Attacking The Teachers

There are lots of lessons we can learn from the wave of teachers’ strikes that have erupted around the country. To the extent those strikes have been “wildcat” efforts, we can see the extent to which public sector unions have been neutered by anti-union lawmakers. To the extent that we have become aware of the grievances that prompted these actions, we see the effects of the steady erosion of adequate public funding for public education.

Paul Krugman recently reminded us of the connection between that erosion and Republican tax-cut orthodoxy. Education accounts for more than half the state and local work force, and “at the state and local levels, the conservative obsession with tax cuts has forced the G.O.P. into what amounts to a war on education, and in particular a war on schoolteachers.”

The GOP’s fixation on tax cuts, together with its anti-union ideology (and a particular hatred of teachers’ unions) and in some quarters, a desire to divert public funds to religious schools via vouchers, has resulted in an unremitting assault on public education.

Thanks to a recent report in The Guardian, we learn that opponents of public education fully intend to intensify their ideological attack on public education and the teachers who provide it.

A nationwide network of rightwing thinktanks is launching a PR counteroffensive against the teachers’ strikes that are sweeping the country, circulating a “messaging guide” for anti-union activists that portrays the walkouts as harmful to low-income parents and their children.

The new rightwing strategy to discredit the strikes that have erupted in protest against cuts in education funding and poor teacher pay is contained in a three-page document obtained by the Guardian. Titled “How to talk about teacher strikes”, it provides a “dos and don’ts” manual for how to smear the strikers.

Top of the list of talking points is the claim that “teacher strikes hurt kids and low-income families”. It advises anti-union campaigners to argue that “it’s unfortunate that teachers are protesting low wages by punishing other low-wage parents and their children.”

According to the Guardian, the “messaging guide” has been developed by an organization called the State Policy Network (SPN). SPN is an alliance of 66 rightwing “ideas factories,” that evidently includes members from every state in the nation. SPN also has an $80 million-dollar” war chest” – funded (no surprise) by the Koch brothers, the Walton Family Foundation, and the DeVos family. (If there was any doubt that Betsy DeVos is the antithesis of a person rational lawmakers would install as an education secretary…).

SPN’s previous campaigns have included a plan to “defund and defang” public sector unions. Now it is turning its firepower on the striking teachers….The SPN document urges its followers to attack the walkouts stealthily, rather than criticising them directly. A head-on assault on teachers for their long summer vacations would “sound tone-deaf when there are dozens of videos and social media posts going viral from teachers about their second jobs [and] having to rely on food pantries”, it says.

If moral people find meaning by acting in ways that will benefit future generations–if, as the saying goes,“The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit”-how immoral is this effort?

It isn’t just that these people are refusing to adequately fund the public schools that educate the overwhelming majority of American children. They are also busily polluting the environment and endangering the planet on which those trees must be planted. They are despoiling public lands originally set aside for the enjoyment of our children and grandchildren. They are presiding over the decay of the nation’s infrastructure, and they are intentionally encouraging the tribalism and bigotry that undermine the social cohesion necessary for communities to thrive.

I assume they derive satisfaction from the extra dollars these measures are intended to bring them.

I wish I believed in the existence of hell.


  1. People like the ones you mentioned don’t think like we do. I believe that people who have never lived on a farm or taught or fished or helped their neighbors as part of a sharing community don’t understand how life really works. Every person should feel valued. Not just the wealthy ones.

  2. Across this country; the voices of teachers have been asking – begging – for help to provide quality education for their students, they have consistently been ignored. This began in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when local governments began tying the hands of teachers by taking away their control regarding going beyond the limitations placed on what and how they teach and the ability to discipline the unruly trouble-making students. The level of violence in public schools here in Indianapolis goes unchecked by the so-called “school police” when called upon by teachers for assistance to stop violence. Teacher’s financial provision of supplies for students whose parents cannot afford them, or ignore their child’s school needs, has increased as the voucher system here has increased.

    There is also the factor of poorly provided school bus service for those who qualify for it; the time change added to the lack of safety for students standing in the early morning dark waiting in all kinds of weather for their bus to appear. Ridding the local education system of Eugene White and Tony Bennett resulted in no change in deplorable conditions in the public education system here. The money drain of tax dollars for public education has increased at an alarming rate; does the highest level of voucher students in the nation account for this drain or are there hidden reasons we need to be aware of. I live in Warren Township; as I stated recently I received my property tax bill with an increased assessment on my old home in a low-middle class area with an almost 50% increase in my property taxes. A few days later came the notice in the Indianapolis Star that Warren Township school system is requesting an increase in our/my property taxes to meet their money shortage. There is also the factor in Warren Township that not all students are allowed to attend Warren Township schools even though their parents pay the taxes supporting those schools. Is there no communication between government entities; does the Warren Township School Board not know there was already an increase in our property taxes this year, a percentage of which they receive?

