September 14, 2019

During Thursday's debate ABC News moderator Linsey Davis asked Andrew Yang one question that dropped the veil on his true motives for running for office. Forget UBI, Yang is Silicon Valley's school privatization missionary.

DAVIS: Here in Houston, the school district is facing yet another year of spending cuts. Like schools across the country, the system faces many challenges. One of them, thousands of students are leaving traditional public schools and going to charter schools.

You're the most vocal proponent on this stage for charter schools. You have said that Democrats who want to limit them are, quote, "just jumping into bed with teachers unions and doing kids a disservice." Why isn't taxpayer money better spent on fixing traditional public schools?

This is the first I've heard that Andrew Yang is a reformy school privatizer! All that blather about universal basic income is just smoke to cover the underlying motives and also the reason Silicon Valley loves him. And his answer to her question confirms it.

YANG: Let me be clear, I am pro-good school. I've got a kid, one of my little boys just started public school last week and I was not there because I was running for president.


So, we need to pay teachers more, because the data clearly shows that a good teacher is worth his or her weight in gold.


We need to lighten up the emphasis on standardized tests, which do not measure anything fundamental about our character or human worth.


But here's the big one. The data clearly shows that 65 to 70 percent of our students outcomes are determined outside of the school. We're talking about time spent at home with the parents, words read to them when they're young, stress levels in the house, income, type of neighborhood.

We're putting money into schools, and educators know this, we're saying you're 100 percent responsible for educating your kids but you can only control 30 percent. They all know this. The answer is to put money directly into the families and neighborhoods to give our kids a chance to learn and our teachers a chance to teach.

That last part, that's the key. Yeah, it sounds like "give them 1,000 bucks a month and they'll spend it in the neighborhood" but it's really a disguised call for funding charter schools, which is more clearly spelled out on his website, where he writes:

It’s been demonstrated that teacher quality is the key factor in student success, and paying teachers more is an effective way to get more talented people into the classroom. My friend, Zeke Vanderhoek, started a charter school that manages to pay teachers $125,000 a year on the budget of a normal school. Not surprisingly, his school has great teachers and outstanding outcomes. We should reduce layers of administration in schools and apply the money to pay teachers at higher levels, particularly those who have proven track records and results.

This is all a careful effort to break teachers' unions and hand off education to charter schools, which are generally afforded far more flexibility than the neighborhood school down the street, and do not welcome teachers' unions at all.

Zeke Vanderhoek runs The Equity Project, a charter school serving underserved minority students in New York. The teachers receive a salary of $125,000 per year with the ability to receive bonuses based on student performance.

From the website:

TEP has created a sustainable financial structure that supports its educational vision and its unique focus on teachers of exceptional quality. This begs the obvious question: How is TEP able to finance its teacher compensation program (teachers receive a $125K salary and are eligible to receive an annual bonus of $25K) while relying almost exclusively on the public funding it receives as a New York City Charter School?[i]

The core component that allows TEP to make a radical investment in teacher compensation is that, in doing so, TEP accrues significant cost savings that result from the tremendous quality and productivity of its teachers. Whereas a typical public school spends a significant percentage of its annual funding on line items such as instructional supervisors, extended-day activities, contracted services and the like, TEP avoids these costs because they are either unnecessary given the instructional quality of its teachers (e.g. deans of discipline) or already integrated into its teachers responsibilities (e.g. extended-day programs).

In other words, teachers are paid a lot because they also are expected to do the job of more than one person.

Maybe there's a better way. Maybe teachers could be paid a living wage and allowed to just teach? Maybe investments could be made in neighborhood schools regardless of what neighborhood they're in, and every child could attend school in their neighborhood.

Yang soft-pedals all of these ideas while giving the hard sell to UBI, the handout he wants consumers to finance with a value-added tax.

He has no chance to win the nomination but it's still worth knowing what his true motives are. He's a capitalist, looking for a profit center in education. If he breaks teachers' unions along the way, he's okay with that.

Democrats must fight for unions. Period. Full stop. Teachers, public employees, all of it.

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