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Est. April 5, 2002
March 22, 2018 - Issue 734

Teachers and School Boards
Need to Align
Save Public Education

"Shortly after his election as Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
in 2010, now U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) sent a personal
letter to all members of the New Jersey Legislature urging
them to support school vouchers and charter schools.  He
has been a featured speaker at the rabidly pro-school choice
American Federation for Children (AFC) founded and formerly
headed by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos."

Trump Updates to the Midterms:

  • Trump proposed a Death Penalty for drug dealers as a response to the opioid crisis as a way to divert the coverage of his Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) ‘sexcapades’ and sexual trysts he has earlier denied with Playboy playmate, Karen McDougal who is also suing him.

  • He ignored the fact that eighty percent of the people who die from drug overdoses from heroin start with prescription drugs legally prescribed by doctors as well as drugs sent from China through the U.S. mail

  • Trump moved Stormy Daniels’ suit from state to federal court where he believes he has greater control given the number of conservative federal district and appeals court judges he has appointed.

  • He also directed last Friday night’s firing of former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reclaim the headlines.

  • Trump has repeatedly criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe via several tweets in an effort to turn attention away from the Russia investigation.

  • Meanwhile, Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer and erstwhile pimp, has allegedly threatened Stormy Daniels with physical harm should she proceed with her suit in a desperate attempt to close the chapter on Trump’s serial adultery.

The assault on teachers’ pay, benefits, and pensions is gathering steam as state revenues decline along with state and federal tax cuts. Kentucky is the latest state to launch this attack placing teachers and other education support personnel (ESP) between a rock and a hard place. Archconservative Gov. Matt Bevin (R-KY) has joined with five other Republican governors or gubernatorial candidates--Bruce Rauner (IL), who won his reelection primary earlier this week; Adam Laxalt (NV) who is running to succeed the term-limited incumbent, Brian Sandoval (R); Scott Walker (WI); Bill Shuette (MI); and Scott Wagner (PA). All of them are strong advocates for the privatization of public education, the reduction of the size of unions, and they have demeaned teachers as a group.

In the aftermath of the successful strike of West Virginia teachers and ESPs, Oklahoma teachers have pledged to follow suit if their economic demands are not met. They are set to stop work on April 1st unless the state approves a $10,000 pay raise over three years and a $200 million boost to public schools. But Kentucky’s Senate Bill 1, backed by Gov. Bevin, would cut retired teachers 1.5 percent annual cost of living increase by .5 percent, and that the decrease would continue until the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System is 90 percent funded, costing the average teacher $65,000. Kentucky has one of the worst funded pensions among the 50 states, more than $40 billion in debt.

Traditional K-12 public education has been hit hard since the 2008 economic crisis as states spent two percent less on public schools in 2017 than they did in 2008 according to the National Association of Budget Officers as compared to the twenty percent growth in education spending between 1998 and 2007. Returns from pension investments have also plummeted causing states to be on the hook for larger contributions to pension and retirement reserves to ensure their stability. A rising number of both Republican and Democratic governors have downsized these payments resulting in many states lagging behind in making these assets whole. These gaps are particularly wide in those states where the ethnic minority student populations (African American, Native American, and/or new Hispanic and Asian immigrants) are increasing exponentially: North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland, Wisconsin, Indiana, Nevada, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Democratically-controlled Washington, D.C. are amongst the leaders.

In addition, there has been a general unwillingness to discuss the corporate education reform Cartel’s determination to take public education and the public sector, in general, private. The Cartel is expanding in strength and reach and has been able to recruit and subsidize a bevy celebrities, elected officials, grassroots, civic, and religious leaders of color to lead their school choice initiatives which essentially undermine educational opportunities for students who look like them and whom they represent. These individuals include the Presidents of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) that represent the overwhelming majority of all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Shortly after his election as Mayor of Newark, New Jersey in 2010, now U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) sent a personal letter to all members of the New Jersey Legislature urging them to support school vouchers and charter schools. He has been a featured speaker at the rabidly pro-school choice American Federation for Children (AFC) founded and formerly headed by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Along the way, the Cartel has picked up support, in part or in whole, from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, music mogul Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs, ESPN and former NBA star Jalen Rose, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie, former Congressmen Charlie Rangel and Andrew Young, and other high profile minorities. Coupled with the Cartel’s establishment and funding of national school choice organizations targeting communities of color (the Black Alliance for Educational Options {BAEO} and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options {CREO}), it has established a foothold among ethnic minorities with its massive financial expenditures.

Although the Cartel has influenced elected and appointed school boards to implement its school choice agenda, an increasing number of board members are now positively responding to and aligning with teachers’ and ESPs’ demands for better salaries and benefits. It is also instructive to note that a coalition of district superintendents met to urge West Virginia legislators to meet the striking educators’ demands. During last week’s strike in Jersey City, New Jersey, the school board, the teacher union president, and the Democratic Mayor Steve Fulop finally hashed out a tentative agreement on pay and health benefits during a thirteen-hour marathon negotiation after a one day work stoppage as compared to West Virginia’s which dragged into a second week.

As the corporate Cartel multiplies its reach, teachers and related personnel need to align with school boards to hold the line for public education. Since school boards are comprised of citizens from school service areas, such an alignment is essential. Democratic Party leaders who consistently claim to be champions on behalf of K-12 public education, and who outnumber Republicans in party registrations, must become involved in this effort if they are truly committed to this major component of American democracy. This will aid them in the 2018 midterms as supporters of public education have been critical to the elections of Democrats at the state and federal levels since Trump became President.

And after Democrats finish assisting with the facilitation of the alliance of school boards with teachers and education support personnel, they must insist that Hillary Clinton stand down from campaigning for anyone in 2018. With her ongoing condescending remarks toward Trump supporters and her unwillingness to fire a sexual harasser from her campaigns, she has become politically toxic and has been taken to task in liberal (New York Times, Newsweek, and Washington Post) and conservative (  Wall Street Journal) publications. Her presence on the campaign trail will only drive up turnout from Trump’s base and depress turnout among Democratic voters as it did in 2016. Perhaps the inimitable Vernon Jordan, who Hillary called for support after Bill’s defeat for reelection as Governor of Arkansas in 1980, can be the messenger to whom she will listen.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 




is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
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