Whether it’s Athens, Wisconsin, or Athens, Greece, it’s the same old story: “I don’t want my son to go to school and have 35 people in his kindergarten class.” These words could have come from a parent in the Greek capital concerned about the PASOK government’s plans to merge schools and reduce education spending as part of its austerity measures. In fact, they were spoken by a father from another Athens, the community of 1,000 or so people in the American state of Wisconsin.
Tony Schultz expressed his fears to The Associated Press earlier this month as thousands of Wisconsinites stepped up protests against Republican Governor Scott Walker’s drastic budget cuts, which include $900 million being slashed from funding for schools, in an effort to tackle a deficit expected to grow to $3.6 billion within two years. Like their Greek counterparts, civil servants in Wisconsin are also having their salaries cut. The similarities do not end there. As in Greece, many voters in Wisconsin feel Walker’s measures have been rammed through the legislature with little respect for transparency or the democratic process.