SCRANTON, PA – I had a nice chat with Teddy Daniels, frontrunning candidate for Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor. Recently, in a Philadelphia district, a shocking situation was caught on camera where a teacher put masking tape on a mask put on a child. Teddy grew up in that district.
I appreciated Teddy’s thoughtful nature when discussing issues, especially around the conduct of teachers and the power of teacher unions, leading to abuses like this.
“There’s millions of great teachers out there. It’s an honorable profession, just like law enforcement. Now, when a cop acts inappropriately, it’s headline news. Why is it not headline news for these teachers? Teachers unions have way too much power. I’ve helped a couple dozen women in the state run for school boards. They were moms, they did not like what was going on in the schools. I gave them my platform, worked polls for them, knocked doors for them. The only pushback I got from anybody was from teachers in the teachers union. Because they knew which members of the school board they had in their pocket. So they’re worried about their upcoming contracts. They’re worried about getting pushback from the school board if they want to go to remote learning again, because they know that these moms weren’t having it at all.”
Interestingly, Teddy doesn’t believe in putting more rules on teachers. The solution is larger than that.
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“When I was young, I went to Catholic school. The nuns had no problem pulling a yardstick and smacking you with it. That was allowed. And if you came home and mom or dad saw the red marks on your butt. They knew Sister [had things under control]. Now, again, different time different world, I get that. But I think that the abuse that these teachers do to these kids now, mentally, psychologically, parents have a right to know what goes on in the classrooms.”
Overall the bigger solution goes back to school choice, a larger more diverse market for parents to choose their kids’ education and to hold bad schools accountable by exercising their power to walk away.
“See, what’s happening in Chicago, with the teachers unions, not wanting to go back into the classrooms. They are the ones dictating the policy, they have too much power. What we need to do is go back to school choice, send your kids to the school you want to send them to. Look at how these teachers get paid. And that’s why I compare them to law enforcement because they get paid on tax dollars. They get paid on school taxes, property taxes. So they need to stop being accountable to the teachers unions and start being accountable to the community.”
Teddy is working on actual steps towards getting legislation pushed for school choice. Pennsylvania does not have that right now. He cites parents being fed up with the school boards and school systems. Homeschooling has exploded in Pennsylvania and despite his trepidation about that format for his children, it’s increasingly becoming the only option.
“My wife and I discussed getting together in the next couple of years with other parents who are looking to homeschool their children. People that we can trust and we can all do this together because I still feel that kids need interaction with other kids. That’s how they grow socially, mentally, physically, through interaction, playing and learning with other kids. What we’re raising now is a generation of children who will have zero social skills. So we need to make that a priority. The school choice program takes a lot of the power away from these teachers unions. And as you know, even federally, these teachers unions have been behind the scenes dictating the CDC guidelines.”
Beyond that, many of the teachers don’t want to go back to work.
“I’ve come out and said, there were so many young, qualified people graduating school, who have a degree in elementary or secondary education. If these union teachers don’t want to work, fire them all. Hire new teachers. Now in northeast PA, three days before Christmas break, [they announced] the rest of the school year was going to go remote. So here we are, in the middle of one of the worst economies we’ve seen in a long time. Here we are in a situation to survive in today’s economy, you need a two income family. And now, schools with maybe 10 days notice, said it’s got to be remote learning. So now what that ends up doing is bringing a parent out of the workforce and back into the home. Families are already hurting, and you’re cutting their household income in half. Because of the teachers unions. That’s a problem.”
Another important dimension, which takes into account a long term issue for a generation, is what we are actually learning in schools. Skilled trades, due to low supply and high demand, pay the most but schools are not preparing our youth with the foundation to enter these trades by removing “auto shop” or “home economics” from our primary and secondary education.
“I’m actually a big proponent of trade schools. My father didn’t come from money. He grew up poor. He was able to go to the Williamson Free School of Trade to be a stonemason. When I went to school, it was, ‘go to school, get good grades, do what they tell you what to do, go to college, and then go work for somebody else and make him money’. The one thing they never taught me was to be an entrepreneur. When I left law enforcement and the military, I started a very large security firm, and cash transportation company. My first company I took public in eight months. I started it with 5000 dollars.
I didn’t have a business background or a business degree. But these are all things I had to learn on the fly. And back when I grew up, if you didn’t go to college and get a four year degree, you were [not considered smart]. If you look at what tradesmen are making today, compared to college grads, who can’t find anything in their field. They graduate school, and expect to hop into a management position, making $100,000 a year because they have a college degree. Back in the day, a college degree meant something and now everybody has one. You know what means something now? A skill, a trade, a craft. You look at professions like underwater welders, stonemasons, pipe fitters, carpenters. These guys make more money than guys with with master’s degrees. It’s supply and demand. Even my son, even my youngest, I don’t want him to go to the liberal indoctrinated university. I’d love if he learned a trade and how to do something.”
