Obama: Romney is a teacher-basher
September 25th, 2012
11:34 AM ET
2 years ago

Obama: Romney is a teacher-basher

(CNN) – President Barack Obama, who was largely quiet on the recent teachers strike in Chicago, said in an interview that aired Tuesday he was glad the issue had been resolved and took aim at Mitt Romney's approach to the situation.

"Governor Romney and a number of folks try to politicize the issue and do a lot of teacher-bashing. When I meet teachers all across the country, so devoted and dedicated to their kids, and what we've tried to do is actually break through this left-right, conservative – liberal gridlock," Obama said on NBC's "Today."

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The Chicago Teachers Union last week voted to suspend its strike that delayed the start of the school year in the city's public school system by eight days. Their protest was sparked by objections to a longer school day, evaluations tied to student performance and job losses from school closings.

In a statement last week, Romney criticized the union leading the strike, saying teachers were turning their backs on hundreds of thousands of children. The Republican presidential nominee also blasted the president for supporting the union, though Obama had not commented on the situation at the time.

Romney asserted that the president had "chosen his side in this fight," pointing out that Vice President Joe Biden told a teachers' union in 2011 "you should have no doubt about my affection for you and the president's commitment to you."

The two presidential candidates have long been at odds over some aspects of education policy, with Romney claiming Obama is too concerned with placating teachers' unions, which are major sources of Democratic campaign cash, and Obama saying Romney is wrong on his position that smaller class sizes aren't necessarily advantageous to better learning.

In the interview Tuesday, Obama continued his attack, painting Romney as a threat to teachers.

"I just really get frustrated when I hear teacher-bashing as evidence of reform. My sister is a former teacher, and I can tell you that they work so hard," Obama said.

In the final deal reached to end the strike, the union settled on a 17.6% pay raise over four years, down from the 30% initially sought. But it also got rid of the merit pay program that would have evaluated teachers on student test scores.

Obama, in the interview, suggested he disagreed with the scrapping of the merit system and argued reform should include performance-based changes.

"What is absolutely true is if we've got a bad teacher, we should be able to train them to get better, and if they can't get better, they should be able to get fired," the president said.

Romney's campaign responded to the president's comments, saying Obama puts politics ahead of education.

"Instead of reforming education and putting achievement in the classroom first, President Obama has put politics and his allegiance to the teachers' unions ahead of students," campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement. "When Mitt Romney was governor, Massachusetts' schools had the best test scores in the entire country and his leadership expanded opportunities for high-achieving students. As President, he will stand up for students, not special interests, and work to ensure that every child has access to a great school, great teacher, and a quality education."

– CNN's Kevin Liptak and Michael Pearson contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Education • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. gt

    and obama is a business -basher....

    September 25, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  2. myviewis

    The Union and teachers got most of what they wanted and they managed to get rid of teachers' evaluation program so now bad teachers will stay on with better pay while kids can't read and write. And we all know most of these teachers are not teaching otherwise our kids wouldn't be at the bottom of education worldwide. If it is not the teachers' fault than whose fault is it???????

    The parents should know that a teacher passed her evaluation and that teachers just as kids will be tested.

    Of course Obama thinks Romney is against teachers, Romney wants teachers that teach, work hard. Obama is pro-Union which gets Obama a lot of votes, he is pro-good pay for teachers, short days, get paid while kids are out on vacation, great pension plan, great health care benefits and who cares if your kid can read, do arithmetic, write.

    September 25, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    Include the millions of tax paying hard working union members to the 47% that Romney has written off. The only group this rich man cares about is the 1%.

    September 25, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. Donkey Party

    gt – Obama is a business basher? With the stock market doubling since he's taken office, corporations sitting on trillions of dollars, and turning around job losses into job gains? All you right-wingers do is speak complete nonsense, devoid of any facts, but loaded with ignorance and delusion. Great representation of the "We'll never have smart people" Republican part.

    September 25, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  5. Donkey Party

    Correction – Republican party, not "part".

    September 25, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. ST

    I always admire Pres. Obama style of leadership. He never jumps on something without giving it a though first. That is what good leaders do even in our own household.

    September 25, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. JD

    The president sure has the code words\phrases down. If anyone is thinking, drop a code word for emotion to distract them.

    Today it's "teacher-bashing", earlier it was "voter suppression". Somewhere it will be "fairness", or "war on women". But. It will work.

    His political machine is the best in history. Period. I have a great deal of admiration

    September 25, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Romney did say that we have to make government smaller because we have "too many" firefighters, teachers and police officers. Reducing the size of government is supposed to mean reducing bureaucracy, not cutting essential services.

    September 25, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. NEVER to VOTE REPUBLICAN again

    Mitt mitt mitt, oh shame on you!

    September 25, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. Atul Chaudhary

    How can this President ever annoy unions? And how can his base not see this? Actually, it is a deliberate attempt on President's part to politicize the issue. Even his right hand man Rahm Emmanuel was against unions in Chicago and he was quiet all along. Most cowardly act. He doesn't have b-lls to tackle situation face to face whether be it Osama's killing, Mid-eastern uprising against America, Pro-Israel attempt, true economic stability or any other subject, he has to be pushed by his people to take an stance. Good example was gay issue, he wouldn't have come out if he was not forced by Joe Biden.

    On the other hand Romney says what he thinks is right. Of course, liberals and media give it a spin but some time later people realize that Romney was right. I just hope that enough people realize this before Nov 6 otherwise we are doomed.

