October 17 2011
If you listen to the rhetoric coming out of the White House these days, you might be forgiven for thinking that teachers are the only professionals hit by our high unemployment rate.
Here’s a telling quote from an administration spokesman in a USA TODAY story by Richard Wolf:
“The message to the American people and to Congress will be clear," said principal deputy spokesman Josh Earnest. "Pass the bill this week to protect the job of a North Carolina teacher, or come down here, look her in the eye...."
The Christian Science Monitor notes:
The jobs bill helps Obama signal to teachers that he's on their side – and on the side of parents concerned about overcrowded classrooms and Americans concerned about unemployment.
Not so sure about that. My guess is that more people—especially parents of children in troubled public schools—would prefer that the president look them in the eye and tell them why it’s so hard to fire a bad teacher.
It is almost impossible to fire bad teachers because of the two teacher unions. The power of the unions is also also the reason President Obama speaks about protecting the jobs of teachers and never says a word about bank tellers, corner grocery store clerks, truck drivers, or entrepreneurs.
Teacher unions are a stalwart component of the Democratic Party's base. The president could always be counted upon to be particularly solicitous of teachers. But now it's becoming an obsession. This overemphasis likely stems from dissatisfaction from the education unions with aspects of the Obama education policy (there is an “emphasis on accountability”—can’t have that!). The Christian Science Monitor explains:
While it's unlikely that the unions would endorse someone else, or that many teachers would switch party allegiance, there has been talk among some educators of delaying an endorsement, or at least not campaigning as actively.
Sometimes the president also includes firefighters. Well, they, too, belong to a unionized profession. I'm waiting for the president to start fighting for some non-union jobs.
The best way to shore up the jobs of firefighters and teachers (and everybody else), of course, is to create a thriving private sector that can afford their salaries. That’s also the best way to save or support (as the new locution goes) President Obama’s job.