The cold union shoulder
After many rounds of election-time Kumbaya, both of the nation’s big teacher unions seem to have had it with Change We Can Believe In. Nobody from the Obama administration will speak at either the American Federation of Teachers or National Education Association conventions this summer. NEA prez Dennis Van Roekel, in a sermon to his flock, didn’t mince words: “Today our members face the most anti-educator, anti-union, anti-student environment I have ever experienced.” Still, some state and local labor leaders are singing a different tune. “We have to recognize that with Obama we have a voice in the decision making, they listen to us,” Tennessee Education Association president Earl Wiman told the New York Times. “The public is sick of hearing that an ineffective teacher has tenure,” chimed in New Haven Federation of Teachers head David Cicarella. “Those days are over.” As we said a few weeks ago, the unions are hardly monolithic and reformers can be found in their interstices. But it sure seems that the national union bosses have decided to call on their darker angels. And if their members stay home in November, that could spell trouble for Democrats.
“Teachers’ Union Shuns Obama Aides at Convention,” by Sam Dillon, New York Times, July 5, 2010
Note: This piece reflects a correction: No administration officials were scheduled to appear at either convention, but not for lack of being invited, at least by the AFT.