Romney’s Game Changer: Civil Rights*
‘Puter’s been thinking about Mitt Romney, and not in the “I wonder if he’s wearing that funky Mormon underwear” way. ‘Puter’s been thinking Mitt Romney needs to be true to who he is.
Mitt Romney is the son of an early and vocal civil rights supporter. Mr. Romney comes from a long line of faithful and committed Mormons, many of whom likely tithed their income to the Church of Latter Day Saints, and all of whom certainly participated in charitable works throughout their lives. The Republican National Convention gave us glimpses of Mr. Romney’s never-mentioned charity. Mr. Romney needs to return to his roots, his roots in standing up for those who cannot stand on their own.
‘Puter is calling for Mr. Romney to declare that the last remaining widespread and tolerated denial of civil rights is the abysmal education we force children of the poor to endure. As minorities are disproportionately poor, they are disproportionately affected by it.
If ‘Puter were managing Mr. Romney’s campaign, he’d be on the phone right now lining up a venue in large, predominantly African-American inner city Chicago congregation for this coming Sunday. Perhaps the Greater St. John Bible Church? ‘Puter would invite Mayor Rahm Emanuel to join Mr. Romney there to address education the congregation on education as a civil right.
‘Puter would then hand Mr. Romney a copy of this speech, tell him to memorize it, not step on the applause lines, and then stand him up behind the pulpit the following Sunday morning.
Good morning. My name is Mitt Romney. I am here today to speak with you about America’s last great civil rights struggle: the civil right of each and every child to have the opportunity to receive a solid education.
Before I begin, I would like to thank Reverend Acree for his kind hospitality and generosity of spirit in affording me this opportunity to share your Sunday worship. Reverend Acree and I do not agree on everything. Heck, we probably don’t agree on most things. But Reverend Acree and I agree that for too long, America has failed to provide all of its children the opportunity to receive a top-notch education.
I would also like to thank Mayor Rahm Emanuel for joining me here today. Mayor Emanuel has struggled mightily and tirelessly against entrenched special interests to advance your children’s education, taking on all comers, including the powerful Chicago Teachers Union. Mayor Emanuel, thank you for putting Chicago’s children and America’s future ahead of your political career.
Right now many of you are probably thinking, “Sure. Here’s another rich, white politician, coming down to the city for a photo op. Rich, white people don’t give two figs about us. This clown’s already thinking about his next campaign stop, or what he’s going to do if — Heaven forbid — he’s elected president.”
Fair enough. You’ve seen parades of politicians preach at you from this very spot during an election year, making pie-in-the-sky promises that never come true, then disappear to City Hall, Springfield or Washington, not to be seen again until the next time they need your vote.
But I am not that politician. More importantly, I am not that man.
You’re still skeptical. Alright, then. Let’s make a deal. If you make me one promise, I’ll make you two in return.
Promise me that you will listen to me today with an open mind and an open heart. America’s children are too important for you to ignore my words as the empty promises of a no-good Republican politician.
In return, I make you these two promises.
I promise each of you that if I am elected president in November, and provided Reverend Acree will have me back, I will join you for Sunday services on the very next Sunday following the election. After services, we can meet to discuss how to best ensure all American children are properly educated, not just the privileged few.
Now for my second promise. If I am not elected president in November, and provided Reverend Acree will have me back, I will join you for Sunday services on the very next Sunday following the election. After services, we can meet to discuss how to best ensure all American children are properly educated, not just the privileged few.
Many of you seem both wary and puzzled. Wary, because experience has taught you politicians always have an agenda, whether it’s apparent or not. Puzzled, because no politician has ever promised to come back even if he loses an election.
But I am not that politician. More importantly, I am not that man.
I am a man who is dedicated to fighting for the civil rights of all Americans. Not just the Americans who look like me. Not just the Americans who agree with me. All Americans.
That’s why I’m here today, asking for your help. Help me right a wrong. Help me to fight for civil rights for America’s youngest citizens..
Help me provide every child the opportunity to receive a solid, quality education from kindergarten through high school. Every child.
Not just middle class kids because their families are blessed to be able to afford to live in good, suburban school districts.
Not just the rich kids because their families are blessed to be able to afford the finest schools money can buy can afford without regard to price.
Not just the politicians’ kids because their mother or father can bend the rules to get them into top-flight schools, regardless of district lines.
Stand with me today, and I will stand with you tomorrow. Together — and only together — we can change our children’s future, ensuring all American children receive the opportunities only America among nations can afford them, opportunities our parents and grandparents fought, struggled and died to guarantee for all Americans.
As Americans, we owe one another a duty to speak the truth for those who cannot, even when the truth is painful. Especially when the truth is painful.
On behalf of America’s children — the rich, the poor and the in-betweens — I speak this painful truth: America has failed to provide its poorest children the opportunity to receive a quality education.
This painful truth is plain for all who choose to see. It is time to acknowledge America’s education system as it is, not to pretend America’s education system is as we wish it were.
