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Radical PA Teacher's Union jockeys Gov. Josh Shapiro, Rep. Tom Mehaffie, throw underprivileged children and parents under the bus on school choice
By betraying PA's children and parents on school choice, so-called "Moderates" Gov. Josh Shapiro and Rep. Tom Mehaffie show voters they're entirely beholden to extreme left-wing special interests.
A tale of two “Moderates”
While nothing is impossible, it isn't easy to find exceptions to any long-standing norm, especially in American politics, where a status quo of dishonesty, double talk, and self-service has existed for nearly two and a half centuries. Cycle after cycle, the majority of politicians will say and do anything to get elected.
Once that happens, it is anything goes; nothing gets done, and our elected officials don't care as long as they continue to get re-elected to their ivory towers of privilege, free to serve themselves while "we the people" pick up the tab. That is the norm in our commonwealth and country.
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However, this wasn't supposed to be the case in 2022, when so-called "moderate" Democrat gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro was sold to Pennsylvanians as not only an exception to the norm but the radicalism and insanity engulfing what has now become of his party. Sadly, many knew this would blow up in their faces.
Halfway through his first year in office, it did, as Governor Shapiro went back on his word concerning the critical issue of School Choice by choosing to line-item veto $100 million in the state's new $45.5 billion budget for the Lifeline Scholarship program (now called the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success, or PASS).
In Joe "the big guy" Biden fashion, Shapiro showed his true colors to countless Republicans and Independents who bought his "malarky" on the campaign trail. Even though Mr. Shapiro assured voters, he was a "different kind of Democrat" who supported private school choice numerous times as a candidate and re-iterated that support on Fox News with Dana Perino just a few weeks ago.
If Shapiro were truly a different kind of "moderate" Democrat, as he claimed, why would he go back on his word? What happened?
“I call it the great betrayal of Josh Shapiro” “You know, talking about how important school choice is and, “All of God’s children need the opportunity for education, blah, blah, blah” right?”
“And then, to get the budget out of the House, he commits to line item veto the school education choice portion of it to get the House Democrats on board,”
“Shapiro faced strong opposition from very extreme House Democrats who don’t want to spend 0.2 percent of the budget. That’s what we’re talking about.. $100 million out of a 45.55 billion budget in order to help some kids.”
Indeed, Shapiro faced strong pushback from the Pennsylvania House Democrat leadership, who said they would refuse to entertain any budget that includes the program and the long list of left-wing special interests that were top donors to his gubernatorial campaign.
As reported by Spotlight PA: "A broad coalition of labor unions sent Shapiro a letter urging him to reconsider. In particular, Rich Askey, who heads the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said his group had made it "clear" to Shapiro that the unions do not have his back on vouchers, saying that they are "incredibly disappointed."
The medley of pressure was too much for Shapiro, as ultimately caved to extreme house Democrats and his biggest donors (who control House Democrats as well), promising to line-item veto plans for the $100M school choice scholarship program (which the governor said he not only supported but helped draft) so the Senate Bill would pass the Democrat-controlled House.
Instead of taking responsibility, Shapiro rejected any assertions of broken promises and betrayed trust concerning the program he once supported, shifting blame and the responsibility of passing the 45.5 billion dollar budget to Republicans.
“There was never a deal between all three parties, that was acknowledged by all of the parties privately and publicly.”
“I recognize that some of them want to distract from the reality that they now find themselves in…,” he said, referring to Republicans. “They now need to get in a room with the House Democrats and they need to learn to work together and they need to work on these code bills and return to Harrisburg to get the budget bill to my desk.”
“I am unwilling to engage in the small ball which for so long has stymied progress in this building when there was a chance to adopt a budget that makes historic investments in key priorities of both parties and one that is fiscally responsible.”
“Senate Republicans worked in good faith with Gov. Shapiro for nearly two months, making concessions and giving him all the goodies he wanted with his promise to work with his party” to get approval for the scholarships.
In reality, what Governor Shapiro smugly referred to as "small ball" is the lives and livelihoods of disadvantaged children who are suffering in failing schools across our commonwealth.
For example, as reported by The Center Square:
“The Governor was sent a letter by 65 supporters of the PASS program who indicated that data shows 250,000 students attend low-performing schools across 39 counties. Among the elementary schools in this group, less than 8% of students scored proficient in math, while less than one-quarter are proficient in English. Not one student across six low-performing high schools read at grade level. Another 33 schools report zero students performing math at grade level.”
That said, it’s clear Governor Shapiro along with Democrat members of the House and Senate who opposed this bill are well aware of what is happening across our commonwealth, along with the large number of their own constituents who strongly support school choice.
