by John Grooms
House Speaker Thom Tillis, fresh from gutting the states education budget, took his contempt for education and voters intelligence even farther by telling the GOP state convention that teachers dont care about kids. They dont care about classrooms. They only care about their jobs and their pensions. Theres a reason progressives have started calling Tillis The Double Speaker the Mecklenburg pol has a knack for describing his partys gifts to millionaires and its heavy-handed cuts to the needy as the best thing for North Carolina since pork barbecue.
Tillis and the rest of the New Bosses cut more than $100 million from K-12 expenditures, which will debase the quality of kids educations while dumping 13,000 education jobs. But somehow, its the teachers who dont care about kids? And this makes sense to ... anyone at all? And while were on the subject, what, pray tell, is the problem with teachers caring about their jobs and their pensions? Its not like the state pays them much to begin with, so give the folks who educate our kids a break, will ya? This new Republican tactic of bashing teachers is a nationwide trend; its also unwarranted, destructive, and frankly, stupid as hell. Since when are schoolteachers the bad guys? I guess since Upside Down World went into effect when the GOP took over the General Assembly.
Tillis says he also wants to bar the state from collecting dues for the N.C. Association of Educators. The NCAE is a volunteer group that lobbies for teachers. It is not a teachers union, which are illegal in N.C. Moreover, dues are collected from teachers checks only if they join the group, so Wisconsin-type GOP arguments about powerful teachers groups and unions forcing their will on schools arent just lies, theyre actually pretty delusional.
Luckily, Gov. Perdue has said she will veto any budget that cuts into the meat of the education budget. Republicans, however, convinced five Democrats to vote for their budget, which, they say, makes the budget veto-proof. So here we are in 2011, in a state that long ago decided to promote progress and financial well-being by emphasizing education, and now Tillis & Co. have N.C. marching resolutely back into the dismal past. Heres what Im wondering a lot lately: Do people like Tillis, who live in the giant conservative bubble, ever really listen to what theyre saying? Do they have any sense of irony (much less self-awareness)? Apparently not.