Yesterday's big news in Ohio's gubernatorial campaign was an event staged by Ted Strickland's handlers to bring the affable and vacuous Democrat together with fellow party members and representatives of teachers' unions to denounce Ken Blackwell's proposal that schools be directed to spend at least 65% of their budgets on classroom instruction.
All this, of course, is part of a very consistent elements of Strickland's campaign: the labeling of Ken Blackwell as a dangerous extremist. But more than that, it's a very consistent part of Strickland's politics: slavish devotion to the agenda of unions representing public employees.
Strickland, we undertand, has a 100% voting record with AFSCME, the major union of public employees who aren't teachers. Yesterday's event puts him in good stead, where he probably was already, with the AFT and NEA, the unions that stand for additional funding of the educational status quo in public schools. Restrictions like Blackwell's would stymie the career path of teachers looking to leave the classroom for the many administrative jobs created every year by the public education bureaucracy. The unions won't have that. So Strickland won't either.
At the risk of causing offense (like we care?), we will speak as an educator and administrator, albeit not in elementary and secondary education, but also as a consumer of elementary and secondary education. The idea that anyone would find onerous a requirement that less than two pennies out of three in a school's budget should go into actual instruction is to us breathtakingly absurd.
Education is about teaching. The longer we do it, the more we know it. That's why we refuse to quit teaching even though we administer. The suits need to be minimized; the teachers maximized.
But in that notion, there is something to fear, says Strickland, mouthpiece of the education trade union.
Fear Ken Blackwell, the extremist candidate who thinks that schools should spend almost two thirds of their money teaching!
Embrace Ted Strickland, the friend of the common AFT member, who will leave no public employee behind!