In case you all missed it, Obama gave teachers the ol' "Fuck you" yesterday calling for more charter schools, merit-based pay, and making it easier to fire teachers who "aren't up to the job."
Obviously, Obama is pandering to the "independents" who, along with a great many Americans, have bought into the idea that by the very act of giving birth (or completing adoption papers), a person automatically acquires the knowledge to know when a teacher or school is "good" or "bad." Coupled with this intuitive skill is the fact that God conveniently correlates a teacher's crappiness with the performance of little Johnny or Sally in the classroom. When Johnny gets bad grades or does poorly on a test or (and you know I am just joking here) gets sent to the principal's office, a parent is able to know that this is a crappy teacher in action.
Obama's actions are stupid, stupid, stupid. He just threw teachers and teacher's unions under the bus. The Democratic Party now supports merit pay. Oh, I know that he will try to weasel when he's talking directly to the NEA and AFT. He'll try to say that "merit pay" can be based on any number of criteria. He'll try to say it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with testing. "Charter schools" could mean any number of things. "Vouchers" can mean any number of things. The important thing is we "reach out" and move into a "post-partisan" education policy.
Somehow Barack Obama thinks that the collective bargaining rights teachers in America should be modified or curbed or abridged or taken away so that it is "easier" to fire a "bad" teacher. Which is, of course, the subtext here. Obama needs to show that he's independent of those evil, evil teacher's unions who are dragging down education in this country with their insistence on quality at all schools. Their recognition that which kids from what background end up in their classes is not up to them, so paying them based on how these kids do on standardized tests is ludicrous. These crazy teacher's unions that believe that if employers want to fire their workers, there should be a written process as to how that gets done and that process needs to be negotiated.
The Democratic Party candidate for President just bought a whole host of right-wing talking points. And for what? Do you think that the Republicans are now going to stop attack the Democrats as being in the pocket of the teacher's unions? Does Obama think that joining with the Republicans in demonizing teacher's unions will mean that the Republicans will stop demonizing teachers? Does anything in Obama's experience lead him to believe that the Republicans will accept his proposals as fair compromises between two positions? That they will meet him in the middle?
Of course they won't. The goal of the Republican party is to smash public education in the US. Education is the great equalizer. The Republican party does not want equality. Hell, I think that's their official motto. They are not going to suddenly abandon that goal. They are not going to reach across the aisle.
The conversation in about education in America just took a giant leap to the right. Thanks to Barack Obama, who stood up to his allies instead of his enemies.