Today many of the presidential candidates descended upon NEA's sponsored Strong Public Schools 2020 Presidential Forum to make their case for education in front of a massive audience of teachers. The message was one of unification - more respect, more pay, and better schools. In earnest, any educator would be excited about these invigorating messages of support, right?
Educators represent a fractured voting bloc. Out of every organized union, I'm convinced that educators vote against their interests the most consistently. In the most recent Gallup poll, education only represented 3% of what voters deemed the "most important problem facing the country today." Voters are not going to the ballot box with education on the forefront of their minds.
If every teacher voted the values at the core of what would make our livelihoods better than Democrats would be holding the majority - Senate, House, and Presidency - not even close. But it is not that simple; teachers may decide to vote how their spouses vote OR may choose to vote on an issue they feel is more important than themselves - besides teachers are conditioned not to prioritize themselves and to accept what is done unto them.
So if I'm in the position of the National Education Association or one of the presidential candidates vying for the vote of the teacher - I wouldn't focus on the familiar overtones that teachers love to hear I would speak with more depth about the various issues which are forcing teachers against the lovely teacher promises. Find out, what do teachers really care about? NEA conferences, unfortunately, are not attended by the typical educator - way too expensive. Streaming the forum live was a great choice! Teachers are not convinced of the centuries-old promises of better pay and more respect. That's not coming because these issues are not a priority of the majority and in large part does not matter to educators.
I often find myself wondering what teacher wouldn't want higher pay, lower class sizes, more respect, and a better standing in the global economy - it turns out - MANY OF THEM!