Payne: Biden puts unions first, students second

Posted by hpayne on July 30, 2012

Detroit– Joe Biden came to Detroit Sunday to applaud the good work of teachers unions in the city with the worst public school system in America. The irony, apparently was lost on the vice president.

Indeed, Biden spoke very little about students at the American Federation of Teachers convention in Cobo Center. For the Democratic party, education is about the unions, not the kids.

“Don’t tell me (Republicans) value educators and pay them so little,” Biden roared. “Unlike our Republican friends, we don’t see you as the problem. We see you as the solution.”

Yet, in a Detroit school system that is hemorrhaging kids to charters and the suburbs, the teachers are clearly party of the problem. After all, the American Federation of Teachers has a monopoly on teachers in the Detroit and Highland Park school systems. In Detroit’s rapidly expanding charter schools, there are no unions – and a recent Mackinac Center study found that charter students outperform their public school peers. Meanwhile, Highland park schools – despite (attention, Mr. Biden) getting more money per pupil than any other district in the state – made national headlines last week when the ACLU sued the district for failing to teach students to read.

But the Obama-Biden ticket isn’t about winning more for kids, it’s about winning more for teacher unions. Cobo was packed with teachers wearing Obama-Biden in 20102 t-shirts. “On the stage, an older delegate waved her walker over her head. She then attached one of the omnipresent Obama campaign signs to the end of the stick before swinging it again,” reported The Detroit News.

“It’s you, who keep class sizes down. It’s you, who take money out of your pocket to help kids,” Biden applauded. Actually, he has it wrong. Teachers benefits are so outrageous that they are a burden on districts like Detroit, robbing resources from the classroom.

Meanwhile, its s Republicans that are obsessed with student achievement – lifting the charter cap on schools, pushing for more school choice for kids, and demanding teacher benefits reform that brings benefits in line with the private sector .

Biden insisted that GOPers care more about tax breaks for the rich than about education, but the evidence is overwhelming in cities like Detroit that Republicans are at the forefront of education reform. Interestingly, the Obama Administration supports many of the GOP-proven reforms like charter schools and evaluations with testing and merit pay. But Biden never once mentioned any of them in his speech.

Why? Because the AFT opposes all these reforms.

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