Unions and reformers CAN agree on a lot. Hillary will show leadership and bring both sides together for our kids. http://t.co/41YlnV3Aec— America's Teachers (@americateachers) April 1, 2015
With that first tweet, America's Teachers PAC made its twitter debut.
The PAC has a lovely website that launched just at the end of May and gives a clearer picture of what Hillary's-- well, no, of course this is the vision of the good folks at America's Teachers PAC who are I am sure following the rules that require them to be a separate entity from Clinton.
For one thing, they refer repeatedly to "our network of teachers-- reform and union." So right off the bat, we get their view of how the 'sides" of the education debates parse-- it's the reformers versus the unions. So there's one thing they don't get about current education issues-- that the reform side is a complicated web of entities including folks like the Center for American Progress, a reformster group with close ties to Hillary, and that "the union" doesn't even begin to describe the network of folks standing up for public education (that, in fact, the national unions are both late and lukewarm in their opposition to the reformster movement). But they repeatedly define these as the two "factions"-- reformers and unions.
The PAC lists
1. Universal pre-school
2. Two free years of community college
3. Increased teacher pay and flex work options
4. Access to high quality schools for all communities
5. Full-service community schools
#4 opens with this familiar reformy dog whistle: "No child should be trapped in a failing school. Families should have alternatives if their neighborhood school is consistently underperforming." So, choice and charters. One more thing
You find the same list on their LinkedIN page created on April 6 by Naveed Amalfard.
Amalfard is a math teacher in DC public schools, and he's been at that job for one whole year. He was previously at Emory in the economics department, held a summer job with McKinsey, was founder and CEO of Readers Beyond Borders for four years (You can watch him talk about it here). Can you guess how he ended up in a classroom? That's right-- Amalfard is a Teacher for America temp.
The America's Teacher blog used to open with a post from Amalfard:
I'm Naveed, an 11th grade statistics teacher in Washington, DC. I started America's Teachers as a grassroots Super PAC to bring together teachers, parents, and students to advocate for better public schools. Teaching in a high-poverty school has given me some insight into some of the web of challenges facing struggling students. I've developed a real appreciation for the depth and breadth of the educational crisis in our country.
Oh my goodness. One whole year and he gets the whole of the educational crisis. Once again, the Onion takes a back seat to reality.
You can't read that post on America's Teachers PAC website (where, actually, they neglect to call themselves a PAC); you have to find a cached copy. Now the website is pretty thoroughly scrubbed clean of any references to actual individuals, which seems like a bad choice since it gives the group the appearance of just one more shadowy collection of back room dark money deal makers.
We do know they've recruited the usual assortment of well-scrubbed college types. This recruiting post from the GW Democrats asks for fellows to join the America's Teachers PAC. The fellowship last twelve weeks-- the first half for training in "volunteer recruitment and management, event planning, and digital organizing." The second half will be putting these skills to work to make Hillary the next President. "Fellows will be integrated into the PAC and well-supported by its leadership. Each fellow will be responsible for specific workstreams." Operations will be base primarily in DC.
As to who that leadership might be...? Well, that's not entirely clear. A few of us asked the @AmericaTeachers twitter account who their backers are, but there was no answer (and given the nature of twitter, I don't find that particularly nefarious). I've emailed that question to the group (email@example.com), but I'm thinking a hashtag like #whoareyourdonors? might be useful many times before this election cycle's done.
Meanwhile, if you missed Almafard at the Ready for Hillary PAC fundraiser in Virginia, you can catch the Teach for America--er, I mean, the America's Teachers facebook page (36 likes so far) or follow the twitter account which so far has chosen to amplify Clinton, Arne Duncan, Randi Weingarten, KIPP, TFA, and the US Department of Education.
This may represent a field test for a new non-position on public education. "We know we may not agree with each other on the other things (Common Core, standardized testing, etc.), and that’s okay. Rather than endlessly fume over all the things that divide us, both sides are holding their fire. Both sides are coming together on the education issues we do agree on." I'm not impressed. Do not punch me repeatedly in the face while saying, "Well, we may not agree on whether or not I should stop punching you in the face, but let's focus on what we can agree on, like donuts and pretty flowers."
Look, I have no patience for Hillary Haters who insist she is behind so many conspiracies that the Iluminati call her for advice. But if you think that a Clinton administration would change the current direction of education policy one gnat's whisker, if you think that a Clinton administration would not continue the program of profiteering and privatization, if you think that a Clinton administration would stand up for public education any more than Bush or Obama-- then you see something that I surely do not. But in the meantime, please tell us, @AmericaTeachers-- who are your donors?