Paula Garfield is a 30-year veteran teacher of special education for Columbus city schools. She was recently elected as an Ohio Education Association Delegate, and received the Columbus Education Association’s Outstanding Member of the Year award. She was highly involved with We Are Ohio, and is a guest speaker for Ohio Women’s Democratic Caucus, War on Women, and others.
With 24 days until the Presidential election, I spent a total of 26 hours of my weekend travelling across the State in Ohio, speaking at 3 events regarding Educators for President Obama: Women, laborers, middle class, elderly, minorities, college students, teachers, firefighters, police, unions, pensions, postal service: we all have the same attackers. Their tactics consist of the war on women, replacing public schools with private for profit schools,replacing free public schools with the Kasich (K-suck) voucher system attacking and dismantling of free public appropriate education, destroying planned parenthood, holding jobs for ransom.
The same Republicans try to make sure that measures don’t get by the House of Representatives and thus cannot get to the Senate .Since the Republican Party controls the House, it serves the Corporations and not “We the People,” who elected them to represent us.
I talked about Right to Work -for less-, Voter ID Laws and other means of voter suppression across the USA in Republican governed states as I canvassed on Sunday. I knocked on doors for all Congress Reps in my voting area, delivered signs, got the appropriate forms to those who have relocated to Columbus, Ohio. I answered questions from a Canadian, who works here in the area, who was in disbelief about what is happening to America in comparison to Canada’s rights, freedoms.
I am just now sitting down, after finding all my lawn signs for my makeshift Democratic ballot, destroyed…some burned, some shredded.I am cleaning up what the wind scattered across my complex. I am just off the phone trying to hook up voters with signs in the district/area with field leader contacts across the state, and staring at 122 emails, all of which I must answer from people wanting to know what they can do to help because some have awakened, and have realized the impact on them, their children, their futures, their homes, their lives.
I receive emails and calls from the individuals who think further and deeper about the impact of these actions on the USA – not as many as I would like, but some have that “Aha “ moment in which they realize that SB5 -which forces public workers to pay more for their healthcare- will go national, with planned parenthood gone, their wages cut below poverty level, allowing corporations to back out of responsibility for health care, insurance, pensions, sick time, giving corporations control without accountability.Under that scenario, “We the People” will have no recourse and should be thankful we have a job, even though the jobs will all be below poverty wages..teachers, firefighters, police…$18, 500 topping out at $32,000 hopefully, no promises. Private sector workers, no more heath care contributions from your employer, and 401k’s to which your private corporations contribute -GONE! No paid sick days, forget vacation pay, and with Right to Work for Less across America, and the Republicans announcing they want to “make minimum wage obsolete.”
Now, don’t misinterpret that to mean you’ll make better wages, it’s to drop your wages..RIGHT TO WORK – for less. Seniors? You will not be receiving anymore Medicaid/medicare. Instead, you’ll receive a “voucher” with which you can choose your insurance company, and you’ll be given whatever amount Romney, Ryan and the Corporations who they serve decide, and the Republican/Tbag Party say it will ONLY cost you @$6000-$10,000 more a year out of your OWN pocket, IN ADDITION to your voucher. They don’t tell you how much this socalled voucher is worth.
College students? Romney stated that there will be no more money available from the government for your education. He statesthat this is the responsibility of the parents. He states, and I quote, “If you want to go to school, ask your parents, That IS NOT the government’s responsibility.” He also stated and I quote, “Planned Parenthood, we are gonna get rid of that!” Which means, no more early detection/preventative screenings for women who may survive if breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, etc.. are detected early.
I am sitting here reflecting over my past 2 years. I remember living my life, teaching, going out with friends, visiting with family, playing softball, vacationing, or just reading a book for enjoyment. I remember hearing a few people/colleagues talking about Wisconsin, and like many people, I listened, but thought, “Drama Queens, “ over reactors, and remember thinking, “Wow, they need to get a life.” I kept hearing little things here and there, and still paid no mind, lived my life.
I honestly can tell you at this time, I was not political. I paid my union dues. However, like many who were, comfortable, I thought, “This is America! We go and defend democracy and fight for their freedom in other countries. Many others before us fought for what freedoms you and I take for granted.”