    September 25, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. Charlie from the North

    Romney doesn't mind private school teachers...but he and his are out to destroy public eduction. They hate public education because it is a successful poverty prevention program that does not fit their narrative of "government being the problem"

    September 25, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Don

    NO COUPONS FOR THE CLASSROOM, or to see the doctor, either--go home, Romney.

    September 25, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. Ancient Texan

    Romney isn't against teachers....just those that ignore the education of the child and produce pitiful results in comparison to the rest of the world. When teachers are held responsible for actually educating our kids instead of promoting unions and non-accountability then possibly they'll actually be worth the bloated salaries they covet.

    September 25, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. john

    Do you really think Obama wants kids that can't read and write? Look to the southern half of the country... Skyrocketing illiteracy and unwavering Republican support. Obama wants our children to gain an education so they can make intelligent decisions... Not to have them be so illiterate that they cannot even read a birth certificate, or have to resort to name calling like 6th grade bullies rather than being able to debate substance.

    September 25, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    and then we have obama, the small business basher and the killer of the American Dream!

    September 25, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. Keep us all on our heels...

    Mitt, the one who can't wait an hour to get the facts before making an insult.. the man who only seems to be able to say he disagree's without giving a reason why. Mitt is always going to be against something before he is for it.. but let it be known, throughout his political career he has always said one thing and done another. If elected he would have to... otherwise he would never be able to work with teachers.. with arab nations.. or auto workers.

    September 25, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Thomas

    CEO of Bridgepoint Education Andrew Clark and his wife Catherine who donated a total of $102,500 to the Romney campaign.

    Lawsuits have begun piling up against Bridgepoint Education since the online educator's spectacular stock plunge last week.

    The lawsuits say Bridgepoint management concealed accreditation problems for its Ashford University unit, causing shareholders to lose money.

    At least four lawsuits seeking class-action status have been filed to date. One was announced Tuesday by Bernstein Liebhard LLP; two on Monday, by Ryan & Maniskas LLP, and by Federman & Sherwood. One was announced on Friday by Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.

    This is what Romney's idea of education is , Teachers are people too my friend !

    September 25, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. Fair is Fair

    Donkey Party

    gt – Obama is a business basher? With the stock market doubling since he's taken office, corporations sitting on trillions of dollars, and turning around job losses into job gains? All you right-wingers do is speak complete nonsense, devoid of any facts, but loaded with ignorance and delusion.
    --------
    I'm genuinely curious as to why you think that the stock market "doubling" is an indication of successful economic policy versus a tremendous loss in the value of the dollar. There's lots of things that have doubled since Obama took office... gas prices, food prices, commodity prices (such as precious metals), etc., etc. I'd go out on a limb that food and gas prices are more important to the masses than the stock market.

    September 25, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  19. Concerned Educator, MS

    Excuse me Ancient Texan, but until you are certified and placed in a classroom, you have no idea what teachers go through. We go through a a 4-year college program to start out making a salary that is the on the edge of poverty. To add insult to injury, our livelihood in being judged by students who do not come to school, who is not apt to study and review is home, who come from homes where education is not valued, and students who waste their God given potential and tax payers money. There are teacher who go beyond the call of duty to educate our youth. Why aren't other professions bombarded with all of this accountability crap. So, until you become a teacher, close your trap. You have no idea!

    September 25, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. sjawy44@gmail.com

    Romney says we need to reward the best teachers. We need to hire the best teachers. Yes, that is a grea thing but he does not say how to pay the best teachers. They get paid from your local and state taxes. To have a well paid good teacher, taxes will have to be raised. Will the average american want to pay more taxes to get a really good teacher? Probably not.

    September 25, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    obama is Out Of Touch with reality – wrote

    and then we have obama, the small business basher and the killer of the American Dream!
    -------------------
    Meanwhile, Mitt Romney bashes the 47% Mitt Romney bashes teachers, firefighters, and police officers because HE says "we have too many" of them. Mitt Romney bashes students, telling them to "borrow $10,000 from your parents." (He must like that number. Drop in a bucket to him.) Mitt Romney bashes seniors, women, the poor, and everyone else that he is "not concerned" about.

    September 25, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. Chris

    Its not just teachers, damn near everyone thats not like him

    September 25, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. Fair is Fair

    Concerned Educator, MS

    Excuse me Ancient Texan, but until you are certified and placed in a classroom, you have no idea what teachers go through. We go through a a 4-year college program to start out making a salary that is the on the edge of poverty. To add insult to injury, our livelihood in being judged by students who do not come to school, who is not apt to study and review is home, who come from homes where education is not valued, and students who waste their God given potential and tax payers money.
    -----–
    I'm not a teacher, but have family who are, and based upon what they say, I guess I agree with most of what you've written. It all comes down to the breakup of the family unit, IMHO.

    But tell me – what metric would you use to judge an educator's performance, that would be fair to both you and your colleagues as well as those who pay your salary (the taxpayers)? Teacher contracts which dictate an X% raise over Y years does not adequately reward the exceptional and very good teachers and at the same time overly rewards the marginal and poor teachers. Thoughts?

    September 25, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  24. Dan

    dem·a·gogue/ˈdeməˌgäg/Noun: 1.A political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.

    President Obama, this is you. "Governor Romney and a number of folks try to politicize the issue and do a lot of teacher-bashing. When I meet teachers all across the country, so devoted and dedicated to their kids" He directly contradicts himself within one sentence, then plays on the emotions of people...Mitt Romney doesn't appreciate teachers and doesn't see how devoted and dedicated they are. What a joke; this is exactly the kind of crap that makes our politics embarassing on both sides.

    September 25, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |