Current Senate Bill Will Actually Help Out... Washington needs to hear from teachers today

When it comes to politics, public school teachers and teacher unions across the country have been taking a heavy beating for the past several years. First, under Republicans and George W. Bush we faced "No Child Left Behind." Then teachers provided huge numbers to help elect Barack Obama President, only to get worse under U.S. Secretary of Education Barack Obama and "Race to the Top". But a recent bill from Congressman David Obey (D, Wisconsin) has really taken the side of teachers and public schools in what has for some time been a one-sided fight, and the time has now come for teachers to provide loud support for Congressman Obey and the legislation.

Wisconsin Congressman David Obey has introduced legislation that would help keep thousands of teachers in their jobs and curtail "Race To The Top" teacher bashing. Photo by Congressman Obey's congressional office website.The teacher bashing and union bashing have been so bad, in fact, that the Chicago Teachers Union's very own parent organization the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has agreed to the Obama administration's very anti-public education "Race to the Top" agenda. Race to the Top will evaluate teachers based solely on standardized test scores, open more charter schools (that are mostly non-union), privatize much more of public education, and further erode teacher tenure and other job protections.

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was bad enough having come from the Republican camp. NCLB focused on closing public schools in poor neighborhoods because of low test scores, scapegoating public school teachers, and setting up the privatization of public education.

But today the Democrats and Obama's Race to the Top have joined the Republicans to attack public school teachers, teacher unions, and public education.

In Illinois - legislators across the state in both parties continue the onslaught from passing a state law that will tie teacher evaluations to test scores, increasing the number of charter schools and sponsoring a voucher bill that will drain dwindling state monies into private educational ventures.

Even the minister/state senator James Meeks called the Chicago Teachers Union the "worst gang in the city of Chicago." And he wasn't kidding.

However, a congressman from our northern neighboring state of Wisconsin decided to stand up to the President of the United States — and his whole Race to the Top agenda — by sponsoring a bill that passed through the US House of Representatives that was attached to a war-funding measure that includes $10 billion in aid to state governments to prevent the layoffs of thousands of teachers.

And here's what Rep. Obey had to say, reported in the Washington Post, after the Obama administration threatened to veto it because Obey proposes to fund some of that money by taking away up to $500 million from the $4.3 billion Race to the Top.

"I didn't come here to be Arne Duncan's congressman. Who do people think put the money into these programs in the first place? I did ... Welcome to Washington and welcome to hard choices."

The $10 billion is intended to save roughly 100,000 teaching jobs and includes $5 billion in Pell grants for needy college students, according to the Washington Post.

The paper even reported that the supposed 500-point system created to decide the "best" state proposals for education reform is based on a false precision, according to researchers.

"That a Democratic lawmaker has chosen to pick a fight with a Democratic president and Education Department about this raises a lot of interesting issues," stated the Washington Post blog on education. "Is this the first real challenge by Congress to Duncan's education policies?"

So, let's take a closer look at Congressman Obey to see who is actually supporting public education in the hallowed halls of Washington D.C.

According to Obey's website, he believes children deserve to be taught in smaller classes by well-trained teachers in safe, modern buildings and he believes every student should be able to get a college education.

When Obey went to the university, his father lost his job at the 3M Company, where he was working two jobs to feed his family.

"That scared me," Obey said on his website, "because I had no idea how much help I would get from home in finishing my education. And that experience burned into me the conviction that access to education ought to be based on how much you are willing to learn and how hard you are willing to work, not on how many dollars your family has in their bank account."

His work on fighting corruption via accountability could also be helpful to expose charter school corruption which continues in the Windy City almost unscathed.

Obey spearheaded a drive to provide real disclosure of congressional members financial affairs in order to alert the public to any potential conflicts of interest.

Until that time, his website states, a number of congressmen had earned more than a $100,000 a year practicing law on the side — even sometimes representing lobbyists as clients.

It's certainly rare for Substance to toot the horn of any public official these days who all seem to be jumping on the bandwagon to destroy public education.

So we at Substance — or least myself with hopefully my colleagues and editor in agreement — would kindly like to ask our readers to call Senator Richard Durbin to support this bill that will save teachers' jobs, protect the public education of the nation's children and take a whack at the idiocy of Obama's Race to the Top.

Senator Durbin will certainly need to hear from a lot of us since he and the President share this state and certain convictions. And while you're at it, perhaps send a line of thanks to Representative Obey for giving Mr. Duncan a lesson and doing the right thing!

Senator Durbin tel. 202-224-2152 Washington D.C.; tel. 312-353-4952 Chicago

Rep. Dave Obey tel. (202) 225-3365; (715) 842-5606 Wisconsin


July 6, 2010 at 2:57 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Amendment 5

I just called Senator Durbin and Congressman Obey (the Congressman's Office is the one who told me that I was referring to Amendment 5). I urge all other teachers and parents to call to because the loss of teachers and programs to the children in this city and state will be devastating.

July 7, 2010 at 9:53 PM

By: Lisa White

Congressman Obey's Bill ( Amendment 5)

I called all the numbers provided. Only the local numbers, Illinois and Wisconsin numbers, accepted messages. I will call the Washington numbers again tomorrow. Thanks for the alert.

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