When the substitute teachers arrived at the Strongsville police station for background checks, striking teachers greeted the “SCABS” with aggressive screaming and taunting. The applicants had to be escorted into the building by police officers.
“Go home, SCAB!”
“Have some integrity!”
“Get an honest job!”
One union member said, “We’re trying to scare them off in hopes that something positive can come out of this.”
Something positive “for the children,” no doubt.
Several white men screamed at a black woman, with one shouting:“Don’t do it, honey; it’s not all about you,” and “Rosa Parks would be ashamed.”
No doubt there is an important history lesson “for the children” in this mob scene.
Strongsville, Ohio, a normally quiet suburb just south of Cleveland, recently became Ground Zero in the public-sector union war. Earlier this month, after months of failed negotiations, teachers voted to strike when the school board submitted their “last best offer” to the Strongsville Education Association (SEA). With the high-stakes Ohio Graduation Test looming the week of March 11th, the 6000-student district hired substitute teachers to fill in during the strike. Not surprisingly, this didn’t go over well with the union teachers, who decided to intimidate and harass anyone who crossed the picket line — “for the children.”
Laura Rowley, a parent with students in the district, described her experience registering to be a substitute teacher:
I can’t put into words how these EDUCATORS behaved in front of the police station. Blocking the entrance, screaming in my face, calling me a b**tch, pounding on the doors of the building, going on and on…every other word was mother f*cker, dumb piece of s**t—I swear I was walking thru [sic] death row. Really it made me sob—I’m embarrassed that these are the people that are teaching my children. We had to have police escorts to leave the building, is this [sic] beyond crazy. Honestly, I am afraid to send my kids to school tomorrow.
She added, “There were subs crying and hyperventilating, thought they were going to call an ambulance.”
One parent who drove by the scene that day told Bob Frantz on WTAM radio, “I heard the most foul language and I thought my car was going to be mobbed.”
Was that really “for the children”?
To emphasize the point that this strike was “for the children,” the Strongsville Education Association (SEA) posted pictures of the “SCABS” on their Facebook page with the title “Wall of Shame” and the caption “Here’s a visual of who the Board is hiring as replacements (SCABS) to educate OUR children!” Media Trackers Ohio captured screenshots of the pictures ; the caption “And the hiring of ‘teachers’ begins. … Looks HIGH-LY Qualified, but is he?” was next to one picture of a black substitute teacher.
One parent wrote: “Very scary. … I wouldn’t expose my children to this.”
A teacher wrote: “As a Cleveland teacher and a Strongsville resident you have my support 100%, however, I do think some of the captions under the pictures are inappropriate. I realize they are SCABS, but personally poking fun at them to a degree is bullying and we don’t want our kids to see our teachers doing that.”
Another comment: “I am a Strongsville resident and a Cleveland teacher and I fully support you but please review some of these captions, they could easily be viewed as racist and discriminatory and don’t paint the SEA in a good light.”
Eventually the SEA relented and removed the album.
Some teachers tried to frighten their students with the “Wall of Shame” pictures and captions. One mother told WTAM Radio that her daughter “was sent those pictures from her teacher to tell them ‘This was who was going to be teaching.'”
The negotiations are at a standstill over a variety of issues. The district projects a deficit of $10.8 million by 2016 if it cannot contain costs; currently, compensation packages consume nearly 90% of the district budget. The union says the district is not being truthful about the deficit. The most contentious issue is a freeze on automatic step-increases through the 2014-2015 school year. For the children, of course. Teachers are being asked to pay $200/month for the family medical plan instead of the $150 they currently pay and are being asked to pay their own share of the pension contribution — 9.3%. Currently the district is paying the teachers’ 9.3% share plus the district’s share — the 14% the state requires them to pay. Again, presumably for the children. The district even agreed to increase the teachers’ salaries so they would not see a change in their paychecks as a result of the pension adjustment.
The two sides are miles apart, and it’s understandable that tensions are high. But it’s doubtful that anyone in this all-American suburb expected the shocking behavior of the teachers. Media Trackers Ohio reported that Superintendent John Krupinski described the union’s tactics as coming out of Saul Alinsky’s playbook:
It’s like a playbook. It’s based on a book — a play-by-play replay of this book about how to strategize, and be successful in obtaining what you want. Rules for Radicals,” Krupinski said. “If you’ve read that book, that’s exactly the game plan that they’re pulling off. That’s the OEA playbook: Rules for Radicals.
Neighborhoods where the substitute teachers live were blanketed with bright pink flyers announcing, “Do you know a SCAB lives in your neighborhood?” The flyers give the names, addresses, and the phone numbers of the teachers and then rattle off a few SEA talking points, giving credence to the superintendent’s assertion that the union is using Alinsky tactics. Parents were stunned to see their friends and neighbors treated like this. “Who knows what this guy will go through?” said Dan Dubecky. “I don’t know him or his circumstances, but I’m sure he’s just a guy trying to work”
But there’s one thing the union didn’t count on.
Community members, using alternative and social media, are doing an end-run around the mainstream media and the union spin.
Alternative media outlets like Strongsville Patch and the Strongsville Post are providing a forum for students, parents, and teachers. They are covering important details about the strike that the mainstream media conveniently avoid. Community members share information on Twitter and Facebook, including a Facebook page called “End the Strongsville Teachers Strike NOW.” The page moderator, referring to the thuggish union tactics, had this insightful comment on Thursday:
Why do those tactics work? Because they assume silence. They assume that nobody else will ever know. The victims will stay victims, and the bullies will have their way.
That was then. This is now.
Today, we have the Internet. We have social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. A person can now put a message on the Internet, and within hours, it has reached hundreds (or thousands) (or more) people who never would have seen it before that technology existed. Look at today: flyers were distributed this morning, saying that a teacher was a “scab.” By early afternoon, several pictures of the flyers had appeared on social media sites. By early evening, the action of distributing those flyers had been loudly (and correctly) criticized by loads of people, including some of the very people who received those flyers. The entire tactic, which once was an effective way to coerce, is now a very quick way to turn lots of people AGAINST your cause.
Parents have figured out that this strike is not “for the children.”
When teachers try to keep the children out of school by using thuggish, Saul Alinsky tactics, there can be no doubt that the teachers are more concerned about the contracts than the kids.
Though early on in the Strongsville strike negotiations community sentiment seemed to favor the teachers, as word of the unions’ extreme tactics spread throughout Strongsville via alternative media, a shift seemed to occur.
Unlike many strikes, where public opinion almost universally sympathizes with the teachers and against the mean, evil school board, this one seems different. People are angry about the bad behavior of the teachers and are probably more than a little frightened that these people will again be entrusted with the care of their children. Many resent the sense of entitlement from the teachers when they hear words like “deserve” and “fair share” as they see their own health care costs rising and their own pay stagnating while taxes increase. Thanks to Sunshine Laws, anyone with an internet connection can see the teacher salaries in the district and the $1 million+ guaranteed pension plans many of the teachers will enjoy upon retirement at age 55 (fully funded by the taxpayers).
In the past, the unions and the mainstream media controlled the narrative. Today, Americans have the tools to access the truth for themselves and can share this information with their neighbors. This, in the end, may prove to be the demise of the big-union stranglehold on public education.