Bruce Lear

Long-term attacks on public schools

Bruce Lear reviews a new worrying line of attack on educators coming out of Republican-controlled states.

As a kid, I loved fishing off the dock because it assured immediate action, since I could catch tiny fish as fast as my worm hit the water.

But my dad practiced real fishing. He’d pack a lunch and fish in a small boat all day, even if nothing but mosquitoes were biting. He was in it for the long term, and it paid off with big catches. If he didn’t catch anything one day, he’d try again the next. He understood big catches took patience.

Like my dad’s long-term fishing, Republicans understand culture wars aren’t about instant gratification. The best example is their 49-year battle against Roe v Wade. They eventually found a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court brazen enough to overturn settled law and rob women of privacy and thus choice.

But the new front in the culture war is clearly public education. The hard right seems determined to chip away through multiple avenues of attack. 

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Meddling in primaries is risky and wrong

Bruce Lear: No political party should gamble our democracy because it wants to face the weakest opponent in a general election. 

I’ve heard from police officers that intervening in domestic disputes is very dangerous. Often those fighting unite and turn on the officer.

Now, some Democratic interest groups are intervening in the Republican party’s family fight, its primary. The goal is to boost Republican candidates that Democrats judge to be too extreme to win a general election.

That boost comes in two ways. One approach is to amplify the “extreme candidate,” and the other is to run negative ads about his/her more “moderate opponents.”

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Iowa doesn't need a gun amendment

Bruce Lear: The constitutional amendment Iowans will vote on in November goes much further than the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

I love the movie Tombstone, featuring Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday, Sam Elliot as Virgil, and Bill Paxton as Morgan. It’s a little shorter than Kevin Costner’s 3 hour plus marathon Earp, released a few months later.      

Tombstone came out in 1993, but it’s still a good watch even for the fifth time. It’s also relevant now, because the U.S. Supreme Court recently expanded gun rights, and this November, Iowans will be asked to enshrine guns into our state’s constitution.

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Public school advocates need to be single-issue voters

Bruce Lear: As Iowa’s education foundation crumbles, public school supporters need to be as persistent and passionate as the governor. 

It’s no secret single-issue voters are loud, proud, and powerful. They fuel campaigns with rhetoric and resources. When choosing candidates, they focus on their long-term goals and don’t demand perfection over what’s possible.  

That’s how America woke up to find Donald Trump elected president. Thanks to three U.S. Supreme Court justices he appointed, the court is poised to ignore 49 years of precedent by turning back the clock to when women had few rights, slavery was commonplace, and only land-owning, white, males counted.

Throughout my professional career, I’ve heard educators say, “Yes, public education is important, but it’s not the only issue.”  

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Messaging about culture wars needs to be clear, simple

Bruce Lear has advice for Democrats on how to talk about ginned-up controversies related to public schools.

My grandson and I love Marvel movies. We sit in the front row and bask in the over-the-top action. We’ve seen them all. Sometimes the plot is a little confusing, but my nine-year-old movie buddy quickly helps me sort it out.

What isn’t confusing is who the superheroes are. They clearly are the good guys. It’s straightforward and even in technicolor, very black and white.

Republicans are good at ginning up culture wars without facts, using plenty of accusations hidden behind a catchy slogan they repeat more than a 3-year-old begging for candy.

Too often, Democratic candidates go in culture wars unarmed. They are shocked when Republicans capture attention with some absurd issue that Democrats think the public can’t possibly believe. They are blindsided and without answers. Like in Marvel movies, Democrats should leave no doubt who the superheroes for public schools are.

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