So I left my bunker yesterday morning and ventured to Madison to join the protest of the latest Republican power grab.
It was amazing. Estimated crowd of nearly 30,000 people filled the area, and their voices rocked the Rotunda. Made me proud to be a participant in a democracy (even though what we really have is a plutocracy).
The American Federation of Teachers rep had arranged for a group of us to meet with our State Senator, He-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless. After several minutes of conflicting information updates, one of his Minions appeared. Four people were selected to speak (I was one of them). First went the Prof from the school just up the highway. Then I went.
The Minion looked like he'd rather be drinking bleach than listening to what I had to say:
- The attack on collective bargaining does not solve the budget problem or create jobs.
- This bill will make us even less competitive for quality professors than we are now (after 4 failed searches for a World Languages position, we finally found someone; now we've got the third Comm/Arts search in as many years). California may have some of the same problems, but at least it's got better weather
- Students are going to leave WI and take their brains and their earning power with them. Why would anyone want to be a teacher or nurse or corrections officer in this state if this is how we are going to be treated?
I wish I had known what was reported in the Cap Times later that day--that the missing $137 million mysteriously happened right after Walker took office ( as of 1/31 the state was projected to have a balance of $121 million)--coinciding with $140 million in special interest spending he has approved in his first 6 weeks in office.
I do not mind paying a fair share. Neither does anyone I work with. However, we do mind being professors on food stamps (at least 3 of my colleagues are the sole income for their families, and because our salaries are so low in the first place, they will qualify). I am OK for now--my OH makes less than I do but we don't own a home, so our expenses can be managed. Thing Two is now two, so his daycare isn't quite as expensive as it was before. But I am seriously rethinking living in this state if this is how it wants to treat its public sector workers...and I'm not the only one.
As scarce as jobs in the humanities are, I might have to go back on the market--after finally earning tenure--to try to find a better-paying job. Or I might have to go back to the private sector, where I made better money and I still have connections.
I do not want to do this. I love being a teacher. None of us gets into this profession for the money, but it's disgraceful that we're not going to be able to make decent lives for ourselves (I work in the two-year system, so we're paid a LOT less than our counterparts in the 4-year schools).
And if you think I should just shut up and be thankful to have a job, do me a favor and shut the fuck up. I am grateful to be employed, but I'm not going to take a kick in the teeth and ask for another one.