Her video has gone viral. Teachers Union President Becky Pringle addressed the union’s national convention this past weekend. She’s become an Internet “sensation” because of her 66-second closing, filled with yelling, pounding the podium, and spewing empty political word salads — think Kamala Harris meets megachurch preacher meets The Office’s Dwight Schrute.

“We will do the work. We can do the work. We must do the work…We have to win all the things. All the things. All the things. All things for our colleagues.”

But the scary viral closing is not what struck me. 

It wasn’t her empty, political word salads yelled at the top of her lungs, or her pounding of the podium. It wasn’t even that she clearly was prepared to give that speech in front of President Biden — before he canceled his appearance on 24 hours’ notice because the union that staffs the teachers’ union went on strike and he wouldn’t cross that picket line.

What struck me was that it was a raw, ideological, partisan political speech. The national president of the teachers’ union came to their national convention and focused her stump speech on promoting Joe Biden, attacking Donald Trump, attacking the Supreme Court, and — of course — “defending democracy.”

It was a speech that could’ve been given by Kamala Harris, AOC, or even Biden, but for her passion, focus and energy. In fact, she could give that speech almost verbatim in Chicago in August, when the Democrats hold their national convention.

After an opening that went through the Democrat Party’s punch-list, she finally said the word “student” just before the four-minute mark. It was as if her speechwriters had finally noticed that the teachers’ union president forgot to mention students and they threw it in.

Having done her “duty” by mentioning students, she then got to the real crowd-pleaser. At about the six-minute mark, she pledges to “fight vouchers” and all efforts to “drain resources from public education.” 

No matter how many times she said “all the students,” it was clear that she didn’t mean “all.”

President Pringle’s crack staff either didn’t know or didn’t care to know that as they assembled in Philadelphia, public schools in Pennsylvania had gotten the largest increase in spending in history in 2021-2022. Then, even bigger in 2022-2023. And bigger yet in 2023-2024. 

And, in 2024, if Governor Shapiro could have convinced his fellow House Democrats to deal with Senate Republicans and create Lifeline scholarships — for poor families whose children attend the worst public schools — they would be getting even more money.

Pennsylvania’s 2024-25 budget hasn’t been passed on time only because House Democrats are choosing to turn down a $1.5 billion increase — the biggest ever — because they still won’t accept a Lifeline program.

In reality, no scholarship or voucher program “drains money from public schools.” Ever. Every public school gets funding for the students who are in public schools. In Pennsylvania, even more so. 

For two years in a row, Governor Shapiro has asked for the largest increase in public education spending ever — and a Lifeline scholarship program. As a practical matter, public schools would get more, and then some. They would get up to $1.5 billion in actual cash, plus — if current public school students would take a Lifeline — extra money to spend per child, as they would be getting money for kids no longer in public schools.

Yet, again, Pennsylvania Democrats refuse to deal or compromise. President Pringle would be proud. Ideology and politics are more important than “all” students’ success.

What also struck me as she wove in education rhetoric around praise for Biden and attacks on Trump, was that she never talked about the tragic academic reality that is the state of public education today for many students. National test scores were stagnant or falling pre-pandemic. Now, very few district or state scores have even gotten back to even 2019 levels

The union that lobbied to lock our students out of schools in 2020 and 2021, and who has advocated for lowering academic standards, eliminating advanced classes, and re-writing lesson plans so that 2+2 can equal 5 offered thunderous applause as she extolled the virtues of public education and all that they’ve done.

She spoke with “motherly pride” of how Maryland had passed a law to make sure that no book is “banned” in public school libraries. Again, I wonder, how many have the Bible? How many have Trump’s bestseller “Art of the Deal?” Why are some books okay to be “banned,” yet, de facto pornography being accessible to ten-year-olds is a “sacred right?”

Surprisingly, she didn’t seem to dwell on the fact that thirteen high schools in Baltimore have zero students proficient in math. But, that’s the tragic reality of the takeover of public education by ideological power politics.

Celebrate that twelve-year-olds can see graphic pictures of oral sex, read to them by a biological man dressed as a Vegas showgirl. And, gloss over that no one in high school can figure out how to buy lunch with cash. No worries, just give him a B for trying and pass him to the next grade. Apparently, that’s what’s called compassion and enlightened education.

Pringle didn’t talk about closing the learning gap from their Covid lockdowns. Didn’t talk about re-thinking their new approach to math that accepts “close enough.” Didn’t talk about teachers going back to the commonsense idea that their personal life and politics ought to stay out of the classroom. Didn’t talk about revising lesson plans so that they stress what unifies all the students, rather than what separates them.

No plans to lift up public school students. And students in private, charter, cyber, parochial or home schooling are “drains” on public school.

No vouchers or scholarships. No choice for parents. No partnership with parents.

But, no worries — in case you were wondering, she did demand higher salaries. Priorities after all. Not merit pay, heaven forbid. Just higher pay.

More money. Always more money. 

Tear down the Supreme Court. Work to re-elect Biden.

Union boss Pringle wants to “win all the things.”

Guy Ciarrocchi writes for Broad + Liberty and RealClear Pennsylvania. He is a Senior Fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation. Follow Guy at @PaSuburbsGuy.

4 thoughts on “Guy Ciarrocchi: Teachers’ union president is just another political boss”

  1. “She spoke with “motherly pride” of how Maryland had passed a law to make sure that no book is “banned” in public school libraries. Again, I wonder, how many have the Bible? How many have Trump’s bestseller “Art of the Deal?” Banning a book and choosing not to own one are two different things.

    “She’s become an Internet “sensation” because of her 66-second closing, filled with yelling, pounding the podium, and spewing empty political word salads ” You’re right. The speech was a nothing burger, that was full of fire and fury, with fake news, and was not winning. Bigly.

  2. Teacher’s unions “want it all”.
    They want unlimited gobs of taxpayer money, no accountability for their students success or lack thereof and no competition of any kind.
    Public School teacher’s unions “get it all” as they have bought and paid for the democrats in control.

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