    “The GOP’s fixation on tax cuts, together with its anti-union ideology (and a particular hatred of teachers’ unions) and in some quarters, a desire to divert public funds to religious schools via vouchers, has resulted in an unremitting assault on public education.”

    Isn’t that GOP “fixation on tax cuts” only regarding income tax reported to IRS? There is never a reference to the tax increases coming one at a time in other areas, areas we cannot avoid paying the increases…the teachers are feeling these increases as they continue trying to supply many students with needed classroom materials.

    “I wish I believed in the existence of hell.”

    I could copy and paste Sheila’s entire blog today but will end with her final comment by saying; whatever our religious beliefs, or none at all, what we are living today under Trump’s GOP is as close to hell as what, if anything, is waiting for us beyond this life.

  3. It is ironic that this right-wing public relations program centers on the harm teachers’ strikes do to minority children. The anti-tax religion these people subscribe to does much more harm to inner city schools than any teachers’ strikes can.

  4. A perfect example of why teachers are fed up. Indianapolis Public Schools is facing a 40 million + budget deficit, resulting in teacher layoffs, salary freezes, and deep cuts to transportation. And the School Board just gave the Superintendent a $28,000 pay raise.

    There is only so much a person can take when you have to work two or more jobs to survive, when you have to tell your own children and your students that you can’t have something, do something becuase there is no money. Right now, my school is short two teachers, so we double up classes, teachers get no lunch time, no prep and god forbid you get sick and have to get a sub, because there are none, and the rest of the staff have to aborb even more students.

    I had my doubts about hell, but I can tell you it exists, because the State of Indiana has created it by slowy killing our public schools.

  5. Republicans have a long history of being against education. I guess if people are educated, they are far less likely to vote against their own interests. Makes sense from that standpoint.

  6. It looks like to me, the Republicans have found a very unique way to prevent the concept of a multi-racial society from becoming a reality……DESTROY THE SOCIETY. They have found just the right person to do it.

  7. Yes, this tax cut mentality is the excuse Republicans use to justify their constituents’ whining about not wanting to pay. As a former public school educator, I’ve watched parents write thousand dollar checks for their darling children to attend softball camp, but scream bloody murder about paying $10 more per month in taxes to fix their crumbling schools or, God forbid, give pay raises to teachers.

    Then there are those self-absorbed cretins who say, “Well, why should I pay for schools when I don’t have a kid attending them?”

    I was a union rep. for a school district in Colorado Springs. I also was forced to join the Teamsters at an industrial company in California, back in the day. The teachers union was cupcakes and coffee by comparison to the Teamsters. The so-called fear of teachers unions is just another whine about “we don’t want to pay”. Republicans also blame teachers unions for poor education, never wanting to admit that doing education of the cheap is the real problem. Republicans play up to this, because their donors are greedy bastards too and don’t want to pay their fair share of the public necessity for civilization.

    In my book, “A Worm in the Apple: The Inside Story of Public Schools”, I cover this phenomenon all the way back to the schoolmarm days. Enter Ronald Reagan, the most over-rated and destructive President in modern times and you have the root of the current cut energy of Republicanism. The Reagan administration embraced fully the horrors of Milton Friedman’s idiotic “Supply-Side Economics” and tried to eliminate public education altogether. You get the idea.

    Trying to destroy public education is part of the Republicanism we have all been railing about on this blog. Railing doesn’t change anything. Voting does. Worrying doesn’t change anything. Raising the necessary taxes on the RICH does.

  8. The Indiana Policy Review Foundation is a member of the State Policy Network. Mike Pence has publicly claimed to be one of its founders. If you go to Wikipedia you can see the list of of their “scholars”. Supposedly, they are to stay away from “social issues”.

    Now for my question of the day. Where is the liberal counter point to this organization?

  9. it appears to me today that all of us, including Sheila, are seeking to be educated in the whys, wherefores and how do we resolve the problems of educating those uneducated in the national and local education systems. As always; it is “follow the money”, meanwhile the “dumbing down of America” continues at an escalated rate as the elected elite get richer. And Betsy and “The Donald” have’t yet enacted their “God’s Kingdom” education format; another GOP money-making scheme for our elected and appointed “leaders”. This school year is nearing its end; what can possibly be the start-up situation come this fall when school resumes? How many schools will not resume due to lack of funding and teachers?

