education association president raises issue with pro-Walker t-shirt

A student at Two Rivers (WI) High School wanted a t-shirt to show his support for Gov. Scott Walker. So he went into B&D Embroidery & Screen Printing recently, where he had a shirt made that says “Scott Walker My Hero” on the front and “He’s Got Nads” on the back. He wore the shirt to school.

Upon seeing the shirt, Wes Glenna, a technology teacher at the school, didn’t like it, so he decided to contact the embroidery company. On Feb 24, 2011, after 10:00pm, he sent this e-mail to B&D owners David and Bridget VanGinkel from his school e-mail account.

I was recently informed that you have plans to print pro-Walker shirts for some of the students in the Two Rivers School system. After checking out your website, I noticed that a great deal of your business comes from providing apparel to the Two Rivers, Manitowoc, and Mishicot school systems. I, really, don’t know what you’re thinking of.

We all, greatly appreciate the fact that you established your business in our community. However, have you taken the time to figure out how your recent decision could result in the loss of profits to your business?

Wes Glenna, President
Two Rivers Education Association

Glenna also copied the e-mail to members of the teachers union. Now, the issue has caused a bit of an uproar. While many local folks are criticizing the VanGinkels for making the shirt, others are questioning the authority with which Glenna’s letter was written, and wanting clarification on his intent, specifically his apparent threat of a boycot of the embroidery business. By sending it from his school e-mail account, and signing it like he did, he was obviously acting in an official role, this was not a personal e-mail. The day after receiving the e-mail, David VanGinkel sent this reply:

If you, or the teachers union, were to come in here and order a Pro-Union, or Anti-Walker shirt, and wanted to get some for your friends, I would do the exact same thing for you. That is what I am in business to do.

I am proud of all the students standing up in this crisis. Doesn’t matter which side they choose to support. I commend them all for educating themselves, and standing up for what they personally believe in. It’s been ‘ok’ for the teachers to voice their opinions, and it’s ‘ok’ for the students to do the same. That is what this country is all about.

This student has done nothing wrong. He is exercising his rights as an American citizen. I have done nothing wrong as well. Again, I am not taking a public stand on anything … simply running my business, and providing a product to my customers that they are asking for.

When confronted about the e-mail, Glenna backtracked and said that his objection to the shirt had nothing to do with politics, it was due to “inappropriate language”, obviously referring to the line “He’s got nads”. Not buying it, David VanGinkel, who also happens to be a Two Rivers city councilman, asked Randy Fredrikson, Two Rivers School District superintendent, about the issue. Fredrikson said,

The administration and the School Board certainly weren’t aware that the e-mail was sent out. We would never have sanctioned it had we known. I spoke to the owner and said that Wes Glenna does not speak for the school district on our use of local businesses. It was certainly an unfortunate thing. The school district has made an effort to work with local businesses. We’re trying to promote a positive relationship. Our local businesses are critical to our community. I also spoke to a union representative and told him that this type of communication was not appropriate.

So, what do you think? Well, this is my blog so of course I’m gonna tell you what I think. Wes Glenna was wrong and he won’t admit it. He’s lying. His original e-mail to the embroidery business had nothing to do with inappropriate language. And I’ll give you three reasons that prove my point:

1) In the very first sentence of his e-mail he said, “you have plans to print pro-Walker shirts”. He didn’t say “you have plans to print t-shirts with inappropriate language”. He stated his concern right there in the first sentence, plain as day. You can’t tell me it was about the language.

2) Think of this for a minute. Put yourself in his shoes. You’re a high school teacher, and a student shows up in your classroom with the word “nads” on his t-shirt. So you send an e-mail to the company that made the t-shirt asking if they’ve thought about the “loss of profits for the business?” What? You don’t send an e-mail to the parents, or call them? You send an e-mail to the company the made the shirt? That just doesn’t make sense.

3) He sent copies of the e-mail to teachers union members. Seriously? This is the proper protocol when a student wears a shirt with inappropriate language to school in Two Rivers?

But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume I’m wrong. Let’s assume it really was about the inappropriate word and not politics. Well, if that’s true, then the taxpayers in Two Rivers need to start screaming to their school board about their dress code notification policy. If I lived in Two Rivers, I’d demand that the school board change the rule, so that if my child wears such a shirt to class, the school contacts ME and not the company who made the shirt.

Come on folks, call a spade a spade. Glenna fully intended to scare the embroidery shop owners into thinking that they are going to lose business due to the pro-Walker t-shirt. When questioned about it, he should have simply admitted he was wrong and that he made a mistake. Instead, he fabricated a story that makes absolutely no sense and is literally unbelievable.

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