Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

NCLB Outrages

Outgoing AFT president Ed McElroy calls for abolition of No Child Left Behind

Ohanian Comment:

  • Does this mean the AFT will now support The Petition?

  • Does this mean the Kings/Tulare CTA UniServ will be allowed to restore their Eliminate NCLB website and activism?

  • All AFT members must immediately demand that Headquarters put some activism--and money-- behind their rhetoric. All NEA members must do the same.

    Subscribe to Substance:

    Send $16
    5132 W. Berteau Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60641

    By George N. Schmidt


    In a major address to the 3,000 delegates to the national convention of the
    American Federation of Teachers (AFT), outgoing AFT President Ed McElroy
    announced that the union was no longer in favor of tinkering with the federal "No
    Child Left Behind" (NCLB) law and called for the abolition of NCLB.

    According to the press release summarizing McElroy's remarks: "McElroy
    pledged that the AFT would work with the next president to move beyond the No Child
    Left Behind Act (which he called 'an idea whose time has gone') to 'create a
    new education law that respects the knowledge of classroom professionals and
    helps teachers and paraprofessionals provide our students with the high-quality
    education they deserve."

    To the loudest cheers of his valedictory speech, McElroy repeated that No
    Child Left Behind cannot be repaired, and had to be replaced. He reminded the
    delegates that their duties includes electing an even greater majority of
    Democratic Party candidates to the House and Senate in Washington in November, and to
    replacing George W. Bush with Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who received the
    endorsement of the AFT executive council in June and who will receive the
    backing of the convention later this weekend.

    When No Child Left Behind was originally proposed by the administration of
    President George W. Bush in 2002, it received widespread bipartisan support,
    including the support of U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (D, MA) and U.S.
    Representative George Miller (D, CA), who at the time were the ranking minority leaders
    in the Senate and House on matters of education. Senator Kennedy stood beside
    President Bush at the signing of NCLB.

    AFT long maintained in public that NCLB was basically an "unfunded" mandate,
    and publicly clamored for more funding for NCLB. Kennedy and Miller followed
    their lead. When NCLB came up for reauthorization in 2007, however, widespread
    national opposition to the law was even heard inside the Beltway in
    Washington, D.C., and at the offices of the two national teacher unions (the other
    national union is the National Education Association, which held its national
    convention in Washington, D.C. the first week of July. By mid-2007, it was clear
    that NCLB was in trouble, and even its staunchest supporters inside the
    Democratic Party were being forced to retreat. Rep. Miller returned to his home
    district in California to find himself followed by teachers and others who were
    actively opposing NCLB.

    From the beginning of the race for the Democratic Party nomination for
    President of the USA, NCLB was also being discussed widely and facing growing
    opposition. By the summer of 2007, two of the contenders for the nomination (U.S.
    Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Governor Richardson of New Mexico) told people
    across the county that there were opposed to NCLB, and that the law should be
    eliminated. The two leading contenders for the Democratic Party nomination --
    New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Illinois Senator Barack Obama -- were
    less emphatic in their opposition to the renewal of NCLB. Both continued
    throughout the 2008 primary season to discuss NCLB as if it might be improved, and not
    simply eliminated.

    McElroy's rejection of NCLB is not a rejection of the federal role in

    McElroy told the AFT convention that NCLB was simply the latest version of
    the federal ESEA (Elementary Secondary Education Act) which goes back to the
    1960s as the signal federal program to aid public schools. Although AFT did not
    present the press or public with its plans for renewing ESEA without NCLB,
    sources at the convention said that the plans would be forthcoming.

    The convention is expected to hear from Senator Clinton at 9:30 a.m. Saturday
    (July 12). In a last minute announcement, AFT also told the press that
    Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley would greet the convention on July 12. Daley had not
    been listed on the agenda published prior to the convention, and the snub had
    drawn widespread comment from the delegates.

    Although U.S. Senator Barack Obama appeared before a high-priced fundraiser
    at one of the two main convention hotels on the night of July 11, his campaign
    has continued to announce that his address to the AFT will be by satellite, as
    he addressed the NEA two weeks earlier. Many at the AFT convention consider
    Obama's refusal to appear in person before the convention a personal snub.
    Chicago's teachers were among the first supporters Obama had when he was gathering
    support for the Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2003 and
    early 2004. In fact, without the support of the Illinois Federation of
    Teachers, Obama would not have received the backing of the Cook County Democratic
    Party and the junior senator from Illinois today would be Dan Hynes, a member of a
    prominent Democratic Party family in Chicago who was the early favorite in
    2003 for the nomination.

    By July 11, there was some speculation that Obama was reconsidering his
    decision to snub the AFT as he had snubbed the NEA by refusing to appear in person.

    — George N Schmidt


    This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.