Leaked docs reveal Koch/Walton/DeVos's anti-teacher talking points

The "State Policy Network" is a coalition of 66 far-right organizations who've been given $80M by a small number of billionaires, including the Walton family (heirs to the Walmart fortune), the Koch Brothers, and Betsy DeVos; they're terrified of the teachers' uprising, in which wildcat strikes have raced across America because teachers whose unions were neutralized have been put on starvation wages in underfunded facilities. Without any union bosses to keep them in check, the teachers have demanded the world -- and they're getting it.

A leaked document ("Messaging guide: How to talk about teacher strikes") sets out a detailed plan for discrediting the striking teachers by holding out "low income families" and "good teachers" as the victims of the strike. It also candidly admits that people in states that have been looted by right-wing governments are more sympathetic to the teachers who are educating their children than they are to the billionaires who are destroying their futures.

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.”

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, told the Guardian: “It’s fascinating that even Koch-funded conservatives recognize that there’s huge public support for public education and for treating teachers with respect.” She denounced SPN’s guide as a “piece of propaganda – the conservative strategy is to defund schools and delegitimize the voice of teachers”.

SPN’s talking points advise rightwing activists to emphasise the damage done to “good” teachers by the strikes instead of trying to justify low pay for all teachers. Similarly, attacking teachers for asking for more funding for schools would not be a winning argument, so SPN urges its followers to emphasise instead “red tape and bureaucracy”.

“In most states, administrators and other non-teaching staff vastly outnumber teachers,” the guide says. Then it adds, in capital letters and within parentheses: “[INSERT STAT ON ADMINISTRATIVE BLOAT FROM YOUR STATE].”

Revealed: Secret rightwing strategy to discredit teacher strikes [Ed Pilkington/The Guardian]

(via Naked Capitalism)

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