This is no April Fools Day trick. Of the approximately 18 presidential candidates, only one seems to have thrown her lot in with teacher union officials, probably in hopes of getting a tremendous boost from the millions they spend on electing “union-friendly” candidates, and the advantage of a ready-to-march army of volunteers. Democrat presidential candidate Kamala Harris appears to have been educated by teacher union officials. Check out the story on flypaper by Erika Sanzi at the Fordham Institute.
Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris must have been one of the people AFT president Randi Weingarten was referring to when she said on C-Span, in the context of the 2020 hopefuls being “eager for the teachers’ backing,” that her “phone had rung a lot” because Harris has quickly morphed into a union mouthpiece. The language is so familiar it reads like the same old script. Students are nowhere to be found in her comments, parents are absent from her tweets, and learning outcomes don’t even get a single mention.
Harris had decided to focus on the need to pay teachers more, respect teachers more, and support one delivery system of education—the public one. She makes no mention of teacher quality, student learning, or parent choice. One does wonder if she has even looked at the numbers of children all over this nation who do not read at grade level—36 percent of fourth-graders, 36 percent of eighth-graders, and 37 percent of twelfth-graders read at or above grade level.
While it is refreshing to see at least one candidate come out decisively on education, Harris has made the calculated decision to put her stake in the ground on the side of those whose mission is to fight against the overwhelming demand from parents—especially parents of color—for more educational freedom for their children.
And on substance, this whole teacher salary thing is ridiculous in the context of fifty states and over thirteen thousand school districts. The average teacher salary in Boston, for example, is $99,368. Are we supposed to put on red t-shirts and clamor for federal raises there? Meanwhile, a teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has to teach for thirteen years just to earn $38,400. But Harris has decided that union support and money are more important than student learning and student outcomes and, ahem, students themselves. She avoids even talking about them.