The State Policy Network, a rightwing coalition of think-tanks, has released a playbook to help anti-union activists combat such viral hits as “I’m a teacher who works six jobs to pay the rent” and “We would like some textbooks, please.”
In the memo, first reported by the Guardian, the SPN reminds speakers who wish to undermine the historic multi-state strike over fair wages not to directly criticize the teachers, a tactic that may “sound tone-deaf when there are dozens of videos and social media posts going viral from teachers about their second jobs, having to rely on food pantries, classroom books that are falling apart, paper rationing, etc.”
The SNP released its talking points as teachers in Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Kentucky have been striking in some cases for weeks, and as similar actions in Arizona could begin any day now.
The organization, a coalition of 66 separate think tanks loosely based on the Heritage Foundation, has about $80 million to pursue its goals of “reforming” public employees’ pensions, limiting unions’ ability to collectively bargain, opposing Medicaid, and expanding school voucher programs. Its funding comes from such figures as the Koch brothers and our very own education secretary and walking conflict-of-interest Betsy DeVos.
The paper also makes sure to remind members of its coalition not to bring up school choice: Not only is it “off-topic,” but “teachers at choice-schools are often paid less” than public school teachers. Good catch!
The SNP playbook recommends its members tell the public to think of the children, and low-income children in particular: “It’s unfortunate that teachers are protesting low wages by punishing other low-wage parents and their children,” the talking point reads. Because as the lobbying group is well-aware, the public responds more strongly to accusations of hypocrisy than acts of pure evil, such as telling someone to think of the children while you actively lobby to strip them of their healthcare.
Anyway, here’s DeVos’ plea to the teachers last week in Oklahoma:
“I think about the kids. I think we need to stay focused on what’s right for kids.”