In early July, 2011, the National Education Association did something a year earlier that no one expected them to do. It was not an overhaul of the public education system nor was it the passing of a new rule that would improve the quality of school lunches. No, instead, the NEA publicly announced their endorsement of President Obama for re-election in 2012.
Representing more than 3,000,000 teachers, the NEA is the largest teachers’ union in the USA. The president of the NEA, Dennis Van Roekel, feels confident that supporting President Obama for re-election will make the organization’s members happy. He feels that the President “shares our vision for a stronger America.”
Indeed, when you consider President Obama’s dedication to making our country more internationally competitive by improving our education system and his wife’s dedication to helping our students become healthier, this makes sense. Some of the ways that Obama has helped improve public education is by championing education reform and by using stimulus money to pay teacher’s salaries and fund opportunities for students.
However, there have also been things that President Obama has done over the past two years that have upset the organization and its members. For example, this administration has continually supported charter schools and insisted that standardized testing is a reliant way to assess performance. Luckily for President Obama, the NEA does not seem to think these draw-backs are enough to not warrant their support for the candidate.
Van Roekel said that the nation “cannot sacrifice our students’ futures by shortchanging them now.” He continued on to say that “there are two very distinct visions for the country: one is about opportunities for all and one is not.”
The NEA appears to think that President Obama has the first vision in mind, and according to a recent speech that Vice President Joe Biden gave, I have to agree.
“We should be working with you, not against you,” Biden said about the anti-union efforts that have blamed teachers’ benefits for causing budget deficits. “We should be listening to you, not lecturing to you. We should be embracing you, not pushing you aside. You are not the problem.”