NEA and the Election

Ben Smith blogs:

Somewhat undermining the claim that Obama’s support for charter schools poses a major challenge to the teachers unions, the National Education Association blasted out a post-debate press release praising him.

I think this is really neither here nor there. It’s true that Obama is a charter school supporter, and it’s also true that the major teachers unions are generally hostile to expanding charter schools. So if you want an example of Obama taking on an interest group that generally favors the Democratic Party, charter schools fits the bill. That the NEA is nonetheless strongly backing Obama, has a lot to do with the fact that there’s a second candidate in the race. That candidate’s proposed “spending freeze” would entail very large cuts in real per pupil spending on elementary and secondary education, while also cutting early childhood education and children’s health initiatives — saddling teachers with a tougher task and less money with which to get the job done. Under the circumstances, there’s nobody else for the NEA to support. The NEA backed Hillary Clinton during the primaries, in part because of Obama’s insistence on sticking with school reform rhetoric that didn’t help in courting their support.

CORRECTION: The NEA did not endorse during the primary. The AFT, the other national teachers union, did endorse Clinton as did the New Hampshire chapter of the NEA.