No invite for Secretary of Mis-Education, Arne Duncan at The National Education Association

The National Education Association Convention is still going on this week in New Orleans with resolutions remaining be turned in.  What is interesting is that not one of the Obama administration’s cohorts was invited to speak at the convention.  Neither Arne Duncan nor his henchmen attended the convention.  This is a stunning admission that teachers, the NEA is three million strong, are sick of the Race to the Top and the Obama administration’s go-forward policy under No Child Left Behind.

 President of the NEA, Mr. Van Roekel’s association, with more than three million members, says it spent $50 million in 2008 to help elect the president and more than 50 candidates for Congress and governors’ offices, most of them Democrats.

In New Orleans, where the convention is taking place, many state and local teachers’ union leaders have expressed hesitant yet often supportive views on the Obama administration. 

Earl Wiman, president of the Tennessee Education Association stated:

“We have to recognize that with Obama we have a voice in the decision-making, they listen     to     us.    Mostly what we’ve seen out of this administration is a top-down, put-your-thumb-on somebody kind of philosophy and it’s aroused more frustration around federal education policy than I’ve ever seen” ( July 5, 2010 Larry Miller, Teacher Union shuns Obama Aides at convention, 

This from a state that was extorted to remove caps on charter schools to get their bloody hands on part of the $4.3 billion dollars Duncan has allocated for ‘capitulating districts and states under Race to the Top.  Don’t these ‘union leaders’ see the writing on the wall?  Can’t they see that the Secretary of Education works for Bill Gates and Wall Street and that neither have any interest in working people?  Or are they so corrupt, so out of touch with what is happening in American economic life that they actually can come with a straight face, look their members in the eye and tell them that Arne Duncan is good for education, their working lives, the children they teach, the pensions they hope one day to get, and the benefits and rights they have fought for?

If we had a critical media, one that would allow for open debate and full disclosure of the issues behind the sordid policy of Duncan and the privatizers Wiman would never have become president of his union.  He works behind enemy lines promoting teacher devastation as progress.

It is this type of union leadership modeled by Wiman that must be challenged at the upcoming AFT convention on July 7th, 2010.  We simply cannot sit around and believe in union leaders that support an Obama administration that seeks to privatize education, that rents out a Department of Education that is a wholly owned subsidiary of the billionaire boyz club and Wall Street hucksters seeking to decimate public education, privatize the whole enterprise and destroy teacher’s union — driving them down to ‘at will’ employees or ‘associates’.  If we do not stand up and elect leaders more interested in replacing the current corporate table than sitting at it, we will surely lose, as will our kids and nation.

AFT spent millions to support Obama

The American Federation of Teachers, with 1.4 million members, also spent millions of dollars to help elect Mr. Obama and other candidates in 2008.

Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who has studied the teachers’ unions stated:

“If the teachers sit on their hands this fall, it would be a disaster for Obama and the Democrats” (ibid). 

Sure, Kahlenberg’s right and that is why we need to mobilize and let Obama know that Arne Duncan and his twisted, privatized maniacal plans for education must go; Weingarten must go; Gates, Walton, Broad, Neil Hastings, The Fischer Family and all the pseudo philanthropists and their Wall Street financial friends must go; they need to keep their hands off of four children’s education or we will see another sub-prime debacle, this time involving the loss of historically won gains in public life.

Duncan and Obama refuse to cut Race to the Top

In 2009, Congress approved $100 billion in education stimulus funds, about half of it to help states avoid school layoffs.  But in a skirmish last week over federal education financing, the administration and the teachers’ unions were bitterly at odds. With that money now running out, House Democrats proposed spending $10 billion more to shore up school district budgets, paying for it, in part, with $800 million in cuts to Race to the Top and two other competitive grant programs Mr. Duncan created to giddy up for privatization of schools. Mr. Duncan and the White House supported the $10 billion in new spending, but then vehemently objected to trimming the grant programs.  This infuriated union leaders and they are beginning to show some fighting rhetoric for a change. Even discredited AFT president, Randi Weingarten, who has worked closely with Duncan, Michelle Rhee and his cohorts replied:

“For the Department of Education to say, ‘Everybody else has to sacrifice, but our pet programs must be spared’— that makes me so angry I don’t even know how to say it (ibid).

