I love teachers. I really do. And I’m certain that, truth be known, most are overworked and underpaid. No one is certainly getting rich from teaching kids. I applaud the hard-working teachers across this land.
But what are our state legislators to do if states are going broke? Never ask teachers and other public workers to contribute to a further share of costs, like millions of others are forced to do because of tough economic times? I believe the children are our future, but they’ll have no future if our states and the U.S. go down the fiscal tubes.
And, like in Wisconsin, when teachers unions muscle legislators like the mafia, and Democrats abandon their voting posts because they don’t like projected outcomes, haven’t we abandoned the very foundational principles of our republic? Where was the “be civil” mainstream media police Friday morning when union demonstrators literally screamed at legislators on the Wisconsin assembly floor while they voted on legislation?
Another proof of union monopoly came out Tuesday, when Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board released a report that disclosed the top 10 lobbying groups in the state. Look who is at the top of the list – No. 1:
1. Wisconsin Education Association, 7,239 hours, $1,511,272
2. Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, 1,427 hours, $777,430
3. Forest County Potawatomi Community, 1,492 hours, $756,512
4. Altria Client Services Inc., 1,321 hours, $755,733
5. Wisconsin Hospital Association, 5,126, $605,033
6. Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, 1,379, $560,544
7. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, 4,967 hours, $508,023
8. RAI Services Company (formerly Reynolds American Inc.), 186 hours, $466,253
9. Wisconsin Independent Businesses Inc., 7,939 hours, $458,414
10. Wisconsin Energy Corporation, 1,547 hours, $387,222.
The Wisconsin Education Association leads the pack of lobbyists compared to its closest lobbying competitor with twice as much spending ($1.5 million) and five times the amount of advocate hours (7,239 hours) in pursuit to buy, bribe and bamboozle legislators to do as it wants.
What also chaps my hide is that a gigantic chunk of the WEA’s gangster monies and time is used to lobby against alternative choices in schools (including charter schools) and against tuition tax credit programs that aid parents to send their children to private schools.
The fact is that teachers-union-sponsored protests spreading across the land are not primarily about the teachers or the students. They are about the unions and feds maintaining their mafia-style rule over education and our kids, and preventing parents and anyone else from choosing educational alternatives.
Or are we naïve enough to believe that Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, is just repeatedly stopping by the White House for tea and crumpets, when he admitted this past week: “I’m at the White House a couple times a week: two, three times a week. I have conversations every day with someone in the White House or in the administration. Every day.”?
It brings me back to that bully educational manifesto of President Obama’s appointed secretary of education, Arne Duncan, who explained in an NPR radio interview: “I’m a big believer in choice and competition, but I think we can do that within the public school framework.”
There’s something the U.S. government and unions don’t want you to know. And it came out a short time ago in a Heritage Foundation report on education. It conveys the general public’s increasing dissatisfaction with public education, and a rising number is opting for private education.
The report explains that during the 2007 and 2008 legislative sessions, 44 states introduced school-choice legislation. Forty-four states! And in 2008, choices for private school were enacted into law or expanded in Arizona, Utah, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. And as of 2009, 14 states and Washington, D.C., offer voucher or education tax-credit programs.
Despite the growing public preference for private education, however, Congress last year canceled the Washington, D.C., Opportunity Scholarship Program, created in 2004 to offer students from low-income families in the nation’s capital an opportunity to join the voucher educational community. The law provided $14 million in scholarships to help pay tuition at a private school of their choosing. But no longer.
And why did Congress nix the program, especially when recent studies showed that students receiving vouchers since the program’s inception were academically 18.9 months ahead of their peers? (One-hundred percent of Thurgood Marshall Academy’s charter graduates are accepted to colleges.) Why would Congress phase out a program that costs $7,500 per student annually, compared to the $15,000 it costs in Washington’s public schools to educate a child?
Washington’s Opportunity Scholarship Program wasn’t canceled because it cost too much, since it’s half the price of public school. And it wasn’t canceled because of inferior quality, since the kids enrolled in the program were scoring higher than students in regular schools.
There’s only one reason Congress canceled Washington’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. It’s the same reason at the heart of the teachers unions’ battle in Wisconsin. It comes down to this: control and educational indoctrination.
As I wrote in my new New York Times best-selling book, “Black Belt Patriotism: How to Reawaken America”:
The reason that government is cracking down on private instruction has more to do with suppressing alternative education than assuring educational standards. The rationale is quite simple, though rarely if ever stated: Control future generations and you control the future. So rather than letting parents be the primary educators of their children – either directly or by educating their children in the private schools of their choice – [government] want[s] to deny parental rights, establish an educational monopoly run by the state, and limit private education options. It is so simple any socialist can understand it. As Joseph Stalin once stated, “Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.”
Parents deserve educational choices – choice is what this country was founded upon.
Want to better U.S. public education? Feed the competition!