Sam Dilton of the New York Times wrote an article, “Teachers Union Shuns Obama Aides at Convention”.
These teacher union officials apparently are in a snit over some remarks and political moves the president has made about the condition of modern American public school education.
Well, three cheers for the president for smelling the smell of the dead animal correctly.
Mr. Dilton writes:
“President Obama and Mr. Duncan have supported historic increases in school financing to stave off teacher layoffs while seeking to shake up public education with support for charter schools, the dismissal of ineffective teachers as a way of turning around failing schools, and other policies. That agenda has spurred fast-paced changes, including adoption of new teacher evaluation systems in many states and school districts, often with the collaboration of teachers’ unions.
But it has also angered many teachers, who say they are being blamed for all the problems in public schools.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Duncan played down the tensions. “I have great respect for the leadership of both unions,” he said. “We’re trying to push a lot of change, and we’ve seen extraordinary breakthroughs in the last 18 months. But we won’t agree on every issue.”
He noted the considerable range of views among union leaders nationwide. “Some state and local unions are very thoughtful and progressive and are embracing innovation,” he said. “Others are more entrenched in the status quo.”
Still, administration officials are concerned about the souring relations, and have been working to ease tempers, partly by emphasizing what they consider to be positive leadership by teachers’ unions in some regions.
“The administration is aware of the anger and wants to do whatever they can to cool it off, including getting third parties to issue words of praise for the unions when warranted,” said Chester E. Finn Jr., a Republican who last month used his influential education blog, Flypaper, to highlight the forward-looking positions taken by union leaders in Delaware, Tennessee and six other states. Mr. Finn said he decided to write the post after an administration official pointed out how many local unions had helped lead overhaul efforts.
Better relations are important to the administration. Mr. Van Roekel’s association, with more than three million members, says it spent $50 million in 2008 to help elect the president and more than 50 candidates for Congress and governors’ offices, most of them Democrats.
The American Federation of Teachers, with 1.4 million members, also spent millions of dollars to help elect Mr. Obama and other candidates in 2008.
“If the teachers sit on their hands this fall, it would be a disaster for Obama and the Democrats,” said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who has studied the teachers’ unions.
In a skirmish last week over federal education financing, the administration and the teachers’ unions were bitterly at odds. Last year, Congress approved $100 billion in education stimulus funds, about half of it to help states avoid school layoffs.
With that money now running out, House Democrats proposed spending $10 billion more to shore up school district budgets, paying for it, in part, with $800 million in cuts to Race to the Top and two other competitive grant programs Mr. Duncan created to spur his initiatives. Mr. Duncan and the White House supported the $10 billion in new spending, but objected to trimming the grant programs, infuriating union leaders.
“For the Department of Education to say, ‘Everybody else has to sacrifice, but our pet programs must be spared’— that makes me so angry I don’t even know how to say it,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which has often been more supportive of administration initiatives than the National Education Association .
E-mail messages pleading for the jobs measure rained down on Congress from thousands of union teachers, and despite a veto threat by the White House, Democrats in the House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to create the $10 billion school jobs fund and to trim Mr. Duncan’s grant programs. The bill must be reworked by the Senate. On Friday, Mr. Duncan shrugged off what appeared to be an administration setback, expressing confidence that lawmakers would eventually find a way to spare Race to the Top.
One group that helped the administration defend Race to the Top was the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit that has pressed for changes in the way teachers are evaluated. Timothy Daly, its president, said the angry rhetoric from union leaders now was less important than the long-term changes the administration has begun to coax from them.
“Sometimes union leaders need to show their members that they are vociferously pushing back,” Mr. Daly said. “But in several areas of the country the unions have come quite a distance.”
As examples of what he called innovations that unions have recently supported, Mr. Daly pointed to a “revolutionary” new contract for teachers in Washington, D.C., a far-reaching state law overhauling teacher tenure passed in Colorado with Ms. Weingarten’s support, and a new contract in New Haven, under which tenured teachers who are ruled ineffective and do not improve may be fired.
“Teachers are like anybody else, we don’t want to make changes,” said David Cicarella, president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers, who helped negotiate that contract. “But those days are over. The public is sick of hearing that an ineffective teacher has tenure, that you can’t touch them.”
