|By: David Dayen Friday May 25, 2012 9:38 am|
The link takes you to a story at the Washington Post with the same name as what Cutter quoted approvingly. And I can’t say that anything in the Post’s fact-check is wrong. It makes the case that President Obama has promoted ideas and instituted policies that teachers’ unions oppose, and that’s true.FACT CHECK: Romney off on Obama’s relationship with teachers’ unions; it’s anything but cozy: http://wapo.st/Lu0nYZ
Again, nothing you don’t know if you pay attention to Race to the Top and other education policies.Obama has promoted initiatives that encourage districts to tie teacher evaluations to student performance and to expand the number of charter schools — actions the teacher unions have long been against, and which Romney himself promoted Wednesday in a speech in Washington outlining his education platform [...]
At its annual meeting last year, the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union, sent a message to Obama that it was “appalled” with Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s practice of focusing heavily on charter schools, supporting decisions to fire all staff and using high-stakes standardized test scores for teacher evaluations, along with 10 other policies mentioned.
“Obama has taken on teachers unions unlike any previous Democratic president,” said Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution. “Because of that his support among union members, although it is still there, is rather tepid.”
But the question becomes, why does Stephanie Cutter, Deputy Campaign Manager for Obama 2012, feel so strongly about needing to broadcast that teachers’ unions don’t like her candidate? Is this a typical approach for campaigns? Don’t you normally want to tout support rather than opposition?
Not when it comes to teachers’ unions, apparently. And who needs them, they only represent 3.2 million members in the National Education Association and 1.5 million in the American Federation of Teachers. And they only represent one out of ten delegates on the typical Democratic National Committee Convention floor. It makes perfect sense for the head of the party to display his independence from such a marginal group.
Education “reform” is a pretty contentious topic with a split in the Democratic coalition. But Obama has always lined up on the opposite side of the unions on the matter. Not only that, he boasts of it.
Of course this is a pattern. The previous tweet from Stephanie Cutter highlights the President’s commitment to austerity, proudly stating for the record that federal spending has slowed down under Obama to the largest degree since the Eisenhower Administration. So we’re going to have six months of the President’s allies stating the record, showing all of Obama’s conservative positions on a host of issues. You would think this would be the role of, say, a primary challenger to the President from the left. But no, it’s the President’s own campaign doing this.
UPDATE: Pressured about this, Cutter has responded: “Pres. fights for unions/teachers b/c he believes in them-Mitt dishonest about being beholden to them.” The link she approvingly cited before has nothing whatsoever about the President fighting for unions and teachers, just fighting with them. His education policies are generally disfavored by teachers’ unions, and I should add, disfavored by reality, because the data on charters and teacher evaluations is weak to the point of totally being debunked.