  10. No surprise here that the Rabid Right Wing would fund an operation behind the scenes to discredit the striking teachers. The spy apparatus has used “Black Ops”. For those of you who are not up to date on the terminology of “Black Ops” Wiki provides a definition:

    >> A black operation (or black ops) is a covert operation by a government, a government agency, or a military organization. This can include activities by private companies or groups. Key features of a black operation are that it is secret and it is not attributable to the organization carrying it out. The main difference between a black operation and one that is merely secret is that a black operation involves a significant degree of deception, to conceal who is behind it or to make it appear that some other entity is responsible. <<

    The Wiki definition presumes a government source for the activities. We have seen these "Black Ops" carried out against Unions in the past via Right to Work Laws, anti strike provisions in the law, and a lack of collective bargaining legislation.

    I suppose the easy way to describe the Rabid Right Wing Agenda concerning Public Schools is the Wal-Mart business plan: Pay the employees as little as possible, use part timers, cut or eliminate benefits. Quality is superfluous, the driving factor is cost and of course low taxes.

    The other piece of the Rabid Right Wing Agenda is the Charter and Theocratic Schools. This part of the agenda has the profit motive, plus corrupting young minds with Evangelical BS.

  11. well.., if one just stops to consider – look at the crew we have running this country, most cannot even spell correctly, nor is their verbage beyond the scope of maybe 150 words?! We do you expect we are breeding semi-functional idiots and the only reason it isn’t a social problem to most is they are the idiots that have been being bred! (literally!)

  12. Make thay “what do you expect…” dancing finger syndrome don’t you know…

  13. They might not be able to govern or talk intelligently, but they are good minions and follow orders very well. Thanks to Fox News, they have a safe place to spread their propaganda to their massive followers. And thanks to a few billionaires whose families lost wealth because of FDR’s New Deal, they’ve been organization building.

    Think tanks like Indiana Policy Review have provided all the “credentialed support” to state lawmakers. The Gannett Newspapers in 6-7 large regions provides plenty of fake news or propaganda. Mike Pence worked for Indiana’s SPN. 😉

    Milton Friedman targeted the teachers union because of how they generally voted.

    If you noticed, Indiana has decimated all unions and the rights to form unions. This also creates a serious problem for teachers with the general public—“Why should teachers make $50,000 babysitting kids all day for 9 months when I work my ass off year-round for $30,000?”

    By lowering everyone else’s effective wages, the average taxpayer cannot afford the cost of public school teachers. Universities can pass along their costs to students/parents which is why we have exploding and stifling student loan debt.

    It doesn’t take long for public sentiment to turn against those few remaining classes protected by unions when all other workers have experienced depressed wages for decades. As an occasional journalist, I could even write those PR pieces.

    I got an email from one of the think tanks behind charter schools and they have great public relations people drafting letters for local newspapers in those communities where teachers are striking because charter school teachers are joining the unionized public school teachers.

    Think about what “evils” might appear if social workers decided to walk out. Then WalMart employees. What if workers started getting ideas that they had more power than they thought in the real world? 😉

    Now you know why the push for robots and AI are so important to the capitalists. When fast food workers talked about leaving their jobs unless they got a pay raise, the $21,000,000 salaried CEO told them they’d be replaced by self-service kiosks.

    Unfettered capitalism is extractive and predictable. So is mans lust for greed and power. It’s why Einstein recommended a planned economy which benefits all of society. I believe Macron was telling Congress and Trump this past week that nationalism was the WRONG direction but the Western Elites can read and now Bernie Sanders has a stage…censorship and more authoritarianism will be the response.

    I keep reading comments from folks who suggest “democracy is the problem”. You can’t fix stupid. Stupid people don’t evolve for a reason.

  14. 45 (I can’t say his name) and the Congress that supports him are not just bad—they are EVIL. The equally disturbing (to me) issue is that I imagine that most of them at one time were touched in a positive way by a teacher who helped them to achieve a level of success.
    I DO believe in hell.

  15. JoAnn asks: This school year is nearing its end; what can possibly be the start-up situation come this fall when school resumes? How many schools will not resume due to lack of funding and teachers?

    There are at least 5 that are near financial failure and after May 14th most likely Muncie and Gary will belong to the state, which will surely hire some well connected, frequent donor to the GOP to profit off of the backs of public school children.

