The Student News Site of Black River Falls High School

BRFHS Paw Print

The Student News Site of Black River Falls High School

BRFHS Paw Print

The Student News Site of Black River Falls High School

BRFHS Paw Print

Runners or walkers: Students react to budget repair bill

Juniors Holland Hogden (l) and Sydney Harkner (r) work together to write a letter of concern to the administration concerning their opinion of the bill. Both girls also participated in the ‘Walker Walk-out’ at lunch time.

Thursday, February 17 presented BRFHS with a day of protest, debate and discussion. While staff members remained neutral in their statements, students buzzed with opinions of Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget repair bill.

“I feel as if our teachers and state employees are being attacked,” said junior Sydney Harkner.

One of the main reasons for the bill is to reduce the state budget deficit by requiring state employees to pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care premiums. Collective bargaining would also end for those 175,000 Wisconsin state employees.

Many high school teachers arrived early to school on Thursday, but not exactly to prepare for their classes. They were found peacefully protesting on the sidewalk along the building.

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“I can’t speak for all of us standing here, but I am here to show my support for the union,” said English teacher Brad Lobenstein.

Lobenstein, along with every other teacher that stood outside of the school wore red to school to support their union, as it is the union’s official color. Several students also seemed to be on the same side of the debate by the red turnout.

“My opinion is that we should stop the attack of our teachers because they are educating the future generations of Wisconsin,” said Harkner, “When you think about it, they are creating jobs by educating today’s youth.”

BRF students’ education was one concern of teachers on Thursday morning. Some felt that not showing up in protest would create more issues for students and their families.

“Performing a sickout would have had a negative effect on students and their parents. If school would have closed, then parents would have had to find child care at the last minute,” said Lobenstein.

Nearly 20 BRFHS staff members stood at the southeast corner of the building Thursday morning to show support for their union. Not to disrupt the school day, they entered the building at 7:45 a.m.—their scheduled start time for the school day.

Although teachers in BRF stayed at school, one student hit the road to the state capital to join in the protests of over 10,000 people.

“I went to Madison on Wednesday and it really was an amazing sight. It is a cause I really believe in, and to experience it first hand was truly amazing. Witnessing the solidarity among everybody was really great. In general, it’s a cause that many feel strongly about, and I’m glad to see people speaking up,” said junior Josh Hanson.

People from around Wisconsin gathered in Madison throughout the whole week, however BRF students who weren’t able to travel there decided to protest at a locally by leaving school to protest at the courthouse.

“I was one who did the walkout on Thursday during lunch,” said junior Brittany Gacek.

Students made red t-shirts and held signs that said phrases such as, “Attacking teachers attacks my future,” “Who taught you, Walker?,” “Kill the bill,” “Take a walk, Walker,” and “We’re runners, not walkers.”

“We walked out of school after second block and started our march,” said Harkner. “We knew that we would face people who didn’t approve, but we had to be strong in our beliefs.”

English teacher Brad Lobenstein wears red in support of his union. Several students and staff wore the union’s color to show opposition to Governor Walker’s proposed bill.

Students who chose to participate in the walkout agreed generally that the proposed bill was wrong, but specifically each student had separate reasons for participating.

“I was reacted strongly and took action because my mom is a teacher, and when I start thinking about some of the most influential people in my life so far they have been teachers,” said Harkner.

In opposition, many more students stayed in school instead of walking out.

“I think that 95% of the students that protested today didn’t even know why they were doing it,” said junior Michael Fetting, “They just did it to either get out of school or because their friends were doing it.”

Many teachers took time to educate their students this week on the proposed bill. Students will have more time to become better informed because Wisconsin’s democratic senators didn’t show up to vote on Thursday, therefore the vote will be pushed back further.

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    erinMar 23, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Way to go teachers and students for standing up for what you believe in!!

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Runners or walkers: Students react to budget repair bill