An open letter to Randi Weingarten

By Larry Sand
November 6, 2018

This is the fourth in a series of missives to the president of the American Federation of Teachers. (The first three can be accessed here, here and here.) 

My Dear Randi,

It has been a while! I hope you are well, though I suspect recent events have you a bit off-kilter or even a tad meshuge. When I saw you outside the Supreme Court after the Janus oral arguments in February, you refused to look at me! Now I know the humiliating debate loss in 2010 must still hurt, but maybe it’s time to get over it? After blatantly ignoring me, you managed to spit out a brief rant to a newsman in which you asserted that unions “actually make communities safer and…the right-wing is threatened by that.

Oy! In fact, that wasn’t your only weird fulmination of late. In The New York Times a few weeks ago, after the standard issue blather about tax cuts for the wealthy, undoing environmental regulations, etc., you veered off into crazy and suggested that Trump is downright Hitleresque and is slowly but surely leading the country to Nazism. You silly goose! Don’t you know that once you’ve sunk to reductio ad Hitlerum, you have lost the argument? (Memo to Randi: Maybe before obsessively maligning the President, you should clean up your own house? Your BFF Hilary referred to many fine Americans as “deplorable.” You have a Senator who thinks he is Spartacus and another blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman in the same chamber who insists she is Native-American. And I won’t even mention the loopy 103-year-old free-Medicare-for-all socialist from Vermont.)

Your bizarre rhetoric has befuddled me for some time now. Forever, actually. In July, after a bogus report was released by your friends at the Center for American Progress, you took the podium at your union’s biennial convention and, referring to vouchers, triumphantly announced that “privatization and disinvestment are only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.” What?!  How do you explain that school choice is very popular with minorities? And I hope you are sitting down for this…. According to a survey released in 2016, Education Next found “No less than 20 percent of teachers with school age children, but only 13 percent of non-teachers, have sent one or more of their children to private school.” And not surprisingly, 42 percent of the teachers who don’t send their kids to a traditional public school back vouchers. (Nothing new here. In 2004, the Fordham Institute found that more than 20 percent of public school teachers nationwide with school-age children enroll them in private schools, or almost double the 11 percent rate for the general public.)

Oh, and here’s another one for your bulging “half-truth” file. Just last week you penned a piece for Education Week, excitedly proclaiming that millennials think that strong unions improve education. What you conveniently omitted was that the same GenForward poll shows heavy support for vouchers from the same group. In fact, 87 percent of black and 85 percent of Latino millennials are in favor, as are 80 percent of Asian Americans and 70 percent of whites.

Okay, okay, I know it’s Election Day and many of your comments of late have been hyperbolic, and facts have been cherry-picked so as to fire up your base to ensure they will vote the way you want them to. Indeed, you have been one of the prime mouthpieces for the “fact” that there are as many as 1,500 teachers running for elected office, all of whom were motivated to run because cheapskate taxpayers and legislators don’t pay them enough. According to the narrative, the educators were emboldened to run after teacher strikes hit several states, most notably Arizona and West Virginia.

But Mike Antonucci smells a big fat rat and poses several excellent questions which the purveyors of the “angry teachers running for office” mob don’t bother with. For example, how many are current teachers? He mentions that Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is a former teacher who taught fifth grade for one year in the mid-1980s at a Catholic school. He is now running for a third term in the U.S. Senate. Does this count as a “teacher running for office?” Also, The Wall Street Journal’s Michelle Hackman reports that there were actually more teachers who ran in 2016 than now.

Please get back to me, Randi. Perhaps you snubbed me at the Supreme Court in February because you saw the handwriting on the wall – that all public employees were about to be given an opportunity to keep their hard-earned money, instead of being mugged to the tune of $1,200 a year – every year – by your union, the NEA, AFSCME, SEIU et al. I know you prefer forced union dues, but you benefited from that racket for over 40 years and it had to end at some point.

As always, lunch anytime. On me!

Your friend,

Larry

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

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