Can Educators Save the Middle Class: Spreading the Word


by Amanda Litvinov, Felix Perez and Brian Washington

This article is part two in a three part series that will post throughout the coming weeks. You can read part one, “Collective Action,” here and part three, “Reaching Policy Makers” here.

Few would argue against the notion that public education is the greatest tool we have to maintaining a middle class. Every day in schools across the country, hard working educators give children the skills they need to become successful learners, agile problem solvers, and creative thinkers, preparing them not only to enter the workforce but to think and act as citizens.

Educators’ priorities are the very things that strengthen the middle class in the long-term. Here’s why you have a key role to play in setting the stage for the rebuilding of America in this crucial election year:

No one can do a better job than you at spreading the word about which politicians truly support what’s best for public education and middle class families—and which ones only say they do.

Never underestimate the importance of your involvement. Ohio’s Issue 2, which would have stripped public employees of the right to collectively bargain, wasn’t just defeated. It went down in flames after tens of thousands of teachers, paraeducators, and other Ohioans knocked on doors, leafleted, made phone calls, wrote letters, collected signatures, and attended rallies, determined not to be silenced by politicians funded by out-of-state corporate front groups.

The defeat of Issue 2 was the high-water mark in 2011 for the besieged middle-class, which has seen class sizes balloon, layoffs increase, children’s health care and food assistance slashed, and pensions cut.

But this is no time to sit back and assume the pendulum will continue to swing back in favor of those who teach our children, care for our sick, protect us, and stand up for our communities. We must do the hard work of getting the right candidates elected—and then we must hold them to their word to do right by public schools and working families.

Just look at two of the front runners for the Republican Presidential nomination: There’s Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has said he would sign a national right-to-work law. Then there’s former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who called child labor laws “stupid,” and suggested that poor students should work as school custodians. Both support taking taxpayer money from public schools for private school vouchers, privatizing Social Security, and supporting a tax hike for the middle class while refusing to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.

Beyond the presidential election, educators and the middle class have a chance to restore balance through the ballot box:

Reader Comments

  1. As long as teachers support the freedom eroding policies of liberals, (progressives,) and this will NOT happen! Look at the cities and the states where liberalism has been established and deeply entrenched, how well do they fare? How has Detroit been doing? How well financially has the state of California been doing? Who was in control of the state of Louisanna and the city of New Orleans, that left them so bad off with Katrina? How’s Chicago? With the price of gas at 183% now of that at the begin of the Obama Change this nation’s economy has not done well. No, the candidates and the policies supported. by the teachers’ unions have not, nor will they ever protect or save the middle class. Entitlements erode the middle class. Higher taxes erode the middle class. Nanny state rules and policies have Not supported the middle class! More regulations are not the middle class! Obama’s Distribution of Wealth policy can in no way be supportive of the middle class. Educators must understand and teach that the Constitution is vital in preserving the middle class. It is not as Pres. Obama has repeatedly claimed, “a negative constitution, since it does not say what Government can do!” No! It is what was designed to protect the middle class, as well as ALL classes.

    1. In my opinion, as a veteran teacher, a well written, grammatically correct comment will make a much better impression on readers. Also, short, strong statements presented as facts need to be backed up with evidence or most people will ignore them and take them as merely the opinion of someone who has not done their homework. In my classroom, this comment would not merit a passing grade.

  2. It is very clear that there is a concerted effort to demonize unions for the economic woes that our nation has suffered. Some of these efforts have been successful in one part due to voter apathy and the complete disconnect from the political process. People are torn in trying to find a candidate that represents their political philosophy on moral issues and economic issues. Obviously the preserving our right to collective bargaining is essential. Our salaries allow us to save and put our own children on their path to college, that is until recently where college costs have skyrocketed leaving many middle class teacher families with few options. An affordable wage for teaching children which is the primary reason that many of these legislators made it to their current position – that is with an education is not too much to ask for. However, citizens and legislators must realize that we can no longer live in the environment of our own parents in which states were operating with balanced budgets and people were provided for. Partisanship has polarized the political process so that no compromises are made leaving governments to make deep cuts to our profession and other programs. It is time for both political parties to take the steps to end the bickering and look for viable solutions to the problem instead of wholesale cuts.

  3. It is very clear that we all have a job to do for the Elections of 2012. We must campaign for our candidates and issues every where we go. We must make a concerted effort to do something each day. Making a Pac contribution is a given; however much, much more needs to be done–talk to your family, neighbors, and friends (recruit them), write letters and use electronics, knock on doors, etc.

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