they are Republicans or Democrats, the 2020 presidential election
will test the will of teachers and other supporters of public
education to hold the candidates accountable. In 2018, teachers, in
a bipartisan effort, rebelled against Republican governors and
Republican-controlled legislatures in several Red states--Colorado,
Kentucky, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and West Virginia—forcing
increases in teachers’ salaries and in funding for public
the challenge will be whether teachers will hold the 2020 Democratic
presidential primary candidates accountable for the current bottom-up
push that is demanding that K-12 public education be revitalized and
enhanced. These politicians and other Democratic political
operatives have been quietly, and sometimes publicly, preying on
teachers and other groups who make up the Democratic base.
a number of these Democratic candidates have released plans to
overhaul K-12 public schools, a careful review of their records
reveals that they are talking out of both sides of their mouths.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has made no mention of his central
role and advocacy for the historic Race to the Top (RTTT)
legislation, spearheaded by the Obama Administration that
exponentially boosted the number of charter schools throughout the
nation. And nearly all of his fellow candidates endorsed it.
it is paradoxical that these same individuals championed an
educational policy—charter schools-- that spurred the
above-mentioned teacher strikes and protests and that mobilized
teachers to vote for Democrats during the 2018 midterms. Sen. Cory
Booker, perhaps the foremost surrogate for the school choice and
public-sector privatization Cartel, along with Sen. Michael Bennett,
continues to champion charter schools despite these contemporary
political realities. Both have issued a resolution celebrating
charter schools within the past month.
casual look at Booker’s and Bennett’s campaign finance
reports exposes the large number of Cartel members’
contributions to their respective political races. But the facts of
the matter reveal that it has spread its money around to other 2020
contenders: Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris,
Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders; Reps. John Delaney, Tulsi
Gabbard, Beto O’Rourke, Eric Swalwell, Seth Moulton, and Tim
Ryan; Mayors Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, Wayne Messam, and Bill de
Blasio; and Govs. John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, and Steve Bullock.
have promoted charter schools and/or have flirted with other forms of
public school privatization.
reflecting on his past attitudes toward K-12 public education,
gauging its contemporary support, and desiring to attract more
teachers and voters of color to support his campaign, Sen. Sanders
has put forth the most comprehensive plan, of any of his 2020
opponents, for investing in public education. He has been joined in
his blueprint by Sen. Warren who has issued a number of policy papers
that have impressed growing numbers of voters.
in the Sanders’ proposal are promises to: raise teacher pay to
$60,000 annually, establish a national per-pupil spending floor,
adopt school desegregation measures to combat rising segregation,
equalize funding for poor and indigenous schools and those in Puerto
Rico, triple Title I funding for districts with high numbers of poor
students, invest billions in community schools and after school
programs, make school meals free and universal, and to rebuild school
teachers and other educators have a big decision to make. Will they
forgive these political transgressions or will they narrow the field
based on these findings? Randi Weingarten, president of the American
Federation of Teachers (AFT), has already signaled that she is
somewhat willing to give Cory Booker another chance, despite his
assault on the Newark Teachers Union during his term as Mayor of
Newark, New Jersey. However, she should remember that Booker
conspired with then Republican Gov. Chris Christie in an attempt to
destroy AFT’s largest New Jersey local.
addition, the Cartel is backing a number of Democratic political
consultants and elected officials who collaborate with and distribute
money for its members to undermine other Democrats. It has created a
number of organizations headed by majority and minority agents to
undercut teachers and Democrats in general.
of its beachheads is Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin which is
widely considered the mecca of school choice and private-sector
privatization. Modern day school choice—vouchers, charters,
etc.—were piloted in Milwaukee and Wisconsin during the early
1990s and were diffused to other states.
billion dollar Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, a key affiliate of
the Cartel, was the primary financial backer of these initiatives in
concert with Racine, Wisconsin billionaire Republican businesswoman,
Diane Hendricks. She prompted Wisconsin’s former Republican
Gov. Scott Walker to eliminate collective bargaining agreements for
teachers early in his first term which she brought to his attention
during his inauguration.
Cartel and its associates recruited African American, white, and
Hispanic politicians, activists, and clergy to carry its agenda.
They have been so successful that Thad Nation, one of its white
erstwhile surrogates and a Democrat, has secured the Host contract
for the 2020 Democratic National Convention that will be held in
Milwaukee. More recently, Nation attempted to install one of his
lackeys as chair of Wisconsin’s State Democratic Party. He
will be in a prime position to gather intelligence on Democrats’
2020 political strategies.
securing the Host agreement, he collaborated with Wisconsin’s
black state Sen. Lena Taylor and Hispanic state Rep. Pedro Colon to
draft legislation (Wisconsin Senate Bill 405) to give Milwaukee’s
Mayor Control of the Milwaukee Public Schools. Although that effort
failed, Nation and Taylor succeeded in getting Castle Doctrine
legislation passed in 2011which was modelled on Florida’s 2005
Stand Your Ground law.
justified George Zimmerman’s murder of a teenage African
American male, Trayvon Martin, in Florida in 2012, and Wisconsin’s
Castle Doctrine excused the killing of Bo Morrison, a black male, in
Madison, Wisconsin that same year. Taylor has been a minority
legislative lead sponsor and advocate for numerous right-wing bills
for which she has been handsomely rewarded with political
contributions from the Cartel and its allies. An examination of her
campaign finance reports shows contributions from the Koch Bros. and
other Cartel leaders.
has been joined by former Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel reporter, Joe
Williams, whom the Cartel installed as Chair of Democrats for
Education Reform (DFER) and Education Reform Now (ERN) to lobby
Democrats running for office to support school choice and
public-sector privatization. DFER subsidized their campaigns across
has been lately replaced by Shavar Jeffries, a Cory Booker African
American protégé, as chair of DFER. Jeffries was
defeated in the election to succeed Booker as Newark, New Jersey’s
Mayor in 2014. He was selected for two reasons: to make the
organization’s overseer look less like a plantation master and
more like the Democratic base and to give him a job and promote him
again for future elective office.
is what public education is facing as we head toward the 2020
presidential election. Again, if teachers and public education
supporters do not take a strong hand in pruning the ‘DemoPublicans’
from the 2020 field, it will not matter whether a Democrat or Trump
wins the White House. Either way, public education will likely be
doomed to even more privatization and possibly dismantlement.