Thursday, February 17, 2011

What's Up Wisconsin? (Protests, That's What)

My adopted state of Wisconsin (don't worry New Jersey, I'll always love you most) is making major headlines this week due to protests against Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal which would essentially tie the hands of the teacher's union (WEAC) while simultaneously requiring state employees to pay a significantly increased amount into their benefits.

While I don't write about politics or education, and I am in fact quite biased on these issues being the daughter of two New Jersey state employees, I still think that it is important to highlight the media coverage being given to these events.

Madison, which is my temporary home while I'm attending UW, is the state capitol of Wisconsin. The protests that have been going on in opposition to the budget (an estimated 20,000 people outside the capitol building, according to CBS News 3) are just steps outside my front door. Classes at the University have been disrupted due to the protests (in addition to schools throughout Wisconsin having to close due to the absence of teachers).

As a grad student I have been privy to at least half a dozen (but I think more) emails about how teachers should act in response to the protests. Grad students are often tapped at TA's or in some cases teach lower level classes, and while I don't teach at UW, many of my colleagues have had to choose whether to show up for class, or throw their support behind the protesters.

When I talk about politics, I try hard not to spout my own views, so I'll just wrap up by giving you some links to check out for more information about the causes of the protests, the details of the proposed budget, how the city of Madison is being effected and how the nation is taking notice.

Reuters: Democratic Lawmakers Leave Wisconsin To Protest Union Curbs 
New York Times: Democrats Missing, Wisconsin Vote on Cuts is Delayed
Politico: The Politics of Education Upended
CNN: State Democrats Absent for Vote as Wisconsin Budget Protests Swell
CBS News: Wisconsin Protests Continue As Dems Leave State to Stall Budget Repair Vote
ABC News: Wisconsin Teachers Protest Ed Budget, Union Cuts
Bloomberg: Public Employee Protests Spread from Wisconsin to Ohio
Huffington Post: Wisconsin Protests: State Police Pursue Democratic Lawmakers Boycotting Vote

This is just an amateur video I snagged off of YouTube, but I think it gives you a good sense of what being in the crowd out here is like.

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