Zach Osborn, former employee to Governor Phil Bryant, speaks out about the politician’s lack of respect for the nonunion independent Mississippi Professional Educators in the Clarion-Ledger.
Sometimes I wonder if you remember me. Thirteen years ago, I spent a summer working for you as the lone intern on your campaign for lieutenant governor. I drove you around in a rental car to every corner of this state, holding your briefcase as you spoke at churches, backyard barbeques, and fundraising dinners.
During your time as my boss, you were gracious and kind. Sure, it could get awkward at times as a 19-year-old college student and a politician in his early 50s took road trips around Mississippi together, but you did your best to make small talk and answer my questions about the inner workings of a political campaign. Looking back on those past conversations, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we sat down for a chat in the present. You are now the governor. I am now a teacher in a Mississippi public school, a contributor to the new Social Studies Standards for our state, a member of Mississippi Professional Educators, and a supporter of fully funding public education and increasing teacher pay.
If we talked, would you hear me out, listen to my concerns, and engage in civil discourse about how to improve the public education system in this state? Based on your tweets, your public comments, and your actions as governor, I don’t believe you would. I believe that you would resort to standard political speak, bemoaning my “liberal” views and labeling me an ideological enemy. When you incorrectly identified MPE as a union and stated that you never wanted its support while running for governor, you instantly alienated nearly 14,000 of the people you were elected to serve. You chose the easy way out, as you so often have, by vilifying a professional organization and all of its members for daring to take a position that differs from your own. In our current political climate, this sort of behavior from an elected official is treated as normal, but it shouldn’t be. I know, from firsthand experience, that you can do better.
Thirteen years ago, I held your briefcase while you gave your stump speech. Now I’m holding you accountable. Do better.