Outgoing AFT president Ed McElroy calls for abolition of No Child Left Behind
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.
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5132 W. Berteau Avenue
Chicago, IL 60641
By George N. Schmidt
CHICAGO. NAVY PIER AT THE NATIONAL CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF
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
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
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES