There is outrage on the internet over the American Federation of Teachers endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. AFT President Randi Weingarten's Executive Council coming out for Hillary was about as surprising as a 7-Eleven store having a slurpee machine. Everyone should have known this was coming. This blog predicted it three days back and nobody here is related to psychic Edgar Cayse let alone AFT's Leo Casey. Yet the reaction on Facebook from some of my friends seems to be total anger.
Beth Dimino, leader of statewide opposition to Randi's Unity Caucus in NYSUT called Stronger Together said, "This is Bull***t... All the teachers I know do NOT support Clinton!" Beth is known for being direct.
Fordham professor Mark Naison stated, "The AFT's endorsement of Hilary Clinton is at the very least premature and at the very worst, disastrous for defenders of public education."
Jia Lee from the MORE-UFT opposition caucus in NYC and Change the Stakes commented: "Am I shocked that the AFT leadership announced endorsement for Clinton? No. Am I continually disappointed at the leadership for its lack of democracy? You bet! At the same time, an endorsement is meaningless knowing we teachers have control over our vote, and we will vote for a candidate who won't sell public schools down the river."
You get the idea.
To be fair to AFT President Weingarten, I was called and listened in on one of those telephone town hall meetings for AFT activists and at one point someone broke in, called me by my first name and asked if I wanted to ask a question. I was taking care of my kids at the time and just monitoring the discussion. I very much doubt my question about Hillary's negative baggage and disapproval numbers would have made any difference in the AFT endorsement process and my two children were keeping me very busy while I listened in on the town hall so I just helped take care of my two kids, continued listening and didn't participate actively.
Maybe I should have spoken up as I didn't realize until this morning that I seem to be one of the few Hillary doubters who had a chance to be involved in any way in the process.
On the other hand, anyone with a pulse who was listening to the town hall or knows anything about the AFT knew the Hillary nod was coming and I do believe the AFT did scientific polling of the membership.
According to Randi, an early endorsement is better than a later one because when a union is with a candidate early on, they show they are truly a friend and there will be benefits later on. She said a later endorsement, when everyone is endorsing a candidate who is clearly going to get the Democratic nomination, would not have as much impact. She also claimed Hillary in her meeting with the AFT Executive Council talked much more about PreK-12 education than Senator Bernie Sanders or former Governor Martin O'Malley and she added that Clinton had an in depth knowledge of education issues.
Randi also stated that a candidate should be electable to get AFT support and she clearly felt Hillary could win. There were callers in favor of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who made very good points on why he should be endorsed. Unfortunately, Hillary's negatives never came up while I was closely listening. Randi also reported that not one of the many Republican candidates running for president wanted any part of the AFT.
This morning can anyone say they are even mildly surprised by the AFT endorsement? We all know that being a Democratic Party leader and having a seat at the table of the powerful is very important to Randi and that the AFT is a top-down organization.
In the final analysis, Jia Lee is right as we still have the power in our votes and ability to influence others.