But he said something I have to take exception to... well, that's not quite right. I actually agree with him, but I don't think he's seeing things from the perspective of teachers - a traditional constituency of the left that is being betrayed. There's a dynamic in play here that progressives need to understand...
See why Twitter won't cut it? Here's David:
David Atkins @DavidOAtkinsElections are won by persuasion and GOTV. Ask yourself: how many people am I persuading and mobilizing today?
David Atkins @DavidOAtkins"Wow, this person didn't vote. I should really pay attention to their needs," said no politician ever.OK, that makes sense... except what happens when you do vote, and you've been politically engaged, but the people you support - the ones who are supposed to be your allies - stick the shiv in your back? Which is why I replied to David:
Jersey Jazzman @jerseyjazzmanNow, I admit I wasn't clear here (again, 140 characters doesn't give space to flesh this out). By "like me," I meant teachers. And the obvious answer to my question is that teachers are not mobilizing for Obama because he has a truly horrible record on education. In fact, I'd say it's the one area of public policy where he has been brazenly disingenuous. For example:
MT @DavidOAtkins: "How many people am I persuading today?" Better question for Obama: why AREN'T like me persuading & mobilizing? #edpolicy
OK, Obama says multiple times he is dead set against teaching to the test. But what does he do? He implements Race To The Top, a program that mandates that test scores be used in teacher evaluations! I can't think of a policy that will create more teaching to the test than tying high-stakes personnel decisions to students' scores.
In addition, Obama is pouring more money into charter schools, even as the evidence continues to pile up that "successful" charters - by virtue of their high attrition rates and the selective demographics of their student populations - are simply not replicable. Charter schools bolster the "no excuses" canard that educational outcomes can be equalized simply through school uniforms, tough discipline, and marching. They justify placing all of the responsibility for closing the "achievement gap" on the schools, even though schools account for, at most, only 20% of the variation in education outcomes. Poverty is the issue; embracing charters helps mask that issue.
And let's not forget Obama's conspicuous absence from the sides of teachers in Wisconsin. When they needed him most, the president was a no-show; same in Chicago. Hell, Jon Pelto even sent him a free pair of "comfortable shoes," the kind he promised to put on when the rights of unionized workers were threatened. Apparently, they're somewhere in the back of the White House mud room.
No one in their right mind can expect teachers to have gone through four years of this and not have at least some ambivalence about Barack Obama. So, yes, it bugs me when friends and allies on the left tell me my only choice is to suck it up:
David Atkins @DavidOAtkinsDavid, you know I love you, and you're right about local politics (click the picture on the left of my fellow teacher Marie Corfield, NJ Assembly candidate, to do something about that). But we teachers can't take too much more of having our profession dismissed by the people we have consistently supported through the years. For myself, much of my exasperation comes from seeing what's happening on the right:
@jerseyjazzman obama could care less whether you do or not. Guess who does? Your local school board. Start there.
Jersey Jazzman @jerseyjazzmanDamn right we do. If the Republicans ever thought about sticking it to the NRA the way the Democrats have been sticking it to teachers, there would be holy hell to pay. And we're not even asking Dems to sell their souls; we're asking them to implement policies that are demonstrably better for students.
@DavidOAtkins Would the various constituencies of the right ever tolerate the way teachers are treated by the left? We both know answer.
What I'm trying to say to the president, to David, and to those of you on the left who are not educators, is this: candidates can't keep shafting us and then expect us to go canvassing and write checks. I know that reformy hedge-fund money tastes great, but these politicians can't do the bidding of Democrats For Education Reform and expect us public school teachers to just grin and bear it. At some point, we are not going to put up with it anymore.
Again: I know what's at stake in this election. The vast majority of teachers are not parochial about education's place in politics. Most of us will vote for Obama for other reasons. We're not one-issue constituents.
Unless you force us to become just that. Democrats, you proceed on this path at your own peril.
Can you guys believe I put out Race To The Top, and the teachers are STILL going to vote for me?
ADDING: Yeah, a photo-op with Arne Duncan ain't going to cut it.