Siyamak Khorrami: Only about half of the students can read English at their grade level in the California public school systems, and only 40 percent can do math at their grade level. My guest Rebecca Friedrichs, who has over 20 years of experience in the school system will tell us who’s involved and how special interests have a much bigger impact in our school system than we think. For the most part, these special interests are not aligned with the education of our kids.
Siyamak: My name is Siyamak Khorrami, and welcome to California Insider. Rebecca, it’s great to have you on the show.
Rebecca: Thank you. It’s wonderful to be here.
Siyamak: You’re a teacher. I have a lot of respect for your profession. I think it’s the best profession out there.
Rebecca: I agree with you. Thank you.
Siyamak: It’s excellent to have you. Today you’re here to talk to us about education. It’s sad to hear that we rank really low on our education level in public schools in California and across the globe. What are your thoughts and what’s going on in the education system that’s not allowing us to do what we should be doing for kids?
Rebecca: Yeah, this is a tragedy. You know, every leader on every side says that education is the civil rights issue of our day, but then they never fix it. So what’s the problem? The problem is labor unions and other powerful organizations that work with labor unions that have actually usurped the authority, the voices, of teachers and parents, and educating children well is not rocket science. Teaching a child to read, I taught kindergarten, first, second, third and fourth. I’ve done a lot of teaching children how to read. It’s not hard. It just takes some knowledge and some practice. And our kids should be doing outstanding, but they’re not, because the wrong people are in charge in our classrooms.
Siyamak: So who are the players in this in this puzzle? And how are the labor unions able to to manipulate this situation?
Rebecca: Well, they manipulate it with money. So what’s that famous saying, follow the money. If you follow the money, labor unions collected billions and billions of dollars tax-free from government employees, including educators, and they were able to do that through forced unionism since the 1970s. So for decades, every government employee who happened to be inside of a labor union in that person’s position, their job, was forced to fund unions. So even if you didn’t want to be a part of the union, you had to pay fees. And so what happens when you have ultimate power and no accountability?
Siyamak: So they’re not accountable to anyone?
Rebecca: Absolutely not. No. So unions have so much money that they have collected from all of these employees that have been forced to pay them, that they’ve been able to grow a massive conglomeration of organizations that partner with them or surround them and work with them to manipulate our entire system. So I’ll just focus on education.
Rebecca: So labor unions give millions, billions of money to politicians at all levels, starting up at the national level all the way down to your local school board. Also involved in the United Nations. So we’ve got involvement going on in other countries, we have labor union presidents who travel to other countries all the time to impact politics in other countries. They claim they’re going to help the kids. That’s not true. It’s all politics. So the unions give this money to these politicians, and you know what happens? If politicians are getting a lot of money from a certain group, they’re going to do the bidding of that group. So now the politicians who are getting their money, and by the way, millions and millions and millions of people as boots on the ground help for free. You can’t put a price tag on that. And teachers like myself are coerced to support these politicians. Many times teachers are voting opposite, but they’re coerced to support politicians that the unions bully them to support. So you have all this power in politicians at all levels of government, and that’s where the corruption starts. So let’s look at your average school district. A school district is run by two different, can’t say organizations or people, but you’ve got a superintendent.
Siyamak: Two different authorities.
Rebecca: Yes authorities. That’s the word I wanted, thank you. Two different authorities. You have a school board, typically five people, sometimes seven, and you have a superintendent. The superintendent is a hired position. School boards are elected officials. So the teachers unions pour millions of dollars around the country into local school board races, because it is in their benefit to control school boards. They want a majority on state level school boards, county level school boards, local level school boards. People think school boards have a ton of power. The truth is, school boards have one main job: hiring and firing the superintendent. That’s it. I mean, they also have other school board meetings and they help choose curriculums and they, a lot of people will tell you that most school boards rubber stamp whatever the superintendent wants. So the school board is supposed to be the voice of the community. They’re supposed to be bringing in the values of the community and a voice for the parents and a voice for the taxpayers, which is good. That’s a good balance. But the unions have corrupted it.
Siyamak: The unions really control the boards.
Rebecca: They absolutely do. I have story after story even in my book.
Siyamak: And they spend money and they give to candidates.
Rebecca: Exactly. Well, and not only that, on these local school boards, you’ll have these amazing local parents who will run for school board, and if they win, and they don’t do the bidding of the union, they get bullied mercilessly, chased off the school board, the unions lie about them. I have teacher friends who have served as school board members who have been attacked by the unions, because they wouldn’t do the union bidding. So the unions control the school boards. So now, if the union controls the school board, the union controls the superintendent, because the superintendent knows, if I don’t do what the school board wants, I might get fired. Okay. And then incoming superintendents know, if I don’t please this school board, I’m not going to get hired or I’m gonna lose my job. So, wow, no surprise, the unions would want to control the school board. Those school boards belong to the local community. Yeah. How dare they? I think it should be against the law.
