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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 6/3/10

The Rift between Teachers and Democrats Widens

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The Democrats demanding these concessions are creating conflicts between the unions to an unheard of degree. If a complete break happens between the unions and Democrats -- as it should -- the repercussions would be enormous. The New York Times explains:

"If unions are the Democratic Party's base, then teachers' unions are the base of the base. The two national teachers' unions -- the American Federation of Teachers and the larger National Education Association -- together have more than 4.6 million members. That is roughly a quarter of all the union members in the country. Teachers are the best field troops in local elections". In the last 30 years, the teachers' unions have contributed nearly $57.4 million to federal campaigns" and they have typically contributed many times more to state and local candidates. About 95 percent of it has gone to Democrats."

Teachers' unions cannot continue to support a political party that aims to destroy them.

Even Weingarten was forced to admit "deliberately or not, President Obama, whom I supported, has shifted the focus from resources and innovation and collaboration to blaming it all on dedicated teachers."

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The Democratic Party is dismantling public education on a state and municipal level, picking each target at different times to hide the enormity of the attack, while confusing teachers, parents, students, and community members about the overall agenda.

Only an organized and aggressive response can stop the privatization of public education.

Both national teachers unions -- along with regional teacher's unions -- must adopt common positions on the total defense of fully funded public education, while also demanding that teachers' job security be protected. A campaign that involves rank and file teachers, students, parents, other public workers, the labor movement as a whole and the larger community can be united around the slogan: fully fund public education by taxing the rich and corporations!

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action ( He can be reached at

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and activist living in Portland Oregon.
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