Wisconsin 14 Named NEA 2011 Friend of Education
June 02, 2011
By Cynthia McCabe
Delegates to the 2011 NEA RA gave a fired-up, emotional welcome to the 14 Democratic state senators from Wisconsin who stalled Gov. Scott Walker from passing an anti-worker budget bill. The ‘Wisconsin 14’ are NEA’s 2011 Friend of Education Award winners.
Throughout the struggle in Wisconsin, while crowds in the state capitol swelled to as many as 100,000 in protest of Walker’s attack on the middle class, the Wisconsin 14 remained in Illinois for three weeks. They were isolated from the energy of the movement and facing near-constant threat of arrest. But they returned only after the Republican-controlled Senate made a late-night maneuver and passed Walker’s bill.
They got their thanks in person on Saturday, as NEA delegates brought the spirit of the Wisconsin public workers’ movement into the RA convention hall, holding “Thank You 14” signs, wearing T-shirts bearing their nickname and chanting “Thank you!, “We are one!” and “This is what democracy looks like!”
The Wisconsin 14’s stand became a focal point for the workers' movement not only in Wisconsin, but across the country.
“The courage these senators exhibited during those long, cold weeks in February and March did not go unnoticed,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Those of us who educate America’s children will always be grateful for their friendship, their bravery and their willingness to stand strong for public education and working families.”
Many of the Democratic lawmakers—Tim Carpenter, Spencer Coggs, Tim Cullen, Jon Erpenbach, Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin, Robert Jauch, Chris Larson, Julie Lassa, Fred Risser, Lena Taylor, Kathleen Vinehout, Robert Wirch and minority leader Mark Miller—took the convention center stage at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center.