Look at the failed and failing schools all across our great country. Look at the ones right outside this church’s doors. What do these schools have in common, aside from being almost exclusively in poor communities? For the most part, these schools are full of black and brown faces, with only a smattering of whites among them. To be born poor, especially poor and brown-skinned, is a nearly ironclad guarantee of receiving an insufficient education.
Let me speak that obvious and painful truth again: America has failed to provide its poorest the opportunity to receive a quality education, and America’s failure disproportionately affects minorities.
For too long, we Americans have fought over whether America’s failure to adequately educate the poor is a vestige of our racist past.
Does it matter whether a child damned to attend a failed school by circumstance of birth alone is a vestige of Jim Crow? It does not matter to the child betrayed by a fatally flawed education system, unable to compete with better-off children educated in well-to-do areas.
To this child, and therefore to me, what matters is correcting this inequity, this violation of that child’s right to the opportunity to receive a quality education.
So what am I going to do about it? How am I going to correct this failure? What’s my plan to provide each child the opportunity for a quality education? I have a three part plan.
First, let’s free schools, and thus our children, from the bondage imposed on them by teachers’ unions.
We need look no further than our own front door. Right now, right here in Chicago, we have striking teachers in the streets , egged on by their unions, protesting in the names of Chicago’s children. This charade has gone on long enough. In no meaningful way are teachers’ unions supporting your children, or operating in their best interest. Teachers’ unions serve one purpose, and only one purpose: enriching themselves at the expense of the children and the taxpayers.
We all love teachers. Other than our parents, teachers are the people who have the greatest influence on who we are, what we become and how much we achieve.
But it is fair to ask the teachers why it is that we shouldn’t be able to fire the worst teachers, the ones that even the teachers themselves would admit are horrible. Why is it that teachers should get guaranteed raises every year for mediocre results? Why is it that teachers should have a guaranteed pension for life, which you and I pay for, when you and I have to provide for our own retirements? Why is it that teachers have health insurance benefits far better than those of us who pay for those benefits?
As Mayor Emanuel can attest, each and every one of these benefits demanded by the teachers’ unions costs money, money that could be spent on school renovations, or additional teachers, or new lab equipment, or computers for each and every child in the schools. Heck, we could even use some of the money to pay the best teachers what they deserve: a salary competitive with private industry.
Today, rather than educating children, Chicago’s teachers march in the streets, claiming to act in the best interest of Chicago’s children. I ask you, is it in the best interest of Chicago’s children that they are missing class days as teachers use them as pawns in contract negotiations? Is it in the best interest of Chicago’s children that their school facilities are decrepit, in part because of the outsized benefits Chicago pays its teachers? Is it in the best interest of Chicago’s children that their teachers can quit after a grueling 5 hour 45minute day, instead of working a full 8 hour shift, or more, like most of us? Teachers’ unions don’t care about our children. Teachers unions care only about lining their pockets and those of their members.
Teachers’ unions are the modern day Bull Connor, standing in the schoolhouse doorway, preventing America’s poorest children from receiving the education they deserve. As bad as Bull Connor was, teachers’ unions are worse. Bull Connor was a profoundly racist man, a man who visited evil on African Americans, but his evil resulted from misguided and evil bigotry and hatred. Teachers’ unions, Bull Connor-like, have prevented America’s poorest children from receiving their rightful opportunity to receive a quality education, and these unions have done so solely to guarantee themselves high-paying jobs for life, and that’s the hard truth.
I will work tirelessly with you to reform public sector labor laws so that teachers’ unions as we know them today no longer exist. I will also work tirelessly with you to ensure that as teachers’ unions fade into America’s past, that our teachers are protected from political, administrative and parental vendettas. I will work with you to ensure our teachers are paid commensurate with the value they provide our children, not on the basis of how long they’ve occupied a desk. I will work with you to ensure that teachers receive fair benefits, similar to those of the taxpayers whose money pays for teachers’ benefits.
America’s schools can, will and must educate our children while ensuring that our competent teachers are treated fairly. We can do this together, and we can do this without teachers’ unions.
The second part of my plan is to trust parents to choose the best school for their children.
How many of you would like your children to go to school where the rich parents send their children? Each and every parent, no matter how rich or poor, no matter their race or religion, wants the best for their children. And why shouldn’t our children have the best? Why is it that America’s poorest children are locked into an education system that has failed America’s poor for generations?
And that failed education system isn’t cheap. In 2008, Chicago spent an average of $15,800 per student. I’m certain Mayor Emanuel would tell us that Chicago spends even more money on a per pupil basis today.
In 2008, Elmhurst, Illinois, where some of Chicago’s better off citizens live, spent per student an average of $15,205. Elmhurst also achieved significantly better education outcomes than Chicago did. If Chicago cannot provide its children the educational equivalent of an Elmhurst education, why shouldn’t Chicagoans be able to take the money allocated to their children and spend it getting their children the education they deserve?
