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.
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.”
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.