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Depressed Wis. Teacher Commits Suicide...Unions Blame Gov. Scott Walker

A middle-aged teacher with a history of depression committed suicide earlier this month, and the Wisconsin unionistas are blaming their boogeyman governor, Scott Walker, for her death:

Jeri-Lynn Betts, an early childhood teacher in the Watertown, Wisconsin, school district, died on March 8 of an apparent suicide.

A colleague says she was “very distraught” over Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on public sector workers and public education.

Betts, 56, was a dedicated teacher who was admired in the Watertown community....

In the days after Betts’s death, two members of the school district contacted The Progressive about her death, calling it a suicide and saying it was connected, at least in part, to the policies that Walker has proposed. He has demanded that public workers, including teachers, contribute a significant amount of their salaries to health care and pensions. And in his budget, he proposed taking $900 million out of the public schools, imposing a freeze on property taxes so local governments can’t chip in more for education, and allowing any student, regardless of income, to go to a private school with a taxpayer subsidy.

“She was definitely very distraught about it,” said one of her co-workers, who requested anonymity. “She was feeling a lot of stress about the legislation that was going through.”

“She was concerned about the cuts teachers would have to take,” said another, who also requested anonymity. This co-worker added that Betts’s colleagues acknowledged her anguish about the governor’s policies in their discussions after her death.

Figuring out all the contributing factors behind a likely suicide is a complicated problem. Such deaths are in some ways incomprehensible—and always tragic.

But the report from the Watertown police gives some clues.

Here's a clue--perhaps, even, the clue: "a long history of depression" caused Betts' suicide.

And yet, the union members are unrelenting in their exploitation of her suicide:

Walker’s policies are placing a heavy strain on teachers, says Steve Cupery, the director of the Lakewood UniServ Council, the teachers’ union in Watertown.

“There’s a lot of stress, especially among older teachers,” he says. “They’re concerned about being targeted. And there’s the stress associated with the potential loss of benefits, which could amount to a substantial cut in pay.”

Cupery adds that teachers are worried about class sizes going up, increased workloads, and not being able to “develop curriculum material around the individual needs of students.”

Walker’s policies have “shredded the morale of teachers,” said Wisconsin State Assemblywoman Sondy Pope-Roberts on March 16. “The cuts to schools districts are going to be drastic.”

May Jeri-Lynn Betts rest in peace.

One last thing…
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