A unique story Teddy brought up was the real world effects of this mindset, blindly believing anyone with a college degree was automatically qualified, citing his own experiences in the police force and their hiring process that required college degrees. That technically has created some long term negative effects on police relations with the community.
“Here’s the problem where education and policing meshed. I became a cop in 1997. I did about 10 years. In 2005 and 2006, a lot of agencies were requiring a four year degree to even apply for the department. We were getting guys with accounting degrees, guys with liberal arts degrees. We’d ask an [applicant], ‘why do you want to be a cop?’ He goes, ‘the money’s not too bad. I can’t find anything in my field.’
So here’s a trend that has happened. You take a look at cities like Philadelphia or Baltimore, high crime areas, you have guys that went to college, they have a four year degree. They come work in law enforcement. Then these guys have to go patrol some of the lower economic neighborhoods. They can’t relate to these folks. There’s no people skills. And these guys are so by the book, where a guy like me, it was easy [for me to relate], ‘Man, I grew up poor’. You were on the same level. It was around that time frame where a lot of law enforcement agencies started to get into a lot of trouble with shootings with the use of force issues. You can’t take a white kid from the suburbs, and put him in the projects in North Philly. You can’t do it and expect him to be successful. They’re setting the community up for disaster. And they’re setting the department up for disaster. Everybody put these high education requirements on these positions. Everything ties back to the educational system. I think that is the foundation to where we can fix so many problems in our country.”
Teddy went on to share a story three years ago passing a couple with a car on the side of the road and the girlfriend was changing the flat tire, while her boyfriend stood idly by, lacking the basic skill. Some of these basic life skills are completely wiped out of the education system like auto shop and home economics. In fact, Teddy is now happy that as a child, he was forced to take home economics because now he knows how to sew clothes with a needle and thread.
But there is a bigger discussion about the culture attacking masculinity.
“They knew that a nation of strong men would never stand for what’s happening today in this country. That’s why they attacked masculinity first. Our ancestors hunted bears with sticks. [Now you’re] afraid of a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, that you’re wearing a mask in your car. Here we are now, as a society, taping masks to kids’ faces, because they’re afraid of catching a cold.”
The inconsistencies around COVID enforcement rules bother Teddy and most with common sense. Where I’m from in California, I noticed this with the six feet distancing in schools and the unnecessary distress created by arbitrary enforcement. Teddy spoke of similar inconsistencies in Pennsylvania,
“Our Democratic governor said you have to wear a mask in a restaurant, but you could take it off to sit down and eat. So COVID knows that I’m in the lobby. But once I’m sitting down, COVID won’t get me there. Then he banned all alcohol sales to try and shut the bars down, unless you had food with your beer. So if you went to a bar and ordered a beer, COVID was going to get you. But if you had a plate of hot wings in front of you, you were completely safe. So I think the cure to COVID is just to place hot wings everywhere. Because you’re completely safe with a beer and hot wings. But if you just have a beer COVID is going to kill you. Do you see the insanity?”
Teddy walks the walk with small business. Some of his legislative priorities include eliminating the gas tax in Pennsylvania.
“We need to deregulate things to really help small businesses thrive. Eliminate the gas tax. The other thing that we want to do is and at least starting with seniors, is eliminate the property tax. When you’re nailing them on property taxes, do they buy food, or pay their property taxes? Do they buy medication, or pay their property taxes? And that’s where most of these foreclosures come on these homes because they can’t afford their property taxes. So the state comes in and takes their home. That’s not right to do to people, especially folks who have worked their entire life and they were on a fixed income. I think the big thing that we’re up against right now is the culture war in this country. The culture war is huge. And if we don’t win that, nothing else matters.”
We wrapped up our conversation on the race wars. Teddy had some wise words.
“When I was a kid, there was no racism in my neighborhood. When I played sports, there was no racism on the team. When I was a cop, and in the military, you never heard of it. Especially in combat, I don’t care if you’re black, Asian, Mexican, Martian, I don’t care. As long as you’re putting lead the same direction downrange I am. You’re my brother, and I die for you. But the left divides based on race, they divide based on its class warfare. And you’ll look at some of the comments that the left has made about different minority groups. They’re the racist ones, claiming ‘black people can’t use computers. Black people don’t have IDs.’ You look at the Asian community, what a lot of the Ivy League schools are doing to the Asian community. They’re actually raising different standards for Asian students for admittance..”
A sense of humor is what people need these days. Teddy noticed that movies like Blazing Saddles would not fly today in this highly censored society, even in entertainment. Teddy said,
“Morgan Freeman said it best. You know how we get rid of racism in this country? Stop talking about it. You can imagine how many times a day I get called a racist because I’m a white guy with a bald head. Every time that racism gets thrown around as an attack, just because of a difference in political views, it takes away from the actual racism that still does exist in this country. So now actual instances of racism [get ignored].”