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U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney addresses supporters during his Wisconsin and Maryland primary night rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, April 3, 2012. REUTERS/Darren Hauck
Mitt Romney went to NBC's Education Nation Summit (already overwhelmingly a collection of 1-percenter views on education before Romney arrived) Tuesday to deliver his usual set of already failed ideas on the subject: dump kids in giant classes to learn a curriculum entirely centered around standardized testing and taught by teachers paid according to said standardized test scores. All the rich kids are in private schools with small class sizes and without standardized tests, anyway, and that's good enough for poor kids. But beyond his ideas about what should go on in the schools, he offered another classic for thee but not for me theory about how the political process should work:
"I don't mean to be terribly partisan, but I kind of am," he followed up, to laughs from the audience, before calling the donations from teachers' unions to Democratic politicians an "extraordinary conflict of interest" because those politicians are then supposed to stand up to the unions and for students in negotiations.
Mitt Romney has gotten giant contributions from the financial sector and he's running for president vowing to repeal Wall Street reform. Romney's entire fucking campaign is about his promise to govern on behalf of his biggest donors and assorted other rich people like himself. For that matter, Romney made his personal fortune sending jobs to China and he's running for president attacking President Obama for not standing up to China.

And he thinks that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who actively tried to screw Chicago teachers on pay and working conditions, is somehow evidence of a Democratic conflict of interest around the comparatively slight financial contributions of teachers unions?

But this isn't about Romney believing there's a conflict of interest. This is about Romney seeking yet another way to delegitimize the idea that workers should be able to get together and have a bigger voice collectively than they do individually. Any shred of power that collective action gives workers is, to Romney, something to tear down and try to squash. The fact that when teachers fight for better working conditions, they're fighting to get the government to spend more money educating kids who can't even afford to go to private school only make Romney relish attacking them that much more.

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