AFT for Kerry

Another surprise! The American Federation of Teachers has endorsed John Kerry, who’s promised to spend at least an extra $27 billion on education.

Kerry pledged to reduce teachers’ health care costs, put greater emphasis on high school graduation rates and improve access to college.

“Pay for teachers in America today is a national disgrace,” Kerry said. “We need to raise it — starting in the poorest schools and in the subjects where we face the most serious teacher shortages.”

Kerry has called for bonuses for teachers who improve student performance; the AFT opposes merit pay. “AFT officials say Kerry’s pay ideas offer room for debate, and that overall, they share his views on education, health care and taxes,” says the Associated Press. I think “room for debate” means the union thinks Kerry will drop merit pay but come through with more money.

Update: Education Intelligence Agency’s convention coverage makes a fascinating observation about Big Spender Kery vs. Reform Kerry.

Kerry did touch upon the facets of his reform plan, but his sentences were constructed in such a way that the spending part came first, and applause and cheers often drowned out the reform part.

For example, he remarked, “Pay for teachers in America today is a national disgrace. We need to raise it (cheers ensue) starting in the poorest schools and in the subjects where we face the most serious teacher shortages.”

And, “We need to offer teachers more (cheers) and ask more of them at the same time.”

And, “Teachers deserve due process protection from arbitrary dismissal, (cheers) but we must have fast, fair procedures for improving or removing teachers who aren’t performing.”

His prepared remarks included a line I cited from his USA Today editorial yesterday: “I’ve always said reform without resources is a waste of time, but resources without reform are a waste of money.” But in delivering the line, he lost his place halfway through. So instead of completing the sentence, he ended up repeating “reform without resources is a waste…” of time, effort, money. He never got to the part about resources without reform.

EIA also praises the AFT for inviting Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, who denounced tolerance of cruelty under the guise of multiculturalism. I hear the book is excellent, though I haven’t had a chance to read it myself.

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  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Kerry could give all teachers a $30/month raise right now – demand enforcement of the law that requires unions to refund that portion of dues spent for political purposes against the desire of the member.

  2. Ah, the silly season of politics. Remember when George W. Bush said, “I’m a uniter, not a divider”. And remember when he said he would be humble in his approach to the rest of the world. Of course he didn’t mean a word of it, as he has richly demonstrated.

    I’m actually no great fan of Kerry, but that is beside the point I guess.

  3. Mad Scientist says:

    atlas, isn’t it interesting how, when Bush said the foreign policy stuff, it was before 9/11?

    And isn’t it interesting that the “I’m a uniter, not a divider” statement came before he found out the Democrats would do just about anything to smear the man?

    Kind of hard to hold him to those things now, don’tcha think?

  4. No Mad, just the opposite. I do hold people to what they say they stand for. I knew he would take the first opportunity to repudiate what he said he stood for. That’s exactly what he did.

  5. Mad Scientist says:

    atlas: In a word, BULLSHIT!

    If you haven’t noticed, the world situation has changed somewhat since 9/11.

    And if you keep on extending your hand and get it spit upon, pretty soon you realize that it is a gesture that will go unrequited.

    Grow up already.

  6. Lou Gots says:

    We teachers are supposed to be members of a learned profession. I fear too many of us have not learned that, in politics, those who live by the sword, die by the sword. If you put all your eggs in one political basket, and that basket falls, oh well.

  7. gosh, thanks for the great advice, Mad. I had not considered that I should just grow up.

    When I grow up, does that mean I will no longer hold people responsible for standing by their principles?

  8. Michael says:

    I’ve absolutely had it with people who defend George Bush in the face of all evidence that he’s a lying, manipulative, immoral hypocrite. George Bush, after rightly invading Afghanistan, enabled Al Qaida to rebuild by embarking on a foolish invasion of Iraq. He has materially weakened the United States, an iis by far the worst president of this century. Democrats smear him? Hah! They merely point out the truth, and idiots like you think it’s a smear.

