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Teaching Profession

Will Obama Stand Up to the Teachers’ Unions?

By Michele McNeil — February 12, 2008 1 min read

That’s essentially the question The Politico asked of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, in this interview posted last night.

The question came about when the interviewer remarked that Republican frontrunner John McCain has often bucked his own party (on issues such as immigration) and has the battle scars to prove it. So, The Politico reporter asked, will Sen. Obama be willing to stand up to his own party?

Obama says yes, and he offers education to prove his point. In the interview, the Illinois senator professes his support for charter schools and “looking at how we can reward excellence in the classroom” (which sounds a lot like merit pay, an issue the teachers’ unions oppose.) He admits that the unions haven’t been “thrilled” that he’s talked about such issues. He says: “I’m not going to be bound by just a certain way of talking about these things, in order for us to move forward on behalf of our kids.”

That’s not exactly music to the National Education Association’s ears. But then again, what remains to be seen is if Sen. Obama would be willing to put the full weight of his candidacy (or presidency), and the momentum and excitement that may accompany him, behind such thorny issues.

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