by Laura Clawson for Daily Kos Labor
Ask Mitt Romney a question about education, and it’s predictable that he’ll come back with two answers: bashing teachers unions and calling for more testing. That’s exactly what happened this week when Fox News Sunday‘s Brett Baier asked Romney if he thinks the federal Department of Education should be abolished. Explaining what role he thinks the federal government should continue to take even if his alleged belief that “education has to be managed at the state level, not at the federal level” was implemented, Romney predictably attacked teachers unions:
But the role I see that ought to remain in the president’s agenda with regards to education is to push back against the federal teachers unions. Those federal teachers unions have too much power, in some cases, they overwhelm the states, they overwhelm the local school districts. We have got to put the kids first and put these teachers unions behind.
That’s right. Mitt Romney wants you to believe that teachers unions are so powerful that it takes the federal government to counter them—state and local governments are powerless against them. That is, of course, one of those statements that would be totally hilarious if it wasn’t a claim that Republican presidential candidates and governors were making, en masse, as the reason to crush teachers unions, and if their reasons for wanting to crush teachers unions didn’t have quite so much to do with the desire to make it easier to fire experienced teachers and replace them with cheaper, inexperienced teachers. It might be funny if it wasn’t such a terrible insult to people who pour their lives into their classrooms and their students, working long hours for not enormously much pay. In fact, as Romney was saying this, the leaders of the Milwaukee teachers union were “campaigning for members to sacrifice a week’s worth of their pay to help reduce class sizes next year in Milwaukee Public Schools. The MPS Children’s Week Campaign is asking educators to give up 2.6% of their salary next year to allow for class-size relief.”
Romney thinks if he always makes sure to include the word “unions,” we won’t notice that what he’s saying is that he wants to put teachers down, to eliminate their ability to bargain over class sizes and how much test results will be used to measure educational quality and to treat teachers as the enemies of their students, rather than as educators and advocates. This is nothing new from Mitt Romney. But it’s an insult every time he says it.