Ohio

Columbus Education Association Puts Politics First

Organizations

The Columbus Education Association (CEA) displayed its priorities this spring by selecting the year’s “Outstanding Member” based on left-wing political activism. “Paula Garfield was honored with the Outstanding Member Award. Garfield, a special education teacher at Beechcroft HS, worked tirelessly for the repeal of Senate Bill 5. She collected more signatures for SB 5’s repeal than any other individual in the state of Ohio,” announced a CEA recap of the union’s May awards ceremony.

In CEA’s own words, Paula Garfield was recognized as the union’s Outstanding Member because she “worked tirelessly for the repeal of Senate Bill 5,” aiding Ohio Education Association (OEA) efforts to maintain control over Ohio’s public schools. Ms. Garfield may be a fantastic educator who volunteers her free time to arts and athletics or has pioneered new teaching methods and programs, but CEA did not honor her for any of those things.

Although CEA and its parent organizations take credit for the hard work of teachers who must pay dues even if they opt out of OEA membership, Ohio’s status as a forced-unionism state frees public employee unions to focus on liberal politics. Last year’s campaign against public union reform – as well as recent heated conflicts between union staff and leadership – made clear OEA bosses’ disdain for taxpayers and teachers who disagree.

A glance at Ms. Garfield’s social media activity reveals an outspoken, doctrinaire leftist. On July 18 Columbus Dispatch reporter Joe Vardon posted a quote from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to Twitter, and two days later Ms. Garfield responded in what appears to be her standard tone for public web-based interactions.

Thirty minutes prior, Ms. Garfield had directed a seemingly irate tweet at Vardon, writing, “IT’S NOT Obama, IT’S PRESIDENT OBAMA, your paper? Columbus Disgrace!”

Other Twitter updates posted by Ms. Garfield confirm decorum is not, in her estimation, a two-way street.

On July 22, Garfield shared a link from Facebook, writing, “Romney..Boner…Kasich, n Repub Governors Crime Syndicate…” In U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s western Ohio district, it is not uncommon to hear teenage boys refer to the congressman as “Boner.”

A week later, Garfield posted a link to a 2008 story from fringe-left blog Wonkette suggesting President George W. Bush was drunk at the Olympics. “Bush DRUNKPLYMPICS,” Garfield added, before responding to her own tweet with “TRUELY EMBARRASSING…AGAIN PICTURES.”

On July 24, union blog “Working Class Heroes” published a guest entry by Ms. Garfield. Both grammatically and thematically, Ms. Garfield’s essay was exactly what her Twitter followers might expect:

We form the middle class: Unions, Teachers, Fire Fighters, Police. And we all have the same attackers: Bigots against minorities; those who keep waging war on women; frackers; people who profit from student loans and debt; those who try to suppress voters through onerous Voter ID Laws; those who attack Occupiers, those who wish to privatize services formerly provided by government, those who sell off taxpayer Assets, those who try to curtail our freedom to marry who we love, those who try to end our Civil Rights,those who deceptively try to push right-to-work-”for less in order to crush unions.

According to Ohio Department of Education records, Paula Garfield was paid more than $73,000 in 2011. As of May 2011, the annual mean wage in the Columbus metropolitan area was approximately $44,310.

Like Ms. Garfield’s union-determined salary, her political beliefs are largely independent of her skill as a teacher. What is important to CEA, however, is not whether the year’s Outstanding Member is a terrific educator, but whether she actively promotes the liberal politics espoused by CEA, OEA, and the National Education Association.

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