If John Kasich was Ruler of the Universe, teachers would no longer be allowed a clandestine space away from their students to plot with the unions against him.
That’s right, he’d ban teachers’ lounges.
“I’ll tell you what the unions do, unfortunately, too much of the time,” he said at the New Hampshire Education Summit on Wednesday. “There’s a constant negative comment to, ‘They’re gonna take your benefits, they’re gonna take your pay.’”
“And so if I were, not president, but if I were king in America, I’d abolish all teachers’ lounges where they sit together and worry about, ‘Woe is us,’” he added.
The idea is not the first time he’s proposed banning something benign.
He wrote in his 2006 book that he once tried to get his local Blockbuster to remove the movie Fargo from its shelves because of a particularly stomach-turning scene involving a corpse and a wood chipper.
But despite the tongue-in-cheek nature of the comments, teachers unions weren’t amused.
“I think that if you talked to our teachers, they would ask you, ‘What’s a teacher’s lounge?’” said Melissa Cropper, the president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. “There’s so little time anymore.”
“The entire Republican Party seems to be running on this platform of demonizing and vilifying teachers,” she added.
And Randi Weingarten, a longtime Hillary Clinton ally who helms the American Federation of Teachers (which endorsed Clinton in July), tweeted her distaste with Kasich’s remark.
And National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García said those clandestine convos are pretty important.
“In Ohio, John Kasich took resources out of public school classrooms to provide vouchers for private schools that don’t provide opportunity to every child, slashed public school funding by half a billion dollars, and expanded unaccountable for-profit charter schools that misspent millions while producing some of the worst outcomes in the nation,” she said. “Educator’s [sic] will absolutely discuss how they can overcome these obstacles to help their students, as well as hold elected leaders accountable.”
Kasich is nothing if not blunt—before first getting elected, he committed to “break the back of organized labor in the schools”—and there seems to be little love lost between him and the state’s public school teachers.
Of 355 Southwest educators that the Cincinnati Enquirer surveyed this summer, 340 said they wouldn’t vote for him to be president. And only 2 percent of respondents said his governorship had had a positive impact on education in the state.
In 2011, he signed a bill limiting public sector employees’ collective bargaining rights comparable to the Act 10 legislation Scott Walker signed in Wisconsin the same year. But unlike Walker—who won a tough recall election and implemented the policy overhaul—Kasich couldn’t seal the deal. A few months after he signed the bill, voters tossed it out in a statewide referendum, with only 38 percent voting to keep the policy overhaul. That said, in 2012 he had narrow success on the issue, signing a Cleveland-specific education overhaul that impacted some teachers’ collective bargaining rights there.
So it’s understandable that he’d say he needed to be a king to effectively take on unions.