  16. “I wish I believed in the existence of hell.”
    I wish these people-Kochs, Trumps. Mercers, DeVos-believed they might be sent there.

  17. Teachers have never received the compensation or appreciation they deserve. You put in tons of time and personal money into supporting your students in and outside the classroom (such as extracurricular acivities that the schools don’t cover). Although it doesn’t put food on your own table or a roof over your own family’s head, folks rarely even say thank you for helping to raise our children. I know this as once upon a time I was a teacher making $65 a week with free lunch in the school cafeteria. Teacher’s unions is one of the few options available to make their plight heard. Vote for concerned representatives who support our public school system and don’t complain when proposals are made increasing school property taxes to pay teachers and for keeping the buildings in repair. No one should prevent folks who want to put their children in private school to do so, but it should be their choice and their pocketbook. Children are the future, whether or not you have children or grandchildren attending school. (And, no I don’t.)

  18. Jane,

    “I wish I believed in the existence of hell.”
    I wish these people-Kochs, Trumps. Mercers, DeVos-believed they might be sent there”

    That’s the least of their worries. There is no reason for them to fear hell. The millions who follow them believe in a RACIST HEAVEN. Where’s the problem?

  19. The vast majority of our society especially on the Right, but also on the Left are out of touch with REALITY. How can we ever reach a viable consensus? Thus REVOLUTION or DOMESTIC RACIAL WARFARE is becoming inevitable.

  20. When you have been in the INNER CIRCLE of racist power, you understand the MINDS of those men in it. It becomes second nature. Hermann Rauschning had been a member of Hitler’s inner circle, left it, and was able to FORETELL the holocaust and the approximate number of Jews who would be killed way in advance of the horrendous event. Like Vernon, he even put it into a book, but to no avail. No one believed hm.

  21. We have all heard the old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but I think that road is paved far more with bad intentions, and that such road in re public education is being financed by the Mercers, DeVoses and their ilk for self-profit. These greedhogs hire PR people and finance “think tanks” (aka propaganda mills) to cover their terminal greed and are not above using “poor people,” children and other underrepresented minorities as masks for their greedy pursuit of the buck, oblivious to the consequences, consequences that in the medium to long run augur their own demise as the society disintegrates. In their monomania for accumulation of assets (aka profit) they do not seem to understand that if the society goes, they go. Thus the rationale for the common good is not just some sentimental or scriptural thing based in fairness and justice; it also has an existential reason for being.

    So what to do? Greed seems to be baked in among the superrichs’ collective brains, so how do we the majority unblessed with PR people and think tanks running interference effect change? The means is political and the answer is to elect people who are not afraid to raise taxes, regulate banks, declare healthcare a right, enforce a new pro-union version of the Wagner Act, etc. etc. etc.

    So how will such bold stances sell to the rich and corporate class? They won’t, and we can expect them to break out the same old and tired hues and cries of communism, the end of the world etc., and the answer to that is the one FDR gave to his detractors during the Great Depression to the effect that “I welcome their hatred.” and then persevere to effect change.

    I often write that I am trying to save capitalism if the capitalists will let me, but capitalism as currently practiced in a wild west, libertarian, under-regulated fashion is going to bring down the whole shebang unless reformed fairly to meet the needs of the majority beyond mere “shareholder value” criteria. What to do? Vote for those who look to the common good where citizens are more than ATMs and whose hopes and aspirations go far beyond the greedy world of finance and profit making since, especially with a know-nothing in the Oval Office, such a vote may go beyond the preferential to the existential. So your vote doesn’t count in a gerrymandered state? It was those who stayed home last time who gave us Trump, Gorsuch and a tax bill that will cripple our economy. Vote!

  22. I have come to believe that the assault on public education has its roots in two issues. The first is the aim of states to rid themselves of teacher pension obligations. Second, and likely more significant in the long term, is the segregation implicit in vouchers and charters. EdChoice and other agents like them are racist to the core.

  23. Since I don’t personally recognize the concepts of Heaven and Hell, I feel our job is to make the lives of the right wing fools who rape our resources and disparage our teachers, pure Hell on Earth. We do this by boycotting their companies, rejecting their pawns embedded in our legislatures and exposing them every time they rear their ugly heads. You can’t kill a vermin until you flush it out.

