A raise, retirees, and Obama

By Dr. Gregory T. Graves, AEA Associate Executive Secretary

President Harry S. Truman had a sign on his desk that read, “The Buck Stops Here,” meaning that he would not “pass the buck” or lay blame on anyone else for his failures as a politician. I wish the Republican Leadership in the Alabama Legislature had the same standard. Soon, many of you will see the Republican Leadership blame someone else for failing to keep the promise they made to the voters of Alabama. As shocking as this may seem, they are going to use every effort to try and convince you that all of Alabama’s problems exist because of a man that has never lived in this state.

In the upcoming months, Republican legislators will pass the buck as they attempt to blame President Obama for their failures as Alabama legislators and make him out to be their scapegoat. Undoubtedly, there will be hundreds of campaign ads and commercials from Republicans seeking reelection; however, none of them will admit that they have failed you. The Republican master plan for 2014 is to stay away from the real issues and blame everything on Obama.

It is clear that the Republican Leadership realizes they have let the people of Alabama down. They cannot and will not run on their record of reform because there has been none. Under the Republican Leadership, Alabama has witnessed public education under attack. The signature piece of legislation for this group has been the passage of the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA). This legislation was sold to the people as a way of helping failing schools in Alabama. However, one year and $40 million later we see through the lies and deceit surrounding the AAA. This law does nothing but drain much needed resources from public schools, and provide tax credits to wealthy individuals and corporations.

For almost four years the Republican majority has blatantly lied to educators. It seems this year is no different. Although the budget submitted by the governor contains a 2% pay raise and a full funding of PEEHIP, the Republican Leadership has repeatedly stated the money is not there. Instead of working with you, and providing Alabama’s educators the things they need to succeed, they choose to hurt you and focus their efforts on providing subsidies for the coal mining, aviation, aerospace, and film industries. They want to show AEA who is in charge. The supermajority would rather play political games with the livelihood of those who have dedicated their lives to educating the future of this state than to do what is right by fully funding PEEHIP and providing a pay raise.

Many will try to say that teachers were given a pay “raise” last year. As I’ve said before, it’s not a 2% raise after receiving a 2.5% pay cut. This insult is coupled with the fact that retired educators and postsecondary employees received nothing!

I would be remiss if I didn’t say this, President Obama is far from perfect, and he has made some decisions that I don’t agree with personally or professionally. For example, he appointed Arne Duncan who, in my opinion, is the worst secretary of education in the history of the position and while I do not agree with all of the president’s stances on social issues, as a registered voter, I will not allow my issues with him to prevent me from holding the Republicans here in Alabama responsible for their horrid behavior toward educators over the last four years.

Many of you as voters need a reality check. Whether or not you like President Obama, he lives in Washington, D.C. He works in Washington, D.C. He had absolutely nothing to do with the blatant, vindictive, and petty attacks that have been waged against public education by the Republican legislators who supposedly work for you here in Alabama. It is far past the time that we become honest with ourselves. If we are truly looking for someone to blame for our shortcomings in Alabama, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. President Obama did not elect any of the Alabama Republicans that have voted 100% against public education, quite frankly, we did.

This is an election year, so when you begin to see political literature blaming Obama for all of Alabama’s problems, I simply ask that you not be deceived and fall for this ill-advised attempt to play on your emotions. The Alabama Republican Leadership passed the Students First Act, which reduced your tenure rights. They also cut your pay and drained valuable education dollars away in corporate subsidies. They created tax credits for corporations so the children of legislators and their friends could attend private schools. They created legislation that makes it easier for the state to intervene in your school systems. They eliminated DROP. Remember, these laws were put in place in Alabama by Republicans in the Alabama Legislature. Do not give them a free pass to reelection by blaming Washington D.C., and the president for all of their failings as legislators.

Prejudice and community pressure should not blind you as voters to the fact that this group of Republicans has done more harm to public education than any other group of legislators in history. Don’t let their propaganda, focused on President Obama and Washington, D.C., affect how you view their job performance as legislators here in Alabama.

I urge all of you as voters to show that Washington propaganda doesn’t provide for a free pass to reelection here in Alabama. The buck stops here.

As always, together we stand.



Date: 03/17/14
Category: Political

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