After thirty years of ‘New Democrats’, I’m no longer surprised when Democratic politicians adopt policy positions that the Democratic rank-and-file detest, such as the asinine attempts to cut Social Security. Another issue, one that in terms of mainstream political commentary, is pretty invisible is rank-and-file Democratic* opposition to education ‘reform’ (boldface added):
The phrase “traditional Democratic allies” isn’t correct. What the education ‘reform’ rhetoric has done is anger a large chunk of the Democratic vote. There are roughly 3 million K-12 teachers in the U.S. A huge fraction of these teachers are Democrats. They have spouses, significant others, siblings, and children. That’s millions more who vote–and given how party affiliation works, many of these people will also be Democrats.
And the education reformers are calling someone’s kid sister or mother a lazy bum….
Add to this the reality of almost all teachers spending hundreds of dollars out of pocket on their classrooms [something their family members will be well aware of], and, oddly enough, a policy position which claims teachers are a significant problem goes over like a lead balloon
Ed in the Apple offers similar advice (boldface mine):
Whether the Common Core and Race to the Top are disasters or wonderful is irrelevant. Teachers and increasing numbers of parents perceive them as disasters. A Republican Congress will dismantle the Obama education policies and Democrats will join them.
I hear the policymakers and strategists argue that progressives and teachers have no other place to go, after all Republican policy is anathema. They are shortsighted, the alternative is staying at home, not to volunteer, not to contribute to campaigns, to walk away from involvement.
There is one action that would motivate and invigorate teachers and progressive voters.
Fire Arne Duncan (and select a highly regarded career educator).
It won’t happen, as the Obama-Pritzker relationship is a cornerstone of the Obama administration–and the Pritzkers are interested in making money from education reform.
Still, canning Duncan would help increase turnout. Ironically, given that New Democrats always try to blur party distinctions, one would think tipping the hat to Republican opposition to No Child Left Behind, the Common Core and so on would be something Obama et alia would embrace. Unfortunately, one would probably be wrong.
*Consider the opposition to the Common Core, in which rightwing criticism are given huge amounts of play, while the left, which has mounted credible opposition in New York and other places, is ignored.