AFT National Pres. Comments on Sen. Barack Obama’s Education Speech in Dayton, Ohio
September 9, 2008
AFT Public Affairs
Statement by Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Sen. Barack Obama’s Education Speech in Dayton, Ohio
WASHINGTON—Sen. Barack Obama hit the nail on the head today by embracing the kind of education reform that shows education is a shared responsibility and that holds everyone accountable to improve teaching and learning. He set a positive tone about how we can improve our schools, respect our teachers and work together to make sure our students get the world-class education they deserve.
Sen. Obama is absolutely right that successful charter schools should be supported and held accountable, and that failing charter schools should be shut down. We also share his belief that regular public schools, where most of our students attend, need the programs and resources to close the achievement gap once and for all. Sen. Obama and the AFT also see eye to eye on supporting differentiated compensation plans that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them. Well-designed pay plans negotiated with teachers treat them as the professionals they are, which in the end helps students.
Together with Sen. Obama, the AFT wholeheartedly supports programs that hold all of us to high standards, including teachers, parents and elected officials. Teachers who need help should get extra support, and those who still don’t improve should be replaced. That’s what the public wants, that’s what teachers—our members—want, and that’s what Sen. Obama supports.
The AFT and its more than 1.4 million members endorsed Barack Obama because the differences between Sen. Obama and John McCain couldn’t be clearer. Sen. Obama understands and supports tested, effective education reforms that will boost student achievement and teacher quality; Sen. McCain, when he bothers to talk about education at all, would rather demonize teachers and repeat calls for private school vouchers that have no track record in raising student achievement.
The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.