Civility is Possible During Passionate Debate

Is it so hard to believe that a person can be pro-education without being pro-union?

WI Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill has generated national interest and attention. Passions run high when it comes to this bill because it focuses on how to handle mounting deficits with budget cuts. Rather than oversimplifying this issue to be one of right and wrong, we must acknowledge that there are many valid viewpoints. To vilify one side or the other reflects an absence of critical thought.

Just last month, President Obama called for a more civil public discourse after the tragic shootings in AZ. Republicans and Democrats sat together during the most recent State of the Union Address and many Americans took this as a sign that times were indeed changing, but it didn’t last long at all.

Why have Americans forgotten the need for civility so soon? It seems that civil discourse is only practiced when passions are in check, but the biggest need for civil discourse is in the heat of passionate debate.

Walker has been called “Hitler” and even a “Rapist” for his new budget bill. Protestors of the bill have posted signs reading, “Walker: Wanted Dead or Alive.” Where is the civility?

People on both sides of this issue have resorted to attacking those who oppose their views as the budget battle continues. This is far easier than exercising the restraint necessary to maintain a civil discourse.

This budget bill raises questions beyond collective bargaining and addresses the power of unions in the public sector. When it comes to education, union power has often prohibited much needed school reform. This is one of my main reasons for supporting this bill.

I see nothing wrong with requiring union workers to pay a larger portion of their health insurance and pension benefits. I think it’s a good thing that the bill would limit collective bargaining. The best part of the bill, in my opinion, is that it would free workers from paying union dues and require annual votes to determine whether unions should remain in existence.

Please don’t mistake my view on the budget bill and my dislike for union power as a lack of commitment to education. I am a teacher. I am passionate about quality education and believe teachers should be treated as professionals who are held accountable and rewarded for excellence. Unions don’t often foster that.