  9. Could someone please explain how the hell John Kerry is going to give education $27 BILLION?!?! And please don’t tell me that when he does away with Bush’s tax cuts the government will be rolling in money. He’s already promised that money to anybody who says “I’ll vote for you.” I’m beginning to doubt that the NEA and AFT are made up of educated people if they believe the kinds of financial promises Kerry is throwing around.

  10. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Kerry will find the money where democrats have always found it – In the budgets of the Armed Forces, the CIA and more hidden taxes on the minimum wage and retired folk.

  11. Mad Scientist says:

    Michael, are you sure you aren’t talking about Clinton? After all, once caught in a bald-faced lie, he sort of admitted it to the American people, he manipulated the justice system with his lies, he openly cheated on his wife, and he always changed his tune when public opinion was against him.

  12. jeff wright says:

    I’m going to wander a litle OT initially—because I continue to be mystified by those who continue to give George Bush a free ride on principles. Policy’s one thing, but principles?

    What does it say about a man’s so-called deeply held principles, e.g., uniter not divider, humble before the rest of the world, etc., when he immediately pitches them over the side in the face of adversity? This is akin to the husband whose deeply held principles against adultery go by the wayside when he loses his job. It’s during the bad times that one needs to stay with those bedrock principles and I, for one, cannot trust someone who changes them when the going gets tough.

    You know, it’s not as if Bush doesn’t have a lot of good examples of leadership in the face of adversity that didn’t end up estranging this country from much of the civilized world. Our and Bush’s problems pale in the face of the problems Roosevelt and the U.S. faced in WW2. Did Roosevelt go it alone? Bush 41, the father, put together a masterful coalition during the Gulf War. It can be done and it should be done if one truly holds those “uniter” and “humble” principles.

    Actually, this is sort of on topic. Sure as dawn follows the night, Kerry will be hammered by the Bush apologists for his lack of principles in, for example, promising tons of money for education to garner teacher votes. Although I’m no huge fan of Kerry, someone please tell me the last time a Democratic presidential candidate didn’t focus on education, a bedrock principle of the Democratic Party. And then I’d like that same someone to explain the bedrock principles of the Republican Party. Smaller government? Oops. Fiscal responsibility? Oops. Uniters? FMA.

    If your bedrock principles include being honest with yourself (highly recommended), ask yourself if anything Kerry’s said or done is a surprise. Then ask yourself the same thing about Bush. Make sure your self-examination is accompanied by knowledge of what the two major political parties SAY they stand for.

  13. Mike in Texas says:

    As a teacher I would prefer these unions remain politically neutral but in this day and age I just don’t think its possible.

    Republicans (in Texas anyway) seem to be doing their best to ensure public schools in Texas fail. They have ensured many school districts in Texas will soon go broke trying to meet the demands placed upon them. For example, within the next 9 years EVERY school in Texas will be required to have EVERY child pass the state mandated test or be considered deficient. But WHOOPS the state doesn’t have enough money to buy all the textbooks it needs this year. When things like this happen I really can’t blame the unions for picking a side but as I often tell my son, I think both sides are full of it and don’t care about students, or the population in general as long as they can keep their cushy govt. jobs.

  14. Andy Freeman says:

    > For example, within the next 9 years EVERY school in Texas will be required to have EVERY child pass the state mandated test or be considered deficient.


    I note that every car sold for road use in the US has to meet certain standards.

  15. Andy Freeman says:

    > What does it say about a man’s so-called deeply held principles, e.g., uniter not divider, humble before the rest of the world, etc., when he immediately pitches them over the side in the face of adversity?

    So, France and Germany get a veto. If that’s Kerry’s campaign ….

    I’m still waiting for someone to point out why Germany and France’s participation is important. They couldn’t even get their troops to Turkey to support a Nato member. And, they didn’t have much in the way to send anyway.

    Big economy, yes. Big stick, no.

  16. Bob Diethrich says:

    Yeah Jeff, every Democratic president has indeen thrown money at education, ever since Jimmy Carter created more federal bureacracy with the Department of Education as a payoff to the teachers unions!

    And we have spent over a trillion dollars in federal money for education and, as of the last year of the Clinton administration, sixty percent of poor fourth graders could not read at grade level and SIXTY FOUR percent of African American fourth graders could not read at grade level.

