McCain's Education Remarks a Cheap Shot at Teachers, Weingarten says

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Attacking teachers and their unions has become a tradition among Republican presidential nominees. John McCain turned to that tired strategy in an Aug. 1 speech to the National Urban League in Orlando on education. Following McCain's remarks, AFT president Randi Weingarten noted that McCain still hasn't put forth a comprehensive education plan-which is consistent with his almost total lack of interest in the issue during his more than 25 years in Congress.

"Contrast this with the record of Sen. Obama, who has stood for strong education policies and shown a genuine interest in working with teachers to help reform education in constructive ways," Weingarten said.

McCain referenced the AFT in his remarks, claiming that Obama was pandering to teachers unions when he described McCain's education proposals as "tired rhetoric about vouchers and public school choice" at the AFT convention in July.

(When Obama addressed the Urban League the following day, he echoed Weingarten's comment about McCain's sparse education record: "I think it's interesting that Sen. McCain came before you yesterday and attacked my record on education reform. For someone who's been in Washington nearly 30 years, he's got a pretty slim record on education, and when he has taken a stand, it's been the wrong one. So I'm happy to put my record and ideas up against his any day.")

"Sen. McCain's naiveté about education reform is only as stunning as his hypocrisy," Weingarten said. "He takes a cheap shot by demonizing teachers, yet lauds the very education reforms that I collaborated on with his new best friends, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and School Chancellor Joel Klein.

"As the new AFT president, I will continue to work with others on education reforms that are good for students and fair to teachers. But I will not shy away from criticizing anyone, including McCain, who would rather pick fights with-than support-those who work with children every day and who know what works in the classroom."

August 1, 2008