AFT, NEA and the Corporate Education Reform oriented DGA

Perhaps we should simply call it a symptom of the corporatization of the modern American labor movement.

Or perhaps we call it a product of the centrifuge that is sucking mainstream American politics into the control of the corporate elite.

But whatever we call it, the premature decision by the American Federation of Teachers to endorse Hillary Clinton for President is yet another example of how the unions representing teachers have been gravitating toward backing those who are perceived to be more acceptable to corporate interests, display a track record of supporting policies that are less than supportive of teachers and the nation’s public schools and/or are defined as the “only” choice because the Republican alternative would be “even worse.”

Truth be told, the issue isn’t even really about Hillary Clinton.  As the presidential nominating process moves forward Hillary Clinton may very well be the “best” choice for the Democrats and the electorate, but the AFT leadership’s decision to endorse her now is an stark indicator of just how far the teacher unions have gone to become part of the get-a-long, go-along status quo.

Rather than requiring that any candidate seeking political support from teachers have a solid progressive record on public education and articulate clear-cut policies and positions that are diametrically opposed to the corporate education reform industry, there is a growing acceptance of candidates who have thrown their support behind the charter school industry and the broader education reform agenda.

Above all else, one thing is certain and that is that the American Federation of Teachers, and for that matter, the National Education Association, has consistently backed Democratic candidates whose records and positions are closely aligned with the so-called “education reformers.”

No where is that clearer than with the massive financial support that the AFT and NEA have given to the Democratic Governors Association, despite the DGA’s outspoken and on-going support for President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s education reform agenda, the Common Core, the associated Common Core testing scheme and the inappropriate requirement that standardized test scores be used as part of the teacher evaluation process.

Over the past five election cycles, the American Federation of Teachers has handed the Democratic Governors Association more than $5.5 million in money that was earned by America’s teachers and given to their union with the intention that the funds would be used to support candidates and promote policies that support teachers and enhance public schools.  The National Education Association has donated $4.8 million more.

But despite teacher unions giving more than $10 million dollars to the DGA over the past decade, the organization whose role it is to elect Democratic governors has remained committed to an education reform agenda that is actively and intentionally undermining teachers, the teaching profession and the nation’s public education system.

Just last summer, as opposition to the Common Core and its associated unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing scheme grew, along with the resulting opt-out movement, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who was Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association at the time, dismissed the legitimate concerns that were being raised as nothing more than the work of right-wing nuts.

As reported in an AP story in June 2014, Democrat Shumlin dismissed the opponents of the Common Core as “crazy” conservatives adding, “The fact that the tea party sees that as a conspiracy is a symptom of their larger problems.”

But of course, opposition to the corporate education reform agenda is not a “right-wing issue,” nor is the push back against the heavy-handed and faulty implementation of the Common Core and the Common Core testing scam.

In fact, it is real world it is a broad spectrum of liberal, moderate and conservative parents, teachers and public school advocates who are leading the effort, all across the United States, to turn back the corporate funded public school privatization and education reform effort.

Although the NEA and AFT were two of the DGA’s four largest donors during recent 2014 election cycle, one would think the DGA went out of its way to remind teachers that while their money was useful, their opinions were not.

Not only did the DGA spend more than $3.8 million to promote the re-election of corporate education reform aficionado Democrat Dannel Malloy to serve a second term as  Connecticut’s governor, but the members of the DGA went on to elect Malloy to serve as the next Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

Malloy, who in 2012 became the first sitting Democratic Governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest schools districts is such an eager charter school advocate that he threatened Connecticut’s Democratic controlled General Assembly that at the same time he was proposing to cut funding for public schools, he would not sign any budget bill that did not expand the number of charter schools in the Constitution State.

And the Democrats in the legislature acquiesced to Malloy’s threats.

Malloy also vetoed a bill, passed with bi-partisan support, to require that anyone who serves as Connecticut’s commissioner of education must have appropriate classroom teaching experience.  Malloy whined that requiring the state’s education commissioner to have education experience would cramp his appointment decisions.

Although Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy rivals New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo when it comes to anti-teacher rhetoric and policies, the harsh reality is that Malloy is nothing more than a continuation of the DGA’s effort to support Democratic governors who are wedded to the corporate education reform agenda.

Teachers, students, parents and public school advocates deserve better from the Democrats and from the unions representing teachers, the very same unions that are pouring millions of dollars into the Democratic Party.

  • josewald

    This is not representing teachers at all. Teachers should always encourage discussions, allowing various points of view to be explored. This should be done as early as pre-k. (What is your favorite animal? What does it like to do? Why do you like it? Etc). Choosing Hilary Clinton just because she is a Democrat is as if the Pre- K teacher,said “My favorite animal is a donkey and that is what everyone in this class will like!” Where is informed decision? That is such an important tenet in teaching children, in my opinion. As I said in a previous post, I just retired after more than 2 decades of teaching and I am happy to no longer be forced to support a union that does not represent me.

