Opinion: A teacher/GOP official slams union opposition to DeVos

I have often wondered when Georgia Republicans would figure out that the education establishment will never be on their side, and stop pandering to them as if they might. Apparently one Georgia Republican, who also happens to be a teacher, has reached that conclusion.

Betsy DeVos, nominated to be secretary of education, testifies before a Senate committee, Jan. 18. Teachers groups in Georgia and elsewhere were mobilizing to oppose her confirmation, rubbing some conservative educators the wrong way. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

Betsy DeVos, nominated to be secretary of education, testifies before a Senate committee, Jan. 18. Teachers groups in Georgia and elsewhere were mobilizing to oppose her confirmation, rubbing some conservative educators the wrong way. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

Kirk Shook is secretary of the Georgia GOP in addition to other roles with the party. He’s also a teacher in Oconee County and, evidently a member of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE). The group Tuesday night issued a “call to action” for members to call U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson in opposition to the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as education secretary. Shook took exception to that action in a letter he emailed to PAGE’s executive committee, the Republican members of the state House and Senate education committees, members of the state Board of Education, state superintendent Richard Woods, the governor’s chief of staff and various other officials. Here’s the text in its entirety:

“PAGE Executive Committee:

“As I have mentioned in a previous email a few years ago to you, I am very concerned about the direction of this group using our membership dollars for political activities. The very reason teachers join PAGE over GAE is to prevent their membership dollars from supporting political causes they don’t agree with.

“GAE has long been a shill of the Democrat Party and you are becoming the same. As a Georgia public school teacher, I almost daily I receive emails that are promoting the Democrat talking points under the guise of improving education in the state. While this might be understandable since Republicans control the Georgia legislature and thus education policy, one would assume that you would also have been as critical of the Obama Administration and Education Secretary Arne Duncan–two who have added more bureaucratic red tape to education than any administration in history with the likes of Race to the Top and Common Core, which necessitated the need for many of the policies to be passed by the legislature which you so lament today.

“Of course, criticism of a Democrat administration which has placed undue burdens on teachers for the past 8 years has never been forthcoming, but now that there is a Republican President, you are now suddenly taking up the fight nationally.

“This is disgraceful and I am ashamed to have my name associated with a group that claims to be supportive of education when instead they are only supportive of the Democrat Party. You are feeding Georgia teachers information to promote your own liberal agenda.

“It is no wonder that your influence under the Gold Dome has diminished in recent years, and if this is the direction that you are trying to take Georgia, I hope the influence continues to diminish.”

Shook is not the first Republican-voting teacher I’ve heard from about this kind of political activism. Some teachers have felt pressured to participate in activities such as today’s “Wear Red for Public Ed” campaign. Um, which teachers at public schools don’t support public education? But that of course isn’t the point: The point is to undermine the cabinet appointee of a Republican president. Those who disagree with the herd mentality on display here, or who simply think that kind of activism during the school day is inappropriate, are forced to choose between their consciences and keeping the peace with their colleagues (and bosses).

I’ve also heard from numerous teachers that the only reason they join groups like PAGE and GAE (Georgia Association of Educators) is to be covered by their malpractice insurance. “I sure do wish there was another (such) organization that was truly non-partisan,” Shook told me by phone this afternoon.

As long as we’re talking about contacting one’s elected representatives, his fellow teachers might want to know the state has authorized — but not funded — its own malpractice insurance program. If legislators were to fund it, thousands of teachers might find themselves without any need to join either PAGE or GAE, cutting their ability to promote this kind of activism and (more in the case of GAE) support Democratic causes and candidates financially. It was, remember, GAE and its parent organization, the NEA, which led the charge on a $5 million charge to defeat the Opportunity School District last fall.

I can’t imagine why Republican lawmakers wouldn’t want to create that insurance program and give them that option.

UPDATE: My colleague, Maureen Downey, has received and posted a response from PAGE. You can read it here.

Reader Comments 0

65 comments
metitotktodd
metitotktodd

I don't know how any sicko can celebrate the stealing of an election by a con man psychopath narcissist egomaniac bully Trump who plans to trash our Democracy and turn this country into an Oligarchy of the 1%. Trump has nothing to offer anything except the destruction of everything that made this country great, from health care to education. The animal needs to be impeached.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Alright, I apologize, I shouldn't have been so dismissive. There is a misunderstanding here regarding the definition of America. The United States was formed as a government of the people, by the people and for the people. In other words, the individual above the nation. We do not answer to our government, well, not anymore anyway, they answer to us. The individual. Go study our history and learn what you are so sorely lacking in understanding about your own country.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

 Ychromosome 3 minutes ago

America first. Those are Trump's words. If you don't interpret that as putting the nation over the individual then you cannot be helped.


