But not only did the president and education chief Arne Duncan personally duck out of sight on this one, in the one instance where Team Obama did respond -- on teacher unions -- they revealed to all those who still have illusions, the Democrats' own complicity in the corporate version of school "reform".
The exchange has gone something like this:
Romney: President Obama has been a tool of the teachers union, unwilling to stand up to the "union bosses" and he has caved in to greedy teachers and their demands for collective bargaining rights and smaller class size.
Team Obama: No he hasn't. The President has been just as anti-union as you have and Sec. Duncan has consistently pushed for larger class sizes.
As Mitchell Landsberg reports in yesterday's L.A. Times:
In fact, Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, have clashed repeatedly with teachers unions over the administration's support for charter schools, merit pay and standardized testing. And Obama has won praise from a number of Republicans for pursuing an education agenda that, in some significant ways, builds on the policies of former President George W. Bush.It was none other than brother Jeb who put it most succinctly:
"I am very, very encouraged, and excited that the president has taken on a core constituency of his party, which is the teachers' union," Bush said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. (Video here.)It's now clear that Obama, the great triangulator, believes he has positioned himself just barely enough to the left of the Republicans, to maintain his AFT and NEA support while also placating his fund-raising base of anti-union, DFER hedge-fund reformers. Team Obama thinks he can win the election without enthusiastic support from the nation's 6.2 million teachers, and he may be right. We shall see.
But the question remains, who will stand up for public education, teachers and children?
AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten will probably face some tough questions on this score when she turns up as the guest on #SOSchat tonight on Twitter.
Early registration is now open for the Save Our Schools (SOS) People's Platform Convention, Aug. 3-5 in D.C. As one of the placards at last summers SOS march read, "You have the right to remain silent, but I wouldn't advise it."