I know it will tax your memories, but remember way back in the misty past when the teachers’ unions and President Obama were on the same page? It was in the halcyon days of March 2009. And even in July, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel was telling his delegates, “What a difference a year makes” and chiding the press for emphasizing where the unions and Obama diverged.
Now, after a glacial period just short of three months, the meme has turned. AFT President Randi Weingarten is taking her cues from Diane Ravitch and referring to Obama’s education agenda as “Bush III.” NEA savaged the Race to the Top guidelines for their “top-down approach” and “narrow agenda.” California Teachers Association President David Sanchez said, “To be perfectly honest, it’s disappointing again. Our perception is it’s more of the same, and that’s not good, because we thought we were going to be able to change something, make some true reform in public education.” He also advised Obama to “get off the merit pay idea, because that ain’t gonna work.”
Evidently that “seat at the table” rhetoric we kept hearing about turned out to be the electric chair. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will speak to the NEA board of directors this weekend and I’m sure he’ll get an earful. I’m also sure he’ll nod his head sympathetically, stick to his talking points, and the Obama administration will continue down the path it selected more than two years ago. What will the teachers’ unions do about that? What can they do?