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.