I had always kind of written off Madison as a small, boring city…until last week. Even though I’ve learned about the protests that took place here in the 1960s (against the Vietnam War), I never thought I’d be living here to witness something so big. I had heard a lot about the bill while I was at school. After one of my teachers took class time to explain it to us in full detail, I felt I had a good understanding of what was going on, and I knew I had to do something about it. I know so many teachers who have really impacted my life that I look up to and I knew that a bill like this would really make things hard for them. Hearing teachers get upset about the bill at school and seeing them all wear red in solidarity really solidified how important this bill is. Walking up to the Capitol with at least 500 other high school students that next day was an experience that I’ll never forget. Cars were honking in support as we walked down Regent and Park Streets (in downtown Madison), and when we got to the top of State Street (near the capitol building), our teachers were so proud to see us there supporting them.
I think what is really important about these protests is the youth involvement. It means so much to the teachers and other people this bill will impact, and it also teaches a valuable lesson about how democracy works. While I’m unsure if the protests will succeed in defeating the budget bill, it is still important to voice an opinion when you feel strongly against something and let your opinion be heard. I would love to see the protests be successful, and I know many of my friends, neighbors, and teachers would love to see the same thing. If they are unsuccessful, I will be upset, but I will still be glad that I have participated and helped to make a difference. Even if they are unsuccessful, MTI (the Madison teachers' union) and the citizens of Wisconsin won’t go down without a fight, and I don’t think the protests will be ending anytime soon. Regardless of how it ends up, I think attending these protests has been a great political and learning experience for me, and I encourage others to get involved and let their voices be heard!
Click here to read another student's view on why he supported Scott Walker's bid for Wisconsin governor.