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Obama will need every bit of support he can muster to pull this one off. Taking on the teachers' unions for a Democrat is like taking on the NRA for a Repub...the third rail. It's looong overdue. Bad teachers made unfire-able by two different grievance processes has been the bane of American education for years. The union process, then the tenure system. Most teachers are conscientious, caring, and excellent. But we all have our stories of teachers who just stood in front of the class and read from the book. They tend to be assigned to the less-gifted ranks of students, exactly the ones who need more dedicated teachers, with good students getting the gifted teachers. These "dinosaurs" tend to be there a long time.
Coming from a family of teachers, I've always taken a poll, uncle, aunt, are you for or against the tenure system? They all say against. No one knows who the bad teachers are like the good teachers. And it takes an act of congress to get rid of them.
Obama seems to be putting political capital on the table early on, in a shrewd manner.
If he can get Afghanistan right, by plunking some real money into jobs and reconstruction to deplete the recruiting pool of the Taliban, a non-military prong of the solution which is the only way we will win, then he is on his way to having a good first congressional term.
Everyone knows that in Democratic politics no one gets far by pissing off the teachers unions. This guy has got pair.
"We need to make sure our students have the teacher they need to be successful. That means states and school districts taking steps to move bad teachers out of the classroom. Let me be clear: if a teacher is given a chance but still does not improve, there is no excuse for that person to continue teaching." Barack Obama, yesterday.