E-mail messages pleading for the jobs measure rained down on Congress from thousands of union teachers.  The corporatized White House promised to veto any such expenditure and trimming of Duncan’s pet programs, yet in spite of this refusal the Democrats in the House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday, July 1st to create the $10 billion school jobs fund and to go ahead and trim Mr. Duncan’s privatized grant programs.

The bill must be reworked by the Senate.   This is where pressure must be put from a mobilized and enthusiastic rank and file teacher’s union that has had it with Obama, Duncan, Weingarten and the corporate charlatans called philanthropists.

In his typical arrogance and disdain for teachers and their profession, Friday the 2nd of July, Mr. Duncan shrugged off what appeared to be an administration setback.  He went on to express confidence that lawmakers would eventually find a way to spare Race to the Top

To ‘spare’ Race to the Top, Arne Duncan will no doubt huddle with his billionaire friends on Wall Street to find the best way to use their largess to accomplish their anti-teacher, anti-children agenda.  From phone banks to mailers, the disgusting group of autocrats will no doubt put together a campaign designed to fool the public.

This is the modus operandi of Arne Duncan.  Duncan is never seen in public by most Americans.  You won’t find him on MSNBC or CNN or Fox.  That is due to the fact he must carry out his clandestine/public agenda in secrecy, behind closed doors and out of the purview of the electorate and taxpayers who will be forced to pay for his neo-liberal program to privatize schools and throw students and teachers to the lion den of testing regimes.  And he will use as many tricks as he can to beguile an unwitting public so poorly educated on issues such as public education, teaching and the historical shift from public education to ‘business plans for schools’. 

Duncan parks defenders at the NEA convention

One of the groups who defended Duncan at the NEA convention was the New Teacher Project, a sycophantic non-profit that has pressed for inauthentic changes in the way teachers are evaluated – evaluations tethered to inauthentic testing. Timothy Daly, its president, said the angry rhetoric from union leaders now was less important than the long-term changes the administration has begun to coax from them:

 “Sometimes union leaders need to show their members that they are vociferously pushing back.   But in several areas of the country the unions have come quite a distance” (ibid).

As examples of what he called innovations that unions have recently supported, Mr. Daly pointed to a “revolutionary” new contract for teachers in Washington, D.C., a far-reaching state law overhauling teacher tenure passed in Colorado with Ms. Weingarten’s support, and a new contract in New Haven, under which tenured teachers who are ruled ineffective and do not improve may be fired.  See my article at on Michelle Rhee and her alliance with Randi Weingarten that cut D.C. education and set the stage for massive onslaughts in other states (Weil, D. July 4, 2010. The American Federation of Teachers does Seattle: July 7th through 12th, 2010 ).

According to David Cicarella, president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers, who echoed the same anti-teacher rhetoric:

“Teachers are like anybody else, we don’t want to make changes.  But those days are over. The public is sick of hearing that an ineffective teacher has tenure, that you can’t touch them (July 5, 2010 Larry Miller, Teacher Union shuns Obama Aides at convention,

No, David, those days are not over, and you will see just how ‘not over’ they are when delegates and members of AFT meet in Seattle this July.  For whether it be at the urging of quislings like Daly, Wiman, Weingarten and Ciicarella or any other spokesperson for the rancid Race to the Top, teachers will resist for they know their profession is on the line, their country is filling up with uneducated youth, and the privatizers are licking their lips and warming their hands in giddy expectation that they can actually take over 5.6 percent of the national economy and turn it into private profits by predating youth.

Let’s show them in Seattle that they will have a fight on their hands.  Let us also show Randi Weingarten that her ‘tenure’ as president of AFT is a disgrace and must end.  She is working behind our backs with Gates, Broad, Walton and Arne Duncan and then perfidiously appears in public to assure hard working teachers, facing massive layoffs and loss of hard fought working rights, she is with them and their students.  She is not; she is a strumpet for the privatizers.

Elect Yvette Felarca to replace Randi Weingarten and let’s get busy saddling up for a fight with the corporatized Obama administration and their Chicago thugs, like Duncan, who speak out of one side of their mouth while busily using their hands to dig a grave for a viable and professional teacher’s union.