Sunday, September 5, 2010

Democrats and teachers

I think we've known this, but I don't remember actually seeing it in print. Here is a concise summary regarding the Obama administration vis-a-vis teachers:
To a degree that almost nobody anticipated 19 months ago, Mr Obama ... has alienated the largest single historical provider of cash and volunteers to the Democratic party – namely the teachers’ unions.
The quote is from a an article in the London-based Financial Times article published back in July. The article refers to the "astonishingly small sum of cash" dangled in front of states by the Department of Education in the Race to the Top competition. Race to the Top basically undermines teacher workplace rights by undercutting due process and seniority via the misdirection of teacher evaluations and charter schools. "The teachers’ unions, meanwhile, have been left gasping at the speed with which their objections have been overruled, often by Democratic-run state governments."

What I think is especially interesting is the Democrats willingness to undercut what, as noted above, has been one of the pillars of the party. It really is quite significant I think, the making visible of a sea-change that as been in process for several years. This change was emphasized to me by the source of the reference to article. I saw the reference in Nasser Saber's blog, The Dialectics of Finance. Saber is (or at least was) an NYU professor of finance, and the author of one of the best books that I know of on the workings of the economic system today, Speculative Capital (see the blog page for a concise summary). For Saber, this strange contradiction of the Democrats shouting out a big F U to its base is resolved by recognizing that speculative capital calls the shots today, and all of that old stuff, like a trade union movement and public education for all, just gets in the way.

On a perhaps related note, the tune being "let's beat on teachers", Huberman has come out in favor of publishing teacher "performance" data, according to WBEZ (see a previous post related to publishing teacher evaluation data in Los Angeles). CPS is supposed to work out an evaluation system with the teachers union, per BEZ, "but if an agreement is not made within 90 days of negotiations, the district can create a plan on its own."