When Barack Obama ran for re-election, several groups told him they needed concessions before supporting him. LGBT groups managed to extract support for gay marriage. Immigrant groups managed to extract support for their causes.
As for us, we supported Barack Obama unconditionally. The NEA and the AFT couldn't wait to get on Barack's bandwagon. I believe I read there was extensive polling to support AFT's decision. As usual, no one asked me, anyone in my very large school, or anyone I know. Perhaps they did a poll of Unity chapter leaders who knew the correct answers in advance. Who knows?
But the point is not how the poll was conducted. The point is we asked no concessions whatsoever. By doing so, we gave Barack Obama the message that he could count on us no matter what he did. Impose nonsensical standards? Fine. Fire teachers based on junk science? Great. Close schools with high concentrations of high-needs students? Dandy. Blame teachers for closings? Swell.
You get the idea. There are arguments in favor of actions like these. Romney was Obama's opponent, and he's even worse. In fact, the election was close enough that Romney had a chance of winning. Maybe. But Barack Obama has taken GW Bush's educational policies, put them on steroids, and imposed them on the entire country.
Barack Obama broke his promise to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. In fact, he never even attempted to support it, as far as I can tell. Thus, the possibility of increased unionization for Americans has not been realized. He never found those comfortable shoes he promised to look for and stand with working Americans. He didn't show up in Wisconsin to oppose Scott Walker's wholesale assault on labor and that was fine with us. He followed up by failing to oppose his equally repugnant pal, Rahm Emmanuel, in Chicago. By extension, the closure of 50 Chicago schools was fine with us.
Our message to the President is this--you may do whatever the hell you wish. You may take direct orders from Bill Gates. You may vilify us, you may fire us for no reason, you may close schools to make money for your corporate buds, and you may freely screw us, our students, and their parents.
For the new year of 2014, I have this request for our leadership---please recraft our message. While the one we're broadcasting is certainly appreciated by the demagogues who seek to destroy us, the last bastion of vibrant unionism in these United States, it's not helping us at all.
And we could all use just a little help right now.
Views expressed herein are solely those of the author or authors, and do not reflect views of my employers, the United Federation of Teachers, the MORE Caucus or any other union caucus.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.