There he goes again.
For years now, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has been telling a story about a young award-winning teacher who lost her job in a school district layoff under a last-hired, first-fired policy that existed in his state before he pushed through legislation eliminating it.
The teacher is Megan Sampson, who became famous in 2011 when Walker wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal defending his efforts to end collective bargaining by teachers unions in Wisconsin. Sampson was offered her job back a few months after being laid off, but by then had gone to work in a different district.
Since then, Walker has mentioned her in speeches as well as in at least one more published op-ed. Details of his story have changed in the telling over the years — the exact nature of the award she won being among them — but the essence remains the same, and he repeated it yet again on Wednesday during an interview with Campbell Brown at an “education summit” co-hosted by her organization, The 74.
Unfortunately, Walker keeps talking about Sampson even though she wishes he would stop it. Shortly after the 2011 op-ed was published, she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“My opinions about the union have changed over the past eight months, and I am hurt that this story is being used to make me the poster child for this political agenda. Bottom line: I am trying to do my job and all this attention is interference and stress for me.”
She expressed concerns again in June after a new op-ed by Walker was published in the Des Moines Register shortly before he announced his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. The Associated Press wrote in this story:
But Sampson says in an email to The Associated Press that “I do not enjoy being associated with Walker’s political campaign.” She says Walker does “not have permission from me to use my story in this manner, and he still does not have my permission.”
I have asked Walker’s campaign if he knows that Sampson wants him to stop talking about her but have not received a response. I’ll update this post if I get one.
One of the things that changed in Walker’s stories of Sampson was the nature of her award. In 2010, Sampson won the Nancy Hoefs Memorial Award given by the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English for first-year language arts teachers. In 2011, Walker wrote in his op-ed, “In 2010, Megan Sampson was named an Outstanding First Year Teacher in Wisconsin.” But in a speech in Iowa on Jan. 24, 2015, he called her Wisconsin’s 2010 “outstanding teacher of the year,” a description that ruffled the feathers of Claudia Felske, a teacher in Wisconsin who was actually named the 2010-2011 Wisconsin High School Teacher of the Year.
Felske, incidentally, entered Marquette University in 1986 with Walker. She graduated four years later after Walker quit before getting a diploma. She has been highly critical of education policies, which have included slashing public education funding, secretly attempting to change the mission of the University of Wisconsin and stripping teachers unions of collective bargaining rights