of our governor and elected officials and trying to work in the hostile environment for the past month, I can hardly take it anymore. I am so frustrated with their words, attitudes and actions; it's so embarrassing. I don't feel emotionally safe to come. It's too bad.

By the way, when I was researching for the email address, I happened across an article I think you wrote about the RUSD teacher sick-out. I don't know if it ever made it into the Journal Times, but I think it would have been a good editorial. I was one of the few teachers at my school who reported and worked a full day. That whole situation was absolutely ridiculous. Some coworkers were being called between 11:30pm and 1:00am to call in sick. I guess I wasn't called because I refused to sign a petition earlier in the week and ridiculed because of it. I also was unable to attend a union action meeting and was ridiculed because of that. One coworker who had called in sick, had actually come in to work to pick up some work. I overheard her talking to someone and she said that she wasn't going to hold it against anyone who had showed up at work and hadn't called in sick. I felt so disheartened, because I couldn't believe what this person who I had greatly respected had said.

Some other coworkers called in sick, drove to Madison and participated in picketing. This was fraudulent behavior to our employer - the district and the taxpayers. As bad as this was, one of my coworkers who had done this was bragging the next day that he was telling his classes that he was so sick, he couldn't do a thing the day of the sick-out. Not only did he brag this to fellow teachers, but I actually later heard him say this to a class of students. My heart just sank. We want the students to be truthful and respectful to us, but he was not being honest with the students and therefore, I feel, not respectful to them.

I have seen a teacher hold a sign in the hallway during passing time, numerous red-T-shirt days, wear black day, students be praised for wearing red on more than one day, T-shirts with solidarity on it worn by many, T-shirts with the Wisconsin 14 on them worn by many, T-shirts with numerous fish on the back of them, and signs, bumper stickers, newspapers, etc. in the teacher's lounge on the tables where we eat.

I had heard of many picketing in Madison, in downtown Racine, on the corner of 31 & 20, and now the Marriott. Others have spent time on recall efforts to recall Alberta Darling. This is talked about a lot now.

Some days, the first words I hear when I come in the building is "Walker this or that." Lunch conversation is always negative and there's no getting away from it because we are not to eat in our offices or classrooms.

One day, I heard that one of my coworkers who knows Van Wangaard had written him a nasty note, but she had disguised it in a "Thank You" note. I couldn't believe my ears. I wish I could see Mr. Wangaard and be able to apologize for my coworker's behavior. That was really terrible.

Others spoken about have included Robin Vos and even Cathy Stepp as well. It makes me really sad.

I wish I could also apologize to Governor Walker for the hate speech, bitterness, bullish, and other behavior my fellow teachers and school staff have perpetrated on and about him.

I may be alone in my respect of government officials and my focus on the job that I have been hired to do on behalf of our students. Yet hopefully in the end, young lives will have been encouraged and many benefited from my tiresome efforts.

Mr. Folk, thank you for your efforts as well.

God bless.

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