Score one for the teachers. This week, teachers plan a “walk-in” inviting parents and others to schools to discuss the education budget. Predictably, the GOP howled.
Senators Phil Berger and Neal Hunt protested the move as putting politics in the classroom and pointed the finger at the North Carolina Association of Educators. A Civitas blogger chimed in. The Chairwoman of the Wake County Republican Party accused them of promoting unions.
But what does the public hear? They hear that teachers are upset about cuts to schools. And they probably wouldn’t have heard about it all except that the GOP made it a news story.
In a particularly stupid move, Hunt and Berger tried to pull Attorney General and likely 2016 gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper into the fray. They called on the AG to investigate the teachers’ actions. Like a high-hanging fastball, Cooper knocked it out of the park, using the opportunity to go on record slamming the GOP for harming schools.
On this one, the GOP has the wrong message and the wrong messengers. They should have ignored the protest. Most people wouldn’t have noticed. Instead, they are in a fray with teachers and the public is watching. And who do you think the public trusts more? Politicians or teachers?
Berger, Hunt, Civitas and the Wake GOP Chairwoman are inherently political people. They are lousy messengers to complain about somebody politicizing anything. By drawing attention to the walk-ins, the Republicans helped the teachers and hurt themselves.
Instead of demonizing the North Carolina Association of Educators, the Republican leaders are just reminding people of the damage their budget has done. Throughout the legislative session, GOP legislators showed disdain for teachers, lumping them all in with NCAE. While NCAE was leading the fight against cuts to schools, most teachers just wanted to do their jobs. But GOP’s action are politicizing the rank-and-file teachers and turning them into an army.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >