Largest education union endorses Obama


CHICAGO - The 3.2-million-member National Education Association has endorsed President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. More than three-fourths of the 8,000 delegates voting July 4 at the union's 2011 convention here endorsed the president's re-election bid.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said his union was the first to endorse the president because Obama and the union "share a vision and members wanted early and strong support of his election." Delegates at the gathering said that the president's use of federal stimulus finds to save tens of thousands of teacher jobs was a major factor in their decision to make the early endorsement.

"The last two years of state legislatures and the mid-term elections were eye-opening, demonstrating what can happen when education legislation and decisions are left in the hands of politicians who do not support public schools," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

Van Roekel said teachers were pleased that the administration, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, saved and created jobs that fueled local economies and would,  through the Affordable Care Act, bring health care to 32 million people, including millions of children.

The union made its endorsement a day after Vice President Joe Biden addressed a crowd of 9,000 educators at the convention. He told them that the current national debate is about a "fundamental difference in vision for America."

"The debate is about whether or not for America to succeed we need to provide the best education for all our children - or for just some of our children," the vice president declared. "It should be no surprise that the same people pushing for vouchers for education push vouchers for health care."

Prolonged applause, a standing ovation and loud cheers broke out when Biden said: "There is an organized effort to place the blame for budget shortfalls on educators and other public workers. It is one of the biggest scams in modern American history."

Biden also drew applause when he acknowledged unhappiness among teachers over major parts of the Obama administration's education policies. Teachers oppose over-reliance on standardized tests and worry about use of those test results to fire teachers. Many teachers are also unhappy about the president's support of charter schools over the traditional public schools.

One teacher seemed to sum up the frustration when she said, "Too often, the solution to all of the problems with education these days is to take a teacher who is actually working her tail off for 14 hours a day and blame it all on her."

Most of those among the 25 percent who opposed the early endorsement of Obama said they favored an eventual endorsement of the president but would have preferred it come after they had more time to discuss their differences with the administration.

On July 2 delegates welcomed the Wisconsin 14, the state senators who left their state rather than vote to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers.

Before giving them the NEA's Friend of Education Award, Van Roekel said, "These senators took a page out of Abraham Lincoln's playbook, who, as an Illinois legislator, jumped out a window to prevent a vote that would close the state bank."

After accepting the award for the group, state Senator Mark Miller noted that educators in Wisconsin were among the first to "sound the alarm when Gov. Walker began his mission to strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights."

Photo: Signs salute the Wisconsin 14 at the 2011 NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago, July 2. NEA Flickr 


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  • So I guess the previous commentator knows better than the multimillion member union. Hmph. I for one am very glad (but not surprised) that they are clear-headed and see the reality: as their Pres. said, the recent state and mid term elections were clear reminders of what happens when the Republican right takes over. Looking forward to a solid labor front for Obama in 2012, with a big victory and mandate for progress.

    Posted by margery smith, 07/06/2011 10:01am (5 years ago)

  • When I interviewed educators for an article about Oakland teachers on strike, I got some pretty harsh condemnations of Obama's education policy of privatization. And here in CA, the state Dem governor Brown is doing what Biden called a scam, in balancing the budget on the back of public education.

    The Republicans of course pursue a similar agenda without any pretensions. But how can the NEA tops endorse the Democrats so enthusiastically? If the people I know are any indication, the rank-and-file are probably not happy about this.

    Posted by D. Bester, 07/05/2011 10:52pm (5 years ago)

  • You're kidding, right? After people's rallies in support of municipal and state employees from Madison to DC -- who face budget cutbacks and union-busting -- the NEA wants a second term for Obama bin Laden.

    The only thing that could be worse than a President Obama is a lame duck President Obama. This man has proven he's no friend of the working class. And now that America has a peasant class, he doesn't feel obligated to support them, either. So let's give him a second term to complete the job he was bankrolled to carry out. I.E., break AFSCME, what's left of the Letter Carriers and Postal Workers Unions, and all other public unions and professional orgs -- up to and including the NEA.

    Virtually all the major media outlets have lined up with the the National Assn. of Mfging., the US Chamber of Commerce, and even the "John Birchers Without Portfolio" Tea Party in support of starving public um ions out of existence. And I do mean starving. It's all "take it or leave it" for the public working class in the media. Worse, the MSM still print rubbish about "pampered public employees and their "golden parachute" retirement funds.

    The President has repeatedly committed himself to offer no Federal aid to states and cities in danger of financial collapse, the loss of their bond ratings, and the crumbling of their roads and schools. He wants Federal education vouchers to subsidize private schooling, instead. And we all know he shows no signs of raising federal taxes on off-shore based businesses and the mega-wealthy to shore up local and regional economies. Which is why the states and cities have bellied-up in the 1st place. After 10 years of tax cuts for the rich, neither he nor anyone else produce any reliable studies to demonstrate that trickle-down economics from these tax cuts even work.

    The man and his "constituency" date not only from the "W" Bush years but from the (Lewis) Powell Memorandum -- aka the Powell "Manifesto." That's the article of political double-dealing and outright suppression of the Left in the US to purchase a permanent conservative zeitgeist for aging baby boomers and Friedmanites. Maybe y'all ought to run an article on "Powell" sometime soon. Just about every major goal of the manifesto has already been -- or is about to -- reach fruition. Either the Marxist-Trotskyist Left organizes a united front now -- or we'll have to do it at the point of a Blackwater bayonet.

    Posted by pelle lindbergh, 07/05/2011 8:17pm (5 years ago)

  • Is this a joke? Obama, his public school busing department of education, Duncan, has destroyed public education, union rights, etc. more than any Bush scheme. It's Race to the Top.

    Posted by nampa1, 07/05/2011 5:55pm (5 years ago)

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