Siyamak: That is a conflict of interest.
Rebecca: It is a total conflict of interest.
Siyamak: Because now the teachers are going to go, the unions are going to negotiate with the superintendent.
Rebecca: Exactly. And I think it should be against the law for a union to give a penny to any school board. Anyone running for school board, or to support them in any way. It’s totally a conflict of interest. So that’s where you get that problem there. So now you have all this money coming down from the national level that feeds into our local schools. So let’s just take, for example, the federal government decided several years ago to send all superintendents something called the Dear Colleague letter. And that letter told superintendents that they could no longer suspend kids at a certain level, every district was told, you know, you’ve been suspending at, whatever your district level has been, you need to bring it down to an arbitrary level. And particularly, you cannot suspend kids of color.
Siyamak: So to just make up that ratio.
Rebecca: Arbitrary, arbitrary ratio, and they claimed that this was supposed to help stop the school to prison pipeline. And when you look in union documents, they talk all about the school to prison pipeline, and how we’re going to give these kids you know, counseling instead of discipline. And so the unions were able to manipulate the national leaders who wrote that Dear Colleague letter and brought that down upon our school districts.
Rebecca: Okay, they even manipulated who was in office to write those policies. So they bring those policies down on the schools. Now you would think, well, why would a school district just say, I’m not going to do that, that’s not good for the kids, because it’s all attached to money. So the districts are told, if you follow our rules, you’re going to get more money, you’re going to get perks, and then when your school becomes a war zone, we’re going to send more money, so you can hire more people to help, and they’ll pay the union dues by the way, the union always gets their kickback. So as this is coming down, now the superintendent and the school board tell the school site administrators, we would call the principals or the vice principal, that they have to now run a school without sufficient discipline. Now these principals have been trained for years in how to properly discipline children and run a campus and keep a campus safe. Now all of a sudden, these principals’ hands are tied, and they’re told you can’t discipline that child. So for example, schools have gotten so out of control. In a Minnesota school, there were students fighting and a teacher was just trying to break up the fight, just trying to keep everybody safe, right? Well, because willfully defiant students have been emboldened by these policies, A student actually rammed this teachers head.
Siyamak: Oh, no.
Rebecca: To such a degree that this teacher now has a permanent brain injury.
Siyamak: Oh no.
Rebecca: His hand shakes permanently. He can’t teach anymore. He’s lost his entire career. Not to mention everyone was in danger. And that’s just one story out of 1000 I could tell you today.
Siyamak: And the principals are told not to, they have to keep the ratios down. So they cannot, they cannot punish the kids.
Rebecca: In that instance, that child’s going to get punished because it’s so extreme.
Siyamak: But everybody is getting loose in a lot of the smaller incidents. So then kids end up doing things like this.
Rebecca: And that student never would have gotten to that level most likely had there been discipline on the campus. Let me tell you really quick too, there’s a new book out called Why Meadow Died. And it’s about the Parkland shootings. The father of one of the victims, Meadow, his name is Andy Pollock. He and an education expert named Max Eden wrote this book, because what they discovered is that the very policies I’m telling you about today, are what actually led to that shooting. And I read their book and it’s compelling. It’s compelling evidence, how this young man who shot up the school, killed how many, 17 people I think died in that slaughter, was actually on an IEP, which means he was special ed. So he wasn’t permitted to be disciplined at all these levels because he was Special Ed. what was his special need? Discipline. It was a discipline issue. So all of a sudden, the hands were tied of many who could have done what was right for him. And then in other cases, administrators just did the wrong thing, because the policy motivated them to do the wrong thing. They were following the policy. You know, people are, “Oh, it’s the law. I have to do it this way. Oh, it’s the rule. I have to do it this way.” Even though the law’s crazy or bad. And so this boy slipped through the cracks. And those 17 people would likely be alive today had we not had such extreme policies that were against disciplining and doing the right thing.
Siyamak: And it’s working backwards. I guess they, you mentioned that the unions did this so that they can get people out of the prisons. It’s actually working backwards.
Rebecca: Exactly, that young man is, he’ll probably be in prison for the rest of his life. He was someone who needed help. He was, when you read the story and find out the depth of his pain, he needed help. And these policies actually damaged him more. And that’s happening in schools all across America. And the unions will say, oh, no, everything’s fine. That’s a lie. Because I’m talking to teachers all around this country. They are in crisis. They can’t teach anymore. They can’t control the classroom anymore. And it’s all because of unions and their friends, teaching something called unconscious bias, where they’re actually telling teachers like me because I have white skin. “You have unconscious bias because you’re white. That means you’re automatically a bigot. You’re against these kids because of the color of your skin. And their behavior is your fault. Because you are a bigot.” Well, I stand against that 100 percent. I’ve mentioned to you before that my students came from all over the world. We had 42 languages on my campus. I love kids of every color. Color was never an issue. We never noticed color until the unions came in and made it an issue and are dividing people by race, and now actually bringing damage to children of color by not holding them accountable for their behavior. You can’t do well in life.