I remember not seeing anything that was being discussed among concerned educators on the news. Because of that, I still believed that justice would prevail. I couldn’t understand why logical, educated professionals who worked with the most challenged curriculum, iEP’s, (Individualized Education Plans), and dealt with difficult situations, were seriously concerned and upset, almost in disbelief. I, then decided it was time for me to do some “homework.” Why do teachers give homework? So that when the teacher is not there, the educated student, now a productive citizen, will apply the skills to research the facts and not rely on what others say.
Remember the game your teacher taught you when she lined you all up and she whispered a message in the first person’s ear, and then the second person had to whisper the same message to the next, and the third whispered to the fourth, etc..until the whispered message reached the last person? This last person had to say out loud the message they heard that was relayed /spoken only once by each person. It was to teach listening skills, We all know that 99 percent of what our decisions are based on is interpretation. We all interpret what we hear and read differently. I wanted to know hand the facts, and began to do a little research. I couldn’t understand why teachers had refused to leave the Wisconsin State House for weeks. Teachers? I began to read, and began to understand why my colleagues were concerned. I then heard the Scott Walker tape where he thought he was talking with the Koch brothers and at first thought it was a prank, a joke. As Walker revealed what we now call the “Agenda,” I realized I needed a little time to absorb what I was seeing . An article is one thing, but to see the videos that were censored by our news stations, of the attacks on hard working civil servants who educate, protect and take care of the community, giving back, accepting better benefits over pay.
Surely, someone will step in and stop this attack on taxpaying, citizens rights, I thought. As I was digesting and trying to make sense of everything, and waiting for “Superman,” the same attacks and legislation began in Ohio. I realized that I needed more information and the more I read and saw, the more I researched. No one was stepping in, there was no Superman to save the day, and the Republican-bought legislators were continuing the attacks, not only in Wisconsin, but now in Michigan, Arizona, Maine, Florida, Pennsylvania. I read what Ohio legislators had introduced as Senate Bill 5, (SB5).
Ohio’s Governor Ka-suck, enodorsed and voted in by police and firefighters, was now selling them out and they were now faced with losing their collective bargaining rights. Collective bargaining is a seat at the table, which . allows input, or a voice to protect and provide a safe environment. It allows the firefighters, teachers, police, laborers, the middle class civil servants to discuss, and educate the employer on classroom size, equipment needs. The Union discusses and expresses these needs and concerns so that we, the civil servants, can continue to do what we are educated and trained to do: teach, protect, and take care care of the people we serve in our community. These attacks were aimed at Unions because as every Republican Governor stated, as if they had sat down and planned,, that they needed to “level everyone off”. The private sector couldn’t compete with what civil servants were receiving. The private sector had been sold out by Wall Street, Lehman brothers, and bank collapse, what I refer to as the “Biggest Heist in history,” the selling out of America, the selling out of the American Dream, through legislative bills.
I soon realized that if you watched the other Republican governed states, eventually the exact same legislation would present itself. The Democrat governed states did not follow. They tried to represent working people whom they were elected to represent.. However the Republican /Tbag Representatives arrogantly stated that Corporations were people too, and were blatantly serving the top 1 percent, the Corporations, the wealthy. Judges were bought, and the attacks continued.
We protested and when we went to “Our House,” the House of Representatives to make our voices heard, we were locked out. I couldn’t believe what was happening, but it was and it continued. Ka-sick arrogantly stated Ohio needed this law to give management the power to make /control the economic crisis and that now teachers whom you trust to educate your children, firefighters who risk their lives to save others, and police officers who protect our community and risk their lives to keep your children safe, were now “Union Thugs, riding the so called gravy train” -civil servants who chose to give back and serve their community, who took better benefits over pay because they wanted to serve and give back to the community. We were now “thieves” stealing from tax paying citizens.
Attempting to incite chaos between different segments of the community of workers, Republican Governors continued to meet with other Republican Governors, with the Koch Brothers, Lehman, JP Chase, and the Corporations, to name a few. They blamed what they themselves caused while Bush was in office on the people who protect, educate, and serve our community. The local TV stations, owned by Murdoch, and Wolfe brothers, used the “echo” affect to get the public to believe that we were the cause of the economic crisis. They wanted to bust the unions, because without the unions, it would be so much easier to get to their real target, the citizens of the community we serve. We, Unions, are only 350,000 strong. They wanted to use us as a “smoke screen,” causing chaos/distraction while they enforced and tried to slip in through bills negating what the Constitution protects.
