Saturday, February 14, 2015

WI Children Do Not Deserve Walker’s Budget Cuts

Remarks by Bob Peterson
at the Stop the Cuts Rally
Madison, Wisconsin
February 14, 2015

Hello UW-Madison! I bring greetings of solidarity from thousands of teachers and educational assistants who are members of the Milwaukee teachers union.

We stand with you to fight against the cuts proposed by a Governor who has not had enough education to know whether the earth is 6,000 or 4.5 billion years old.

We stand with you to fight against attacks on the public UW-System, public technical colleges and public schools. We know that public schools in our communities are the only institutions that have the commitment, capacity and legal obligation to serve all children, including for example in Milwaukee 3,000 homeless students being served by MPS. Similarly, as the Wisconsin IDEA so proudly notes, the UW System is dedicated to serving all citizens throughout Wisconsin.

We stand with you to fight all attacks on the public sector. If it’s public, Walker and the 1% want it defunded and turned over to private interests. Whether it’s our public university, our public schools, public radio, public TV, public transportation, public sector unions, public health care, or our public natural resources — it’s on Walker’s hit list.

I’m from Milwaukee, so I am particularly concerned about Walker’s success in using the race card. We must not allow Walker to play on racial fears, and convince white people to vote their prejudices instead of their class interests.

In Milwaukee this Monday – President’s Day –a multiracial coalition will rally at of Scott Walker’s house. High school students will demand “Fund our Future.” I invite you all to come – 4:30 PM. Find details on facebook page of SchoolsandCommunitiesUnited.

I’m a 5th grade teacher, so I know these cuts will affect children and their future the most. Listen to the wisdom of a ten-year old student, Eddie. Four years ago, Eddie was in my fifth grade classroom during Walker’s first attack on public employees and schools.  

I asked my students to write in their journals: “What the budget cuts mean to me. Eddie wrote a poem in her journal entitled “A Letter to Governor Scott Walker.” Listen carefully to a child speaking truth to power:

A Letter to Governor Scott Walker
Budget cuts: an unfair mutiny           
that destroys the economy
and slowly tears apart all humanity
and makes the flaws of ourselves
that much deeper
that much bigger
and that much more hurtful.
It is hard to believe
that all this circles
around Governor Walker
the King of destroying schools and jobs
So congratulations Scott,
you ruined kids' lives!
Now isn't that a sport?

Just A. Student

P.S. Kids are the future.

Eddie and others do not deserve Walker’s budget cuts.

But for us to succeed in stopping these cuts and other attacks on the public sector we need to recognize we can’t do it alone.

Our struggle will only be successful if we are part of a broader social movement including Black Lives Matter, Raise Up 15 for a living wage, defending immigrant rights, the environmental movement and prison reform.

Let us unite in a broad social movement for economic and political democracy and racial justice in this state and country. 
Let us choose hope over despair and continue to fight for our children and justice in our communities.

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