Sondra Erickson apologizes for "teacher Gestapo" insult

Sondra Erickson, wrapped in the flag.

Sondra Erickson, wrapped in the flag.

Four days after a gunman at an Arizona political gathering mows down six innocent people, and almost kills a congresswoman, probably isn't the best time for a Minnesota legislator to shoot off her mouth about a "teacher Gestapo."

But Republican Rep. Sondra Erickson, chair of the House Education Committee, just couldn't help herself.


Instead of debating the merits of an Education Minnesota call for 90 days of classroom supervision for teachers taking part in a proposed alternative licensing program, she likened the teachers union to Nazi secret police.

The licensing program under consideration is near and dear to hearts of Republicans. The teachers union is skeptical it will produce educators ready to face classrooms.

"It sounds like the teacher Gestapo to me. I think that if a candidate comes out of one of these programs, he or she is going to be well-prepared to be in the classroom," Erickson told MPR. "If a district has decided that candidate should be in the classroom, I'm not sure why we would need that Gestapo at work, and I would like to visit with them about that."

The union howled, and Erickson retreated.

"I completely overstepped my bounds," she told the Minnesota Independent

Maybe Erickson, who says she stands for conservative principles, could tear a page from Tim Pawlenty's new campaign handbook: "You can express yourself firmly and passionately and with conviction. But you don't need to do it in a way that demeans others."