    • Tom Burns

      You would have lost your job w/o your union–but you didn’t live in those right to work states–yet you are still ungrateful–really–how’s your pension? so silly and negative

      • josewald

        No The union did not keep my job for me. I did that by myself! And my pension is really not your business. You have no idea what you are talking about as you do not know me or my personal situation! I am very grateful for all the days I was able to reach my students and grateful that I made a difference in their lives.

        • Tom Burns

          you have a pension because of your union and kept your job because of your union–no matter how much of a legend you were–you obviously didn’t work in a right to work state–please be grateful for what you have–for certain others don’t have what you have because they don’t have a union—period–and your pension is my business as the union you belonged to made it so–not you–

  • Bill Morrison

    I believe that it is time for teachers to disavow the AFT and NEA, and reform a real Teachers’ Union that will fight for us not against us. Hillary has already spoken in favor of Obama’s education reforms, and, as a Senator, voted in favor of NCLB. She represents more of the same. Given that, I’m not surprised that our bought-and-paid-for mainstream unions have endorsed her prematurely. It is time for a real change!

    • R.L.

      It’s way past time for change. Disavowing AFT and NEA are easily said than done. We can’t really quit, because the difference in “dues” between a member and a non member is negligible. One of our colleagues tried to form the Connecticut Association of Professional Educators and there was very little participation or support. They had a real possibility for teacher representation in the CEA when Martin Walsh and Scott Minnick ran for office. That was until the undemocratic “election” in which members cant even vote (just like AFT) put the incumbents back in office. The teacher’s unions have shown very clearly as of late, that they will not represent their membership. The teacher’s unions just may have to die. At this point it would be no great loss.

      • Tom Burns

        Move to Wisconsin pal–you would like it there

        • R.L.

          More hot air from Tom Burns, the guy who will stop Malloy and save us all. F#!K Wisconsin. I boycott goods from that state, and others, because of their policies. Moving to Wisconsin won’t be the choice I make if this doesn’t work. I have a skill set such that, if teaching becomes too ridiculous and unpleasant for my taste, I will find a different profession.

        • Tom Burns

          and Jon had a chance last time? he would have if he was serious about running and built an organization–he has time on his side now, if he so chooses–your vote for Jon last time did what for you?? but next time if he is serious…. then??

    • Tom Burns

      wrong again Bill

  • Linda174

    The AFT will destroy themselves from within making the Scotus case easier to win. Here is a Weingarten henchman telling teachers to leave if they don’t like the endorsement.

    • Tom Burns

      so who do we endorse? I’m voting for Bernie on Principle–but he can’t win–you must like Cruz, I guess–come up with something positive for once–it’s easy to spout negative all the time–

      • R.L.

        “But he can’t win”. Therein lies your problem. You said the same about Jonathan when he ran and still go as far as to ignore him saying that, “our old leaders Peters and McKeever are second to none and did a great job–there was no choice” in referring to their endorsement of Malloy over Foley. There was a third option and as long as people keep choosing the “lesser” the two evils offered by the corporate, peoples candidates won’t win. If more people vote for Bernie than Hillary, then Bernie will be the democratic candidate for president. It is not the union’s place to endorse a candidate based on whether or not he/she is as bad as the other guy. It is the union’s place to endorse candidates whose policies are aligned with the well being of its members, regardless of the odds.

  • Linda174

    Fallon mocks @AFTunion #Hillary2016 endorsement http://t.co/GieCkVwucE go to 4:00

  • Linda174

    The AFT’s Endorsement of Hillary Clinton Is an Insult to Union Democracy – Working In These Times http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/18184/AFT_endorsement_clinton/

    • Tom Burns

      Really Linda–are you for Trump?

  • Tom Burns

    Jon–thanks for your reporting–it has no equal and is right on–but when you attack the teachers unions–you are way off–you are probably hurt by them not backing you or letting you in on debates–(by the way–you are my choice) but you didn’t do what you needed to, in order to challenge the status quo and win–you are just another voice in the wind–but one that we need—the AFT has new leaders–our old leaders Peters and McKeever are second to none and did a great job–there was no choice—-but I will promise you this, Malloy is done–unless as he thinks Hilary will pick him as VP and they win–he is a big dreamer–a child actually–lost to Destefano and then just due to timing–he gets in–so Foley is who we should vote for?–is that what you are saying—you are my hero and America’s hero but you need to put up or shut up as to who we vote for–when are you going to start your election machine?? No matter who runs against Malloy this time–it is my one purpose in life to end his reign of error–I will get the urban districts to say no to this liar, bully and phony–but in the interests of our people, please make it someone of average intellect and ability–and watch what Dan will do as soon as he loses–the Charter schools will offer him whatever he wants–what a sell-out, simple individual who’s life only caused misery and division–goodbye Dan–Tom

    • tom604

      The AFT and NEA leadership is not the union particularly given the undemocratic way they maintain their position.