McSwain: Power of Education Belongs to Families, Not Teacher Unions

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By Bill McSwain

Back-to-school season is usually an exciting time for students and families, with children eager to explore new classrooms and reunite with classmates. Unfortunately for Pennsylvania families, these feelings of excitement and pride have been replaced with anxious concern over navigating an educational maze implemented by governor Wolf, whose families-last attitude and knee-jerk support of teachers’ unions have spurred feelings of frustration and helplessness for families across the state. That ends when I’m governor.

In the Wolf administration, tax-funded teachers’ unions call the shots, as union leaders shamelessly use children as pawns and bargaining chips. We are all too familiar with the devastating school closures of the past two years that were dictated by union bosses and lasted far too long. And then Wolf enacted a K-12 statewide mask mandate just days after the teachers’ unions publicly demanded one, even though it meant reversing his own prior policy. When union bosses control the school systems, everyone suffers, including the many teachers who are forced to find ways to teach effectively while navigating burdensome union policies. As governor, I will stand up to union bosses in defense of what really matters: students, parents and the support of good teachers.

Defending parents and students does not mean just removing authority from union bosses and giving it back to families, it also means empowering parents to make the educational choices that best meet their children’s needs. Receiving a comprehensive education is the first step towards success for any child, and while Pennsylvania has some of the nation’s best public schools, we also have some of the worst – and even well-funded schools are not equipped to meet the needs of every child. This leaves many families in the tough position of having their children in a school that does not meet their needs, or enrolling their children in private schools that often require hefty tuition fees or are located further away from neighborhoods. Implementing school choice policies across Pennsylvania is one of the ways I will solve this problem.

Defending parents and students does not mean just removing authority from union bosses and giving it back to families, it also means empowering parents…

Every student, regardless of socioeconomic status or neighborhood, deserves to pursue the education that best meets their needs and to go to a school by choice, not by default. As governor, I will work to ensure this by supporting policies like the expansion of charter schools. Expanding charter schools across the state will give parents more autonomy and allow them to seek out the location, curriculum, or specialized program that is best for their children. And it is not just families who will benefit – teachers will, too. More charter schools means more resources per student, the creation of more testing sites statewide, less crowding in public schools, and the creation of new teaching jobs across the state. Teachers’ unions’ opposition to charter schools demonstrates the selfishness and me-first attitude of the unions, which are only too happy to fight against new teaching jobs when those jobs fall outside their immediate sphere of influence. When elected, I will fight for school choice for every family, and will not allow union leaders to bully and coerce teachers, parents or students.

Just as I will never allow teachers’ unions to hold parents hostage, I will also never allow radical special interest groups to hijack our state’s curricula with racist ideologies like critical race theory. Any instruction that teaches children to judge others based on race has no place in our classrooms, period.  As Governor, I will spearhead legislation banning such racist concepts from being taught in Pennsylvania schools. We can teach our children about our country’s flaws while still never losing sight of the greatness of our nation and the unmatched opportunity and exceptionalism that we represent around the world. Instead of teaching fear, shame, and division, our schools should teach our children a sense of pride in all that our nation has overcome and achieved.

During my time as a U.S. Marine and as U.S. Attorney, I have always stood up for what’s right in the defense of those I swore to protect. Pennsylvania needs a Governor who will put parents and families first, stand up to union bosses, and protect our state’s children from racist brainwashing. As Governor, I will work to deliver on these promises from day one, so that the power of education will be returned to where it belongs – to Pennsylvania families.

Bill McSwain is currently a Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania.