An Open Letter To My Fellow Parents Of The Greendale School District

I thought Greendale valued its educational system and our teachers. I thought we trusted them to have a voice. I thought we were less greedy and less gullable. I was wrong.

I am writing this on the morning of the last day of school in Greendale, so excuse me if I get a bit nostalgic or emotional. This past Monday I attended the end-of-year celebration in my son's kindergarten class in which dozens of moms, dads, grandparents and even great grandparents squeezed our adult-sized butts into tiny plastic seats as we listened to our children read a poem and receive an award from their teacher. But the last and most emotional part of the celebration was a ten minute video that my son's teacher had put together highlighting the best and most memorable parts of their first full year of school.

Children cried, parents sniffled, I even think the teacher might have had a tear (even though she's been saying "goodbye friends" to groups of children for more years than Justin Bieber has been alive). One little boy, whose parents could not make it really broke down and cried. Who came to sit with him on the floor and hug him and rock with him and tell him that everything would be all right - that he would see his friends again next year? His teacher...

During the video that we watched there was a segment that showed each of our children, individually, with their eyes looking towards the sky and a finger on their chin in deep thought as they pondered the question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" There were a couple of oddball responses, funny answers: "horse-rider" and "grass-cutter". One child chose "dentist". Another said "scientist" while one more said "doctor". But none of these chosen professions of the future received more than one vote.

The overwhelming majority of students chose to be a "policeman", "firefighter", or "teacher". When the first student chose "teacher" she received a holler and a whistle from mom and grandma and a round of applause from the audience. My son's school is producing future public servants faster than it produces methane gas on taco day - and I'm damn proud...If you were in that classroom with me, you would know that this is not hyperbole.

If kids are one thing - they are honest and they can see through B.S. like Superman can see through walls. And they hero worship. By a vast majority, the heroes of the children in that kindergarten class are the people who serve us every day: Teachers, policemen, firemen (okay, and "professional baseball players too). Not one kid wanted to sell insurance or loan money - they wanted to be heroes.

So going into election night on Tuesday I was hopeful. I thought maybe the tide had turned - maybe at the end of the school year mothers and fathers might see teachers for what they really are to all of us and take a stand against Scott Walker and an agenda that at best, was misguided when it reduced funding to our school district by $814,000 this year alone.

After that emotional classroom celebration I had to head back to work, so I hopped in my car and turned on 620 WTMJ to see what was being said about the upcoming election on Tuesday (I usually listen to public radio, but they were not talking politics at that moment) ... so what did I hear? I heard that a win for Governor Walker and the Republicans was a repudiation against the "Greedy moochers" who teach my children. I heard that the teachers were the cause to the whole financial crisis that the state (and Nation I suppose) finds itself in because of their "extravagant" salaries and benefits.

I didn't believe what I was hearing. "Greedy", "Moochers", "Extravagant" are adjectives that I would never use to describe the women and men who teach my children - otherwise I would not entrust my children with them for seven hours a day. The adjectives I would use to describe my kids' teachers: "kind", "sweet", "caring", "dedicated", "professional", "smart". I assumed no one who drops their kids off at a public school could have such feelings for someone whom they entrust their children with every day. I assumed that in Greendale, where we always have had one of the best public school systems in the nation, parents were smart enough to see past those lies and misgivings that are constantly being shouted at us on conservative radio.

But apparently I was wrong...

The "good" people of Greendale voted to keep Scott Walker in office by 61%.  We voted to save $30 bucks on our property taxes instead of properly funding our children's education. We had a chance to take a stand against an agenda that de-funded public education by the largest percentage ever in state history, but gave tax breaks to billionaires like Diane Hendricks from Beloit, who paid NO state income tax despite being on Forbe's list of top 500 billionaires. She paid no taxes, but donated $500,000 to Walker's campaign. There is money for education, but it's sitting in some mansion in Beloit instead of going towards books, teacher aides computers, music programs and instruments.

