Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Romney throws a right. Obama ducks.

I must admit, I was glad when Mitt Romney fired the first education salvo across the Democrats' bow last Wednesday at the Latino Coalition annual economic summit in Washington. My fear was that both parties were going to avoid mentioning the E-word right up through November. I thought, now that Romney has come out openly and purposefully, in a white paper,  with his party's anti-public school line, including support for vouchers, larger class size and a direct, unambiguous assault on teacher unions, Pres. Obama would have no choice other than to respond.

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."


  1. We face a devil's choice here--vote for someone who's going b***s to the wall to crush the union, or someone who's moving a little more slowly than that, but with the same eventual outcome. We need a third-party worse than we ever have--or maybe a meteorite crashing into D.C. when everyone's there,including Romney and the fam, and then starting over from scratch. Kind of a cosmic re-set, do-over button. That'd be a nice, tidy solution. Or maybe we can just SAY it was a meteor....

  2. Fkilgall,

    Even better, let's build a movement that can challenge the power of both parties and hold politician's feet to the fire.

  3. Third parties never win elections. They do, however, move the two major parties to include some of their ideas in the major party platforms. The Tea Party, as a Party, couldn't elect anybody ... but they do help elect Republicans who take on their philosophy to varying extents, depending on how badly they need their votes. Big problem is that there are too many "gullible" people around who believe things that just are not true. I have addressed this recently on my blog, www.jackspotpourri.com.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.