In fact, a recent poll conducted by the Commonwealth Foundation found there is strong bi-partisan support for school choice, including expanding access to educational opportunities, and scholarships for children to chose alternate schools.
According to National School Choice leader, Corey DeAngelis, who praised Shapiro in the past for his willingness to break with Democrats on the scholarship issue:
“The is a bad political calculation by Josh Shapiro. More than 70 percent of parents with school-age children support school choice in Pennsylvania.”
He further added that: “This line-item veto of the school choice proposal he included in his platform is a slap in the face to voters”
DeAngelis also points out how many of the Democrats who opposed poor families to use PASS to escape low-performance public schools send their own children to private schools, including Governor Shapiro:
According to DeAngelis: “Worse yet are the Senate and House Democrats who opposed this legislation, when they went to private school themselves or send their kids to private school.”
Further he adds that: “Their hypocrisy is a slap in the face to families in underperforming school districts. These hypocrites represent the worst in Harrisburg”
Unfortunately, for those children and their parents, the unwillingness of our Governor and legislature to do their job and act on this critical issue proves how ridiculously powerful and self-interested our state’s far-left teachers unions have now become.
Interestingly, Governor Shapiro wasn’t the only so-called “Moderate” officeholder who betrayed those kids and their parents due to being bought and paid for by the radical left-wing teachers union (PSEA).
My state legislator, self-described “Moderate” (just like Josh Shapiro), Republican Rep. Tom Mehaffie (PA106), is also owned by the PSEA, which is why he voted with the House Democrats to pass the 2023 budget even with Governor Shapiro’s promised line-item veto of the PASS scholarship program.
Even though the vast majority of his GOP colleagues in Harrisburg and constituents strongly support school choice policies and object to the left-wing indoctrination in our schools, Tom Mehaffie’s allegiance to PSEA should serve as an explanation to all those wondering why a “Republican” legislator would spend four terms voting against children and opposing very critical and badly needed school reforms.
Corrupt PA State Rep. Tom Mehaffie, funded by radical leftist special interests, exposed as Harrisburg's biggest FRAUD and must be primaried in 2024
Moreover, Pennsylvanians who support school choice priorities also have Mehaffie to thank for handing the House majority to the Democrats in the first place and for voting a Democrat (Mark Rozzi, yet another so-called "moderate" who also opposes school choice) for Speaker of the House.
In many ways, what we are seeing play out with regard to the extreme House Democrat majority pressuring Governor Shapiro to line-item veto Lifeline Scholarships out of the 2023 budget happened as a direct result of their favorite "Republican" Rep. Tom Mehaffie's betrayal of his party and constituents earlier this year.
Ultimately, for career self-servants driven by an unquenchable thirst for money and power, like President Joe Biden, Governor Josh Shapiro, and Rep. Tom Mehaffie, identifying as a "Moderate" is all for show. It entails doing the bidding of corrupt union leaders and, therefore, cruising to re-election, which is more advantageous to their bottom line than allowing children in violent and failing public schools to escape. These frauds wear all sorts of masks to conceal their true motives, which might help them sleep better at night, but it doesn't change the fact that children are still suffering in many areas around our commonwealth.
At the end of the day, those kid’s parents deserve legislators who will do what is morally right instead of what is easy and politically expedient, they also deserve to know the truth about the corrupt teacher's union that owns so many of their elected officials in Harrisburg.
Power of the Purse
It’s no secret that the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) is a left-leaning teachers union pushing the radical leftist agenda in public schools across the Commonwealth. Despite claims to be nonpartisan, the PSEA runs its political action committee, PSEA-PACE, which has contributed $14 million to Democrat candidates and just $3 million to Republicans in Pennsylvania over the past 25 years.
Most notably, they have supported numerous democrats in Pennsylvania, including former Democrat Governor Tom Wolf, current Governor Josh Shapiro, US Senators John Fetterman and Bob Casey, and just about every elected Democrat at all levels of government. In addition, they fund RINO Republicans who claim to be “moderate,” like Rep. Tom Mehaffie, to do their bidding.
Obviously, the PSEA is well known for its vehement opposition to school choice policies, voucher programs, and charter schools. This was exemplified during the recent budget crisis when pressure from the PSEA and other unions forced Governor Shapiro to go back on his various campaign promises to voters on the issue of school choice, which lead him to gut the $100 million PASS program from the budget.
For those unable to wrap their minds around why this happened, the reason is very straightforward. The PSEA was one of the largest donors to Shapiro’s 2022 campaign, which means he does what they tell him to do, along with every house Democrat in Harrisburg and RINO’s like Rep. Tom Mehaffie, who sell out for the promise of re-election.
