This is the sixth in a series of open letters to the president of the American Federation of Teachers. (The first five can be accessed here.)
I am really concerned about you, girl! First, at Al Sharpton’s National Day of Action lefty-fest in D.C. a couple of weeks ago, you informed the throng that teachers are sooo frightened of going back to work that they’re, “writing their wills.” Yet you delivered your rant mask-free and did not practice social distancing, spitting potential corona-cooties at the masses while doing so. Mercy! What were you thinking??!! (Also, just between us Yids, maybe keep some distance from that vile anti-Semite and tax cheat, Al Sharpton.)
Then, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled a new coronavirus relief package last week, you got a tad meshuge. The $300 billion proposal “focuses on some of the very most urgent health care, education, and economic issues.” But you were not happy, preferring instead the Democratic-led House $3 trillion HEROES Act, the largest spending bill in history. Actually, truth be told, you were more than “not happy.” In fact, you descended into serious snit-mode and called the $300 billion proposal “bulimic.”
Bulimic?! Ewww! I mean you could have said “anemic” or “paltry” or anything else frankly. Also, because the Republican package offers help for students who attend private schools, you became even angrier. “They’ve given a tax cut to rich people by basically saying that anybody is going to get a tax credit who wants to spend money for any kind of private schools but they have defunded and emasculated public education.” (Sidebar: Since you haul in almost $600,000 a year as a union boss, maybe go a little easier on “rich people.” After all, my dear, you yourself are a one-percenter!)
But if you are really concerned about wealthy people sending their kids to private schools, I have an idea! How ‘bout we offer a voucher to the hoi polloi? That would give more power to parents and level the playing field.
No? Another bulimic move, huh, Randi?
Also, regarding your “defunding public education” comment, oy vey! Do you have any idea how much we spend on education in this country? Well, you apparently have been ignoring my blog posts and op-eds because I have written about this issue countless times. But don’t feel bad, much of the mainstream media spits out the same hooey as you.
Your friends at The Washington Post – the people who solemnly proclaim that “Democracy dies in darkness” – published a piece in late 2019 which made the dark claim that “adjusting for constant dollars, public funding for schools had decreased since the 1980s.” Anyone who knows anything about this subject knows that this is just, well, “bulimic” to use your word.
But to WaPo’s credit, they came into the light, and admitted that they screwed up. The fact is that we now spend over $15,000 per k-12 student each year – almost double what we spent in 1980, and yes, that is correcting for inflation. Maybe now you will join the newspaper and finally stop banging the defunding drum.
Most sadly, the media and people like you have influence. A lot of it. According to a recent EdChoice survey, 80 percent of Americans underestimate the amount of money we spend on education.
I hope the truth about education spending has you feeling a bit better, Randi. If not, here’s something that’s sure to cheer you up! Between 1970 and 2017, the number of public school teachers increased 57 percent and non-teaching staff was up 151 percent, but there was only a 10.4 percent increase in students. Of course, the increased staffing and outlay had zero effect on student performance, but it sure increased the teachers unions’ bottom line big-time, didn’t it?
Okay, okay, I suspect that you may be getting a wee bit defensive right about now, but let me explain. It’s not that I think you dislike children, or want to do them any harm whatsoever. After all, I know you, and we’ve been friends for a long time. But it’s just that children are not your primary concern…or secondary…or tertiary for that matter. If they were, you wouldn’t be spreading myths about defunding and, more importantly, you wouldn’t constantly fight to deny parents the right to choose the best education fit for their child.
In closing, I know how busy you are these days, but if you ever get out my way, lunch is on me, Randi! But please, no references to bulimia while we are eating. Please. Looking forward!
All the best,
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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.