Posts Tagged ‘Teachers’

Protestors outside the Housing Conference - Photo credit Karen Rivedal- WI State Journal

In an arrogant display directed at protestors who were banging on walls in opposition to Walker’s GOP plan to gut rental housing regulations, Walker quipped “That’s opportunity knocking” to the  attendees of  an annual housing conference at UW-Madison.  The audience erupted into cheers.

They should all be ashamed of themselves, but I suspect they lack the necessary capacity for empathy. It’s all about profits. Nothing more.

 

 

From the Wisconsin State Journal

“That’s opportunity knocking for all of us now.”

Gov. Scott Walker got his biggest applause line for that off-hand remark, made midway through his keynote address Thursday at an annual housing conference at UW-Madison.

It came right after four hard, booming knocks — clearly audible over Walker’s words in the packed Fluno Center auditorium — as protesters opposed to the governor’s budget-cutting policies pounded their disdain on the outside walls of the building.

Walker’s quick improvisation broke the rising tension, as hearty laughter and clapping from the rows of housing industry professionals briefly drowned out the competing clamor.

Follow the rest of the story here.

Citizens should be outraged that Governor Walker thinks stripping hard-fought consumer protections is funny.

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Helen Weinstein resigned her teaching position rather than label a colleague a Communist. Photo circa 1945.

On this day, not only am I thinking about my mother, but more broadly, I’m thinking of all the strong women that have contributed to the labor movement throughout US history and have worked to improve the quality of life for all of us. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker’s war on public employees makes me recall the incredible resolve and dedication that Helen Weinstein, a NY teacher, exhibited throughout her career.

A few excerpts:

It was 1932, the height of the Great Depression. School officials at PS 225 in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, decided to put  50 students in a single first-grade class.

(Today, the average first-grade class at PS 225 is 18.3.)

Tammany Hall’s “Uncle John” McCooey insisted the city had no money to build an addition to accommodate the growing student population. Helen Weinstein, in her first teaching job, launched a protest anyway.

With her colleague Ralph Fagin and the support of the principal, Weinstein organized the parents. She borrowed a mimeograph machine, distributed leaflets and took part in parades. Ultimately, the Board of Education was forced to build a wing onto the school. Mayor LaGuardia received the credit and Weinstein and Fagin were subsequently transferred by Superintendent William O’Shea “for the good of the service,” according to a 1932 article in The Nation.

Education and civic organizations from the PTA and local Chamber of commerce to the Teacher’s Union and ACLU protested the transfers, but to no avail.

“They should not have gone parading through the street and arousing the ire of the people against their employers … They should not help to instigate public uprising,” O’Shea told a group of parents, according to minutes taken of the meeting.

Some years ago, I first came across this article that had been written about her by her grand-niece, Brandy Marshall. Ms. Weinstein’s story is powerful enough that it has stuck with me since. It is particularly relevant today.  Just imagine being a Jewish woman in 1930’s Brooklyn and taking on the political machine of the time because the school board insisted there was no money to build a school addition, then ordered that classroom size be increased to 50 students. Like Wisconsin teachers, she took to the streets in protest. Unlike today, the police used clubs and labor disputes were often quelled with violence.  If you happen to find yourself with a spare few minutes after celebrating with your mother, read this article about a remarkable woman who embodies the true spirit of the labor movement.  You won’t be sorry.

Happy Mothers Day,

Patrick