Teachers Unions Aren’t Feeling the Love
October 24, 2012 8:27 am
The Presidential debate veered far off topic several times Monday night, with one digression leading candidate Mitt Romney to profess, “I love teachers.” His declaration was primarily meant to combat a June statement in which he chided Obama for wanting to hire more teachers, saying:
[Obama] wants another stimulus; he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.
But Romney’s so-called love for teachers didn’t keep him from lashing out at the unions that protect them in last night’s debate. He said:
We’re going to have to have training programs that work for our workers and schools that finally put the parents and the teachers and the kids first, and the teachers unions are going to have to go behind.
In late September, the candidate spoke about limiting the political power of teachers’ unions, claiming that their donations gave them too much of an advantage in contract negotiations involving public officials. Unsurprisingly, Romney has expressed no similar qualms with the deluge of corporate cash fueling his own bid for president.
Confused by his “love teachers, hate teachers unions” rhetoric (hate the sin, love the sinner?), the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, released the image above, calling Romney out for his contradictory language.
The Huffington Post reports on the NEA’s reaction to Romney’s debate comments:
The graphic is part of the union’s get-out-the-vote efforts, which have so far mobilized 481,000 members to work on initiatives like phone banks, canvassing and voter registration, according to NEA spokeswoman Sara Robertson.
“Mitt Romney’s form of love reminds me of being on the schoolyard as a kid. The only way you knew whether or not someone liked you was if they pulled your hair or made fun of you in front of their friends,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.
The article also contains remarks from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:
The same candidate who claims he loves teachers has opposed efforts to invest in teachers and reduce class sizes to help our kids succeed. He pays lip service to the importance of teachers, but he’s said he would preserve the U.S. Department of Education only so he’d have a club to go after their unions.”
Unsurprisingly, both the NEA and AFT are supporting Obama, though Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top program, which heavily ties teacher evaluation to standardized test scores — as well as his association with Rahm Emanuel — have caused a certain dissent in the ranks.
Obama’s stimulus fund helped save 420,000 education jobs between 2009 and 2011; 300,000 teachers lost their jobs during the same period.
Image from here