Siyamak: If you’re not disciplined properly, if you don’t know what’s good or bad.
Rebecca: Exactly, exactly. So we were talking about how they control. So these federal policies come down. The unions are the one who put the pressure, and their friends, their allies, the ACLU and groups like that. Put all this pressure on the politicians at the national and state levels, they bring down these policies on to the superintendent. Then they control the school board, who makes sure the superintendent follows these policies. Superintendent doesn’t want a school district that’s a nightmare war zone. They don’t want that. They want discipline. They can’t have it because the school board is watching. Why? Because the school board’s controlled by the wizard, the unions. So now the superintendent tells the principal who has the worst job in the world in the schools nowadays, the principal, because they’re caught in the middle. They have teachers and parents coming up from the bottom saying, oh, my gosh, we’re in crisis, help, help help. everything’s wrong. And then they have the powers from above say, you better follow these policies. Okay. Don’t make us miss out on our money. It’s all about money. Our schools are for children, for educating children well and protecting children. And if they’re going to be about money, then let’s not send our kids to those schools anymore. Right? That’s evil.
Siyamak: How about parents and teachers?
Rebecca: So the parents and teachers are down here. My husband says that we teachers are like mushrooms. On purpose. The unions treat us like mushrooms. They keep us in the dark and feed us a bunch of manure. So the parents and teachers are the mushrooms, right? We’re down here. We love the kids to death. We’re trying to do everything right for the kids. But these powers up here have us in the dark, when that policy came down from the national level to the superintendent, telling them that we could no longer discipline kids of color, I never knew about it. I was a classroom teacher. I never knew about that policy. I found out about the policy when I was reading my local newspaper about about three years after the policy was passed and implemented. I knew there was a problem because my classroom was becoming a war zone, no matter how hard I worked. I had three doctors tell me, your job’s going to kill you. Because it was getting that difficult and I couldn’t get any help. So you have the teachers and the parents down here, begging for support. “Please, My children are in danger, please. my classroom is a mess. I can’t teach anymore. Please, somebody help, please. Authorities, will you please help us?”
And then you have those principals who come in and they’re supposed to be that first line of defense to help and they’re doing things like, you send the the the unruly child out. The principal has the child write a note to the teacher, I’m sorry that I did this behavior, the child’s back in class in five or ten minutes. And the behavior never changes. So the principles are now told, you can’t suspend this child. You can’t do any real discipline to this child. Have them write a note. We’re going to counsel these kids. No, sorry, principals are not professional counselors. Neither are teachers and we shouldn’t have to be, we should be allowed to be empowered to do our jobs. And that’s teaching and protecting children. And if these children are so, you know, so extreme with their problems, then maybe they need to go with a full time, with a counselor somewhere or in a specialized location. But the truth is, normal children who never would have had a problem before, are now discipline issues. Because of these policies. I watched it in my own classroom, I can see the sweet faces in my in my head right now. I just I remember these precious kids who would not have been discipline problems, but they were on the edge, right? They were like, if there was a kid acting up, they were going to fall. You know, it’s cool to follow that kid. But they also wanted to obey and they wanted to do well. Those kids always did fine, because when the naughty kids disobeyed *snap* they dealt with it. They didn’t get away with that. And then saw that they got back to work. Yeah. They wanted the positive reinforcement. Now, those kids on the edge, they’re falling.
Siyamak: They’re following, because they don’t see any consequences.
Rebecca: That’s right. And there’s one more thing, you asked about the parents. I cannot tell you how many hundreds of parents I have spoken to now around the country who are so angry about these discipline policies. Because the schools are now undermining parents, usurping the authority of parents. So the unions and their friends not only bring down these policies, but they pass laws. One of the laws they’ve passed in multiple states is parents no longer have the right to view their own child’s medical records. In the state of California, it’s the age 14, once your child hits 14, you don’t have the rights to view their records. If your child knows that, your child empowered to do whatever they want, and you don’t have any, oh, you’re responsible for them. If they get in trouble, you have to bail them out. You have to take responsibility for everything they do. But you don’t have the right to see their medical records at age 14, that’s evil. And they’re trying to move it down to even lower ages. And it’s different ages in different states. This is the kind of stuff the teachers unions push on the teachers and parents and schools.