    Yeah Jeff, a real bang up job the federal government has done so far! So let’s spend more money!

  17. jeff wright says:

    Hey, Bob, you totally misread my post. I’m not defending Democrats’ throwing money at education. I was just noting that news about a Democratic presidential candidate getting an endorsement from the AFT was roughly akin to news about dog biting man. What I did do was defend Kerry and the Democrats on the grounds of consistency: we know they will blow $$ on education and can vote accordingly. On the other hand, what do we think when the Republicans promise fiscal responsibility?

    Read it again, for Cripe’s sake.

  18. jeff wright says:

    Andy Freeman: What is with all of you guys and the politics? Don’t you understand PRINCIPLES? Ethics? Integrity? John Wayne? A man standing by his word?

    Hey, if Bush didn’t want to play with the rest of the world, the least he could have done is share that with voters in November 2000. Instead, he said he just loved those French and Germans, you know, uniter not divider.

    Some people might find a 180-degree turn once safely in office to be just a teensy bit duplicitous, especially if their votes in a very closely contested election were based on those words. But I guess you don’t care.

  19. mike from oregon says:

    Jeff –

    You state – “…people might find a 180-degree turn once safely in office to be just a teensy bit duplicitous …” So I guess we all should be proud of Kerry (and vote for him) because he’s doing 180 degree turns prior to being safely voted into the presidency. My Lord, the man is the human version of Flipper. Is there ANYTHING that the man truly stands for?

    You critize Bush, but he did what he had to and he did it well. If the rest of the world didn’t go along (mostly because they were being paid off and or had various money making deals with Hussain) then tough. I totally agree with him and I basically don’t feel we need fly-by-night “friends” like France and Germany. Just remember, except for ending slavery, fascism, nazism and communism – War never solved anything.

  20. Jennifer says:

    Jeff Wright:

    The British, South Korean and Polish soldiers personally serving alongside my husband in Iraq right now would be quite surprised to hear the US, as you said, is going it alone. There are a ton of others, but these are the countries whose soldiers he has met and mentioned to me. In fact, we have the British QEF to thank for saving dozens of our battalion soldiers’ lives when a convoy went to hell on a bad day. Because of this and other ways these soldiers are working with ours, I am glad the President DIDN’T go it alone and DID put together a coalition that was clearly strong enough to get the job done. I don’t know why you think there needs to be unanimous global support. What would get done in Congress if we could never move forward without a few dissenters, even major ones?

  21. Mad Scientist says:

    If John Kerry is the answer, you obviously misread the question.

  22. Am I missing something? Isn’t lower health care costs and higher teacher pay something the union is responsible for negotiating? Can we get rid of the unions if Kerry can really do this? I’ll vote for him if that’s the case.

    The NEA and AFT can play their political game all they want to, but they are hurting America. Our children are failing and they are determined to argue archaic points. They should be ashamed to look these kids in the face. Educational spending has increased 49% since Bush took office. You can keep throwing money at a broken system, but it won’t make a difference until real change is made. The unions have blocked most reform efforts saying money is the answer. Yeah, money for their coffers.

    Kerry can pander to them all he wants to. Bush may be making mistakes and there is a lot I’m unhappy with him about. However, he hasn’t backed down on holding people in the education establishment accountable and as an educator that’s the one consistency I’m willing to live with for another four years.

  23. Bob Diethrich says:


    You are correct. I did misready your post. Love the discussions on this forum, but I was reading late last night and my mind was not sharp. Apologies.

    But as a teacher my basic point stands. And yes, I think NCLB is just more Federal money to be wasted for the most part. IN Congress it seems the Republicans of the last decade seem to be no better than the Dems of the previous half century or so when it comes to ALL SPENDING!

  24. Andy Freeman says:

    > Andy Freeman: What is with all of you guys and the politics? Don’t you understand PRINCIPLES? Ethics? Integrity? John Wayne? A man standing by his word?

    Precisely when did Bush say that he’d put other country’s interests above the US’?

