They’ve compared teachers to whiny children who haven’t earned their allowance. They are making them pay an additional 6% or more for benefits they were already promised. They have raided the school aid fund causing their employers to freeze their wages and charge them more for health insurance. The fiscal chaos they unnecessarily created has increased their work load and eliminated opportunities for their students. Some of them have lost their jobs, and some of the best new teachers are being forced to leave the state. Their school districts have been bogged down with more regulations while new competition with very little oversight has been created. Republicans have done all this and more over the past two years. Now they say they want to support teachers.
The House Republicans just released their 2013-14 “Action Plan.” The Action Plan is a follow up to last year’s Guiding Principles. The Action Plan plan lists the Republican’s goals for the upcoming year, and their self-defined successes for the past year. It was not a surprise to find the usual Republican mumbo jumbo about reducing taxes and regulations on businesses. What was surprising was that one of their goals was to “support Michigan’s teachers.” The goal says “Michigan’s teachers need the support of their state and their community to make the most of their abilities and help our children thrive. We will explore new ways to reach out to the education community for ideas, give underperforming educators the support they need, and recognize our state’s best teachers for the amazing work they do.” Last year’s tone was a lot different. The Guiding Principle publication said “the education system should not be about the adults and their careers.” It also stated that “teachers, administrators, parents, and students all agree that the (education) system needs significant reforms.” Not only did teachers, administrators, and parent associations not “agree” about the need for these reforms, their input into the reform process went largely ignored.
Here is why Republicans have changed their tone. They are using a tactic that can best be described as a domestic violence approach. First, Republicans beat up teachers with faulty information in attempt to shatter their confidence. Then they tried to isolate them by breaking their unions via right-to-work laws and other harmful legislation. Now they want to be nice to teachers hoping they will forget about the last two years so they won’t challenge their control of Lansing and of our government. Just like the perpetrator of domestic violence, Republican’s primary goal is to maintain control. Let’s hope teachers, administrators, and parents are all wise enough to avoid that cycle of violence. If Republicans maintain control beyond 2014, there is no doubt they will start attacking teachers again. Teachers should remember what George Washington said: “It’s better to be alone than in bad company.”