They attacked our taxpaid owned parks, turnpikes, postal service, etc, and under the mask of the economic crisis that the middle class civil servants caused, they stated that they were going to downsize government costs, and privatize, lease, “sell out” to get the Republican governed states and the trillions of debt America owes China, for the cost of the “War on terrorism,” for Democracy in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. They legalized drilling in our parks, giving millions taxpayer dollars to corporations to create jobs. After Kasich and crew replaced the Republican legislators who could not in good conscience sell out the community, they rammed through SB 5 legislation. Kasich stated that they were making decisions to best serve Ohio citizens, but. SB 5 not only took away our rights to collectively bargain-seat at the table, it cut benefits, giving as an excuse the misstatement that we got free health insurance and that the taxpayers paid our pensions. We don’t receive Social Security, and we pay into our own pension, as a private sector worker pays into a 401k.
The corporations wanted to not contribute anything to private sector insurance and 401ks that they paid their employees. However, the only way Corporations could get out of paying their employees any contribution to 401K’s, health insurance and sick days was to curtail those items freceived by your civil servants. They realized that it’s easier to control the people, lie, manipulate, and legalize what would formerly have been considered treason in the USA. Hence, “The biggest heist in history.”
Soon people saw that we were just the a part of a planned agenda -the tip of the iceberg. Elected officials who are supposed to serve citizens’ best interests instead lied, instilled fear, gave away millions in taxpayers monies to supposedly create jobs, gave themselves raises, even though there was this economic state emergency, exempted themselves from every new law they created, and are now trying to stop, suppress the citizens right to vote so that they can steal the election.
As I continue to canvas and speak across the USA, and now as elections are growing near, exclusively here in Ohio, I am running into firefighters, police officers, whom I remember because we stood as one for what was right, still protect and educating our community, who possibly have forgotten the Agenda.. which includes, and will bring back nationally, SB 5.
Have you forgotten SB5? I am saying and writing this to all of you today: middle class, civil servants, the women, the students, the elderly, in attempts to remind you of how strongly we stood together in solidarity to protect and stand for what is right in our community. Romney and Ryan are and represent the same philosophy and agenda as Kasich , Walker, Scott, etc… To know and live through what we lived through together, and to now see some firefighters, police, teachers, with Romney and Ryan signs, and in conversation to be able to even look me in the eyes and with a good conscious tell me, after what we went through with SB5 , the hours, the fight to keep our collective bargaining rights, you are voting for Romney and Ryan? Then please explain to me why you fought so hard to educate the public on why SB5 was unfair, unjust and wrong? The reason I’m stating this is that if Romney and Ryan are elected, I want you to understand that SB 5 will be national, “right to work for less ” will be national.
Have you forgotten? I will not believe that you are only voting for Romney and Ryan because of ignorance. I just want to understand and ask you why did we fight so hard to veto SB 5, when now you are choosing to cast your vote against your own best interests. I want to completely understand that you are now voting for the Kasich crew, Romney, Ryan, the Republican legislators who rammed SB5 through? Have you forgotten? Do you not believe they will do as promised and make SB5 federal law? Do you remember? Have you forgotten? I remember the police officers and firefighters at the statehouse, holding up signs..I will leave you with this to ponder: Do you remember how angry and betrayed you felt? Some of you were so angry that you held up signs referring to the video Kasich/Kasick was captured on calling a state trooper an idiot. Do you remember? There will be no more chances to hold up your signs at the statehouse this time. Remember what some of you wrote? They said, “I’m the idiot who voted Kasich in.” Fool me once , “Shame on you! Fool me twice? Shame on me!”?
The job isn’t finished, and SB5 is not completely gone and buried until you bury it. It’s 24 days until, depending on who wins the election, if or when it returns across the entire USA. I ask you this, “When history is written, how will you be remembered? Will you be remembered as a hero, for protecting your county, finishing the job by burying SB5 forever and saving the American Dream, or will you be remembered as the vote that brought SB5 back, destroying collective bargaining, wages, the 40 hour work week, the collapse and destruction of what others gave their lives for so that we could be and work as free people?