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Est. April 5, 2002
July 12, 2018 - Issue 750

An Open Letter
Senator Chuck Schumer
School Teachers

"Since the rise of a substantial national, negative
response to the Kavanaugh recommendation,
Democrats in the trenches have been forced to turn
to their own strategies without strong and coherent
direction from Party leadership."

Trump Updates to the Midterms:

  • As did his father Fred Trump (a Klu Klux Klan sympathizer), who illegally separated African Americans from Trump-owned housing in the 1970s, Donald Trump saw no difference in his illegal separation of immigrant Hispanic children from their parents in 2018. His attitude is part of the Trump family heritage.

  • Trump has a twofer in his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit whose previous judicial decisions indicate he will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, reversing a woman’s right to an abortion and who will support him if the Russian collusion investigation reaches the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) since his previous writings suggest that “… he holds robust views of Presidential powers” having indicated that the President is immune to criminal prosecution.

  • In Judge Kavanaugh, Trump has proof of the loyalty he demands of all his appointees given Kavanaugh’s service as an on-the-ground operative for President George W. Bush during the Bush v. Gore case which resulted in Bush being elected President in 2000.

Dear Senate Minority Leader Schumer and Public School Teachers,

You are enveloped in an expanding political crisis which may well determine your political and professional futures, respectively. Sadly, much of it is a result of your own naiveté and political miscalculations.

Sen. Schumer is arguably one of the weakest and worst Senate Democratic leaders in recent history. He has continuously advocated for civility and fair mindedness toward Donald Trump who is the most bad-mannered, ill-tempered and insulting President in our nation’s history. Trump has constantly belittled and publicly demeaned Schumer and other politicians from both parties. Schumer has also shown an eagerness to surrender his political and partisan dignity to the Republican leadership while going out of his way to harshly criticize veteran Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who called for civil disobedience toward Trump and his gofers and who has a national black constituency, especially of African American women, the most reliable block of Democratic voters—in turnout-- in local, state, and national elections.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has treated Schumer like his lap dog as he has ruled the Senate with an iron hand since Republicans regained power during the 2014 midterms. Schumer’s approach to fighting Trump’s recent nomination of a right-wing Judge to SCOTUS was to ask McConnell to appointment Merrick Garland, whom McConnell refused to even meet with and to schedule a hearing for in 2016. This request was so ridiculous and cowardly that most Democrats simply dropped their heads. Citizen and political advocates have been more aggressive in opposing this selection: Ben Jealous, former national NAACP President and current gubernatorial candidate in Maryland, Mark Thompson, Sirius Radio Host of Make It Plain, Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS), and Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, executive directors, Freedom From Religion Foundation, and numerous others.

Since the rise of a substantial national, negative response to the Kavanaugh recommendation, Democrats in the trenches have been forced to turn to their own strategies without strong and coherent direction from Party leadership.

This weak messaging by Schumer, Pelosi, and their cronies has caused Democratic candidates at the state level to frame their platforms around the basic principles of the Democratic Party - pro-choice, minimum wage increases, health care, racial and economic equality, public- and private-sector collective bargaining, etc. - which have enabled them to upend Republicans and status quo Democrats. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the most visible example of the disconnect between Democratic insurgents and the national Party

Although some polls still indicate that Democrats will win back the House during the upcoming 2018 midterms, Democrats will do well to remember that polls do not vote. In the meantime, Schumer needs to advance a realistic strategy, although difficult, to derail Judge Kavanaugh’s elevation to SCOTUS. As suggested by Mark Thompson, and others, every piece of paper in Kavanaugh’s vast file must be scrutinized for any loopholes, legal violations and/or controversies that could deny him a seat on the Court despite some Democratic Senators having already thrown in the towel.

At the same time, public school teachers must rekindle their activism against Republicans and Democrats who are advancing toxic legislation that seeks to relegate support for public education benefits, pensions, salaries, facilities, early childhood education, classroom materials, and staff to the dustbin of history. In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) have served as a beacon for privatization, including corporate charters and other privatization gimmicks, since the first modern-day voucher bill was passed and signed into law in March 1990. Since that time, Republican and Democratic governors and legislatures have so decimated K-12 education, in the aforementioned categories, that MPS is now hiring part-time teachers to reduce benefits and pension costs, and a third of its students have left the system.

Few Democrats have initiated this privatization legislation. Rather, Democratic lawmakers (in WI, CA, GA, NC, SC, OH, VA, etc.) have quietly voted for these laws, and Governors have signed these bills to further destroy K-12 public education, e.g., Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), Jim Doyle (D-WI), Jerry Brown (D-CA), and Jay Inslee (D-WA) who allowed a bill to resurrect charter schools to pass without his signature. The Washington Supreme Court majority had twice voted down charter school initiatives despite the education reform Cartel’s spending tens of millions of dollars to defeat them in their successful reelection bids.

Teachers have seemingly not made the connection between their state-level representatives (Democrats and Republicans) who have repeatedly sold them out to education reformers who line their political campaign pockets. They could take a lesson from New York’s 14th Congressional district candidate, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who bucked national and state Democratic guidance and listened to her constituents who had been poorly-served by their 20-year Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley. They had fallen in line behind them and were being led to their professional demise.

Now is the time for teachers to fight for themselves as they have been essentially abandoned by Democrats. Chuck Schumer and most other Party officials have taken their Democratic constituents for granted—millennials, women of color, unions, and minorities in general—as they pursue personal political agendas which THEY define as being best for their voters.

The 2018 midterms may be a reckoning for those Democratic elected officials who have followed the Party line and have not addressed the desires of their voters. Some have suggested that Schumer should not pressure Democratic Senators running for reelection in 2016 Red states Trump carried by double digits to oppose the Kavanaugh confirmation: Heitkamp (ND), Donnelly (IN), Manchin (WVA), who voted for Gorsuch, and McCaskill (MO), and Tester (MT) who are now under the gun, and wait until 2020 to take back the Senate. This proposal is ludicrous on its face because it assumes that Republicans will not consolidate power and make even more political gains then.

Teachers need to press their Democratic representatives, since most of them are Democrats, to deal with their concerns now, and Chuck Schumer needs to grow some political balls and man up to Senate Leader Mitch McConnell who appears to be in charge of both Democrats and Republicans. Schumer needs to hold Senate Democrats in line on the vote against Kavanaugh, and if he does not lead a vigorous fight against his confirmation, he should resign from his leadership position and change his Party affiliation. Then New York voters should then replace him as soon as possible.

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. 




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Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
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