Re Educators or Kingmakers

David White argues that delegates to the Democratic convention from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers may be pivotal in choosing the nominee. He says that's bad because the NEA and AFT are the reason schools are bad, protecting lousy teachers, opposing reforms like merit pay. He adds that the awful unions demand real promises from politicians. White knows nothing.

 True, NEA and AFT will send many delegates to the convention. None of them will be rich. That this is a billion dollar election seems to pass  White by. NEA and AFT, corrupt as they may be at the top, are hardly responsible for the social and economic collapse in urban and rural areas that precedes bad schools.

NEA and AFT both supported the No Child Left Behind Act which relies on test scores that measure little but parental income and race, dividing and betraying their teacher members. AFT's New York bellweather local sold out their rank and file and supported merit pay which will pit teacher vs teacher and be fixed by bad administrators.

Stupid principals who cannot follow simple contractual directions are the ones who cannot fire bad teachers.

NEA and AFT will pour millions and thousand of volunteer hours into the campaign. We have seen how politicians keep their promises to education. They don't. But NEA and AFT leaders won't acknowledge that as the election, a shell game, allows them to distract their members from on the job actions in schools and in communities that really could reform education, serve kids.

Laughton Chiles won the Florida governorship largely through the work of teachers, and me. When elected, the teachers sought to hold him to promises for better pay, he stood on the capital steps and called teachers, 'worse than terrorists." That NEA and AFT leaders choose to forget these things demonstrates their cynicism.

Dr Rich Gibson
Emeritus Professor of Education
San Diego State University