The reasons to endorse Obama included numerous assertions that Obama's commitment to NCLB and RTTT were desirable! In one category after another the union was endorsing Obama because he he was faithfully sticking to education policies that were not only bad for students and society (neither of which the CEA has ever cared about more than their own self-interest) but bad for teachers as well.
The endorsement was an exercise in self-immolation that characterizes the multi-polar disease that afflicts public education today.
I recently had dinner with a teacher who was very impressed by Diane Ravitch's blog. Ravitch, a former government administrator responsible for advocating for the rancid education policies she has come to now loath (and profit from loathing), has become a proxy union hero. She says, the things that many politically sleepy teachers believe and wish SOMEONE/ANYONE would say for them. Teachers are far too busy during the school year to be effective teaching AND be effective politically.
The teachers unions who should be the voice of teacher concerns, rarely are. The unions, run more by politically connected political operatives and lawyers than educators, are partially and significantly responsible for the public education meltdown that all public school teachers decry.They sell teacher votes like marketing firms sell phone lists to phone spammers. And a perfect example of this wholesale selling is the Obama endorsement in their newsletter. It is biased for the benefit of the union apparatchik and not teachers, education, or the public schools.
Ravitch's blog recently published a letter of resignation from a teacher that tidily summarized many real teacher concerns:
"Let me cut to the chase: I quit. -snip- I quit. I quit. I quit!Why?Because…
I refuse to be led by a top-down hierarchy that is completely detached from the classrooms for which it is supposed to be responsible.
I will not spend another day under the expectations that I prepare every student for the increasing numbers of meaningless tests.I refuse to be an unpaid administrator of field tests that take advantage of children for the sake of profit.
I will not spend another day wishing I had some time to plan my fantastic lessons because administration comes up with new and inventive ways to steal that time, under the guise of PLC meetings or whatever. I’ve seen successful PLC development. It doesn’t look like this.
I will not spend another day wondering what menial, administrative task I will hear that I forgot to do next. I’m far enough behind in my own work.
I will not spend another day wondering how I can have classes that are full inclusion, and where 50% of my students have IEPs, yet I’m given no support.
I will not spend another day in a district where my coworkers are both on autopilot and in survival mode. Misery loves company, but I will not be that company.
I refuse to subject students to every ridiculous standardized test that the state and/or district thinks is important. I refuse to have my higher-level and deep thinking lessons disrupted by meaningless assessments (like the EXPLORE test) that do little more than increase stress among children and teachers, and attempt to guide young adolescents into narrow choices.
I totally object and refuse to have my performance as an educator rely on “Standard 6.” It is unfair, biased, and does not reflect anything about the teaching practices of proven educators.
I refuse to hear again that it’s more important that I serve as a test administrator than a leader of my peers.
I refuse to watch my students being treated like prisoners. There are other ways. It’s a shame that we don’t have the vision to seek out those alternatives.
I refuse to watch my coworkers being treated like untrustworthy slackers through the overbearing policies of this state, although they are the hardest working and most overloaded people I know.
I refuse to watch my family struggle financially as I work in a job to which I have invested 6 long years of my life in preparation. I have a graduate degree and a track record of strong success, yet I’m paid less than many two-year degree holders. And forget benefits—they are effectively nonexistent for teachers in North Carolina.
I refuse to watch my district’s leadership tell us about the bad news and horrific changes coming towards us, then watch them shrug incompetently, and then tell us to work harder.
I refuse to listen to our highly regarded superintendent telling us that the charter school movement is at our doorstep (with a soon-to-be-elected governor in full support) and tell us not to worry about it, because we are applying for a grant from Race to the Top. There is no consistency here; there is no leadership here.
I refuse to watch my students slouch under the weight of a system that expects them to perform well on EOG tests, which do not measure their abilities other than memorization and application and therefore do not measure their readiness for the next grade level—much less life, career, or college.
I’m tired of watching my students produce amazing things, which show their true understanding of 21st century skills, only to see their looks of disappointment when they don’t meet the arbitrary expectations of low-level state and district tests that do not assess their skills.
I refuse to hear any more about how important it is to differentiate our instruction as we prepare our kids for tests that are anything but differentiated. This negates our hard work and makes us look bad.I am tired of hearing about the miracles my peers are expected to perform, and watching the districts do next to nothing to support or develop them. I haven’t seen real professional development in either district since I got here. The development sessions I have seen are sloppy, shallow, and have no real means of evaluation or accountability.
I’m tired of my increasing and troublesome physical symptoms that come from all this frustration, stress, and sadness.Finally, I’m tired of watching parents being tricked into believing that their children are being prepared for the complex world ahead, especially since their children’s teachers are being cowed into meeting expectations and standards that are not conducive to their children’s futures.
I’m truly angry that parents put so much stress, fear, and anticipation into their kids’ heads in preparation for the EOG tests and the new MSLs—neither of which are consequential to their future needs. As a parent of a high school student in Union County, I’m dismayed at the education that my child receives, as her teachers frantically prepare her for more tests. My toddler will not attend a North Carolina public school. I will do whatever it takes to keep that from happening.
I quit because I’m tired being part of the problem. It’s killing me and it’s not doing anyone else any good. Farewell.- Dr. June Atkinson"
Comparing the union endorsement to this teacher's litany of frustrations is instructive. The union endorsement praises Obama for inflicting most of the pains this teacher finds offensive and unacceptable. Can the Teachers Unions become any more divorced from the reality of their constituents?
If the public schools are to survive and thrive then the first order of business for teachers is to become independent voters AND to REFORM THE TEACHERS UNIONS. The dirty little secret of the public school education crisis is that it is self-inflicted first and foremost by the political indifference of teacher unions and the misrepresentation of teacher interests by these unions.
A recent article in Slate magazine summarizes the differences between Romney and Obama as far less obvious than the current campaign leads us to believe.
In The Progressive Case Against Obama by Matt Stoller, Stoller enumerates the wholesale failure of the Obama administration to serve its constituency.
Teachers should think twice about how they vote this November. Obama and his education policies are far worse than Bush's. And working parents and teachers are far worse off than they used to be. While Romney may be no better, a number of his statements imply some relief from the federal chokehold Obama has placed on public education.