Appearing in front of the National Education Association annual meeting in Washington, D.C, Vice President Joe Biden decried the proposed education policies of the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as an assault on teachers. Specifically, Biden singled out Romney’s support for allowing states to spend Title I education funding, originally allocated to help minority and low-income students, on private school tuition scholarships.
“You guys – educators, teachers, you are under full blown assault. Romney, Romney, Governor Romney and his allies in the Congress – their plan for public education in America is to let the states use Title I dollars to boost enrollment in private schools,” Biden said.
The NEA, a strong supporter of President Obama, was a highly-receptive audience for the Vice President
Biden’s speech focused on drawing a distinction between the education views of the current administration of President Barack Obama and that of his opponent. He said that the President’s policy was about improving education, and thus strengthening and growing the middle class. He said that teachers are an important resource for the country, and any politicians that disregard the needs of teachers risk endangering academic quality for America’s children.
Although Biden was received enthusiastically by the NEA members attending the organization’s 91st annual meeting, his attendance could be emblematic of the recent difficulties encountered by teachers unions around the country. While traditionally Democratic candidates have made an effort to court the NEA — especially in an election year — the fact this year President Obama chose to skip the gathering, and send the VP instead, could mean that the influence of organized labor in Democratic politics is waning.
Still, Biden’s rousing speech and his full-throated support of the NEA was warmly welcomed. His remarks were frequently interrupted by applause.
The response from Romney’s campaign was swift. Amanda Henneberg, Romney’s spokesperson, released a statement saying that Biden and the administration continued to push forward policies that have failed to produce any kind of measurable improvement in students’ academic outcomes.
“Vice President Biden today doubled down on the same policies that have failed to fix our economy and help the middle class. Instead of putting students first, Vice President Biden and this administration have stood with union bosses. Instead of creating good jobs for graduates, this administration has presided over one of the bleakest jobs markets for young people. Mitt Romney has the plan and record to put students first and make sure that they have a job waiting for them when they graduate.”