How I’m Connected to State Rep. Brendan Boyle & Why His Support of Education Privatization is Wrong

As a resident in Pennsylvania’s heavily gerrymandered 13th Congressional District, I have made no bones about who I am supporting in the Democratic primary, but I do have a connection with State Representative Brendan Boyle.  I believe that Brendan Boyle’s positions on public education and vouchers are wrong, and his support of privatizing and voucherizing public education will make my dad’s and his dad’s shared experiences somewhat common for unionized teachers and unionized support staff in the Philadelphia School District.

I share a connection with State Representative Brendan Boyle and that connection between us have motivated us to become politically active, either as a politician or a progressive activist.  At the January debate and throughout the primary process, Boyle has explained how his dad went from a factory, warehouse worker to a SEPTA janitor because a former employer laid off thousands of workers in the late 1990’s.  His reasons and political motivations are noble and something to commend.

I have the same shared experiences with Brendan Boyle.  My dad and Boyle’s dad worked for the same company and probably in the same warehouse at some point.  Right out of high school in the 1970’s, my dad took a warehouse job with Acme Corporation and his warehouse was represented by Teamsters local 169.  My dad benefitted from having strong, no-nonsense Teamsters local.  In the late 1990’s, I was around 10 years old, and I remember my dad getting laid off by Acme.  Out of a thousand employees in his warehouse, he was in the top 10 when it came to seniority.  He had built up a lot of benefits and yearly raises because of his union representation and was one and a half years away from getting a full pension at 50.  That changed.  Acme wanted to participate in the race to the bottom, they closed their Philadelphia warehouses, laid off thousands of workers and moved their plant to Lancaster Pennsylvania.  Worst of all, the company asked my dad and other workers to move Lancaster and become a scab.  What were the benefits of becoming a scab in Acme’s eyes?  Lose all seniority and start over at $8.00 an hour.

In the decade following Acme laying off these workers, my dad went from job to job.  Each time taking lower wages.  And now he currently works as a security guard at a local Philadelphia college.  Watching what my dad has gone through is one of the reasons why I became an activist, but I didn’t fully understand as to why my dad lost his job until I took a college course on globalization and trade.  After that, I got involved in organizing against Governor Corbett’s attacks on higher education, got involved with Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Philadelphia, started writing for the Raging Chicken Press and has stayed involved with progressive activism in Pennsylvania.

As someone who has the same shared experiences and motivations with State Rep Brendan Boyle, I will have an extremely hard time voting for him.  My main issue with State Rep Boyle is his support for vouchers and the privatization of public education.  State Rep Brendan Boyle has taken tens of thousands of dollars from education profiteers, whose main business model is to follow the same model that put our fathers out of a middle class job.  It’s designed to break the unions, strip teachers and janitors or other support staff of seniority, take food off the tables of middle class workers, and scab out the labor of teaching our children to the lowest bidder.


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About Sean Kitchen 681 Articles
Contributor and Assistant Editor for the Raging Chicken Press. Stationed in Harrisburg covering politics in the capitol. You can send tips to or reach me on twitter at @RCPress_Sean!
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14 Comments on How I’m Connected to State Rep. Brendan Boyle & Why His Support of Education Privatization is Wrong

  1. Boyle’s biggest contributor: Students First—that says it all. I’d never vote for privatizers, voucherizers, or charterizers–so I would never vote for Boyle. Check out educational historian Diane Ravitch’s book, Reign of Error. There you will find the best account of who groups like Students First really represent, and it is not students or public schools.

  2. I don’t live in the 13th but I wouldn’t vote for Boyle if I did. Not only is he awful re: teachers but he stinks on women’s issues too. Is he too dumb to know what Act 122 would actually do? Why would he trust the GOP controlled legislature on that? It shows he doesn’t deserve the vote from anyone who cares about such issues.

    • Yeah, I was going to include his women’s record, but I didn’t because of this topic. As you know, Colleen has been doing a great job on that issue.

  3. I’m a Northeast resident as well. Boyle also supports legislation to strip teachers of seniority. Labor needs to hold him to account. It’s not about what your dad did. It’s about the future our children face. Daylin Leach is a much better choice.

    • Brendan Boyle has overwhelming labor support – much more than the other candidates combined. Labor has correctly surmised that Boyle is much more likely to support the middle class since he is much closer to his working class roots than any of his wealthy opponents.

  4. I am Irish and a democrat and Brendan Boyle almost makes me embarrassed to say I’m both. He is everything that is wrong with the democratic party today.

    • I am Irish and a Democrat, and I am very happy Brendan Boyle is also. The consensus is that he is generally in line with the other candidates. Yet some members of the progressive community have made wild, ad hominem attacks on his character simply because they disagree on a couple of issues. The tone of the attacks are shrill and far out of line as most people agree that Boyle has a spotless character. I can accept a disagreement on issues; I find it reprehensible to extend a disagreement to wild attacks on character – especially if you don’t personally know the person.