President Rich Askey has made it clear many times that he and his union are totally opposed to school choice, once calling increased school choice funding “the worst attack on public education we’ve ever seen”. He also claimed during the budget crisis recently that: “diverting one cent of taxpayer money to a tuition voucher scheme for private and religious schools is absolutely irresponsible, no matter what name you call it”.
As long as these corrupt politicians continue to take vast sums of donor money from the PSEA, they will never do what is right for underprivileged children and vote for badly needed school choice reforms. The reason Askey and his union give so much money to puppets like Governor Shapiro, House and Senate Democrats and RINO’s like Rep. Tom Mehaffie are for them to ensure the status-quo of the PSEA and the radical woke leftist agenda remains firmly in place.
The assault on children
As a millennial who attended public school, I recognize that our generation, Xers and Boomers, were blessed to grow up without being suffocated by our nation's profoundly divisive and polarized political climate. Indeed, much has changed today, and not for the better, as our children are bombarded with garbage in all directions, especially in public schools.
For example, in 2021, the PSEA supported protestors after Central York High School barred educators from teaching left-wing theories on race by banning a list of books and articles promoting CRT, race-based reparations, and a curriculum promoted by Black Lives Matter at school. While their parent organization the NEA (National Education Association) has formally endorsed CRT and the position that is should be taught in K-12 schools.
The PSEA also supports Gender Theory and books containing pornography, such as “Gender Queer,” which has been included in reading lists.
Part of the problem is that the people in charge of public education in our state are the same individuals pushing the hardest for divisive race based material, along with inappropriate and sexually explicit material to be made available for children on the taxpayers dime.
For example, take PSEA President Rich Askey, who, in a recent LGBTQ+ Pride Month-themed Penn Live article, he recommended the book "All Boys aren’t Blue" for summer readers. Many parents around the country have flagged this particular book for its multiple instances of graphic and alarming sexual content.
Unfortunately, in today’s society it must be mentioned that the sexual orientation of this man is completely irrelevant. Fully developed adults have every right to make their own decisions about who to love, and how to live their lives. This is the United States of America.
That said, the vast majority of parents and responsible adults would agree that it’s deeply irresponsible for a grown man or woman, no matter his/her race, religion or sexual orientation, to push inappropriate sexual material of any kind on underage minors, let alone someone in his line of work. The fact that he is doing so is both immoral and unacceptable.
Books such as Gender Queer, All Boys aren’t Blue and others that depict graphic and descriptive sexual content are inappropriate for minors under the age of 18, and they don’t belong in school libraries for the same reasons as Playboy and Hustler. This is just common sense. However, the modern Democrat Party and the special interests who own them, like the teacher's union, don't see it that way, so they fight tooth and nail to keep them in school libraries and curriculums across America.
For example, in Iowa, a complaint was filed by a parent who claimed “All Boys aren’t Blue contained “gratuitous pornographic content” for its portrayal of incestuous molestation and the loss of virginity (which it does). The parent argued that the community was committing a “public offense” according to Iowa Code 728.2 by displaying the book on its school library shelves. Ultimately, the jury decided not to remove the book from the library.
Situations like this are happening nationwide, bringing together like-minded parents from all walks of life who share a profound concern for their children and the future of our country. One such group of parents is Moms for Liberty, founded by Tina Descovitch, Tiffany Justice and Bridget Zeigler, who began the group to fight back against unconstitutional lockdowns and mask mandates during the pandemic, and then expanded the fight to include curriculums in public schools that push critical race theory and gender ideology.
The organization has spread like wildfire all over the country with 285 chapters in 44 states with over 120,000 members working to unify educate and empower parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government. Interestingly, Pennsylvania has the second most members after Florida, with 11,450 people in 27 chapters, including in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, and Chester counties.
Obviously, their growth and success have brought on criticism from the left. For example, in 2022, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 2022 Year in Hate and Extremism report refereed to Moms for Liberty as a “far-right” and “anti-government” organization that engages in “anti-student inclusion activities”.
Mothers for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice, told Fox news in an interview that the “extremist label was absolutely absurd”. She further added that the group is “upsetting the balance of power in public education” and the SPLC is engaging in an “orchestrated attempt” to “stop our voices”.
Despite this, Justice claimed:
“We are joyful warriors. We’re not going to stop. I mean no one’s going to fight for anything like a parent’s going to fight for their child. And you know, we are moms and dads that are concerned about the future of our country.”
