Full of hot air and partisan bluster, MSNBC's Ed Schultz cynically and ghoulishly exploited the disaster in Moore, Oklahoma last week to blast Republicans over unrelated education policies.
Schultz recounted the inspiring stories of teachers who threw themselves on students while their schools were being ripped apart by the tornado. But his monologue took an ugly turn when he pivoted to the “conservative news media” and public education:
So the conservative news media has taken it upon themselves to quickly brand them heroes. I have to throw the flag on that one for just a moment. Hold it a moment. They're heroes. I don't want to hear anything about teachers being called heroes until these same people stand up for them and fight for our public schools and our public school teachers, our educators.
What followed was a typical Schultz diatribe on all things conservative – but with even harsher language than we’re used to from the ultra-liberal MSNBC host. He twisted conservative criticism of teachers’ unions, implying that conservatives believe teachers “would never step up during a disaster and save a child’s life.”
Schultz then played a sound bite from the governor he most loves to hate, Wisconsin's Scott Walker, launching an extended tirade against Republican governors across the country. The host attacked everyone from Chris Christie to “slick Mitch Daniels,” berating the “collective effort on these folks” to destroy education as we know it.
This has also been such a collective effort on these folks. And of course Snyder has been pushing these vouchers as well. I have to ask you tonight, folks. What do all of these governors have in common? They are Republicans.
Ever ready to make sweeping generalizations about conservative policies, based on no facts or evidence whatsoever, Schultz went on to declare that Republicans “hate public education” and “don’t mind if some kids fail.” Of course, he also thinks conservatives like to profit off the "dead corpse[s]" of Americans.
The leftist host, who was recently moved to a weekend-only show at the Lean Forward network, fretted over a “conservative plot to privatize education,” calling voucher policies “racist.” Certainly, this is not the most offensive attack on Republicans we’ve seen from Schultz – but it does explain one reason why MSNBC felt the need to "make way for new talent" and place him in a weekend night spot.
The Ed Show
5:01 p.m. Eastern
ED SCHULTZ: Everybody loves teachers. Good to have you with us tonight, thanks for joining us. It was a devastating week for the citizens of Moore, Oklahoma. As a viewer it was tough to watch. They are still recovering from this powerful EF-5 tornado that ripped through their town again on Monday. But during this horrible tragedy, stories of heroism have emerged from everyday citizens and residents, first responders and – most importantly in the conversation – those who were there in those schools, public schoolteachers. Two elementary schools were destroyed by this mile-wide tornado, but thankfully teachers put themselves in harm’s way to protect their students.
We've heard that story before. So the conservative news media has taken it upon themselves to quickly brand them heroes. I have to throw the flag on that one for just a moment. Hold it a moment. They're heroes. I don't want to hear anything about teachers being called heroes until these same people stand up for them and fight for our public schools and our public school teachers, our educators. Because they are under attack all over America. And unfortunately this story just isn't getting enough attention so I'm here tonight to tell you the real story.
It shouldn't really take a school shooting or a tornado across this country for us to realize that there are heroes in classrooms every day in every school across America. But when it comes time to talk about their pay or a better health care or their pension or even protecting their pension – whoa, we don't hear any hero talk then do we? They're a bunch of union thugs. They're a bunch of underachievers. People you think would never step up during a disaster and save a child's life. No, they're only heroes when they do that.
A White House report shows that roughly 300,000 education jobs have been cut since 2009. Three hundred thousand? Is that going forward or backward you think? They’re Republican budget cuts is what they are. Along with the recession, no doubt, it has created a very toxic environment for teachers in their profession.
SCHULTZ: Meanwhile, it's not just Chicago. Pay attention to this. Public schools all over the country are under attack. Let's go to Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker has been going after public education since day one. On Thursday, Walker touted his great education accomplishments during a speech in Iowa.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER: In our schools we can hire and fire based on merit. We can pay based on performance. That means we can put the best and the brightest in our classrooms and we can afford to keep them there.
SCHULTZ: Oh it sounds so good, doesn’t it? Don't let Walker fool you. He's cut over $800 million from public education in Wisconsin and, currently, he's pushing a voucher program to funnel more public money to the private schools? You like that deal?
How about New Jersey? Governor Chris Christie has no problems berating teachers at town halls. He’s also actively fought the teachers’ union and made it harder for teachers to gain tenure. In Ohio, Governor John Kasich tried and failed to limit teachers’ rights to collectively bargaining. In Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal overhauled school funding with a brand new voucher program. Luckily his program was so damn radical it was ruled unconstitutional. In Indiana, let's not forget slick Mitch Daniels. He put in place the largest voucher program ever. In Michigan, well it was Governor Rick Snyder. He created this emergency city manager's position, who really can just wipe out schools with executive order.
This has also been such a collective effort on these folks. And of course Snyder has been pushing these vouchers as well. I have to ask you tonight, folks. What do all of these governors have in common? They are Republicans. They hate public education. They want to voucher Medicare, they want to voucher health care, they want to voucher public education. They don't mind if some kids fail. You know that currently 13 states have some form of a voucher program?
Make no mistake. These vouchers – it's a conservative plot to privatize education. These vouchers are going to leave kids behind. It will funnel public education funds right into private schools. Why? Because these people think it's going to be better? It is unfair, it is racist and in some courts it's been ruled unconstitutional. So when I start hearing all this talk about heroes – the teachers are heroes, they’re heroes at shooting, they’re heroes at tornados. No, they're heroes every damn day because they're putting up with an ideology that is attacking them.