A vote to keep Walker in office was a statement of agreement that teachers are "Greedy, lazy thugs who only work seven hours a day". Anyone who has ever worked in the profession or volunteered in the schools knows this to be a lie. The current administration in Madison has demonized the entire teaching profession. - Just ask your kid's teacher how they have felt over the last 16 months - pretty God Damn unappreciated I bet.

Scott Walker and the Republicans made scapegoats out of teachers in a capitalist system gone wild because of actions taken by Wall Street, not teachers, nurses or social workers.

Scott Walker and his administration may have saved each home owner an average of $30 in Greendale (myself included), but what did we lose?:

  • We lost $814,000 in state aid to the Greendale School District.
  • We lost four times the average number of teachers to early retirement.
  • We lost a computer lab because our district office can no longer afford to move out of my school.
  • We lost funding to the UW system, which caused a 5.6% rise in tuition - meaning that if you send you child to Madison, it will cost you an extra $560 per year in tuition. 
  • We saw drops in DNR inspections to hazardous waste by 32%, storm-water runoff by 26%, solid waste and landfills by 18% and air quality by 16%. Employment within the DNR dropped by only 4%.

I may have saved $30 on my property tax bill, but now my children will have less computer time, be taught by less-experienced teachers in a larger class, drink dirtier water, breathe filthier air and graduate from college in more debt than they would have if they state could have kept my $30 bucks...

...Today my children and I will thank our teachers by giving them gift cards from Half-Priced Books, a handshake, and maybe a hug - small compensation for just having taken away their rights, reducing their salary, raising their cost of health care and calling them "greedy thugs" for the last 16 months.

I don't want a $30 break on my property taxes - I want my computer lab back. I want to re-gain the conference room in my school. I want a full-time nurse in my school. I want iPads in the high school. I want free parking for all students at the high school. I want clean water and air for my kids. I want college tuition to be affordable for everyone. I need a properly funded public school system. I need a Governor who values education and doesn't look down upon teachers like they are blood-sucking leaches. 

I don't need $30. I don't need to carry a gun to feel like a "man". I don't need to tell homosexuals that they can't have the same rights that my wife and I do. I don't need to tell the poor, elderly and the crippled to beg family and friends for a ride to the DMV to get an updated ID. I don't need to tell women that their body is my business or that they should make less than me. I don't need to demean and demoralize the entire teaching professional.

I love my public school and all of the teachers within - My Governor, who is under investigation by the FBI, not so much...


On June 1, 2012, the MJS broke the story that Milwaukee County prosecutors were forced to move from a regular investigation to a secret "John Doe" criminal investigation more than two years ago after being stonewalled by the County Executive's office. Court records released in the trial of one of the defendants showed that prosecutors said Walker's office had been "unwilling or unable" to turn over requested records, citing sources with the U.S. Justice Department's Public Integrity Section.

This new information contradicts Walker's repeated claims that he has been "fully cooperating" with the investigation since the start. As of today, this ongoing criminal investigation has resulted in six indictments, 15 felony charges, and two convictions. At the moment, five people are awaiting trial.

The MJS has also reported that investigators are looking into bid-rigging charges related to the county's decision, when Walker was County Exec, to move the Wisconsin Department of Aging from a public facility to a private facility using a bidding process. The Sentinel has also reported on a private email exchange between Walker and Hiller, his long-time campaign treasurer and realtor involved with the potential county real estate contract that has been described as a "bombshell" in the investigation, but has not yet been released to the public.


So if you voted for Walker simply because you think recalls should be used only for misconduct - well, we have our misconduct don't we...

If you are a Greendale parent, or a parent of any child who attends a public school in the state and you voted for Scott Walker - you have been duped.

My son's teacher deserves an award for her years of service and dedication for doing the world's most difficult job. My Governor appears to deserve an orange jumpsuit and state-issued flip-flops for his criminal actions.

I thought we were better than this. I thought Greendale valued its educational system and our teachers. I thought we trusted them to have a voice. I thought we were less greedy and less gullible.

I was wrong.


