Yesterday, Republicans wrote a Democratic political ad. They’re holding teachers and state employees raises hostage unless Democrats drop their bid to expand Medicaid and give health care to the working poor. That’s just cold. 

I don’t know who in the GOP thought that was a good idea, but I suspect they’ll hear a lot about it this time next year. Apparently, after too long with veto proof majorities, they’ve forgotten what compromise means. The “offer” on the table sounds more like a hostage negotiation.

If they think they’re going to drive a wedge between Democrats and the teachers, they don’t understand the relationship. Republicans have reduced per pupil spending since they’ve been in office. While they’ve finally gotten around to increasing teacher salaries, more money comes out of teachers’ pockets to pay for the short fall in revenue to schools and they have far less support staff and fewer resources. Republicans have made teachers’ jobs more difficult without any measurable benefit to kids.

Their hostage negotiation tactics come on the same day a report highlights how badly GOP education policies are failing our children. Test scores show that students have made no progress in either math or reading under the GOP. Only 41% of 4th graders are proficient in math and only 37% of 8th graders achieved proficiency. In reading, despite the GOP’s Read to Achieve program, 4th grade scores dropped 3% and only one-third of 8th graders are proficient, a number unchanged from 2017. 

Republicans came into power declaring loudly that our schools were broken when they clearly weren’t. Sure, there were problems but our test scores were consistently increasing and the state was addressing issues confronting schools, especially those in low-income areas. Republicans broke the old rule, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

But like bulls in a china shop, they’ve broken everything in a state that once prided itself as a national model for education. They’ve made a mess of our university system, once considered the Crown Jewel of the state. They decided the way to “fix” our public schools was through competition, a euphemism for shifting public tax dollars to private schools. They allowed the proliferation of unregulated charter schools to give the for-profit school industry a boost. None of it has worked and our children are paying the price.

Their latest hostage-as-negotiation tactic just highlights the lack of respect the GOP has for teachers and the public sector in general. They still believe government can’t do anything right and the answer to all our problems lies in some free-market wonderland. They’re doing all they can to privatize our schools despite increasing evidence that it doesn’t work. 

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