Yeah, no matter what harm it does to it's citizens, President Trump wants the government of America to be number one, lol.


You're a clown.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@AndyManUSA#45 POTUS Trump means that American Citizens will be first when he says America First! That should not be hard to understand. Every thing he has done so far is to improve the lives of it's citizens first with saving decent paying jobs! The Mexican President can go to hell as far as I am concerned. Tell him to bring his undocumented back to his country!

Ychromosome
Ychromosome

Any FEMA helping in the tornado ravaged areas or have we been too busy Tweeting to notice?

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Part two -


and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition


This part of the definition, held alone, by itself, without the first part, could very well apply to President Trump. But, when taken with the first part, about the nation being over the individual, it almost exactly describes the obama regime. obamacare? Laws dictating the immoral acceptance of gay marriage? I could go on and on and on but reliving the treachery of the last 8 years is not on my agenda tonight.  obama was a fascist and you have no evidence to prove otherwise.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

  Starik 58 minutes ago

@AndyManUSA#45 @Starik So, the focus on patriotism by Trump and Putin are a step toward fascism?


AndyManUSA#45 2 hours ago

@Starik @AndyManUSA#45 a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual 


I chose the Merriam Websters dictionary version of "fascism" because they are the recognized source of definitions and for the fact that they, rightfully, do not include the words left or right wing. They also do not mention "patriotism." As the definition above explains, fascists elevate the nation and even races above the individual. Their words, not mine.


Donald Trump's entire campaign emphasized the individual over the nation. The exact opposite of fascism. His actions during the first five days of his administration have reinforced his rhetoric of the individual above the nation. He is reducing the size of the nation and it's control over the individual. You cannot deny this.


obama, on the other hand? Total, full blown fascist.

Ychromosome
Ychromosome

America first. Those are Trump's words. If you don't interpret that as putting the nation over the individual then you cannot be helped.

Starik
Starik

@Ychromosome That depends on how you define "America." Individual opinions vary widely on what "America" is.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

The newest far-left buzz words....alternative facts. The lemming brain washed are in lock step marching for the cliff.

Ychromosome
Ychromosome

Alternative facts was the explanation used by Trump's spokesman. Is he far left now?

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

 Starik 22 minutes ago

@Doom classical lib @JFMcNamara @Hedley_LammarSchools should not be segregated by race; they should be segregated by intelligence, attitude and behavior.


Best comment of the blog^^.


When you throw together a mix of dumb and smart kids, the dumb ones will use up all the resources trying to keep up. It's just a plain simple fact. And this is regardless of race, Ben Carson, MLK, Clarence Thomas, all should have been in the smart class. Alec Baldwin, Jesse Jackson, john kerry, dumb class.

Starik
Starik

Fascist? That's become an epithet for the other side, from extreme right to extreme left. Means nothing.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@Starik Question, during your brain washing, did they tell you it is possible to be a right wing fascist on race matters and a left wing fascist on economic matters, at the same time?

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

So now the fascists, after having spent 10 Trillion Dollars that no one has any idea on what, are worried about bankrupting the United States? 


The nerve.





AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Think it through, Kyle. The teachers get cushy, unaccountable, well paying jobs that they can't be fired from, the politicians get their campaign coffers filled and the kids get the shaft. Judging from the results, you certainly cannot call it an education system. It must serve some other purpose. 


The days of inner city blacks signing their names with an X are over with. Competition has come to education and you will be able to choose from the very best for your children. 


Brought to you by President Trump, the "racist."

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

When Trump bankrupted one of his businesses with bad decisions he just moved on to the next thing 


What happens when he bankrupts America ?

JohnB
JohnB

Just caught my grammatical mistake. It shout be "when we substitute", not " when we substitutes..." Mea culpa.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@JohnB If you were in public school, you would still get a participation ribbon.

JohnB
JohnB

oom classical lib 1 hour ago

The only thing dumber than a Dim is a Dim who thinks they know about edumacation. Hint, Dims - you know squat. Stick to mooching. Let Republicans handle everything else.

I am  a democrat and a retired teacher who taught for 36 years and spent 60-70 hours a week trying to help students read, write, and think critically. I wish I were still teaching civics, so I could use your childish taunts and rants as examples of what is wrong with public discourse. Of course you are not the only one, but when we substitutes ad hominem attacks and "your Mama has cooties" comments for rational debate (and that means the use of reason and logic, not alternative facts), it leads to a degradation of our culture and makes it possible for our country to elect a President whose modus operandi is the use of such behavior. We reap what we sow.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

The far-left Democrat party is in complete chaos and desperation. This is a new day with an administration that's barraging the Dem's with change in the way the federal government will do business. Good job Trump, you have them on their heels by attacking in so many directions. Education is certainly among the highest priorities. Stand by, each day will become even more interesting to real Americans. The phonies in our country will continue their little whining pity parties but it truly is a new day in America.

palepadre
palepadre

 I am from the old school. My mother, a single Mom. Managed to get me into a Catholic School, starting in 1st. grade. staritng in 1954. Nuns had the final say. Mom was not well educated. I, in hindsight, believed she expected Teachers to create a very intelligent Student. Problem, I inherited the genetics and lack of reverence for education. Mom, nor any of my aunts and uncles graduated from High School. The genetic side. One of my uncle's wives said, "#$%^& did wonderful for dropping out of ninth grade." In other words, mediocre was good enough. I had no one to turn too, to ask questions about my studies. Teachers, have a slice of a students time, the parents the other 75%. But, if a parent expects the teachers to transform their children by themselves, the child is doomed. I had the option to get a job, doing manual labor, or go into the military. The military gave me time to mature. Now, so many jobs are going S.T.E.M Genetically, I don't have the brains to learn the math needed for those jobs. Its time to pre-test the students. And parents must admit that their child, is a Voc-Tech student. Welder, Chef, Baker, Auto Mechanic and so on. That way, the students that have the Genetically induced, Family Reverence for Higher Mental Education, can pursue that course of study, without having fellow students create chaos in their classrooms. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@palepadre  There isn't anything wrong with the trades. We've allowed that vocation to be chased away by the stubborn belief that globalization is in the nations best interest, as a result we've been exporting our middle class to other developing countries. I blame both parties for this false belief. Hopefully, a Trump administration will restore the common sense that made this country the greatest nation in the world.

jhgm63
jhgm63

@SGTGrit @palepadre back in the day, training for vocational and trades were provided by union apprenticeship programs. Those are few and far between these days.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-emails-rnc-reince-priebus-white-house-server-548191


Senior Trump administration staffers including Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner, Sean Spicer and Steve Bannon have active accounts on a Republican National Committee email system, Newsweek has learned.


The system (rnchq.org) is the same one the George W. Bush administration was accused of using to evade transparency rules after claiming to have “lost” 22 million emails.


Lock them up !!!! Lock them up !!!! Lock them up !!!!

breckenridge
breckenridge

Dec 2, 2016 -  Betsy Devos, the billionaire philanthropist whom Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Education Department, once compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to "advance God's Kingdom." 

 

Trump’s pick, a national leader of the school choice movement, has pursued that work in large part by spending millions to promote the use of taxpayer dollars on private and religious schools.

Instead of leading the Department of Education, she should lead the Department Of Traitors Go Straight To Hell.

Robert1959
Robert1959


A third grade child asked her teacher a question. What is a white nationalist? The teacher answered the child and said a white nationalist is a white racist bigot who practices hatred, fear and bigotry against Black/Hispanic/Asian/LGBT/Muslim and Jewish Americans. What would you tell the child? Would Ms. DeVos tell the truth or another "alternate fact" lie?


TomGaff
TomGaff

@Robert1959 Robbie, if that was a teacher's response to the child's question, she should be FIRED! Not much difference in a white teacher telling her students what the "N" word is!

TruthReallyHurts
TruthReallyHurts

Party aside, Mrs. DeVos is an incompetent pick for DOE. That's the real point. The woman showed that with her miserable performance in the confirmation hearings. No one who heard any of her answers should confirm her. 

TomGaff
TomGaff

@TruthReallyHurts Failing public schools need an option, not completely sure of the best option. May have to consider giving the parents a choice?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 You know when AMerican schools performed the best?  


When they were segregated. Duh!


You progs don't understand that separation of the races is in the races best interests.  You progs keep trying to mess with human nature.  Ya can't mess with human nature ya just can't.


President Trump understands this. Do you fool?????????


Kyle. You on board with this ?

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Republicans are bound and determined to get everyone else to help them pay to send their kids to "private schools", aka "school choice".


Hey cons, if you can't afford private school for yer precious children, go get a better job or borrow the money like everyone else. Quit looking for hand outs.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@Finn-McCool Libs, is it not two-faced of you to be accusing the Cons of looking for "hand-outs"? Isn't freebies, handouts and however you wish to say it, the cornerstone of the Democratic liberal Party? 

fez
fez

@TomGaff @Finn-McCool No matter how many times the likes of you and Doom say that, it isn't true.  Tired meme is tired.