So these parents are in crisis. I talked to a dad the other day, who told me that his daughter goes to school, this is in Irvine. Okay, Irvine, supposedly the best schools right? The reason they’re the best is because they have great parents who are working hard. So in Irvine, his daughter’s going to school, and someone is bringing her drugs at school for free. These parents keep going to the administrators and saying, hey, wait a minute. Kids are getting drugs in your school. Can you please stop this? The kids are telling us that that these kids are keeping them in their lockers, can you please check the lockers, and the principles are saying There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s not happening. And then when parents get angry, parents get arrested or in trouble for trying to protect their own children. This is happening nationwide. I talked to a dad in Nashville, Tennessee, just last month, told me the almost identical story. A parent from Ghana, who’s actually sent two of his kids back home to Ghana, because they were getting to be out of control here in America, because of the lack of discipline in the schools. And he couldn’t get the schools to stand with him as a parent.
I have an aunt who’s 102 years old. She taught in a one room schoolhouse in Minnesota for years, and then the school grew. And then she was the principal of the school. I asked her, Aunt J, what did you do with discipline problems during your, I think she taught 49 years. What did you do with discipline problems? She looked at me like I was crazy. She said we never had discipline problems. The parents and the teachers stood together. We had each other’s backs. That’s how our schools did well, for decades and decades. The unions showed up. They divided the parents from the teachers. They divided the teachers from the kids, they divided the administration from the parents and the teachers. They’ve divided everyone. Divide and conquer, right?
Siyamak: And they controlled everyone.
Rebecca: And they control everyone with money. That’s evil. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. There it is.
Siyamak: So now, how do we solve this? Is there a part of unions that is doing okay or is there a role for them that is working well that they’re doing good at for teachers? And what is the solution?
Rebecca: Yeah, such a great question. So unions started out as something really great, didn’t they? They came alongside laborers who were being abused. They did a good thing. They helped to improve work hours, they did a lot of great things, which is why everyone wants to believe in unions. But these unions that are serving the teachers supposedly, they’re not really unions. They are not unions. They’ve been usurped. I tell people, they’ve become what they used to fight. They are a huge political action committee that are oppressing teachers, educators, and kids, and our country. They’re actually bringing harm. So at this point, as a teacher, obviously I believed at some level that the teacher’s union could help, because I became a teacher union leader. I served as a local leader on my executive board for three years, and my local was great. A bunch of teachers who loved the kids who really wanted to do the right thing. But every single time I pushed back with, hey, wait a minute, we don’t want to fund that, hey wait a minute, you’re not representing teachers, we got bullied. We were all just silenced and bullied. So what I’ve discovered about the unions, at least the government unions, the public sector unions, right now, the way they’re being run, they’re a lost cause. The faster we get them out of our schools, the better. The only way we’re ever going to improve our schools, the only way parents are going to get their voice back, the only way teachers are going to get our voice and our profession back, the only way children are going to be protected and educated again is to get those quote “unions,” because they’re not really unions, out of our schools.
Siyamak: That’s great. Thank you, Rebecca. And you wrote a book. What is your book about? Tell us a little bit about your book.
Rebecca: My book is called Standing Up to Goliath. Goliath is the state and national teachers unions. They’re not really teachers, and they are not really unions. The unions and the teachers have been usurped, our authority has been usurped by very powerful forces, who take our money to oppress us. And so the subtitle of the book is Battling State and National Teachers Unions for the Heart and Soul of our Kids and Country. I believe with all my heart that our free republic is in danger. It’s in danger, thanks to public sector unions, masquerading, they’re masquerading as unions. They’re masquerading as teachers. But they’re involved with very powerful forces. And they are actually pushing a very angry, radical socialist agenda into this country, undermining our schools, bringing chaos, chaos into our classrooms, chaos into our streets, making people, so that they’re, you know, lacking discipline, or allowing people to just shoot up on the sidewalks, let’s just give them more of their of their drugs instead of actually helping them. They’re creating chaos. Because they want to undermine our free republic. Why would anyone want to undermine the freest most wonderful country on earth, why? They have to answer that question, and someone needs to ask them. But teachers need to know they’re funding it. They’re funding it and they don’t know. They’ve been told that unions are our friends. They’re really our oppressors. So Standing Up to Goliath is a book full of the stories, about four dozen stories of brave teachers from around the country. And we expose the unions for what they really are. Bullies, who have taken over, usurped the authority of teachers, and use our trusted profession to push a social, sexual, and political agenda into our schools and into our country. And our goal is to stop them and to restore our schools and protect our kids and restore this republic. So that’s what it’s about.
Siyamak: Great. Well, thank you for being with us. Excellent to have you.
Rebecca: Great to be here.