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Steven Singer: Hey, Unions, Watch, Wait, and Listen Before You Endorse a Candidate

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Steven Singer urges the two big teachers’ unions to watch and wait before they make an endorsement in the Presidential race, and be sure to listen to their members.

The good news is that the Network for Public Education Action is creating a report card for all of the candidates and will regularly update the report card. We want education to be an important issue in the 2020 race, as it was not in 2016.

 

Singer begins:

Let’s not mince words.

 

The last Presidential election was a cluster.

 

And we were at least partially to blame for it.

 

The Democratic primary process was a mess, the media gave free airtime to the most regressive candidate, and our national teachers unions – the National 
Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – endorsed a Democratic challenger too early and without getting membership support first.

 

This time we have a chance to get it right.

 

Edu-blogger Peter Greene spoke my feelings when he took to Twitter:

 

“Just so we’re clear, and so we don’t screw it up again—- NEA and AFT, please wait at least a couple more weeks before endorsing a Democratic Presidential candidate for 2020.”

 

He’s being snarky.

 
No one would endorse two years before people actually enter a voting booth.

 

Singer thinks it was a huge mistake to endorse Hillary Clinton long before the primaries. The result might have been the same, but the membership should have had a chance to weigh in before the decision was made. At the very least, Clinton should have been asked to state in public that she would support public funding for public schools only, with no federal funding for privately owned and privately managed charter schools, even those that call themselves “public charter schools” because they get public money. She should have also been asked to speak out on the subject of testing, its misuse and abuse. She should have been asked if she would change federal law to stop closing schools based on their test scores.

Right now, Congress gives more than $400 million every year to charter schools, even though they don’t need the money. They are flush with money from billionaires, millionaires, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and tech titans. When you are funded by Betsy DeVos, the Koch brothers, the Walton family, John Arnold, Eli Broad, and Reed Hastings, just to name a few, why does the federal government lavish more funding on charters.

Candidates should be required to seek the support of teachers, not to take it for granted.

 

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