      • Yeah, I mean he took a really bad vote on a GOP sponsored trap law. And his education policies, like those in the conservative labor movement, have brought a lot of pain to teachers with student debt, families of support staff and the actual students themselves. Other than that, he’ll vote on what Johnny Doc tells him to.

        • Wow. I’ve noticed that challenging the established orthodoxy on some of these progressive blogs brings about a torrent of abuse instead of serious discussion.

          As I have written before on this blog, the political establishment at first opposed Brendan and Kevin Boyle, and so they built a grass-roots network outside the establishment. This is well known to anyone familiar with politics in Northeast Philadelphia. Certain elements of the political establishment have now accepted the Boyle brothers because they are not going anywhere. However this does not mean Brendan Boyle is beholden to anyone. He will work with anyone on a reasonable request, but he will stand his ground when necessary.

          So your accusation that Brendan Boyle votes per John Dougherty’s orders is totally out of line unless you have proof. If so, you should provide it. Otherwise you should retract your statement.

  5. Brendan Boyle has taken the pragmatic approach on this issue. For decades Democrats have correctly advocated for a fair funding system for public schools. Where has this advocating gotten us? Nowhere, thanks to the Republican’s stranglehold on the Commonwealth’s government.

    Better to take Brendan Boyle’s approach by working along parallel lines in supporting aid to public education and making sure that charter schools are well run. I don’t buy the arguement that charter schools drain money from public education. C’mon. The General Assembly can help fully fund public schools in a separate revenue stream regardless of charter schools. It is a matter of priorities.

    Democrats can curb the potential abuses of charters by becoming part of the discussion instead of shouting from the outside. Brendan Boyle has taken an active interest in the charters of his district to make sure they are well run, and the MAST charter school is particularly good. Charter schools are not going anywhere, and better for Democrats to join the process. Otherwise ten years from now charters will still be here and Democrats will still be shouting from the outside.

    Finally I find that some of Brendan Boyle’s opponents to be hypocritical on this issue. They have the wealth to send their children to nice private schools or public schools in solid districts. They must know that achieving a fair funding system for all schools is a long way off. Yet they are willing to abandon children from poor school districts to their fate while accepting the alcolades of the progressive community for opposing one of the avenues which might remedy the situation. I would have a little more respect for them if they sent their children to inner-city schools which has had problems – like Bartram.

  6. So what you are saying, John, is that Brendan Boyle is a republican in democrat’s clothing. I agree. As I said, everything that is wrong with the democratic party today. I have also been a union member for over 30 years. Their pragmatism, support for Boyle, just like his predecessor John Perzel, is why they have nearly disappeared. The pragmatic argument is the one that every democrat in name only uses just before he sells out the middle class worker.

    • Couldn’t agree more Philip. I do like how John uses “ad hominem attacks by progressives…” in his argument when defending Boyle. The people who support Boyle, the Johnny Docs, Union Trades and Bob Brady’s of the world are the people holding the democratic party and the city of philadelphia back. The Philadelphia House and Senate delegations in Harrisburg are full of Johnny Doc cronies who offer no solutions facing Philadelphia or the Commonwealth. It’s all about how they get their part of the bacon.

    • Philip Kearney – Brendan won his State House seat which had only seen Republicans occupy it. The easier route for him would have been to run as a Republican, but his philosophy is as a Democrat, and to call him otherwise is to ignore the totality of his positions. When I find that all Democratic four candidates agree on almost all issues, then I think that you are the outlier, not Brendan Boyle.

      You are holding Brendan Boyle to a strict ideological litmus test of your choosing. Anyone who does meet every part of this test is somehow a “sell-out” and therefore unfit for office. This is the problem with the Democratic Party, and why it has remained the minority party in Pennsylvania for decades. Instead of working on issues where agreement exists, progressives in the Democratic Party castigate good people over the few issues where there is disagreement. (btw – I don’t see anyone complaining when Daylin Leach states in a candidates’ forum that he has and would work with Republicans on areas of agreement.)

      I will leave you with this thought. Time and again we have seen so-called progressives pay lip service to improving the plight of the poor and middle class, and then sell-out when in office. However Brendan Boyle has remained close to his working class roots while the other three candidates are fairly well-off. It certainly shows in that they can use their connections to raise substantial contributions or have wealthy intermediaries do so for them. Income inequality has not been the centerpiece of the MM, Leach, or Arkoosh campaigns, and I question whether any three of them will vote against their financial interests. This should give the voters of the congressional district pause. At least Boyle has no conflict of interest and is more likely to support the 99% of us.

  7. Llisten we all have differing opinions but even across both party lines I feel we are all reaching for the same common goals. I find that state (and local) government has been ridiculously ineffective for years. Candidates that promise change then once elected meld right into the ‘system’. While I dont’t personally agree with all of Brendan Boyle’s political stances, I do beleive that he is hungry for change and willing to shake up the system and really push for change. For that reason, he will get my vote. Thank you and best of luck Mr. Boyle!

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