Let’s make one thing immediately clear: Hillary Clinton’s supporters, which include NEA and AFT, got the job done in New York. They beat Sanders handily, and for once the union household vote was substantially in Clinton’s favor (57%-43%).
The self-congratulation was immediate. “NEA’s Educators for Hillary program continues to play a critical role in the grassroots effort that has pushed Hillary’s pledged delegate and popular vote leads to insurmountable levels in the Democratic presidential primary,” reads NEA’s press release, while AFT quoted New York State United Teachers president Karen Magee, “And it’s an affirmation of the important role that NYSUT members play in elections when they are engaged and motivated to knock on doors, make phone calls and hand out literature for a candidate they believe in.”
Well, maybe. But Clinton beat Sanders 55%-45% among non-union households, suggesting the organized labor role wasn’t as critical as they believe. Once again, the real deciding factor was Clinton’s strength among minorities. She captured 63% of the Hispanic vote in New York and 75% of the African-American vote.
So while the confetti falls, it’s still not too early to wonder which way President Clinton would lean on education issues where teachers’ unions and minority groups might not see eye-to-eye – like charters, or accountability, or teacher assignment, or even testing. That seat at the table might be at the far end.