Larry Sand takes a piercing look at presidential candidates courting the teacher union vote. And money coffers.
Kamala Harris has been saying some very radical things, and given the times, should be considered a serious contender. In March, she claimed the U.S. is facing a teacher pay crisis, using the bogus claim that public school teachers earn “11 percent less than professionals with similar educations.” To address the situation, which Harris asserts is “creating disastrous consequences,” she is proposing to provide the average teacher with a $13,500 raise with states being forced to add $1 to the pot for every $3 the feds throw in. Then she warmed the cockles of every unionista heart in April when she said that, if elected, she would use her “executive authority” to ban right-to-work laws. This is especially wonderful news for the teachers unions because in Janus v AFSCME, the Supreme Court ruled that teachers and other public employees did not have to pay a union as a condition of employment. So it seems that Harris plans to turn SCOTUS into a subsidiary of the executive branch. To further expose her totalitarian tendencies, she has also promised to roll back the Second Amendment, thus negating part of the Constitution by fiat.
And then there is Bernie Sanders, the aforementioned favorite of many teachers in 2016. The senescent millionaire socialist from the nation’s whitest state has come up with the misnamed Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education. The screed hits all the typical teacher union talking points with a bulls-eye. He disses billionaires and hedge fund executives who support charter schools, which Sanders claims “are led by unaccountable, private bodies, and their growth has drained funding from the public school system.” His proposed charter moratorium, would anger the 58 percent of black Democratic voters who view charters favorably. Sanders won’t win too many taxpayer accolades either. As Carolyn Phenicie writes in The 74, his extravagant plan would add $74 billion a year to current federal education spending totals, more than doubling its current outlay of $71 billion a year. Additionally, to prove his bona fides as a member in good standing of the Betsy-bashing brigade, Sanders called DeVos “the worst Secretary of Education in the modern history of our country.”
Sanders’ authoritarian instincts have never been more on display, which earned him a thumbs-up from Randi Weingarten, who called his plan “inspiring.” Others were not so generous, however. Amy Wilkins, senior vice president at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, says, “Sanders’s call is out of touch – as usual – with what African Americans want. More disturbing, the senator – for personal political gain – would literally lock African-American students into schools that have failed them for generations.”
Wilkins is correct, of course. As The Wall St. Journal’s Jason Riley notes, it is the traditional public school system, not the charters or other schools of choice, that disproportionately hurt minority students. “Black and brown kids are assigned to the most violent schools with the least effective teachers and staff, while the unions and their political allies repeatedly call for – and receive – more funding and little accountability.”
So while Sanders, Harris and the other ring-kissers are going after the union vote, they are alienating minorities, taxpayers, Constitutionalists and all freedom-loving people. And with the 2020 Democratic convention still over a year away, the race to the left has just begun.