The American Federation of Teachers' executive council unanimously voted today to endorse Barack Obama for U.S. President.
While this endorsement was never really in question given the lack of other Democratic candidates (both of the national teachers' unions have historically strongly supported Democrats), it does remain to be seen how the 1.5 million-member union plans to get teachers out on the ground to canvass in support of Obama's reelection.
Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan, has supported "labor management collaboration," true. But let's not forget that this is the same president who endorsed the Central Falls, R.I., firing of AFT teachers, conceived of the Race to the Top program, which is deeply unpopular among many AFT members, and whose administration has also hinted at other areas of disagreement with AFT on specific policies, such as seniority-based layoff policies. And the administration is gung-ho on the issue of within-district financial equity, while AFT is still on the fence about proposed changes.
AFT President Randi Weingarten seemed to nod at some of those disagreements in a statement put out by the union.
"While we have not agreed with every decision President Obama has made, he shares our deep commitment to rebuilding the middle class and ensuring everyone has an opportunity to achieve the American dream," she said.
Meanwhile, the 3.2 million-member National Education Association voted to endorse Obama at its 2011 Representative Assembly, in Chicago. That endorsement came with a degree of hand wringing, too. In fact, union delegates there had to fend off a proposal to delay the endorsement vote.