GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – US teachers’ unions, traditionally strong supporters of the Democratic Party, are taking a more critical approach to the party as the Democrats’ convention opened Tuesday 4 September, in Charlotte, North Carolina. The convention will formally endorse President Barack Obama as its presidential candidate in November’s elections.
First Lady Michelle Obama was the star of the opening night show, with a rousing speech where she said her husband understands the American Dream because he has lived it.
Education a national stress point
Charlotte, NC: Teachers and parents in the city picketed the screening of the film “Won’t Back Down”, about how a teacher and parents take over a failing inner-city school. Changes in schools programmes in different parts of the country have reduced traditional party support for teachers in some areas, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, headed back home from the Convention on Tuesday to face 26,000 teachers and support staff who threaten to strikefor 10 days starting 10 September.
California: A “parent trigger” law that will allow parents to petition for major changes in low-performing schools was introduced in California. These could involve merit pay or evaluating teachers according to student performance.
Obama’s “Race to the top” programme awards states that increase access to charter schools and using standard tests results to determine teacher performance.
Some labour unions were avoiding the convention’s venue in Charlotte, according to Politico, because it is in a labour-unfriendly state. The opening day of the convention followed the US Labor Day holiday Monday.