Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Financial Responsibility, Special Needs, and Politics.

For those of you who don't know what I do for a living right now (putting myself through school) it's teaching/tutoring students with disabilities. This ranges from visual impairments, hearing impairments, autism spectrum, down syndrome... you get the idea... UWW Whitewater is one of the most accessible schools in the country for students with disabilities. We have a champion wheelchair basketball team, 15 miles of sidewalk to assist mobility, and more. I'm proud of where I work and what I do. It's hard, stressful, and pays hardly more than minimum wage after years of working there and becoming the lead of my department, but that's okay. I do it because I know I'm damn good at it, and these kids need me. I've been told time and time again by my students that I'm the best tutor they've ever had and I'm the most requested tutor for CSD. So yes, damn proud.
Now here's what's bothering me right now... There are rumors. So far, they are just rumors, yet to be confirmed, but circulating none the less, that the 300 million dollar budget cuts are going to effect Students with Disabilities most. Why? Because currently the standards for accessibility laws are somewhat lacking. In other words, all we do at our campus to make our students feel comfortable and give them an equal chance at education is considered "excessive." And since we've already cut and stripped every other area of campus to bare minimum over the past few years, this is one of the only area left to take a hard hit. But I'll say again, this is a "rumor" at present, unconfirmed. Unfortunately a very likely to be true one. But rumor or not, my students are coming to me for answers in a panic, which makes focusing on their studies all the more difficult. And even if I did have answers, I am strictly forbidden from discussing the budget, or politics with any of them per regulations of our department.
So, I am discussing this here, raising my voice so all can understand the impact of certain actions. I know this may alienate me from some of you, and know many of you may want to end your friendship with me after this. I know some of you will want to believe none of this is true and listen to commercials and political sound bytes that make you feel warm and cozy about this travesty instead of hearing out someone directly reporting as an eyewitness. That's up to you. And I can't blame you. Ignorance is bliss. If I could turn a blind eye and live in a world of make-believe, maybe temptation would get the best of me to do exactly that. But I can't.
Bottom line is, we want our cake and to eat it too. And our governor has promised both. And it's true, property taxes have lowered as a result of these budget cuts. A whole five dollars. A future is being stolen from many students so the average property tax holder can afford one more meal at a fast food restaurant. That's what was voted for, but it doesn't have to be this way.
Now I'm not proposing that anyone go out and march and make attempts at recalls. That costs everyone time, energy, and money that we just don't have. What I am proposing is, if this is really a matter of just 5 dollars a person, that means we can save our university system without all that fuss.
Currently, the Whitewater campus is in desperate need of repairs. Particularly in the building that house the English, Math, and Language courses, as well as the Library, but these are far from the only buildings in desperate need. In fact the only two buildings on campus in a range of good to excellent condition are the University Center and Hyland (the building dedicated to accounting and business) which are both soon to suffer along with the rest as well, I'm sure. By donating directly to the UW schools, we can fix this, together.
But please, more than anything, keep all of this in mind when the next vote comes around. Don't let our nation go in the same direction that our state is slipping. Right now the Governor is giving more attention to his potential bid at the presidency than the job he's being payed for--but that's politics and not surprising. If you type in the words "donate to" on Google the top suggested result is currently "Scott Walker." Please, consider what is more important to dedicate your money to, and who is responsible for the need in the first place when the next election comes around.