by Edd Doerr
While the Tea Party movement is an aglomeration of a great many separate groups waving the Tea Party banner, it has many common themes. One theme that is becoming more visible is an antipathy and hostility toward public education. This shines through in the nationwide drive by Republican governors and state legislators, not to mention GOP members of Congress, to slash public school budgets and do all possible to divert public funds to private, mainly conservative church-related, schools through the mechanisms of vouchers or tax credits.
Writing in the Thinkprogress blog on 7/11/11, Zaid Jilani calls attention to the Independence Hall Tea Party Association, which operates a major PAC in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware and has been part of the drive to pass private school vouchers, an issue that has convulsed the Keystone State for months. Teri Adams, president of the outfit, has said that "public schools should go away". She said that their "ultimate goal is to shut down public schools and have private schools only, eventually returning responsibility for payment to parents and private charities. It's going to happen piecemeal and not overnight."
Adams criticized current voucher plans because they "discriminate" against the wealthy and seek only to help poor kids in inner cities.
To show how phony the Tea Party movement is, with its presumed linkage to the country's founders, we need only look to history, real history, not the fanciful nonsense of Glenn Beck or David Barton.
In May of 1785 Congress passed the Land Ordinance to divide the Northwest Territory (what became Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin) into 36 square mile "townships", each containing 36 sections of one square mile. About 3% of the land in each township was to be used to support public education. From that time until now the overwheming majority of Americans have supported public education. The annual Gallup/Phi Delta Kappa polls for the last 40 years have backed this up, not to mention the more than two dozen referenda since 1967 that have defeated all attempts to divert public funds to nonpublic schools by superlandslide margins, even in very conservative states like Utah.
So it is not a stretch to label Tea Party efforts to weaken or wreck public education as "un American".