In Wisconsin, public school teachers are still calling in sick to skip out on school, throng the state capitol, and protest Gov. Scott Walker's plans to require them to contribute more to their own health care and pension plans. But as best I can tell from reading the news reports, school closures are concentrated in Madison itself, with schools operating normally--and, apparently, with most teachers still turning up to do their jobs--in the rest of the state.
A summary of where matters stand, followed by a question--a plea, really--for any Ricochetians in the Midwest.
Where we stand:
- Running for governor last year, Republican Scott Walker explained that the state was broke, then outlined what he would do about it, including his plans for dealing with teachers and other state employees. Although polls indicate that Democrats outnumber Republicans in Wisconsin by some 36 to 24 percent, Walker won the election, defeating his
- Walker's election doesn't appear to have depended on his personality, to have represented some sort of fluke, to to have taken place in a way that can be written off or ignored. To the contrary. It represented part of a massive shift in voter sentiment. Before election day last year, Wisconsin had two Democratic senators, a five to three advantage for Democrats in the House delegation, a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislatures. After the election Wisconsin had a split Senate delegation, a five to three advantage for Republicans in the House delegation, a Republican governor--Walker--and Republican majorities in both houses--I repeat, both houses--of the state legislature. As you'll see on the Associated Press's electoral map, most of Wisconsin's 72 counties went Republican red. (Madison is located in Dane County, in the center of the state's southern tier.)
- Teachers, who are paid by the people of Wisconsin, are now calling in sick to engage in political protests. That is, they're continuing to draw their salaries--which is money taken from the people of Wisconsin--to oppose the governor and legislature the people of Wisconsin just elected.
- According to news reports this morning, the teachers are being joined by hundreds--perhaps thousands--of students, many of whom attend the University of Wisconsin, located right there in Madison. The people of Wisconsin are subsidizing the education of these students, in other words, and the students are repaying them by, again, cutting classes to oppose the officials the people just elected.
- The Democrats in the Senate have fled the state, preventing a quorum, while--see the pattern?--continuing to draw their salaries, of some $50,000 a year and their office allowances of more than $30,000 a year.
The press is concentrating all its coverage on Madison. That's where the protests are taking place. That's where the embattled Gov. Walker emerges from time to time to issue another calm, but defiant statement. But Madison, the home of state employees and the faculty and staff of the University of Wisconsin, is surely wholly unrepresentative of the state as a whole. I just have to believe that a lot of folks in Green Bay and Oshkosh and Racine and Kenosha are just furious.
Whereas the press is portraying Gov. Walker as embattled, to put it another way, my hunch is that out in the rest of the state his support is growing--and becoming more intensely committed to him by the hour.
Which brings me to my question:
Is there anyone who can tell us what's taking place in the rest of Wisconsin?