As I seem to mention often, here there and everywhere, I am the child of two public school teachers. My dad was very active in his union as well, serving as grievance chairman, working on negotiating teams, eventually being elected union president. My entire childhood was spent hearing conversations about unions, about administrators, about negotiations, about teachers and teaching. This was standard dinner-table discussion.
Now, I am a teacher, though in less gritty halls; I'm not unionized, though I am appallingly underpaid.
My sympathy and empathy for teachers especially, and unions in general, has always been strong. You could say I was raised in the union way.
So the latest anti-labor moves by Wisconsin governor scott walker strike me at an especially sensitive spot. I also have a number of friends who live in Wisconsin, or call Wisconsin home; these are extremely good friends, some of them people I've known for 13 years, people who were or are very close to me.
Most of them, as grad students, are affected by Walker's proposals.
I'm proud of the tide of activism that poured out in Madison to protest the governor. I'm very proud of my friend(s) who participated, despite grueling schedules. Democracy - and that is what this is - can be a very impressive and awe-inspiring sight, and seeing grad students, burly firefighters, sturdy-looking plumbers, high schoolers, teachers of all ages, all kinds of people who, on the surface, seem to come from across a very broad spectrum - seeing them all working for a common cause is genuinely moving.
I found photos from the protests online, a collection of the best signs. They're mostly all clever or poignant or witty, but this one - the one posted above - went right to my heart.
In addition to being the child of teachers, I have always loved school, and for the most part, loved and respected my teachers. Many of them cared for me exceedingly well, even if I didn't know it at the time (others made it obvious to me, even then, even in second grade with Mrs Chapman).
We ought all, as a society, care deeply about our teachers, our educators. It is not a glamorous job, and it is not an easy job, and very often someone ends up wearing seasonally-themed sweaters or denim jumpers or things adorned with apples. But the kids - whether they're toddlers in pre-school or sophisticated seniors in college - the kids are why they and we do it. And when teachers do it right, as many of them do - the rewards for those kids are manifold.
Care for your educators the way they care for your children. It's asking a lot - because they care, enormously, about your children. But it is not asking too much.
Solidarity with the good people of Wisconsin who want to work and live and be paid well and treated fairly.