Teacher Says His Profession's Reputation Has Taken a Hit in Recent Weeks
According to a Maple Grove Elementary School teacher, respect for the profession is dwindling.
Doug Perry used to feel like he was a pillar in society. He felt that his role as an educator made him an important part of the community.
But now, the 26-year teaching veteran is not so sure.
He says the perception of teachers, both in the Greenfield School District and across the state, has deteriorated so drastically, especially over the last month in light of Gov. Scott Walker’s polarizing budget-repair bill that has made national headlines.
“To be called bottom-feeders and freeloaders and whiners, how we’ve been vilified, I don’t know when that (change in perception) happened,” Perry said Thursday. “There was a time when teachers were respected and we’re just not anymore."
Perry, a fifth-grade teacher at Maple Grove Elementary School is also the vice president of the Greenfield Education Association teacher union and has been an active protester both in Madison and in Greenfield. He said he and his colleagues were shocked when the Senate Republicans passed a revised version of Walker’s budget-repair bill Wednesday.
“People are devastated,” he said. “People felt like things were moving in the right direction, like maybe we could get some compromise. Now, we’re just wondering where this leaves us.”
And though they are devastated, as Perry described, he expects Greenfield teachers will continue to do their jobs, just as they have the over the last month.
“We serve the public; that’s what we do,” he said. “I’m about to step back into my classroom right now and I’ll give those 27 or 28 kids everything I’ve given them every day of my entire career.
“It’s difficult to do, honestly it is, but you have step back from your personal life – and this is a personal attack – and you have to be professional.”
Perry said he will remain an activist for worker’s rights even though the bill has been passed. He said he and other protesters will be hitting the Milwaukee-area overpasses again Friday, just as they did last month, and he plans to participate in a rally in Madison over the weekend.
After that, he will help move forward recall efforts for eight Republican Senators.
“We’ll be turning our attention to bringing some new faces to Madison,” he said. “This is not what people voted for.
“(Walker) has polarized the state, and he lied to people. He mischaracterized what he was going to do. People are going to go after these eight senators (with recalls), and a year from today, he’s next.”