Voters in battleground states trust Republicans slightly more than Democrats on education issues, according to a new Hart poll commissioned by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), reports Jonathan Allen for NBC News.
A memo by the pollsters urges the AFT to blame Republicans for "politicizing education," highlight conservatives' most extreme proposals and "reinforce the idea that parents have an important role in ensuring their kids get a good education." The memo also called for pushing "investment" in education.
Suggesting that parents are "terrorists" -- or just unqualified buttinskis -- is not an effective strategy for winning voters' hearts and minds. Who knew?
"Nearly 9 out of 10 respondents say schools have become too politicized, following a year of political attacks on teachers waged by politicians stoking culture wars and banning books for political gain," AFT President Randi Weingarten tweeted on Monday.
"AFT spends millions in recycled tax dollars to fund campaigns every election. According to Open Secrets 99.99% of that money goes to Democrats," responded Mark Hemingway. "But now schools are too politicized!"
Weingarten clearly used the memo to draft her "State of the Union" speech to union members in Boston yesterday:
“While extremist politicians are trying to drive a wedge between parents and teachers by banning books, censoring curriculum and politicizing public education, we’re focused on investing in public schools and the essential knowledge and skills students need,” Weingarten said.
. . . partisan extremists are hell-bent on “dividing Americans from one another, spreading lies and hate, and breaking all the democratic norms to enrich themselves and grab power.”
While 60 percent of those polled aren't satisfied with how racial issues are taught, they don't agree on why they're unhappy, the survey found.
Nineteen percent said there was not enough teaching about racial topics while 18 percent said such teaching “divides society/creates and continues racism.”
Opinion is clearer on teaching children about sexual preference and gender identity, writes Allen. Fifty-eight percent of voters are dissatisfied, with 31 percent saying students are too young and 27 percent saying parents should be responsible for teaching those subjects to their children. Only 11 percent wanted more teaching about sexuality and gender.
The poll is "terrible news" for the teachers' union, writes John Sexton, taking the conservative view in Hot Air.
"When asked who is responsible for politicizing education, more respondents blamed Democrats than Republicans," he writes.
Most voters value education the most: “Making sure students have strong fundamental skills in reading, math, and science” is one of the top three priorities for 58 percent of respondents. "Life skills, critical thinking and college prep" come next, followed by American history (27 percent) and social and emotional skills such as self control (25 percent), writes Sexton.
Florida's so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prevented teaching gender-identity topics to K-2 students, was "treated as extremist by the media," Sexton writes, "but it looks like it’s the kind of extremism that a plurality of people in battleground states agree with."