Stimulus Pays Off With Obama Teachers Union Endorsement

Kyle Olson

5/10/2011 10:00:00 AM - Kyle Olson

Consider the following statement:

“The National Education Association’s decision on Friday to begin the formal process of endorsing President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign may be the most vivid demonstration to date of the political benefits of the stimulus package passed by the president.”

That statement came from a reporter at the very left-leaning Huffington Post. Even Arianna Huffington’s people recognize the stimulus package, which provided billions to America’s public schools, which in turn provided millions in dues to the national teachers unions, as “simple politics.”

So we have to ask ourselves: What did we get for the money? Tens of thousands of teachers remain employed, the unions reaped tens of millions in dues, but what was the return on the investment for taxpayers and students.

The answer is very little. As we’ve seen over and over again, government education dollars are for the teachers and their unions, not the kids who are supposed to be learning.

In Feb. 2009, Vice President Biden back told Delaware union leaders they had all the tools – ie. more money – necessary to fix the system. Using gun imagery before it was uncool, Biden told his audience:

“We’ve been given all the ammunition. If we shoot and miss, if we squander the opportunity, tell me how long you think it’s going to take for another American president to go and ask for more dollars to correct the education system.”

More from the News Journal article:

Citing about $105 billion that is coming to the U.S. Department of Education from the federal stimulus package, Biden said teachers will finally have the means to improve education.

“You’ve got a president and vice president absolutely committed to having all the tools you need to finally get it right in American public education.”

To Biden, more dollars for the unions somehow equates to education reform. But we’ve learned over the decades that increased spending on education does not equate to increased performance in the classroom. If spending guaranteed a great public education, U.S. students would be leading the world in academic achievement. News flash – they are not even close. Mike Reno, a former school board member from a large Michigan district, said when it came to negotiating a teachers’ contract, “there was no costing data, there was no information on how much it would increase the cost to the district, there was no financial projections, there was absolutely nothing that we could base any sort of decision on, other than ‘this is what we think we can get them to settle for.’”

In other words, teachers unions want more spending, through government grants or collective bargaining, so they can increase their salaries and get more lucrative benefits. Very little money is directed toward increasing opportunities for students. It’s simply used to reward thousands of teachers who are not getting the job done in the classroom.

The stimulus has not stimulated American education at all. But it’s stimulated the bank accounts of teachers unions, and that’s really all they care about.

That’s why the NEA has been so quick to endorse President Obama for another term.