Jason Patzfahl

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Debbie June 19, 2012 at 05:52 AM
Well, Dr., since you've provided us with choices I vote for Churchill's. I notice your post time is during working hours. Wouldn't your anger issues be more effectively dealt with by wielding one of your knives? Oh, excuse me, scalpels? I feel for your 3:00.
Debbie June 19, 2012 at 05:57 AM
seriously, shut up. wow.
Merri Ann Gonzalez June 21, 2012 at 04:30 AM
how old are you Greg? 14 or 15?
Debbie June 21, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Merri, don't be discouraged by the likes of Greg and especially Steve. They are ruining our state and our country. I read a very interesting article recently from the UK, actually, and it made the point that a democracy cannot exist in today's dumbed-down society because the majority of people no longer have the ability to think logically and vote for the best candidate. Arguing with these idiots is therefore, unfortunately, pointless. They are EXACTLY the type that the Republican party counts on for support. Then people like us, who are educated and are able to see the big picture try to enlighten our misguided neighbors and they don't trust us. Don't trust US? What do we have to gain? But they trust Walker/Bush/Cheney/Mitt? WHAT??!!??!! Oh my GOD!!! REALLY??? It's so deeply disturbing to me that I could just about rip my hair out. I cannot believe how dumb people are! They are being manipulated by expert manipulators who do not give one SHIT about them, their state or their country. They only care about the money and how to keep it for themselves and their rich buddies. We try to look out for those who are unable to do it for themselves and we get spit at by people like Greg and Steve. Meanwhile, my grandchildren will have to live with the consequences of their moronic choices. And they have the audacity to call you a moron? They haven't got a CLUE!!!
Debbie June 21, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Why insult teenagers? Greg is a grown-up. That's what makes this so scary!
jebidiah June 22, 2012 at 02:48 AM
I agree with Debbie! People are being "dumbed down". Which is being done by liberal teachers from elementary right through the universities as well as a liberal news media that only gives us their slant to the news. Keep them dumb so the government has to do more and more for the people. Eventually they will have to do everything for us leading to socialism. Everything is going according to plan right Debbie? Thanks for the admission! Keep 'em dumb and dependent and they will vote for you every time. Democrats have been doing that for years. Obama and NBC are really doing their part to accelerate this plan. It's nice to hear a liberal bring this to light for once!!
Granny Tenderstone June 22, 2012 at 03:16 PM
@Jebidiah how dare you accuse the left of doing what YOU are up to, obviously you work for Karl Rove and his misinformation campaign. EVERYBODY KNOWS, did you not get the memo that KONservatives don't know the meaning of the word conservative, and are DETERMINED to dumb down the populace, and have succeeded in doing so? You mister are either one of the dumbed down or one of the lazy or one of the Rovian Trolls all over the internet. You don't fool me. WE DON'T WANT GOVERNMENT HANDOUTS, WE WANT A LIVING WAGE SO WE DON'T HAVE TO BE WORKING POOR ALL OUR LIVES, but KONservatives LIKE IT JUST THE WAY IT IS AND THEY LOVE FOOLS WHO BEND OVER AND HELP THEM DO IT. Wake up you poor, poor thing.
Granny Tenderstone June 22, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Merri Ann I guess Greg doesn't do his homework either, he only takes his talking points from faux news outlets. e.g. the Senate just defeated that disgusting attempt to poison our air: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Faction.momscleanairforce.org%2Fea-action%2Faction%3Fea.client.id%3D1711%26ea.campaign.id%3D15452%26ea.url.id%3D93712%26ea.campaigner.email%3DX7q66mU7QuqqbZI5d0BU%252FHcNvg23eBqkEUUx72CuAPQ%253D%26ea_broadcast_target_id%3D0&h=NAQH6HBsKAQHlpZhRVqeHGLrwAMk5ksVrJ_lG3ViYVnfK9A&enc=AZMHoJ2iTudStj6Qzl52dxLbpCrK3eesuEi7r8d_CWJOEhQSR7jErTofd31AlHzt5ahUOg8tuuLlQq_fU-1gaBmDXwyhXRNavAAKhfTspYzmT1LU1_f13Mitz7Ctn0rJeSM NO THANKS TO KONservatives. aka as the American Fascist Party. KONS want to party today at the expense of our children's futures. They can get out of Dodge with that b.s., THE PARTY IS OVER, no amount of Koch money will buy the oval office and all the money they waste attempting to do so should be directed toward the needy who WORK THEIR BUTTS OFF FOR POVERTY WAGES AND BELOW POVERTY WAGES. But the selfish and greedy aren't only the one percent, there are plenty of others who are ignorant enough to think their slavemasters care about them.
