Joy Resmovits at the Huffington Post shares how the National Education Association (NEA) is not won over by Romney’s belated protestations of a deep and abiding love for teachers during the third Presidential debate:
Mitt Romney: I love teachers, and I’m happy to have states and communities that want to hire teachers do that. By the way, I don’t like to have the federal government start pushing its weight deeper and deeper into our schools. Let the states and localities do that. I was a governor. The federal government didn’t hire our teachers. … But I love teachers. But I want to get our private sector growing, and I know how to do it.
Bob Schieffer (moderator): I think we all love teachers.
The problem is that teachers remember some other comments Romney has made. He doesn’t think the federal government should play a part in hiring teachers, even though the recession has forced already burdened school systems to lay desperately needed teachers off. If they had the funding, those teachers would still be employed. More teachers, better results for children: kids do markedly better in smaller classrooms, where education professionals can give them more individual attention and address their unique needs.
The NEA shared an image with reporters and bloggers titled “My Funny Valentine” that says ”Mitt Romney has a strange way of showing ‘love.’”
Some of Romney’s conflicting stands on education are highlighted:
- “I love teachers!”
- “We don’t need more teachers.”
- “The effort to reduce classroom size may actually hurt education more than it helps.”
A community college professor from Massachusetts, intimately familiar with the former governor’s policies on education, Donnie McGee, is also quoted on the Valentine, saying, “When Romney was Governor … students and educators struggled.”
The Valentine is intended to promote the NEA’s Get Out The Vote efforts which have successfully enticed more than 481,000 NEA members to staff phone banks, door-to-door canvassing and registering voters.
“Mitt Romney’s form of love reminds me of being on the schoolyard as a kid. The only way you knew whether or not someone liked you was if they pulled your hair or made fun of you in front of their friends,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.
The NEA, of course, would stand to lose under a Romney policy of no federal funds for hiring teachers. Federal stimulus money saved 420,000 education jobs between 2009 and the 2010-11 school year, according to the U.S. Education Department.
A White House report found that between June 2009 and August 2012, more than 300,000 teachers lost their jobs. In August alone, schools cut 7,000 educators from their payrolls. Those losses have hit the union, too: Recent Internal Revenue Service reports show that in the 2010-2011 school year, 25 NEA state affiliates saw declining dues, and 15 ran state budget deficits, as blogger Mike Antonucci noted. Overall, Antonucci wrote, the NEA’s active membership declined by 2 percent that year. That trend might soon change in part because of Obama’s stimulus plan, the NEA said.
The NEA also notes that Romney has sworn to use the Department of Education to fight teachers’ unions and has said that unions should not be allowed to become or help select school board candidates. During the third debate, Romney doubled down and said that he wanted to start “training programs” to empower parents, teachers and children first, and the unions last. Of course, teachers are likely to already be better “trained” about–and have a better perspective and more experience handling–education-related issues than any politician who has never taught a single class or taken any curriculum or education classes.
One of Romney’s more notable flip-flops involved teachers. Back in June, Romney addressed a sympathetic throng and mocked Obama for his proposal which would lead to the hiring of more civil servants and teachers: “[Obama] wants another stimulus; he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
Naturally, when confronted about this comment, Romney attempted to pretend he’d never said anything of the sort (why, he has never done that before!) and claimed that anyone claiming that he was opposed to hiring more education professionals was being “completely absurd.” Who are you going to believe, Romney demonstrating his latest backflip or your lyin’ eyes and ears?
He tried to airbrush his comment some more during the first presidential debate by saying he loved great schools and that “the key to great schools [is] great teachers. So I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers.”
With us so far? Against hiring more teachers, then for hiring more teachers, then for hiring more teachers again. Sounds good! But then Romney was quoted by The Des Moines Register saying that Obama was misguided if he wanted to hire more teachers and that it would not result in economic growth.
Okay, so he’s against hiring teachers again. Whew. Whiplash. Ouch. Americans tend to like teachers, however, and Romney must have gotten the memo that picking on them was a bad idea, which meant that, during the third presidential debate, he was once again singing love songs to teachers and swearing always to be true.
The teachers weren’t buying it. Romney is, like, the worst beau ever! The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said that Romney merely “pays lip service to the importance of teachers, but he’s said he would preserve the U.S. Department of Education only so he’d have a club to go after their unions.”
President Obama, who has never wavered from his strong pro-education stance, asked rally attendees in Florida what they thought about Romney’s Janus-faced positions on teachers: ”If you talk about how much you love teachers during a debate but said just a few weeks ago that we shouldn’t hire any more because they won’t grow the economy, what do you have?”
The crowd knew the answer: “ROMNESIA!”