Why many Democrats have turned against teachers unions

Jul 6, 2014 by

For years now it’s been clear that Democrats have splintered over the issue of corporate school reform. President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have been leaders of the movement to transform public schools through standardized-test-based “accountability” and the expansion of charter schools, with other Democrats arguing that these reform measures are not effective ways of closing the achievement gap and improving student performance.

That split came into stark relief with the recent verdict in Vergara v. California in which a judge threw out state statutes giving job protection to teachers. The plaintiffs had argued that tenure and other protections that had been negotiated by teachers unions deprived students of their constitutional right to an adequate education. Though no real evidence was presented to prove that claim, the judge agreed, though he stayed his decision until an appeal could be heard. Duncan praised the verdict.

And now, two former top spokesmen for President Obama — Robert Gibbs, who had served as press secretary, and Ben LaBolt, national press secretary for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign who had worked for Obama when he was a senator — have signed on through their communications agency, Incite, to be part of a national public relations campaign to support similar legal challenges to teachers jobs protections in other states, Politico reported.

If it sounds unusual for Democrats to be opposing unions, it shouldn’t, because it’s been happening for years now in the school reform arena, my colleague Lyndsey Layton explained in this story. And now, union leaders are getting fed up. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second largest union, said about the Gibbs-LaBolt move:

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via Why many Democrats have turned against teachers unions – The Washington Post.

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