Barack Obama And The Stubborn Defenders Of The Status Quo
Of Inconvenient Truths And Hot Water
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in Featured Stories | Policy — Comments (18) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
After speaking the teensiest of inconvenient truths, Barack Obama encounters a glacier:
Barack Obama has the teachers cheering. The National Education Association is meeting here, and Obama-- like the Democratic candidates who have spoken before him -- is telling the crowd everything it wants to hear.
He's "committed to fixing and improving our public schools instead of abandoning them and passing out vouchers." Washington "left common sense behind when they passed No Child Left Behind." Teacher pay must be raised "across the board."
But then Obama tiptoes into the minefield of merit pay for teachers, so delicately that he does not actually utter the words "merit pay" until the question and answer session.
"If you excel at helping your students achieve success, your success will be valued and rewarded as well," he says -- but he hastens to add that this must be done "with teachers, not imposed on them, and not based on some arbitrary test score."
This is whispering truth to power. But for the teachers, Obama's words are fingernails on a chalkboard. They fall silent, except for scattered boos, as he mentions a modest new program in Minnesota.
"If you look between the lines on the answer, it wouldn't be the answer we were looking for," says Rhonda Wesolowski, president of New Hampshire's NEA affiliate. "He's going to have to come a long way off of that position with us," says California Teachers Association Vice President Dean Vogel.
And those were the polite ones, who were otherwise impressed with Obama. "I can't imagine if he were informed he would come before 10,000 people and say what he said," says New Jersey Education Association President Joyce Powell.
The teachers' unions will brook no opposition. Their power comes before needed school reforms. Kudos to Obama for whispering truth to power, but I guess that means a mere whisper is enough to send the NEA and likeminded organizations running to endorse Hillary Clinton.