Teachers Need to Confront, Denounce Obama's 'Race to the Top'

It's best to quickly recognize the red flags in any
relationship. This way, ties can be severed instead of allowing things
linger forever in dysfunction. For Democrats and teachers' unions, the
writing is on the wall. The two are simply going in opposite

It's best to quickly recognize the red flags in any
relationship. This way, ties can be severed instead of allowing things
linger forever in dysfunction. For Democrats and teachers' unions, the
writing is on the wall. The two are simply going in opposite

The Democrats continue on the road to corporate-inspired
charter schools, using the tried and true method of "stronger teacher
evaluations" to undermine "underperforming" schools and teachers - thus
the door wide to private charter schools with their non-union

Obama's Race to the Top education "reform" has enshrined
these odious goals into government policy, and the once love-struck
unions have hastily exited the honeymoon stage with the Obama
heading toward a quick divorce.

Rank and file teachers have already quit the Obama
administration, and by extension the Democrats as a whole. Evidence of
this was on display during the national conventions of the two largest
unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American
Federation of
Teachers (AFT).

The NEA convention voted in favor of a resolution of "no
confidence" in Obama's Race to the Top program, essentially voting "no
confidence" in the Obama administration. The AFT convention was not
allowed to
vote on a similar resolution, but the rank and file applauded loudest
when the
AFT President, Randi Weingarten, spoke about the betrayal of the Obama
administration. The NEA did not invite Obama administration officials to
the convention, because, according to The New York Times, "...union
feared that [Obama] administration speakers would face heckling." (July 4, 2010).

The president of the NEA, Dennis Van Roekel, summarized
teacher's experience with the Obama administration:

"Today our members face the most anti-educator,
anti-student environment I have ever experienced." This is an
extraordinary statement. Not only is it true, but it highlights that
President Obama is more anti-teacher than was President Bush, who
the anti-teacher No Child Left Behind.

In fact, the situation for teachers is worse than either
union president is willing to say. State budget crises are destroying
funding for public education and teachers are being laid-off by the
while others accept wage freezes, larger classes, and other

On top of this, a flood of new state laws around the
is being implemented by Democrats and Republicans "working together" in
accordance with Obama's Race to the Top campaign. The New York Times

"...with states across the nation facing huge budget
governors, legislators, mayors and educators in about three dozen states
been working to win Race to the Top money by bringing their school
policies in
line with President Obama's education agenda." (May 31, 2010).

The barrage of new state laws makes it easier for states
create private charter schools - at the expense of public education -
and to
fire union teachers (based on their students' test scores). Job security
and public education are both under massive attack.

On July 23rd,
241 teachers were fired in Washington D.C., based on
student's test scores. Examples like this are now becoming common. If
unions cannot prevent these mass firings from happening, their power

But this frontal assault is not being labeled as such by
many teacher union officials. Some union leaders are minimizing the
destruction caused by the Obama administration, simply referring to his
policies as "misguided" or "flawed," rather than condemning the
Democrats as
"blatantly anti-union" or "destructive to public education."

This is because many union leaders are deathly afraid of
ending their co-dependent relationship with the Democrats, no matter
what level
of domestic violence occurs. These union officials make excuses for the
Democrats, or justify their cooperation with the politicians, by
claiming that
the union needs "a seat at the table." But at this table teachers are on
the menu, and the Democrats are only willing to listen to union advice
as to
how the teachers are best served - grilled, roasted, skewered.

A big test will come this November, when mid-term
will take place all over the country. Will teachers' unions use funds
resources to help elect Democrats, after tens of millions were wasted to
Obama and his Race to the Top cohorts in Congress?

Some union leaders will argue, "Yes, we will support good
Democrats." Fair enough, but a good Democrat is not someone that simply
says, "I support unions and teachers." A necessary condition for
unions to support politicians must be that they condemn Obama's Race to
Top, while declaring allegiance to the job security of teachers, and
thus they
must refuse to cooperate with the corporate-inspired scheme to make
evaluations based on students test scores, so as to create more charter

Also, politicians who are given union support must have a
plan to fully fund public education and reject the current trend of
funds to education and social services, using budget deficits as an
Raising taxes on the rich and corporations - as Oregon did - is
way for teachers to survive the state budget crises.

Ultimately, teachers' unions need to officially declare
their defunct relationship with the Democrats is "over" and work with
politically independent labor candidates, with a future eye towards
creating a
union-led political party that would represent the interests of all

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