How can anyone, let alone the Teacher's Unions, be unhappy with 0bama?

Teachers' Unions Uneasy with Obama

By: Nia-Malika Henderson
October 17, 2009 05:57 PM EST

Photo: AP
Barack Obama and Arne Duncan talk to high school students before giving a speech

A skirmish between powerful teachers’ unions and President Barack Obama over nearly $5 billion in education spending is shaping up as a preview of the battle to come over No Child Left Behind in Congress early next year.

But the tables are turned: now the unions are worried that Obama, a Democratic ally, is going to be just as tough on them as President George W. Bush, a longtime foe.

The dispute adds teachers’ unions to a growing list of key Democratic constituencies that have been frustrated by Obama’s lunges toward the political middle, along with gay-rights activists upset Obama won’t lift the ban on gays in the military, and Latino officials who say Obama is slow-walking immigration reform.

So far, both the unions and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have tried to avoid a full-on collision, and the unions are showing new flexibility in accepting previously unheard-of moves like stricter teacher evaluations.

But they’re also making it clear they'll only go so far with Obama, who was booed at two teachers' union conventions when he was a candidate.

One of the little-noticed aspects of Obama’s presidency is how much his approach to education mirrors Bush’s – heavy on testing and data-collection, with support for charter schools, teacher evaluations and merit pay.

That’s what Obama and Duncan are stressing in upcoming decisions over how to award the nearly $5 billion in “Race to the Top” funds, with final guidelines due in November.

And the reform efforts seen in Race to the Top are what some education observers expect Obama to seek in reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind law, which administration officials said will be developed in the coming months.

The unions tried to shoot down some of those concepts in formal responses to the Race to the Top program – but all signs are that Duncan’s Education Department isn’t backing off significantly.

And clearly, the unions expected more from a Democratic president.

Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of Teachers, gave the administration an “A for effort,” but has some concerns.

“This administration doesn’t want to be ‘Bush Three,’ but some of the things that are coming out…simply charter schools and measurement… that’s what the previous administrations pushed,” Weingarten said, referring to Bush and his father, the president.

“Data is important and charter schools can be great incubators for instructional practice and labor relations practice, but if it ends up just becoming measurement and some charter schools, that’s not public education,” she said.

Said Dennis Van Roekel, president of the 3.2 million-member National Education Association:
“Obviously we hope that some of the proposed changes will be reflected in the new guidelines. There could be major changes or minor changes, I just don’t know. But I don’t think there will be major changes.”

Announced in July, the nationwide competition offers states a chance to get a windfall of funds if they meet certain eligibility criteria. Among the 19 requirements are developing and implementing common statewide standards and data systems and increasing the availability of charter schools.

Already, cash-strapped states are moving to comply. Eight states, including Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee, have lifted caps on charter schools. California and Wisconsin are moving to lift restrictions linking test scores to teacher evaluation.

Initial guidelines for the money drew about 1,100 responses, with many offering support, yet some of the most heated comments came from teachers’ unions.

In a 26-page letter, the NEA said they found the “top-down approach disturbing” and that the emphasis on data amounted to “ignoring states’ rights to enact their own laws and constitutions.”

“We have been down that road before with the failures of the No Child Left Behind, and we cannot support yet another layer of federal mandates that have little or no research base of success, and that usurp state and local governments’ responsibilities for public education,” the group’s letter said.

While the Education Department in June tore down the red school house with the words No Child Left Behind above the door, and the law will be renamed, some are concerned that the requirements for Race to the Top are a blueprint for reauthorization of NCLB.

In his most recent speech about the No Child law, Duncan praised the effort, saying that it “helped expand the standards and accountability movement.”

“Today, we expect districts, principals and teachers to take responsibility for the academic performance of their schools and districts. We can never

Hes getting the Nobel prize for nothing. Hes spent what like a trillion dollars and we have nothing to show for it. Also sense hes been in office how far has the USD fallen? Yeah theirs plenty of reason to be unhappy with him, but no don't say it or your a racist.
Well thank you for proving the only defense anyone has for Obama is if you don't like him in any way you must be a racist and are you implying he deserves it for getting us the Olympics? Now that is stupid for the fact that he did that after he got nominated. What did he do before it to warrant it? Report Abuse
Ultimately the Congress will determine how much money is spent, and what standards the teachers will have to meet. The president isn't responsible for every aspect of every stinking government funded or sponsored program.
yep, and here's what our new Canadian-style health plan is going to look like:…
I think it might have something to do with him being a liar.
When will we understand that From our very birth, life pauses not for a moment, but races onwards towards Death. Life is a walk down a wide road leading to death. There is no possible way to escape death. No-one ever has, Of the current world population of over 5 billion people, almost none will be alive in 100 years time.
Life has a definite, inflexible limit and each moment brings us closer to the finality of this life. We are dying from the moment we are born.
Death comes in a moment and its time is unexpected. All that separates us from the next life is one breath. The duration of our lifespan is uncertain. The young can die before the old, the healthy before the sick, etc.There are many causes and circumstances that lead to death, but few that favour the sustenance of life.
Even things that sustain life can kill us, for example food, motor vehicles, property.The weakness and fragility of one's physical body contribute to life's uncertainty.The body can be easily destroyed by disease or accident, for example cancer, AIDS, vehicle accidents, other disasters. Worldly possessions such as wealth, position, money can't help, Relatives and friends can neither prevent death nor go with us, Even our own precious body is of no help to us. We have to leave it behind like a shell, an empty husk, an overcoat.
Therefore stop fighting and hating, choose to love each other, we are all going to die soon.
May God Help Us.

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