Using teachers as political pawns is not new

From the weekend edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times:

With their salaries central to ongoing state budget battles, many North Carolina teachers say they feel like pawns.
No matter their politics, teachers statewide lament seeing their profession leveraged in what has been an intractable standoff between the Governor and General Assembly.
Who exactly might be playing them as pawns depends on which teachers are asked.

On the one hand, I understand how the budget standoff highlights exactly how central education funding - and teacher compensation - is to the operations and finances of our state. It's the number one funding priority - accounting for 57% of state spending. North Carolina spends $13 billion on education.

Teachers in North Carolina have been used as pawns in politics for as long as the state has been in charge of running public schools. It's not new.

But if it feels like the situation has become more intense, that's because it has. By design.

Before Democrats lost their grip on state government in 2010, they threw a bunch of money at teachers in an effort to hold on to power. But the structural budget deficits were unsustainable and the Great Recession left the state's finances a wreck. Before being kicked out of office, Democrats had furloughed teachers and frozen pay - essentially, eliminating the pay "steps" that teachers automatically receive based on years of service.

Republicans swept into office and began enacting budget reforms while overhauling the antiquated and corrupted compensation system. After righting the ship, the Republican controlled legislature and Republican governor began increasing teacher pay. They have done so every year for six consecutive budgets.

To be sure, the GOP had different ideas about how to best improve educational outcomes for students, and part of those strategies affected how compensation is awarded. Some of these reforms threatened the NC Association of Educators (don't you dare call it a union). The leftists in charge of the NCAE threw their lot in with the radical "Moral Monday Movement" - which was happy to harness the red-shirted bodies to boost their protest march population.

The pitch has always been the same - although the language has become more hostile and demagogic towards Republicans: vote for Democrats because they care more about education. It doesn't matter how many pay raises or increases in education spending the GOP does. The essence of the pitch never changes.

Last year, the NCAE and Democrats began leveraging their squad of red shirts to advance other Democratic priorities. Specifically, Gov. Roy Cooper's demand for expansion of Medicaid.

The NCAE made it an explicit demand as part of their strike.

So, when the local NCAE rep bemoans getting caught in the middle - she's being dishonest:

Some teachers say they are disturbed by this stipulation linking health care with their pay.
"It’s that whole game of pitting us against Medicaid,” said Angie Cathcart, digital lead teacher at Asheville High and president of the Asheville City affiliate of the North Carolina Association of Education. Cathcart said no pay increase, regardless of amount, could convince her to support a budget override.
“We are not just concerned about our students inside our buildings,” Cathcart said. “If members of their families have no insurance coverage, that impacts how students come to our classrooms. It’s a complete picture.”

The NCAE linked education with Medicaid expansion, in service to Democrat dreams of regaining control of the state government.

This was what the organization wanted. Its leaders don't deserve sympathy. Teachers who are not part of the (non)union do.

Pete's Prep: Monday, Nov. 11, 2019

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