Is Obama a closet educational conservative who supports vouchers, or, in the thrall of Bill Ayers, the left wing, former Weatherman, college professor? or,
Is Obama in the “pocket” of the teacher unions, or, has he distanced himself from the unions?
This year the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) conventions were held back to back in Washington DC and Chicago.
The NEA convention, with 9,000 attendees is always “bread and circuses,” themed t-shirts, silly hats, and little discussion of issues. The AFT, with 3,000 participants, has vigorous floor debate. Both organizations underwent changes in leadership as their presidents retired.
Obama spoke to both conventions, via satellite.
Obama’s comments at the NEA were carefully parsed with every nuance interpreted word by word.
At the AFT Obama disappointed the free marketeers and the anti-union folk as evidenced by the editorial in the New York Sun.
The AFT convention was ecstatic as he rolled out his education policies to the AFTers from around the country.
I am running for the president to guarantee that all of our children have the best possible chance in life … that begins with providing children, especially the most vulnerable children, with the support they need: quality, affordable early childhood education; expanded afterschool and summer learning opportunities, fully funded special education; and early intervention strategies that recognize the forces that lead to a high school student dropping out start well before the ninth grade … it also means ending the days of labeling a school and then abandoning them the next … I am tired of hearing you, the teachers who work so hard, blamed for our problems.
(Citing AFT locals in Chicago and Cincinnati) …You’ve shown that it is possible to find new ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them.
As his speech concluded you almost hear the air deflate the anti-union folks balloon.
The many millions of teachers, and others represented by teacher unions (school support staff, nurses and hospital support staff, colleges and universities) are scattered in every nook and cranny of the nation, and, they vote.
They not only vote, but, they work in elections, and they use their teaching skills to influence others. Whatever doubts, whatever allegiances to Hillary have been assuaged.
At a recent pro voucher conference a voucher supporter bemoaned the strategy employed by teachers: they forced the voucher issue onto the ballot, and it was soundly defeated. Democracy can be a bitch.