Here in New Orleans, many state and local teachers’ union leaders have expressed ambivalent views on the Obama administration.
“We have to recognize that with Obama we have a voice in the decision-making, they listen to us,” said Earl Wiman, president of the Tennessee Education Association. But he added, “Mostly what we’ve seen out of this administration is a top-down, put-your-thumb-on-somebody kind of philosophy, and it’s aroused more frustration around federal education policy than I’ve ever seen.”
Comment” When I was in high school and early years of college, one of the best jobs a guy-kid could get was work at the slaughter houses in South St. Paul. Good wages, funky hours if one needed funky hours, and something that could toughen the softer soul. However, a joke was always added to the sales pitch….but you’ll never eat meat again.
I was a public highschool teacher for eight years and a “private” school one for four years previous to my term in the ‘profession’. Funky hours and something that could toughen my softer soul applied, but with poor wages. The joke was added, however…..”If you’re interested in educating, you’ll never last, and you’ll hate the institution for the rest of your life.
I never got my job at Swift Meatpacking House down “hook ’em cow way”. My asthma made me fail the physical. I nearly failed getting tenure after my teaching probation time …….for having a “messy desk”. However, I do eat meat……However, I do find American public school education rotten to the core……
And, I would discharge every American public high school teacher and would not rehire them unless they met an entirely new set of requirements. They must prepare to train our American young for responsible citizenry and adulthood. Certain knowledge must be known and maintained.
It is likely the teaching profession then as now has about the same number of incompetent people running a classroom, My remarks are confined to my experiences in the public high school.
It is hard to get milk out of a turnip. As a class of human animals, the public school teacher was much better educated then than now. I believe this is eminently true, but unproveable. But, I am referring only to the old “marms”. The older guys were not as well educated in the formal sense as their female colleagues, but they were men, and so kept a measure of order in the classroom. Some were even well organized.
Whatever their weaknesses, and not commanding knowledge is a major weakness for a teacher of teenagers on up in years, the students were civilized and adults were in control without police in the halls and locked doors……except for some highschools with majority black populations.
As I aged in the system a new profile of human creature was appearing on the stage as a “leader” of instruction in the high school classroom. Teaching was going to be replaced by facilitating……helping the students decide what they would like to learn and learn at their own “pace”. Students would devise their fate.
I believe this is a result: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkQ6XgXeNuY
The new ‘teachers’ of teenagers wouldn’t really have to know any knowledge at all. They were told they needed to be liked by the real underlings, and so, began to look, think, and behave more like the empty headed youngsters they were supposed to help guide into responsible adulthood and citizenship.
Adulthood in America disappeared.
These teeny-bopper “teacher” types of that day for the most part were gals, ditsy and vacuous as a grown-up by age must be who attempts to milk a turnip or act like a teenager. Guy teachers became feminized to accept their newly sculpted profile. Unisex had entered the system. Male and female are carbon copies one of the other anyway, don’t you agree? The past went untaught, except where it could be used to help create the victimhood classes in their racist quest to rise to the top…….whatever “top” might mean.
The age of “feelings” trumped the age of learnings. Today is faced without knowing a yesterday. The Age of Stupidity became the new American way of life…………Is it any wonder at all that Marxism having enterred the classroom, is now at our American door for a handout now that such a crippled citizen has been created? Wait till Obamacare kicks in for real!
As Dennis Prager has often said, if today’s teacher has nothing to teach, the teacher is not a teacher and should quit the deceit.
I believe the greatest scandal of the many great ones in America today, is the scandal of teaching teenagers in the contemporary modern American public highschool.
I am not so sure president Obama doesn’t have a similar view of this American education industry. His goal is to strengthen the government to dwarf the citizen, however. He wants to use the school systems to appy his prejudices on the matter, not mine……which is a very simple matter in education….
It is the duty of every voting citizen in a democracy to amass as much knowledge as possible in ones lifetime. After all, I was taught “The more one learns, the closer to God one becomes.”
(I thank fellow used-to-be teacher, Mark Waldeland for allerting me to this article.)
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