Granny Tenderstone June 22, 2012 at 03:24 PM
All you fake conservatives here need to wake up and get busy working for a 28th Amendment and a LIVING WAGE, which would have to be a MINIMUM of $15 per hour for a family living CONSERVATIVELY with the bare essentials. Then you need to get busy working for lobbying reform. Or you can shut up until you put your action where your mouths are.
Jason June 22, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Minimum wage laws disenfranchise those that are of low experience and skill level - that's why the young, uneducated and ex-felons currently have a high level of unemployment. A low paying job is better than no job.
Merri Ann Gonzalez June 22, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Keep on watching FAUX SNOOZE Jeb....it's workin for ya!
jebidiah June 22, 2012 at 06:08 PM
The lefty screeds in here are fantastic! I work for karl rove! I don't think I'd be posting here if I did. Living wage? Who would define that? A business pays people what they can afford. If they have had to pay a certain wage many would hire less people or go out of business. There are so many different regions around the country how do you determine a living wage? Taco bell in Minot ND pays $15 an hour here in WI thy between 9-10 an hour. I got paid 2.85 at my first job. I didn't like it so instead of asking for a "living wage" I worked hard got a good reference and got a better job. You can't expect to enter the workforce for a living wage right from the start. Why does the government advertise food stamps? Pay bonuses to states that sign up more people? To keep them dependent and to use that during the next campaign. "They'll take away your food stamps if you vote for them! ". The city of Milwaukee is the perfect case of creating dependency. Food stamps are up black unemployment is up we spend almost the most per pupil in the whole country yet get the worst results. Who runs the city and schools?? Liberals. Shame shame shame! Faux news? I assume you mean NBC who seems to retract a story every week now or doesn't even report on important news stories (fast and furious for example). Liberals are in charge of the schools there is no debate about that so how can anyone say the republicans are the ones doing the indoctrinating??
M Colins June 22, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Can you believe it? These people are still talking about Rove and Cheney! Talk about being programmed.
Julie Kulzick June 24, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Why do you say the Liberals are in charge of education? Is it because in kindergarten students learn that we should all be kind, take turns, and help each other? Would you really prefer that the Scott Walker Republican ways of grab everything for yourself and to hell with everyone else and that you are only important if you have lots of money be taught instead? Also please know that this is Wisconsin and the home of the progressive movement. Part of why today Wisconsin is a good place to live is due to that. And do you realize that Milwaukee had THREE Socialist mayors between 1910 and 1960 … and they balanced the budget back then? Both the Socialists and the Progressives were known for efficient and HONEST government along with a sense of public service. Too bad we don’t seem to have politicians like that anymore.
jebidiah June 24, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Liberals are "in charge" because most teachers are liberals. Kindergarten students should learn the traits you mention from their parents before kindergarten. Mine did. We need more parent accountability. You Mischaracterize SW Republicans. There's money flowing on both sides so throw that argument out. I would say "despite" being the home of the progressive movement, Wisconsin is a good place to live and it could be a lot better. There hasn't been a rep mayor of WI in over 100 years. So we can lay all the blame for MIL on the "progressive movement". There are parts of MIL that don't even look like the USA. I worked with Habitat for a couple years.(evil Rep right?). It's sad to see what the cycle of dependency in our inner city. Keep people fat dumb and "happy" (with a monthly check) is not working. In the end socialism doesn't work it's been proven.
Granny Tenderstone June 24, 2012 at 03:54 PM