Recently, the organization held a national summit in Philadelphia, drawing in attendees from all over the state and country, including every major GOP presidential candidate. As reported by the Post Millennial: Ahead of the summit, members of Moms for Liberty experienced doxxing and threats on their lives by left-wing activists and protestors who recently vandalized the American Revolution Museum.
For all opponents such as these who describe the group as a hateful organization, Philadelphia Moms for Liberty chapter leader Sheila Armstrong set the record straight in an interview during the event. According to Armstrong: people didn’t do their research…because the director of national engagement, her name is Tia Bess, she is a Black woman and she’s also gay.”
This blatant labeling and mischaracterization is nothing new from the modern political left. Over the last several years, it's been painfully obvious these people are conditioned to denounce and disregard all facts, ideas, and opinions that might deviate from the pre-fabricated worldview that corrupt Democrat politicians and the special interests groups who pull their strings have cemented in their minds.
According to MacKinnon: “I truly believe we are witnessing history in the making with Moms for Liberty”.
Further, he points out: “This desperately needed organization is emerging as a once in a multi-generation movement. A movement that is not only spreading into every state in our nation, but in this process, opening the eyes of tens of millions of Americans to the fact that their rights and liberties are being continually stripped from them by activists and anarchists from the left.”
Finally, he clarifies the mission of the organizations founders: “Moms on a mission to stoke the fires of liberty. Women who, while former school board members, witnessed how short-sighted and destructive policies directly hurt children and families. And because of that, they are now using their first-hand knowledge and experience to unite parents who are ready to fight those that stand in the way of liberty.”
Despite the best efforts of the political left and the special interests who own their corrupt officeholders, it’s clear to all that the parental rights and school choice revolutions are growing exponentially in the Keystone State and across America every day and they are reshaping our political climate for the better.
Building a bench of Pro-School Choice Legislators in Harrisburg
In the final analysis, the critical issues of school choice and parental rights are not inherently Republican or Democrat issues; they are American issues that transcend partisan labels, and they will be the most significant deciding factors in the 2024 election, especially here in the Keystone State.
There is nothing “far right” or “far” anything about standing up for what is morally right, nor pushing back against the insanity of the left with facts to defend ourselves, our children, and our future. What we are seeing today are vicious attacks on the same values and principles our founders would have gladly died on a hill to defend.
Unfortunately, self-serving hypocrites like Governor Shapiro, the House Democrats, and RINOS like Tom Mehaffie are unwilling to protect those principles. They appear to be quite comfortable with the status quo of inaction in Harrisburg and the vicious assault on our children despite taking their constituents' hard-earned tax dollars as a salary. But taxpayers are sick and tired of their failures and the radical, woke leftist agenda, which has now become a bonafide false religion shoved down our children's throats.
Putting America's and Pennsylvania’s future first entails putting our children first, and that is why the PAGOP must take a page out of the playbook other states across the US have written.
Therefore, we know it's possible. But unlike those states, Pennsylvania still doesn't have what is needed from a leadership standpoint to achieve universal school choice and full rights for parents.
This is why we must use this election cycle and those after to build a bench in Harrisburg filled with a new generation of Republican legislators who equal these changing times and dare to do what is morally right for Pennsylvania's families. That is the only way we are going to fix our broken educational system and restore nobility to the vocation of public service.
Fake “moderates,” like career politicians Governor Shapiro and Rep. Tom Mehaffie are what we don’t need in Harrisburg. While we have a few more years of Shapiro living in the Governor's mansion, in my view, the robust parental rights and school choice revolutions going on all around us, if given the attention they deserve by Republican candidates, can ensure the GOP retakes the PA House majority in 2024, thus allowing us to regain control of both chambers before facing Shapiro again in 2026.
As for Pennsylvania’s 106th legislative district, I have a feeling that Rep. Mehaffie’s time in office is about to meet an abrupt end, whether he does the right thing and switches his party affiliation to (D) to reflect his voting record or, decides to run again as their favorite Republican (In-Name-Only) in the 2024 GOP primary.
Time and again, he’s betrayed his GOP colleagues in Harrisburg along with republican voters. Clearly, he doesn't care about the same issues they do, especially the significant issues of our time that will decide our future, like parental rights and school choice. We know that’s because he’s bought and paid for by the same radical special interests and far-left organizations who want to indoctrinate our children, take away our gas stoves and obliterate our freedoms.
Like Thomas Jefferson once said: “On matters of style, swim with the current; on matters of principles, stand like a rock.”
Any so-called “public servant” who doesn’t heed this valuable advice is unfit for public office. That’s why Tom Mehaffie will ultimately lose his seat to a real Republican who puts their country, state, party, and constituents first in 2024.
Make no mistake, the best is yet to come in the Keystone State.
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