Dear Senator Kapanke,
I urge you to vote no on the Budget Repair Bill as it will be detrimental to public education in Wisconsin. I am principal of Northern Hills Elementary School in Onalaska and you have visited my school two times in the past few years–first as a guest presenter to my 4th graders learning about government, and then as a guest announcer during Teacher Appreciation Week. I appreciated you taking the time to visit my school and encouraging the students and staff to continue all the hard work they do for our community. I’m also a frequent attendee at Logger games in the summer with my wife and two kids and have chatted with you at the field. I know you are a man who cares about our community and the future of our state and country.
I have many concerns about this bill, but what I see as most problematic is stripping the collective bargaining rights of our staff. Being an administrator, I am not a union member, but I value the strong and positive relationships we have in Onalaska among the School Board, administrative team, and the unions who represent a large majority of our staff. We do things the right way in Onalaska and have not had problems working with our unions to ensure that all of our students receive an excellent education. It is a true partnership that strengthens the integrity of our schools. As the economy has struggled across the country, our union groups have recognized this and worked with our Board to ratify contracts that work within our budget to provide the kind of services to our students and families that meet their high expectations for learning and citizenry.
I’m sure there are problems in other parts of the state where unions and administration battle over many issues that take the focus away from the students. This is not the case in Onalaska, and I can’t imagine why our governmental leaders would consider a bill that would punish everyone for the problems of a few. This would be equivalent to punishing a whole class of students because of the poor behavior of a few who don’t do the right thing. Our teachers and staff don’t do this to our students, so our governmental leadership shouldn’t do this to our employees.
Taking away collective bargaining rights from our staff, while allowing other public groups to keep theirs, is a very disheartening thought. Teachers, secretaries, educational assistants, custodians, and nutrition workers deserve the benefit of the doubt and appreciation. The Budget Repair Bill does the opposite. It assumes all of these groups are to blame for economic woes in the state and that they don’t work and bargain in the best interest of students.
I typically vote Democratic in elections, but I’ve always voted for you because of your reputation for listening to your constituents, for making decisions that are in the best interest of your community, and for staying away from partisan politics.
Please vote no on the Budget Repair Bill.
La Crosse, WI