“Conservative values go hand in hand with teaching,” Hyland explains. “Teachers see the evidence every day that stable families produce well-adjusted kids who succeed in the classroom. Many teachers are people of faith. Most of us are proud Americans who say the pledge every day with our students and mean it. We teach kids how to show respect and use proper manners by modeling them ourselves. We stress personal accountability.”
Many teachers like the idea of limited government — particularly when it comes to their classrooms.
“Teachers are choking under federal, state, and local mandates and regulations,” Hyland says. “They are stymied by an unrealistic amount of testing that takes time out of teaching and the joy out of learning. We have been hit with layer upon layer of government bureaucracy that pulls us in countless directions … We crave local control for our local problems. Speak about deregulating our classrooms and we are all ears.”
Republican leaders should rethink their approach to the profession. Hyland offers a pretty simple rule: “Every time you begin to paint teachers with the same broad stroke, think about your favorite teacher. Would you say that of him or her?”
Appealing to teachers would also help win back another important voting bloc.
“Face it: The majority of teachers are women,” she points out. “If you can appeal to us with realistic plans to empower teachers, you not only garner the votes of women, you gain union votes, too. Whether it’s coming from administrators or politicians, teachers resent top-down demands that belittle their expertise and ignore their experience.”
When political leaders talk about “our failed education system,” many teachers cringe and take the implied charge personally.
School choice is a valid issue and it’s important to conservatives, but Hyland warns again about verbiage — “Public school teachers see the deck being stacked against them with the school choice argument,” she says.
“Please do not write off all teachers as entrenched liberals,” Hyland concludes. “Some are, but many simply feel that the only respect they receive comes from the Democratic Party. They would welcome an invitation into the big tent of the GOP. Changing the way conservatives interact with public school teachers, without diluting conservative values, would benefit the Republican Party and by extension the future of our country. It’s a winning proposition.”
And this is where the battle should be fought — not on the field of funding, but in the arena of ideas.