J H RDH, you tell 'em!! I can't believe how selfish and uninformed some people are. Even the bus drivers are desperate in my area for a raise, they are all on public assistance because KONservatives like it that way. They wouldn't HAVE to apply for benefits with a living wage. But if the Kons can keep everybody on food stamps etc., they have their self-created excuse to talk their nonsense and fool most of the people much of the time. THEY DON'T FOOL THIS GRANNY!! My grandkids have WONDERFUL teachers here in rural GA and they deserve more than ANY CEO is paid. They are more valuable to society than wall street gamblers and corporate poverty creators.
Granny Tenderstone June 24, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Cynthia you are the one with the false information. But beyond that, you have no sense of decency labeling all teachers "extreme liberal" and you owe them YOUR GRATITUDE for YOUR education and that of your children if you have any. Gov. Walker is a criminal, and his lack of any human decency or morality, plus being a political prostitute, suggests to me he should be the one taking a pay cut until such time as he's indicted, tried and convicted, imprisoned and forgotten for good.
Granny Tenderstone June 24, 2012 at 04:08 PM
J H once again you have it nailed. It's the big lie that has people sucked in and falling for the propaganda. There was a white supremacist just elected to office in PA and they are everywhere, and they are the darlings of the Kochs, who have a long history of ties to the Third Reich. They have made every possible move toward full fascism in our nation are too cowardly to appear in public and be confronted with the facts. Welcome to AmeriKKKa, owned by the Kochs, the Bradleys, and the rest of the fascists regime that now has a strong foothold. This election will determine whether or not our nation tips over, because this is the tipping point, with the most extreme right wing agenda coming to fruition, and it's destroying every aspect of our nation. Wisconsin's recent election was merely the test run.
Granny Tenderstone June 24, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Katie and other teachers here, you have my utmost respect and gratitude. You are worth more than all the CEOs and other white collar criminals and you should be paid accordingly. GOD BLESS OUR TEACHERS. We will not allow privatization of the school systems for the profit of the greedy at the expense of the needy, we will not allow only the privileged to educate their children and throw the rest of our citizens into pay-to-work slavery.
Granny Tenderstone June 24, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Jebidiah, if in fact you're correct &most teachers are liberals, that's just too bad for you. ASK YOURSELF WHY. Could it be that FAKE Konservatives(who couldn't conserve anything of value if their lives depended on it)simply are greedy &want to ruin what's left of a great nation?Well that's the truth,you had better smell the coffee mister. I've already had a brownshirt show up at my door, &they are coming to yours too. That's no lie. Came to my home under false pretenses &I permitted him to look around. I know better than to challenge the fascists, because my mother survived WW2 &you had best think about that, because it's coming to your neighborhood very,very soon. As to learning "traits",my daughter &her children have been taught from the crib to respect the respectable &point out the liars &thieves, comfort the afflicted &afflict the excessively comfortable. If you think the right wing cares about you,you're SADLY mistaken. Or maybe you just work for Karl Rove in his effort to spread those lies that all people on public assistance are "fat dumb &happy". If they are fat it's because greedy people don't provide them a LIVING WAGE, MOST PEOPLE ON WELFARE HAVE JOBS, sometimes 2-3 jobs, &are still at poverty level, &that's YOUR FAULT because you continue to support the lies &propaganda. BLAME YOURSELF. You may/may not be fat, but you surely aren't happy, because if you were, you'd want others to be happy as well, especially those who work their butts off for poverty wages.
jebidiah June 24, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Whoa granny simmer down now. Did that brown shirt have the letters UPS on it? Just checking. I have nothing against teachers, but I do have a huge problem with the ones that behaved thoroughly unprofessionally during this whole process. This is going to be a 2-3 part post at least. I was once like you! I voted for feingold, kohl, Clinton et al. But as I listened to them, what they said didn't always make sense with what is real. As I started thinking for myself and looked elsewhere for the truth I pull away from the shackles of the progressive movement. It's very sad and unamerican that you choose to vilify the "rich" because they bust their butts and get rewarded for it with.... Money! Everyone defines rich differently. You or the government cannot define that for everyone. How do you define a "living wage"? It is impossible to determine that since there are too many different demographic areas in our country. You want a living wage, go to school, work hard and you will! That is the secret formula. Unfortunately for poor parenting and programs that lead to dependency on the gov, not everyone can start on the same rung of the ladder......
