Saturday, January 26, 2019

OK Legislator To Teachers: Shut The Hell Up

Oklahoma has worked hard to get itself in the front of the pack of States Most Hostile To Public Education. Maybe not number one (relax, Florida), but right up there. Ultra-low teacher pay. Slack charter rules. The kind of state where the idea for improving education is to gear it more toward providing meat widgets for employers. The kind of state where a serious idea about improving teacher pay is to fire half the teachers and give their money to the remaining teachers, who will all teach twice as many students.

So it wasn't a huge surprise last year when teachers in the state walked out. While they didn't get everything they wanted, they were still confident that they has sent a message to the legislature.

Apparently some legislators misunderstood the message.

Oklahoma's political leaders could have looked at the walkout and said, "Damn , we need to spend more on education" or "Damn, if we don't get our act together, we'll never recruit enough teachers to help with our ongoing teacher shortage" or even, "Damn, we have got to find a way to suck less."

Nope. The conclusion some legislators reached was, "Damn, we let teachers talk too much."

This frickin' guy. 
Meet Rep. Todd Russ. He's a hard work and Godly values guy. He has two degrees in banking and a Doctor of Ministry from Berean School of the Bible, and online university. And his wife is a public school teacher. He's been a banker most of his life, but has apparently since founded Commercial Growers Incorporated, and I can't find anything about that organization. In 2004, he founded the Burns Flat- Dill City Education Foundation, which seems to be scholarship related. And he occasionally attracts cranky attention.

And he's the guy pushing HB 2214. It doesn't have a name, so let's just call it the Shut Oklahoma Teachers The Hell Up Act. SOTTHUA is an amendment to the previous act that was supposed to already have shut teachers up by making it illegal to strike. But it's only a strike if a teachers union takes action against its local school board; when all the teachers walk out because of the state legislature, that's just a walk out and it was previously completely legal. So Russ (did I mention that his wife is a public school teacher??) has plugged the holes with this language:

It shall be illegal for the board of education or school district employees, including all those defined in Section 1-116 of this title, to strike or threaten to strike or otherwise close schools or interfere with school operations as a means of resolving differences with the board of education, the State Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Legislature or any other public official or public body. Any person engaging in a strike, shutdown or related activities shall be denied the full amount of his or her wages during the period of such violation, and if the person holds a certificate issued by the State Board of Education, such certificate shall be permanently revoked. 

Stage a walkout against the local board or the state legislature or, well, anybody, and lose your teacher certificate. If you can't be a quiet, submissive teacher, well, then, you can't be a teacher at all.

Note, also, that this applies to boards of education, because some of those sonsabitches supported the teacher walkout of 2018 both vocally and by closing schools. So they can also shut the hell up.

I haven't found any quote from Russ discussing how he thinks this will affect Oklahoma's teacher shortage. Nor does this staunch defender of the Second Amendment said anything about how he feels this law fits in with the First Amendment. I'm no Constitutional scholar, but this seems a bit iffy to me. Heck, the courts say a politician can't block critics on Twitter, so Russ would be powerless an Oklahoma tweetstorm.

At this point, it's hard to tell if any legislators are willing to support Russ's baloney bill. And it's not the only stupid unconstitutional bill being proposed; Senator Mark Allen wants to make any group over 100 that wants to protest on the capitol grounds post a $50K bond. Both parties have already indicated that bill won't fly; let's hope similar sense prevails regarding Russ's boneheaded bill.  At any rate, here are two more things I do know about Todd Russ.

First, this is apparently not his only education-related bill. Check out HB 2208. This bill would require every school district to have a secret ballot vote at least every five years to determine whether or not the union can keep representing teachers there or not.

Second, Todd Russ won his 2018 re-election bid over Dennis Dugger by about 500 votes-- 5,698 to 5,106. It seems as if Rep. Russ might be a tad vulnerable come next election cycle. That seems worth remembering.

P.S. He's one of three legislators to vote against an equal pay act for women in the state.

17 comments:

  1. Oklahoma teachers: Don't give up the fight! You can clean House by supporting good candidates and sharing this entitled jerk's hateful actions with the PeOpLe. Solidarity from Virginia!

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  2. I wonder what his wife has to say about these bills. If it were me, he would be withdrawing them or finding somewhere else to live!

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    1. His wife isn’t a teacher. She was several years ago but this writer has several facts wrong. I’m not saying TR isn’t betraying teachers, I’m saying, I wish the writer would check their spelling, punctuation & facts first & it would have a better chance of hitting the mark intended.

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  3. Let them make it illegal...they can't fire all the teachers if they walk out. There's already a shortage and no one to fill all those positions they would vacate in enforcing a law like this. Unfortunately, I don't think state by state walk outs are going to effectively address the issues of public education in our country. I think it is going to take a larger act of solidarity.

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  4. Keep up the fight! As an educator in Wisconsin - it is illegal for us to strike. Since Feb. 2011, we have had our rights stripped with our than Governor Walker's Act 10 bill (which is now law). Fight with everything you have. you deserve so much more!

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  5. Awhhhhhhh, the brilliance is blinding! Yes, sarcasm marks inferred.

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  6. Michigan teachers have lost the right to strike. Thank the Republicans and our miserable ex-governor John Engler (who was president of Michigan State University during the aftermath of the Larry Nassar incidents). Teachers must be respected and treated as professionals. Hang in there!

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    1. Snyder deserves his day of reckoning too. Emergency managers! What a joke!

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  7. Crack him and his no brained colleagues in the naps and get it over with.

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  8. After 40+ years, ALEC has managed to push right-to-work laws in 27 states -- crushing unions. This anti-union mindset over time, culminated in the SCOTUS decision "Janus v. AFSCME" last June. Essentially, 'right-to-work' no dues required, for all public employees -- Nationwide. The only way to reverse this trend now, will require a national Solidarity movement. Like our grand and great-grandparents did -- which we squandered.

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  9. I do NOT agree with this and I plan to vote this idiot out of office at the next election. I also believe the teacher union needs to sue the State of Oklahoma for violation of the teachers first amendment rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. People of Oklahoma unite.

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  10. Has he forgotten who pays his salary? He needs to "shut the hell up" and do his job.

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  11. Teachers want to be paid a decent wage. Every teacher should have the right to assemble. Wait a minute. That's their constitutional right. The person sponsoring this unconstitutional bill should be fired.

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  12. Talk about the epitome of a complete and total Jackass!!!

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