After hearing NEA Director Bob Walsh’s comments about stay-at-home moms on a recent episode of PBS’s “A Lively Experiment,” one has to wonder if it is the official position of his union that stay-at-home moms can’t also be education advocates.

Here are his exact words:

“You can’t say you’re a stay-at-home when every night you’re in a different community at a different school committee meeting screaming at the top of your lungs about things that aren’t happening.”

There is a lot to unpack here.

First of all, he is just plain wrong on the facts. There is not a single mother in the state of Rhode Island who has been out every night of the week at a different school committee meeting. The mom he alludes to but never mentions by name, even though NEARI is suing her, has never screamed at a meeting. She doesn’t even raise her voice. And when she does speak during public comment at a meeting, her concerns are not invented or imagined. On the contrary, she brings documentation and corroboration of her claims.

The most charitable interpretation is that Walsh was using hyperbole to make a point, but the simple truth is that he lied. He wasn’t asked to provide an example or cite specific instances, which is too bad since he would not have been unable to come up with one. Turns out he is the one talking about “things that aren’t happening.”

Putting aside Walsh’s made-up facts, his larger point is insulting and absurd. I stayed home full time with my children for seven years. During that time, I regularly attended and spoke at school committee meetings. I testified at hearings in support of charter school proposals and won an at-large seat on the Cumberland School Committee. Would Bob Walsh say that I wasn’t a stay-at-home or shouldn’t have called myself one?

It is very common for stay-at-home moms to be vocal education advocates. Why wouldn’t it be? If school committee meetings were in the morning, it’s likely that these mothers would not be able to attend, but evening meetings work best with their schedules. And what exactly is a stay-at-home mom in the eyes of a union boss such as Bob Walsh? Is it a woman with children who keeps her opinions about her children’s education to herself and doesn’t dare ask questions about the schools her children are getting ready to attend? Does he prefer that she spend her time reading cookbooks and mommy blogs instead of reading through school policies and asking questions about what she finds? Is she not allowed to attend public meetings outside her zip code?

It is high time that a union official such as Bob Walsh be called on the carpet for the lies he tells about parents. This is not the first time that he has spouted off on a local TV program to misrepresent and diminish a parent advocate.

If his goal in speaking about parents with such disrespect was to energize them to fight even harder on behalf of their children, it was a job very well done. Bravo, Bob.

On a totally separate note, as we head into Thanksgiving, I’d like to express my gratitude to all of my readers and to The Valley Breeze team for bringing us the gift of a local paper every Thursday that includes an opinion page of voices that often disagree.

Sanzi is the director of outreach at Parents Defending Education and a former educator and school committee member. She writes at Sanzi.substack.com.

(8) comments

Zman

Ms. Sanzi, thank you for all your efforts, and never give-in to these progressives who have an obvious agenda and no common sense at all!!

Emily Trott

I guess that Mr. Walsh thinks that stay at home moms, formerly known as housewives and homemakers, should keep their opinions to themselves and not be out shoving them down peoples throats. I've had that said to me many times about a different issue that involves me, and it is just as disgusting when I hear it used against these women who perform what is perhaps the most important job a person could have. Mr. Walsh should be ashamed of himself, and apologize for what he has said. [sad]

Pauline M Demers

Great article, Ms. Sanzi! Our “Educational System” has changed drastically...and not for the better, as proven by the students' lack of being able to write, read, do math appropriately. The very low graduation “rates” also prove the students' lack of accomplishment.

It is said that “Blood is thicker than water!” Of all people who truly realize the meaning of this quote are a “Mother and Father”! You wrote...”If his goal in speaking about parents with such disrespect was to energize them to fight even harder on behalf of their children, it was a job very well done. Bravo, Bob.” Yes, Mr. Walsh's statement was made with “disrespect”, and as you wrote, it did work in the reverse manner.

A teacher's role is to teach the children the various subject matters, e. g., how to write, read, do math, etc..., and not to involve themselves in children's personal lifestyle, unless it's affecting their education enough where the parents should be consulted.

For Mr. Walsh to falsely accuse the parents regarding their involvement proves that he, and his cohorts, wish to do as they please, i. e., to control our Educational System. Why don't these same individuals work on reversing the System into one in which the ratings will improve instead of declining?

Ms. Sanzi, you spoke the “truth” and for some people, the “truth” is very hard to accept.

AMEN!

SteveC

Bob is completely wrong for protecting union employees when test scores are horrible and someone is offering a viable option. School spending is at an all time high with subpar performance and something needs to change. But we have Bob who believes that union teachers are not the reason for poor performance. Who should we blame Bob? Unions killed all the manufacturing jobs in RI and Bob and his union will also kill education.

Cincinnatus

Thank you for your tireless efforts, Mrs. Sanzi and thanks also to all of the "stay at home moms" who attend school board meetings. We've seen a disturbing trend by folks such as Mr. Walsh - these people attempt to sully the reputation of anyone who dares disagree with the liberal mindset of the teacher's unions and they have also attempted to "dox" them, sue them and even keep "enemy lists." This is downright unAmerican and some of these activities are most likely illegal as well. Keep up the pressure, Mrs. Sanzi and happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone else.

FormerBreezeFan

I don't think his words were meant to be taken literally.

Derrick L

Then he shouldn't be on television talking.

Cider_Mill_Resident

By "[weren't] meant to be taken literally" I believe the above commenter was stating that "every night" was clear use of hyperbole used here to imply that something is done regularly and often. Interpreting Mr. Walsh's words using their technical definitions is disingenuous and analyzing the statement's literal meaning is misleading.

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