QUOLKE’S CORNER 3/9/11

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QUOLKE’S CORNER #88
ATTACKS AGAINST EDUCATORS
 
In Ohio, in Wisconsin, in Indiana, and all across the United States, middle class working people and especially, teachers face unprecedented attacks. These attacks are under the back drop of state budget deficits, but make no mistake - this vitriol has little to do with repairing state budgets and everything to do with destroying public education and unions. I wish I could trace back to the exact date when teachers went from being viewed as low paid servants of the state to the high priced/budget destroying workers that educators are now being portrayed to be. I wish I could trace back to the exact date to when teachers went from being respected and valued for their job of teaching children to read and calculate math problems to the enemy of all communities that teachers are now portrayed to be. It is outrageous; it is just plain wrong and we will continue to fight these attacks.
 
Having spent 27 years in education I know the dedication and commitment that it takes to enter and remain in this profession. We not only teach children, but we make sure they have breakfast, that they eat a good lunch, and that their health needs are met. Our members routinely spend money out of their own pockets to make sure our kids have what they need. We do not do this because we are ordered to; we do it because that’s the business we are in. We are educators. We care about kids.
 
Senate Bill 5 does not just impact educators but also the hard working men and women who drive our students to school, feed our children lunch, and watch over their safety throughout the day. SB5 harms police officers, firefighters, those who plow our streets, those who take care of the elderly, and the list of vital public workers goes on and on. SB 5 will strip workers of their bargaining rights, their voice in the workplace, their dignity.
 
On Saturday, the Cleveland Teachers Union sponsored a Town Hall Meeting in State Senator Frank LaRose’s district. Close to 200 teachers from NE Ohio, police officers, firefighters, constituents, private sector workers, and union supporters were in attendance. All Ohio House Representatives in the area were invited to attend. Senator LaRose did attend the event, even after he cast a critical vote in favor of SB 5 on Wednesday. I respect and commend Senator LaRose for coming to the Town Hall meeting and answering questions and taking criticism for more than one hour. Many of his constituents expressed their concerns and asked very difficult and important questions of him during this meeting. 
 
To me it was important for the Senator to hear the voices of his constituents. The voices of the firefighters, teachers, and community members that his vote impacts. Although his vote on SB 5 has already been cast – it is not the last piece of legislation that he will see in the near future that will have a direct impact on education.
 
On March 15, the governor will drop his budget bill. This is expected to have deep cuts for education which will further impact the deficit in CMSD. Coinciding with the release of the budget, statewide rallies are being held to respond to the Governor’s budget. Good Jobs – Strong Communities will be holding a massive rally in Strongsville at the City Commons. We hope to have all CTU members attend and show their solidarity in opposing the massive education cuts that are anticipated. Also, don’t forget that STRS, SERS, and PERS retirement system changes are in the House now and after testimony will be voted on by the House and then the Senate. 
 
Unfortunately, too many folks in Columbus – and in Madison and elsewhere – don’t want to collaborate to make things better. It’s not enough that they refuse to listen. They also insist on silencing us, but we will not be silenced.   Today, tomorrow, and the next day we will continue to fight SB 5 and measures like it. How long will our fight last? At least one day longer than those who are determined to demonize our profession.
 
In Union,
 
David