Freelance writer James Ewert reports in with a first-hand description of the Obama endorsement Sunday morning:
"Three days into its 80th annual convention, the crowd gathered at Navy Pier was in a feisty mood -- not at all the stereotype of mild-mannered school teachers with pocket protectors and pencils and bobbed haircuts. And not everyone there was lock-step for Obama."
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Three days into its 80th annual convention, the crowd gathered at Navy Pier was in a feisty mood -- not at all the stereotype of mild-mannered school teachers with pocket protectors and pencils and bobbed haircuts. And not everyone there was lock-step for Obama. The Peace and Justice Caucus handed out blue fliers that called into question Obama's recently nuanced stance on ending the war in Iraq.
But the crowd was overwhelmingly supportive. There would be no booing as there had been in Washington DC. The crowd erupted into applause when the giant video screens showed two women dancing in their seats with Obama t-shirts doused in heaps of shimmering glitter. One brave delegate from New York got up to urge caution in endorsing the candidate. The crowd started to let him have it, but outgoing AFT president Ed McElroy pounded his gavel like a teacher switching the lights on and off to quiet down a class.
CTU president Marilyn Stewart, said "We will soon be the land of Lincoln and Obama." Following up with a hearty, "Yes we can! Yes we can!" When the time came for a vote, the motion passed with a resounding "aye" and only a single audible "nay."
At just before 11am, Obama's smiling mug finally appeared on the gigantic screens, live from California and complete with a flag pin on his left lapel. His comments were brief – copies had been passed out to the press long before his actual speech.
Obama told one of his favorite anecdotes about a teacher at Dodge Elementary school in Chicago, who told him her biggest challenge as a teacher was what she called the "these kids syndrome" which explained away the shortcomings of the education system by saying "these kids can't learn" or "these kids don't want to learn" or "these kids are just too far behind."
Obama went on to chastise No Child Left Behind and John McCain, while commending the AFT for operating its own charter schools in New York, something Obama said he supports and intends to expand.
"…We know well-designed public charter schools have a lot to offer, and I've actually helped pass legislation to expand them," Obama said. "But what I do oppose is using public money for private school vouchers."
When he finished, he received a thunderous standing ovation. It was hard to find anyone who preferred Clinton in the crowd, though some were there.
"I think there will be a push for certain individuals to change their votes," says healthcare worker Donna Maronde, from local UHP 3837 in Farmington, CT. "If you want to make things better, you have to go with the best candidate. I don't think there is any disrespect meant toward Obama, but I just think a lot of the people who supported Hilary knew more about her and her platforms… I think that unfortunately, Obama's positions are flowery and he doesn't state specifics, but to win the election he's going to need specifics."
American Federation of Teachers endorses Obama ABC7 (with video)
Remarks to the 80th Convention of the American Federation of ... Real Clear Politics (transcript)
EdWeek coverage here.
Filed under: Campaigns & Clout