Bill Bennett was Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Education. He went on to become a multimillionaire from the royalties “The Book of Virtues” and other books. He is a hero to conservatives and homeschooling families, even though he admitted that he has a serious gambling habit, gambling millions of dollars. After the gambling story came out in 2000, he cut back on the moralizing.

But now he is back, chastising teachers for hurting children by striking. Bennett wrote an article in Education Week with Karen Nussle, president of Conservative Leaders for Education, an organization I never heard of. They speak out against striking teachers.

They warn that continued strikes will turn the public against public schools, but they don’t admit that they don’t believe in public schools and are devoted to vouchers and choice, like DeVos.

Here comes the moralizing:

“There is a fundamental problem in education that has been on vivid display recently: confusion about whom our schools exist to serve. Our public school system exists to give our children a foundation in literacy and numeracy and to help them become informed citizens. It is not the purpose of the public schools to use children as leverage for the gains of others.

“Only that base misconception could drive mass school closures and disruptions right in the midst of a critical time in the school year. Only that misconception could lead adults to go on strike, thrusting chaos and untenable choices on the most vulnerable families least able to cope with abrupt changes in the routines of their children.
“When coal miners strike they lay down their equipment. When teachers strike, they lay down their students’ minds.”
We strongly believe in the importance and honor of great teaching and teachers. We believe policymakers should set budgets so that the best teachers are attracted and retained. Those decisions must be made at each state and district level.

“We strongly disagree that adults in our public schools should use systematic disruption of students and families—that is, strikes or walkouts—as a tactic to secure financial outcomes. There are several basic reasons for this:
First, abrupt school closure interrupts and damages the progress of students. We either believe that school and teaching time matters, or we do not. Teaching time does matter, and we should be very reluctant to interrupt it. Strikes (and walkouts) do exactly that. When coal miners strike they lay down their equipment. When teachers strike, they lay down their students’ minds.”

Second, they write, teachers should act like professionals. Professionals don’t strike. Professionals politely ask for higher compensation.

When you are a multimillionaire, it’s easy to sneer at people earning $40,000 a year and working two or three jobs to make ends meet.

Hypocrisy is not virtuous.