Where were we, youngsters? Oh, yes, I was about to talk about recalling the governor of Wisconsin. There were times when we had to seek out the humor in order to keep from falling apart. We found that Walker’s supporters had made a campaign sign that spelled governor wrong- spelled it with an -er instead of -or. Duh. We shared pictures of the misspelled signs and pointed out the idiocy of following a group of people like that, people who weren’t smart enough to proofread their work before posting it in their front yard.
We were proud that recall volunteers for our side gathered more than double the number of signatures needed to call for the recall election. We needed to submit just over 500,000 based on voter numbers and a complicated formula. When the day came, the organizers trucked in more than one million signatures. One million! Oh, yes, we were proud. There were rumors about bad craziness, like the guy who claimed to have signed 80 petitions in order to get the petitions thrown out. Turned out he hadn’t signed any – not even one.
But the real signatures: the real voters, the disenfranchised (look it up, sweetie, it’s a useful descriptive word) and the average middle class workers, they came out of the woodwork. The recall offices downtown were busy places. People actually came to the office and asked to sign petitions. They didn’t wait for recall volunteers to come to them; they came to the volunteers. The momentum in gathering signatures just never seemed to slow down. I was a volunteer myself, kiddos. I wore the lanyard around my neck that announced “Recall volunteer,” kept two recall petitions in my vehicle, and made sure I parked on the street when I went to work so I wasn’t violating the policy on having political items on school property. We teachers had to be careful.
We had to be careful because there were strict policies about political involvement. Yes, I know I’ve told you that teaching was a radical and political career back then. Our budgets, our reputations, and our pensions were subject to public perception. Public hearing were even held to determine which books students could read in classes. It bordered on censorship at times… but that’s another story.
We teachers could park a car with a political bumper sticker in the school lots. We were allowed to wear a campaign button on our jackets on the way in and out of school. We could volunteer on our own time or donate money to a candidate of our choice, but we couldn’t discuss it during school hours or use school equipment (copiers or computers) for political purposes. That meant no emails, no printing or copying of recall-related news articles, and no reading of blogs on company time.
We managed, though. We collaborated and shared news during our lunch and our prep periods. We walked out the door together and talked them. We updated each other before the bell rang in the morning and after the kids left in the afternoon. We teachers, we who had dedicated our lives to making a difference, were forced to stand up for ourselves and say we mattered.
And say it we did. Kidlets, take a break and read All the President’s Men for a little topical entertainment. When I wake up from my nap, I’ll tell you about the governor’s criminal defense fund.