  24. Tax-cut mentality is one more example of wanting something for nothing.

    What’s the difference between the 100 million or so freeloaders wanting better schools, better education, better cops, safer cities, better roads, fewer potholes, more parks and reliable infrastructure, yet refusing to pay for any of it, …and the 10 million or so dispossessed wanting a meal or shoes or bed or simple survival, yet not being able to pay for it?

    Yes, one group requires an additional zero for quantification, which seems silly to note, but really is relevant.

    To my value system, the former group of the additional zero are far more vile than the latter, and not just because of the zero.

  25. I think that every day here we reach the same conclusion. I suspect that it’s the same conclusion that Russians reached over the last few decades. Their (our) country has been (is being) taken over by oligarchs. (Actually one name is in common between the two countries, Putin). These oligarchs feel entitled to both power and money. They want to return to the form of government that both populations threw out a little while ago – an aristocracy based on birth and wealth which is self sustaining. Trump is our Putin. Both lists of oligarchs are pretty short but have concentrated wealth such that they are very capable of buying minds and votes by promising a return to the entitlements of the past rather than adapting to the reality of the future.

    We have just a couple of months to organize the necessary initial resistance. We can achieve a major but not total victory then in the voting booth. What happens after Election Day is a worry but we are backed into a corner and it’s now and this or never and nothing.

    First we have to engage the Branch we can in Nov into resistance and surround the castle. We can’t end the threat yet but we can pull its teeth and remove its claws. I will vote for resistance to Trump in whatever form it is offered in.

    There is absolutely nothing subtle about this now. It will produce a winner and a loser.

    I personally lose sleep over the possibility of losing this one.

  26. Suppose we demanded that the super rich pay their share of taxes. How would we get them to comply?

  27. Marge,

    A few nights ago, I viewed again “All Quiet on the Western Front.” It won an Oscar as the Best Picture for 1929-30. It’s an anti-war movie based on Erich Maria Remarque’s book. For many years after its release it was still being banned in countries mobilizing for war. It was highly effective in its mission. The plot follows a group of young German recruits in W.W. I through their passage from idealism to disillusionment.

    Likewise, we need to have video production in the form of an “MRI” or “Political Sonar Timeline” depicting what will be the END RESULT of the machinations of the DEEP STATE [Koch et al]……Revolution or Racial Warfare.

    Willie Brandt, the former Mayor of Berlin, left Germany and fled to Sweden in the early 30’s. He explained in his autobiography that the mistake he made in attempting to warn of the pending catastrophe was that he should have used DESCRIPTION instead of RHETORIC.

    To simplify, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

    rhet-o-ric (ret’e rik) n.[< Gr. rhetor, orator] 1. the art of using words effectively; esp. the art of prose composition 2. showy, elaborate language that is empty or insincere–rhe-tor-i-cal (ri tor'i kel) adj.—rhet'o-ri'cian (-e rish' en) n.

  28. JD,

    You are only partially correct. It is much more insidious and wicked than those two things you mentioned. Republicanism is dedicated to getting everything for nothing and having the less fortunate making them even richer. All this other stuff about schools, vouchers, etc., is ancillary to the hoarding instincts, the tribal instincts and the fear that goes with those things.

  29. The portion of the GOP which wants government to finance private school educations for their own children and to screen out the handicapped, the poor, minorities, and those not of their own religion would displace many public schools to finance private schools and for-profit charter schools for themselves and their donors. They hate those who get in their way which includes teacher unions, public school boards, school administrators, PTAs, special ed. parents, minority communities, and religious communities which value the wall between church and state. Of all those, teacher unions are the ones who put money and volunteer muscle into elections, so they become the targets of the privatizers and profiteers.
    In my first hand experience, the legislators most vocal in opposing funds for the poor who ‘feed at the public trough’ are also the most vocal in supporting private school vouchers for themselves and other families who can easily afford the tuition.

  30. I don’t mean to challenge your religious position, Sheila, but after 15 months of Trump and DeVos I’m pretty sure there’s a hell.

    As for Marge’s suggestion that the super rich be required to pay their share of taxes, we need to ask Jerry Brown how he pulled that off.

  31. This just another of the war we are in against a complete fascist takeover of all facets of our country. We must be involved and all take to the streets. The fascist must be stopped and be removed from all facets of our government.

  32. Jane, let’s think about it: Doesn’t matter if there is a hell or not”
    April 28, 2018 at 9:19 am

    “I wish I believed in the existence of hell.” Believe it, Jane, these people whose names you listed and more are the cause of the evil in which we live which is called HELL.
    I wish these people-Kochs, Trumps. Mercers, DeVos-believed they might be sent there.

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