    Do you really want to argue that Kerry will? Or even that he’s promised to do so?

    > Instead, he said he just loved those French and Germans, you know, uniter not divider.

    So? Does “love” imply “do anything that they want?”

  25. I’m not surprised by the attacks on President Bush, just as I’m not surprised to hear John Kerry promise everything under the sun to any Tom, Dick, or Harry who’ll listen to him. Let’s face facts. We live in post-9/11 times, so we have to have a post-9/11 mentality. As important as education is to me, it is no longer my number one priority. It seems that education is also not the number one priority of most Americans. If it were, they would be demanding that schools and teachers be held accountable for the deplorable state of education. They would also be demanding school vouchers and school choice. Teachers’ unions would be shaking in their boots because parents, school boards, and students would be taking them to task for their selfish, ineffective ways. These things may be taking place in a limited number of districts, but they are not taking place across the country or across the board. If some of you choose to praise John Kerry because he keeps Democratic “consistency” by promising the NEA and AFT everything imaginable, go ahead. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in Self Reliance, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” I think that applies to John Kerry (and some of his supporters) quite nicely.

  26. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Kerry has discovered a way to overcome AFT objections to merit pay with his bonus program – just give all teachers the bonus.

  27. “Andy Freeman: What is with all of you guys and the politics? Don’t you understand PRINCIPLES? Ethics? Integrity? John Wayne? A man standing by his word?”

    That’s good rhetoric that I personally believe in, but please don’t tell me you supported Clinton and can say that with a straight face.(Not intended to be sarcastic since I truly don’t know the answer.)

    Can anybody really tell me what ‘egregious affronts’ did GWB hurl upon the ‘international community’ prior to 9/11? (For that matter, were there really any afterwards?)

    I thank God that we have a decisive enough of a leader to draw a line in the sand and make it abundantly clear as to what side everybody stands on. These days, humbleness can get you and yours killed.

    Newsflash– The Bush Admin. has had some whopper screw-ups (But the ‘Bush is a liar’ tripe is getting really old.) But John Kerry feels like such a Gray Davis/California situation in the making. Consider California the great liberal experiment that killed it’s subject.

  28. Two brief, but substantive points. First, I must commend Jennifer for speaking up for her husband as he, and the entire INTERNATIONAL COALITION, sacrefice to liberate and stabilize Iraq and, hopefully by their grace, the entire Middle East within my lifetime. I thank your husband Jennifer, and I thank you. Second, we did not go it alone. Has anyone taken notice that this is the first time Japenese troops have deployed since WWII? There are tens of dozens of other countries in Iraq. International effort is not the same thing (thankfully!) as consent by an international body. Just because the U.N. did not rubber-stamp Operation Iraqi Freedom does not make it any less internationally legitimate. Our founding fathers (and FDR, for that matter) would roll over in their graves if we ever started requiring the sanction of an international body before America could act in her own self-interest.

  29. Mad Scientist says:

    Why confuse people with facts when empty rhetoric sounds so good?

  30. Mad, it’s all about the 10-word answer. Too many people cannot be bothered with taking the time to actually absorb and process the complicated explanations that underlie every issue. Instead, the left capitalizes on catering to the lowest common denominator by throwing out the easy, 10-word answer that sounds good, is immediately gratifying and requires little thought by the listener. Tax cuts, Iraq, the 2000 election in Florida… I would drop dead if I heard one intelligent criticism on these subjects instead of “tax cuts to the richest one percent” (c’mon people, it’s basic math, there’s a difference between percentages and raw numbers); “blood for oil” (nevermind that Canada is by far our largest supplier of crude); “we were misled on WMD’s” (nevermind that everyone, including the almighty U.N., thought there were major stockpiles and that Hussein has already gassed the Kurds); and my favorite – “Bush stole the election”. The only people I will even entertain a converstaion with on that topic are those that read the Supreme Court’s opinion in Bush v. Gore (wherein they found the recounting process violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution because equal scrutiny was not being paid to EVERY ballot in EVERY county). Let’s debate the equal protection clause and stop with the “stolen election” crap! Enough with the 10-word, easy answers.