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Est. April 5, 2002
October 18, 2018 - Issue 760

Teachers Have Been Left
Fend for Themselves
This Primary Season

"Public school educators need to organize their votes
to ensure that they tip the scales in the Democrats
favor, and make it a priority to hold them accountable
as they represent the best choices for their future."

Trump Updates to the Midterms:

  • With his authoritarian leanings and his repeated claims that the free press is the “enemy of the people,” Donald Trump has unleashed vile and violent attacks against newspapers and individual journalists across the world.

  • Trump’s anti-media rhetoric has contributed to the murder of twelve print reporters at Charlie Hebdo in France, five editors and reporters at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, and most recently the wanton in your face killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post reporter and a Saudi Arabia national, who was a United States resident. He was tortured to death in Turkey’s Saudi Arabian Embassy allegedly at the direction of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, close friend of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Subsequently, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman directed Trump to explain the incident away by saying that it was likely a “rogue operation” not connected to the Saudi Royal Kingdom.

  • The current demonization of Democratic elected officials could lead to similar outcomes as Trump persists in trafficking in encouraging violence against those who disagree with his policies.

  • Trump held a minstrel, coon show in the Oval Office last Thursday, featuring the seriously mentally ill, bi-polar Kanye West who has infrequently taken his medicine (since his mother, Dr. Donda West, a former university professor, passed away in 2007). Kanye claimed that Trump has become his daddy and then walked behind the Oval Office’s Resolute desk to hug Trump tighter than Sammy Davis, Jr. hugged President Richard M. Nixon at the 1972 Republican National Convention.

Three weeks out from the 2018 midterms, public school teachers have been left to fend for themselves in assisting the Democrats in reclaiming the House and possibly the Senate. Democrats are all over the place in messaging and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) strategies, taking it for granted that they will regain the House majority based on favorable polls. Three of the aspiring 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates—Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker--are focusing their energies on their presidential runs, apparently assuming they will retake the House with little difficulty. (Former Vice President Joe Biden, who currently leads in the early presidential polls, has wisely kept his powder dry as has Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is second, does so to a lesser degree.)

Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are crisscrossing the country campaigning for Democratic candidates, holding fundraisers to gin up their campaign coffers, and visiting and speaking in early primary states. Neither has a strong chance at present of being in the final mix as they lack a triggering effect to their candidacies akin to Obama’s 2004 keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Harris has limited name recognition and Booker has deep personal baggage that the Republicans are waiting to attack him with if he should become a serious threat.

In responding to Trump’s mocking her as Pocahontas centered on her claim to be of Native American descent, Elizabeth Warren shot herself in the political foot last Monday in her dramatic release of DNA data to confirm that she has distant Cherokee Indian heritage, 1/1,024 percentage, 6-10 generations ago, an infinitesimal amount. Trump has repeatedly ridiculed her to the delight of his base, and her idiotic gesture has gained almost no traction among Democrats or the Cherokee Nation, of which she insists she is a member, both of whom roundly criticized her. Democratic political operatives were especially disapproving as Jim Messina, Obama’s former campaign manager, says that Warren’s “… DNA results will distract from Democratic midterm campaigning.”

Meanwhile, public school teachers have been left rudderless as their union leaders at state and local levels have sat quietly by while their Democratic leaders essentially ignore them. It is imperative that they become heavily involved in state-and federal-level political races if they have any hopes of stabilizing their profession and the overall quality of their professional lives. For now, teachers and their allies hold the key to state-level, House, and Senate races in states that could flip the House: New Jersey, Arizona, Nevada, West Virginia, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, and a host of other Blue and Red states.

K-12 public education has been victimized by Republicans and Democrats since the latest round of public school privatization began in Wisconsin on March 22, 1990 with the re-introduction of publicly-funded private and religious school vouchers. Since then, three Republican (Bush I, Bush II, and Trump) and two Democrats (Clinton and Obama) have combined to pump billions of dollars into the creation and expansion of voucher and charter schools, while at the same time, through federally-mandated state policies, causing massive cuts to teacher salaries, under-funding of public schools, and increasing teacher contributions to their retirement and benefit packages.

Teachers and their unions have been reluctant to lash out at their so-called presidential and gubernatorial Democratic benefactors (who have backed these privatization efforts) while all the blame is placed on Republicans. The most prominent Democratic purveyors of public school privatizing are: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), former Gov. Mike Easley (D-NC), Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA), and a host of others. This decision has resulted in teachers being done in by their alleged supporters. The corporate Cartel of education reformers has been instrumental in funding Democrats and Republicans to carry out their privatization agenda.

Thus, public school educators need to organize their votes to ensure that they tip the scales in the Democrats favor, and make it a priority to hold them accountable as they represent the best choices for their future. Democratic leaders have failed to deliver for teachers in recent decisions before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), especially the Janus case. The Republicans also have an agenda to permanently wipe out collective bargaining and reduce teachers to feudal workers. They are systematically proceeding toward those goals.

America’s public school teachers are one of our most precious resources although they have never been properly valued in compensation or professional respect. I have worked with and observed them working in the most difficult circumstances and achieving significant academic gains for the children in their charge. However, in order to sustain their future as educators, teachers must recognize that they are the ones they have been waiting for if they are to be saved from having their profession privatized.

If teachers accept this challenge, they will prevent our nation’s rapid slide into malicious misogyny and authoritarianism. They may well decide the nation’s future by going to the polls in exceptionally large numbers on November 6th.

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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David A. Love, JD
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