DeVos-Backed Campaign Literally Writing the Script to Smear Striking Teachers

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Right-wing billionaires are sure to disapprove of any large-scale public action that underlines how bad their preferred policies are, and indeed, a large number of them are supporting a PR effort to discredit the teacher’s strikes happening around the country—including, in a fun twist, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ family.

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The Guardian obtained a “messaging” document from the State Policy Network—which is funded by the Koch brothers, the Walton family, the DeVos family, and others—advising anti-union activists on how to make teachers striking for livable wages and adequate resources look bad. This is a bit of a challenge, SPN acknowledges. “This is an opportunity to sympathize with teachers, while still emphasizing that teacher strikes hurt kids,” the document reads. Got it!

From The Guardian’s summary:

The SPN document urges its followers to attack the walkouts stealthily, rather than criticising them directly. A head-on assault on teachers for their long summer vacations would “sound tone-deaf when there are dozens of videos and social media posts going viral from teachers about their second jobs [and] having to rely on food pantries”, it says.

The guide, written by SPN senior policy advisers, is revealingly candid about the difficult position that conservatives find themselves in within states that have aggressively cut taxes at the same time as slashing education budgets. “For those of you who are in states where you’ve cut taxes recently, that is sure to be a theme in coverage. That is obviously a challenging message to counter.”

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The document suggests talking about “red tape,” and advises against trying to use this as an opportunity to discuss charter schools—because “teachers at choice schools are often paid less than district school teachers.”

Best of luck to my union-busting friends on this wonderful and entirely logic-based campaign.

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.

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DISCUSSION

Matt Bevin to State Policy Network-Hold my beer.

“I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them,” Bevin said. “I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were left alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them.

Children were harmed – some physically, some sexually, some were introduced to drugs for the first time – because they were vulnerable and left alone,” Bevin continued.”

Bevin: Children were sexually assaulted and tried drugs because teachers were protesting