In the News: Teachers Union Cheers Clinton for Stance on Standardized Testing and Pay, but Boos Her Embrace of Charters
On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton gave a speech before the 7,500 delegates attending the National Education Association’s annual Representative Assembly.
Emma Brown of the Washington Post writes
Hillary Clinton delivered plenty of applause lines Tuesday in a speech to the nation’s largest teachers union at a gathering in Washington, calling for less standardized testing, more support for vulnerable children and more respect and pay for public school educators.
“I want to say, right at the outset, that I’m with you,” Clinton said to loud cheers from thousands of delegates to the National Education Association’s annual meeting. “If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, educators will have a partner in the White House, and you’ll always have a seat at the table.”
But Clinton also signaled her willingness to challenge union orthodoxy on the lightning rod issue of charter schools, saying that there are some successful charter schools whose approaches should be studied and replicated.
“When schools get it right, whether they’re traditional public schools or public charter schools, let’s figure out what’s working and share it with schools across America,” she said to audible boos from the audience. “Rather than starting from ideology, let’s start from what’s best for our kids.”
Richard Colvin profiled the head of the NEA, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, just before she took over the reins of the union in 2014.
Eskelsen García and other union leaders also see themselves as under attack by “self-described” education reformers and centrist Democrats who favor charter schools, performance evaluations that factor in student achievement, and changes to long-standing practices that mean teachers hired last lose their jobs first in the event of budget cuts or declines in enrollment. A small but loud and angry faction of teachers and advocates on the political left want the NEA and the AFT to be more aggressive in resisting those efforts, which they associate with the Obama administration.
– Education Next