Unions will call my plan a voucher plan, a cruel plan to starve local schools. Not at all. It’s a plan that gives all parents the opportunity to do what the rich have done for years, to opt out of a failed system. Take your child’s voucher and buy her the best education you can find, whether it’s at your neighborhood school, a school across town, a charter school or a religious school.
Competition among schools for your vouchers will drive improvements. These improvements will be possible once we remove the anchor of teachers’ unions from our schools’ necks. And if the school you choose performs poorly, you are free to vote with your feet, just like the rich do.
Vouchers terrify teachers’ unions because they know what we all know. If each parent could choose the best school for their child, there would be a whole lot of schools with a whole lot of teachers and no students.
The first two prongs of my education reform plan are a start, but that’s what government can do. Those prongs don’t touch on my individual moral obligation to help the less fortunate.
I’m no scriptural scholar, but I don’t seem to recall Jesus ever telling his disciples to push their moral duties onto government. I do recall, however, Jesus’ Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25: 31-46.
In that parable Jesus tells us to feed the hungry. Jesus tells us to give drink to the thirsty. Jesus tells us to welcome the stranger. Jesus tells us to clothe the needy. Jesus tells us to tend the ill. Jesus tells us to visit the imprisoned. God commands individuals, not governments, to look after the less fortunate in this world, or face eternal damnation in the next.
We are each obligated on our own to look after the less fortunate and provide for their basic needs, regardless of what our government may provide. I take this obligation seriously.
As such, here’s the third part of my plan.
Ann and I are pledging $10 million from our personal assets to establish a foundation dedicated solely to the reform of American elementary and secondary public education so as to provide each and every American child the opportunity to receive a quality education.
Ann and I are also pledging an additional $5 million of our assets to fund scholarships for academically promising poor children, so that they may immediately be liberated from poor schools and choose elementary and secondary schools able to educate them to their full potential.
When the government fails to protect the weakest among us, it is up to us as Americans of good will to step in and fulfill America’s promise. Ann and I are prepared to put our money where my mouth is.
There you have it. You have held up your end of the bargain. You have listened to my words with open minds and open hearts. I will hold up my end of the bargain and return here this November.
Win or lose this November, we will go forward together to make certain America keeps its promise of educational opportunity to our children.
God bless each of you today and each day of your lives, and God bless the United States of America.
Sure, ‘Puter’s speech is a little over the top, but what does Mr. Romney have to lose? Mr. Romney needs the grand gesture, the Sister Souljah moment, the Nixon Goes to China moment.
Take a gamble, Mitt. Bet on Americans loathing teachers unions and loving their kids. You won’t be disappointed.
And who knows? Maybe by taking a stand for America’s children, Republicans will warm up to you because you finally stand for something. Maybe Democrats will fear you less because you actually stand for something they believe in. Both Republicans and Democrats will respect you more for giving a tough speech on a wedge issue in front of a polite but hostile audience in a city and state you have no chance of winning.
Do it. Do it now.
*’Puter actually drafted the vast majority of this posting after the Democratic National Convention last week, based on President Clinton’s masterful performance and President Obama’s adequate performance as a response thereto. ‘Puter forgot about his draft until this morning, when he reread it and determined that yes indeed, ‘Puter is a freakin’ genius, way ahead of his time.
Always right, unless he isn’t, the infallible Ghettoputer F. X. Gormogons claims to be an in-law of the Volgi, although no one really believes this.
’Puter carefully follows economic and financial trends, legal affairs, and serves as the Gormogons’ financial and legal advisor. He successfully defended us against a lawsuit from a liquor distributor worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid deliveries of bootleg shandies.
The Geep has an IQ so high it is untestable and attempts to measure it have resulted in dangerously unstable results as well as injuries to researchers. Coincidentally, he publishes intelligence tests as a side gig.
His sarcasm is so highly developed it borders on the psychic, and he is often able to insult a person even before meeting them. ’Puter enjoys hunting small game with 000 slugs and punt guns, correcting homilies in real time at Mass, and undermining unions. ’Puter likes to wear a hockey mask and carry an axe into public campgrounds, where he bursts into people’s tents and screams. As you might expect, he has been shot several times but remains completely undeterred.
He assures us that his obsessive fawning over news stories involving women teachers sleeping with young students is not Freudian in any way, although he admits something similar once happened to him. Uniquely, ’Puter is unable to speak, read, or write Russian, but he is able to sing it fluently.
Geep joined the order in the mid-1980s. He arrived at the Castle door with dozens of steamer trunks and an inarticulate hissing creature of astonishingly low intelligence he calls “Sleestak.” Ghettoputer appears to make his wishes known to Sleestak, although no one is sure whether this is the result of complex sign language, expert body posture reading, or simply beating Sleestak with a rubber mallet.
‘Puter suggests the Czar suck it.