Mitt Romney, one of the top contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, gleefully dropped some teacher-hating red meat to the CPAC crowd in Washington last week. The audience pounced like bears on honey. As someone who cares about the long-term sustainability of our democracy, I am perplexed.
Here's the choice excerpt:
I am convinced that history will judge President Bush far more kindly -- he pulled us from a deepening recession following the attack of 9-11, he overcame teachers unions to test school children and evaluate schools, he took down the Taliban, waged a war against the jihadists and was not afraid to call it what it is -- a war, and he kept us safe...
Never mind that Bush decidedly did not defeat the Taliban. What are teachers' unions doing juxtaposed with jihadists, economic recession, and the Taliban? The line got special applause.
Check it out starting at 1:12:
Hooray! Teachers are evil! Or (and I'm inferring here...) maybe not all teachers are evil, but their right to a collective voice is and it must be crushed! If truly pressed, I'm sure Romney would offer lip-service for individual teachers or for charter schools -- especially charter schools run by for-profit companies. Many charter schools are great -- I work at one -- but they are nowhere near a comprehensive solution for the mass-scale crisis of equity and opportunity in America's schools. I wouldn't bet on a substantive conversation about education, grounded in students' realities, would be one that Romney will join.
Romney clearly enjoyed soaking in the applause for his bombastic talking point. It doesn't matter that demonizing America's teachers is a suicide pact for improving our country's long term prospects.
As a final insult to all non-CPAC zombies, he followed his carefully calibrated teacher-bash with this raucous applause line:
I also respect the loyalty and indefatigable defense of truth that comes from our "I don't give a damn" Vice President Dick Cheney!
'Nuff said Mitt.
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