Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio to discuss expanding charter schools and putting educational dollars back in the pockets of parents.
Cunningham: My name is Ben Cunningham, sitting in for Michael, along with Robin Steeman and Crom Carmichael. Trying to hold down the fort here this morning. So much to talk about. Robin is with Moms for Liberty.
But also fascinatingly she is a B-1 pilot who has eleven years of service in the Air Force and had 1000 hours flying over Afghanistan on missions flying out of the Middle East. That had to be a fascinating career, Robin. Did you have any reluctance leaving it and coming back to civilian life?
Steeman: It’s always hard to leave a job like that. It was an honor. It was fun, and it was an honor to do so. And also the friendships and the camaraderie that you have in that environment are unparalleled.
But strangely, I really thought once I left the military that I wouldn’t find that kind of camaraderie again, because you really find that with the combat brothers and arms. Flying over a hostile country together, you’re doing a mission together.
You’re putting weapons on target. Everybody has to do their job, and that really creates but the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood.
But strangely, I have found those kinds of connections in Moms for Liberty because it’s another battle. And parents are standing up for their children.
And there are more than a few cases where I see another mom or a grandparent and I’m like, I don’t know you very well, but you and I are united in this cause to fight for our children.
And that’s all I need to know. We’ll figure out the rest of the details later, but for now, we’re going to stand shoulder to shoulder and take this on.
Cunningham: My wife and I were talking about the Moms for Liberty yesterday, and she was saying, look, you get moms upset and you’ve taken (Chuckles) on a challenge. And it’s so true.
It’s so true. Moms, when they get upset, they are motivated by their children’s interest, and there is no mountain they cannot move.
Steeman: There are very few bonds stronger on Earth than the bond between a mother and her child. And that goes for dads and grandparents, too.
But when you pick a fight with the child then you have picked a fight with the mom because the Mama bear is going to come in and she’s not going to stand for it. When you have moms standing up in these numbers shoulder to shoulder, uniting together in a cause, that really is a force to be reckoned with.
Cunningham: Crom, what do you see? You’re talking about charter schools and developing other choices. You’ve been for school choice.
I’ve been for school choice for years. Thomas Sowell and others were beating this drum for many, many years. How do you see things developing? What’s the future?
Carmichael: We’re slowly but surely increasing the number of charter schools. And charter schools do not answer to the teachers’ unions. They’re not unionized. And there are lots of teachers in the government-run schools who hate having to answer to the teachers’ unions.
They hate it. Robin was talking about teachers who have quit their jobs rather than teach something that they consider to be poisonous. And isn’t that a terrible thing?
Cunningham: It is.
Carmichael: That a teacher who cares about children is forced to either quit their job or teach poison. And so I’m a great advocate for increasing charter schools.
And the Tennessee State Legislature, in their wisdom, a number of years ago, passed a law that makes it so that if your local school board turns down your application to start a charter school, you can take that application to the state.
Carmichael: Because our local board of education hates charter schools. They don’t like the competition. And by the way, our local government-run schools do a terrible job of educating primarily black and Hispanic children. They do a terrible job with those two groups of children.
Cunningham: And they’ve failed them year after year, year after year, and decade after decade. These children are given a substandard education. And the teachers’ unions absolutely protect that franchise.
Carmichael: But that’s because the thugs who run the teachers’ unions don’t care about the children. One of the heads of the national unions one day kind of blurted it out.
And so it’s a quote that can never be taken back. He said when children start paying union dues, I’ll care about the children.
Cunningham: Yes. I remember that.
Carmichael: That was a statement that he made. So locally, what Robin is doing, I think, is great by trying to give parents an alternative to sending their children to the schools that teach poison and give them a choice.
But the expansion of charter schools, I think I’m going to find out whether or not there’s legislation that can actually attack the root of the problem which is the teachers’ unions themselves. Not the teachers. But get rid of the unions. And you take away the power of the thugs who run these things.
Cunningham: And they’re so arrogant about it, they expect parents to obey them. They ask my parents to conform to whatever they say. That kind of arrogance is just amazing and that they have it.
Carmichael: If you look across the country and these are primarily Democrats, I’m not going to say that Republicans are pure in this regard, but primarily Democrats run the local school boards.
And certainly, it’s Democrats who run the unions because 99 percent of all union dues that are spent on politics are spent on one party, the Democrat Party. There aren’t any Republicans in positions of power in the unions.
And that’s true with government unions in general. Now, that doesn’t mean the government employees like the fact that their union dues are being spent to support politicians with whom they disagree, but they don’t have any choice.
So the question is going to be legislative. Are there ways at the state level to change the dynamic and to put the power in the hands of the parents and the money?
If the money could follow the decisions of the parents, then the school board would be forced to change. Because now these private schools, which is really these pods that Robin is talking about, are private school initiatives.
And so they could pop up and the government-run schools would disappear. Or they would become incredibly small and the money would go away. And money is the lifeblood of politics.
Carmichael: And you’re right. Your analogy earlier about a grocery store where we were forced to buy spoiled meat, nobody’s going to go to this grocery store.
Cunningham: If you control the money. And that really is what is involved. It’s putting parents in charge by giving them the money and saying, hey, it’s your choice to make. You get to control where it goes.
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