The new politics of education

Gadfly occasionally grumbles about the Obama Administration’s policies and actions, but it’s hard to find fault with the President’s comments on Monday about the Central Falls, RI firings. "If a school continues to fail its students year after year after year, if it doesn't show signs of improvement, then there's got to be a sense of accountability," Obama said. "And that's what happened in Rhode Island last week at a chronically troubled school, when just 7 percent of 11th-graders passed state math tests--7 percent." This led to a quick and angry reaction from AFT president Randi Weingarten: "We know it is tempting for people in Washington to score political points by scapegoating teachers,” quoth she, “but it does nothing to give our students and teachers the tools they need to succeed.” That would be compelling rhetoric were it not that the Central Falls teachers were fired only after their union refused to play ball with the district on a reasonable reform proposal. Regardless, we can’t help but enjoy this intramural squabble on the left. Twenty-five years ago, when “right winger” Bill Bennett was squaring off with the teachers unions on issues like this, who would have guessed that in 2010 a liberal African-American Democratic president would be doing the same?

Obama angers union officials with remarks in support of R.I. teacher firings,” by Michael A. Fletcher and Nick Anderson, Washington Post, March 2, 2010