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Why Wisconsin Matters

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Governor Scott Walker has leveled the largest assault on public education in the history of the state of Wisconsin. This is an attack on the middle class and an attack on teachers who are being treated as political tools and pawns. They're bargaining chips in negotiations.

Teachers, who play more of a role in economic development than anybody who wants to take a chance on Wall Street, are being vilified and targeted unfairly.

Nobody goes into teaching to get rich. They do it because they love helping people. They love the reward of seeing kids reach their potential. It takes a special person to be a teacher.

The wonderful thing about public education is that everybody's welcome -- the gifted, the talented, the challenged. The socioeconomically challenged kid can walk in the door and have a chance to learn and his or her only hope, because that home life might not be the best, their hope is that teacher.

Republicans are placing the burden of economic recovery on the backs of the middle class and our teachers. An economic recovery required because of the policies put in place by Republicans, resulting in wealth distribution from the middle class to the top two percent.

My mother was a high school English teacher at Granby High School in Norfolk, Virginia. She had three accelerated classes and three regular classes. My mother graded papers until the wee hours of the morning. She got her kids off to school every day. And when she came home in the afternoon, she was still grading papers, and then she was working on lesson plans on Saturdays.

My mom used to take tremendous pride in knowing that one of her students went off to the University of Virginia and became a doctor. She took a tremendous amount of pride in being part of that student's education.

And I know in my heart that teachers haven't changed over the years even though my mom died years ago and came from a different generation. They're still the same. I know they're the same because I was in that crowd at Madison, Wisconsin and I looked into the eyes of those teachers. They haven't changed a bit.

This philosophy that teachers are overpaid is running them out of the industry. And we don't have the quality teachers in the classrooms that we could have as a nation if we invested in what should be a shared value by all.

How about tax credits for teachers who want to expand their horizon and get maybe a PhD? Is that a good idea? And how about the income for people in New Jersey?

New Jersey has the third highest percentage of millionaire residents in America -- nearly 7 percent of the people that live in New Jersey are millionaires. New Jersey millionaires, how many of them are there? Well, there are 212,000 of them. How many teachers? A hundred and twelve thousand. There are more millionaires in New Jersey than teachers, but we're asking the teachers pay for everything. We can't raise the taxes on the rich folks over in New Jersey, maybe the top two percent maybe giving one more percent?

It's unfortunate. And now, here we go with the attack on labor. Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana -- let's keep up the fight. We can win this. And it's a long way from over.

And, mom, this is dedicated to you.

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