Merri Ann Gonzalez June 25, 2012 at 02:49 PM
I agree Granny, the demonization of our educators is an unspeakable crime. All in the name of balancing a budget, and that budget has been misrepresented as being balanced anyway. Refinancing debt to be paid later is not balancing anything. Crying poor mouth to the feds out of one side of Wankers mouth so that he doesn't have to provide emergency assistance to those least able to afford badger care or food stamps or living expenses, while claiming a "balanced budget" for political reasons is just being a liar and deceitful. The people that voted for this man will see his true colors in the very near future. He is NOT a sportsman, he doesn't hunt, in the photo of him fishing with one of his puppets in the DNR shows he doesn't even know how to hold a fishing rod and reel as it was upside down. He is here to rape our Natural Resources and sell them to the highest bidder. Leaving us with a barren polluted landscape. Much of this state relies on tourists, so if you think we have no money here now, just wait.
sara July 03, 2012 at 02:28 AM
I just now returned to this thread and read responses to a sarcastic comment that I jokingly made above regarding teacher salaries. I only intended to point out that if you look around a teacher's parking lot, you will NOT find BMW and Lexus cars. In the classroom, you will not find designer brands and luxury items. Our teachers work hard and do not enjoy superior lifestyles. If you think teaching is easy and that teachers are paid so well, there is nothing stopping you from going back to school and changing your career path!
Carlie Guza July 18, 2012 at 12:09 PM
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel confirmed that the average MPS teacher earns over $100,000 in wages and benefits combined. Look it up. Average salary was about $71,000 and the rest was $ paid for each teachers benefits (health insurance premiums, pension premiums). So, if the teachers believe that the pension is simply deferred income...then they earn $100,000 per year. Double check the Milwaukee Journal "fact check" on this stat. They called MPS and it was confirmed.
Debbie July 18, 2012 at 01:57 PM
You are wrong. That is not the AVERAGE salary for MPS teachers. There may be 20 + year verterans makeing that, but it is not the average. Check your source again and read the words.
M.S. July 18, 2012 at 07:16 PM
BTW: When you read the article, you will learn that MPS has other pension enhancers, etc. that are unique to them Their health care & pension have always been expensive. But MPS employees put these benefits as a priority, and accepted lower wage increases for them. It is not typical of Greendale or elsewhere. Their pension is deferred compensation much like the matching 401K payments that are not counted for private sector salary figures. Still, MPS doesn't compare to the County backdrop payments...
Granny Tenderstone July 18, 2012 at 09:02 PM
you have to wonder about some people here who seem to have no appreciation for what teachers do. and you have to wonder if they were the brats in class, or if they learned anything. it seems all they can do is repeat false figures and are too lazy to do their own homework. IF A TEACHER DID MAKE \$60K or $100K, SO WHAT? They deserve more than any politician in my opinion, and more than and CEO. If you have no gratitude for your teachers people, shame on you, and if you have children, shame on you even more.
Granny Tenderstone July 18, 2012 at 09:04 PM
To whom much is given, MUCH IS REQUIRED, and it's all GIVEN, nobody gets ANYTHING by themselves. And ALL WEALTH COMES FROM THE BOTTOM UP. All education comes from hard working teachers unless a child happens to have super duper parents who can work their butts of AND find time to teach their children at home too. Teachers deserve triple the salaries they are paid and then some.
Jack Egelkrout December 15, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Jason, What are your sources for the statistics you threw out there? We now see that the budget is back on track, the sky has not fallen, and the teachers are doing just fine. Adam
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