The New York Times today reported that many environmentalists are expressing frustration at recent policy decisions by the Obama administration. The story carries some strong echoes of the way educators have felt for the past two years, as Secretary Duncan has extended and intensified the worst aspects of No Child Left Behind.
In the past week more than a thousand demonstrators have been arrested at the White House in protest of the administration’s unclear stance on the licensing of a pipeline that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands. Even former administration staffers, and Dr. James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, participated in protests and were arrested. And this concern has deepened as the White House has abandoned its plan to strengthen air pollution standards.
It is eerie how this parallels our Save Our Schools March a few weeks ago. We did not subject ourselves to arrest, but thousands of educators from all over the country converged on the White House to make clear our unhappiness with this administration. Our speakers included some of the most prominent supporters and advisors to the administration, including Linda Darling-Hammond and Pedro Noguera.
The New York Times reports that one of those arrested last week was Coutrney Hight, who was the youth vote director for the Obama campaign in Florida in 2008. She said this: “If the president decides not to permit the pipeline, he will reignite the enthusiasm many of my friends and I felt in 2008. But if he approves it, it is just human nature that the disappointment will sap the enthusiasm that drove us to work so hard last time.”
This sentiment is very similar to what educators have been saying for almost two years. After I started the Facebook group, Teachers Letters to Obama, we heard from hundreds of people who had actively campaigned for the President’s election, but feel deflated as a result of his poor record.
When we went to DC to protest, the White House invited us to meet the day before our rally, but was not interested in speaking to us thereafter. Apparently they wanted to give the appearance of listening. The organizations behind this week’s environmental protests report that they have “heard not one word” in response from the White House.
What will it take for this administration to realize they have a serious problem here?
[Editorial note: Education Week Teacher is not affiliated with the Save Our Schools event; the views expressed in this opinion blog do not reflect the endorsement of Education Week or Editorial Projects in Education, which take no editorial positions]
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