Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hillary Never Would Have Done This

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.


dave3544 said...

Just kidding with the title. Of course Hillary would have done this. The Clintons have been shivving their allies since before Barack was born.

wobblie said...

Totally agree with your post, but I think your way off base in your comment.

Obama's education positions aren't new (it's part of the reason he didn't get the endorsement in the first place). Hillary's ties with the education unions, on the other hand, go back two decades, and her positions pretty much parallel those of the Organization.

Now, this isn't to say that she wouldn't address some of the very things Obama espoused, but I think she'd add the very important caveat that it needs to have the involvement of teachers. As Machiavellian as she may be, I think her political positions, as well as her political base (especially in NY), are too deeply enmeshed with the teachers' unions (especially the Organization) for her to go as far as Obama did.

But other than that, righteous.

lex dexter said...

first off, Dana Goldstein at the American Prospect on how the Dems have "lost" the education debate:

great post - i'll use the time-stamp thing to try and help us get some debate here. i should wait for the Heavies to jump in, but:

1) doesn't the AFT already "support" - by which i mean, "organize workers in" - charter schools?

2) did he once use the word "union" in the speech? BHO is confident he can deliver his message (more standards) to the public while maintaining some sort of wink-nudge (but you guys will WRITE the standards) with the NEA/AFT.

3) as wooshy as he's been on this topic, we need to view this debate with an eye toward winning back the moral high-ground on public education. john mccain should not be allowed to call school choice a "civil rights issue" and give people boners without being made to pay.
3a) But when I say 'we need to....(win) this debate....," who's WE? the unions? Dems? people in places where public education has been decimated, or never was much to begin with? All three of these groups have shown themselves to be capable of quite a bit of dissent and in-fighting, when jobs, ideology or their kids were on the line.
3b) Frankly, I think education is a place where the Dems' version of the capital-W "WE" falls dreadfully short in bringing together a majority. Their message about "failing schools" is really about winning the middle, and not the substantially larger populations of workers, and students/parents in underserved places. Again, a genuine LEFT turn from the DEMS - towards workers and the poor - could, I think, galvanize teachers/parents/students, and start to change the nature of the 2008 Dem "WE."

But shucks, I might as well go back to counting Reuthers dancing on the head of a pin if I'm calling for leftward-bound Dem policies in an election year.

dave3544 said...

And while Hillary strongly opposes the war, she will go ahead and vote for it any way.

I know I am conflating Hillary and Bill to a certain degree, but we're you so zoned out that you don't remember the '90s at all? The Clintonian wing of the Democratic party invented giving the Republicans our lunch money in the hopes that they will stop hitting us.

Did you miss the discuss of Mark Penn?

Never, ever trust a Clinton.

dave3544 said...

I'll stop being a n00b and commenting on my own post in a sec, but I had a friend in the education field mention BHO's speech yesterday and NPR ran a story on it, so I thought it was new, more expansive statement of his positions.

Sorry if it's old news.

wobblie said...

Education policy isn't the war. Moreover, charter schools and accountability were our issues before they were theirs.

Yes, I think you're conflating Bill and Hillary (and not without reason), and yes, I remember the 90s. But thinking back on the combined Clinton record to '92, I can't recall one "you really fucked up this time" concession on education policy that would lead me to believe she'd throw the teachers' unions to the curbs. Perhaps I'm wrong.

To wrap it back around, the anti-war left was never her base. The teachers, on the other hand, make up a big chunk of her base. Her ties to the teachers unions run way too deep for her to go as far as Obama did.

lex dexter said...


we need to admit that Hillary has been "better" on healthcare and education than Obama, up to this point. there's not really any shame in doing so! it's totally possible to concede the issue (and the voting bloc it brings with it) while maintaining that BHO is the better candidate. (i for one prefer BHO because he runs around with Bill Ayres, Andy Stern, Warren Buffett and Father Pfleger (my main man).

and having indulged in some swarthy glad-handing avec the NJ delegation at the DNC, let me assure you that certain well-placed unions on the East Coast enjoy a certain kinda "juice" with DC-dwellers that even sophisticated badasses (sic) like AFT-OR cannot merit in the NW. joe biden, par example, seems to be better on "schools" than he is on "predatory credit practices."

but i've been organizing grievances already, so i may be missing the entire thrust here. what i mean to say is that this is ALREADY POST OF THE WEEK, my fave blog-moment since the "McCain = POW" meme last week!

'good to see my role models lobbing hurtin' bombs at one another with so much vinegar.

now didn't EZ promise us a new inane poll?

wobblie said...

Wait... McCain was a POW?

EZ said...

I really want to say I told you so.... but I will refrain.

wobblie said...

Oh good lord, I'm gonna call bullshit on you too, ez. Hillary would've sold us down the river on things that are important to us as well. I just don't think it would've been on education policy.