Some Democrats in Denver Are Willing to Challenge the Teachers Unions

There’s a big political party known as the Democratic National Convention going on in the heart of our state this week. Maybe you’ve heard of it. My parents say there’s lots of crazy stuff going on there – things that I’m too young to see, things that could warp my young, impressionable mind or worse.

But I guess there also was a serious and “inspirational” event yesterday in Denver, an event that should give real “hope” to education reformers that “change” might come:

For too long, panelists agreed, the Democratic Party has walked in lockstep with the teacher unions, and has shown little will to take them on.

“As Democrats, we have been wrong on education, and it’s time to get right,” said Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, a rising political star. Booker said he was “practically tarred and feathered” by his local union for even broaching the subject of school choice.

“This is my wildest dream,” Booker said during a panel discussion, looking out at an overflowing Denver Art Museum auditorium. “I never thought I’d see a room full of Democrats interested in doing this (taking on the unions).”

Among those in attendance was National Education Association President Reg Weaver.

Apparently there was no comment from Weaver. Booker and other urban reformers like Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein were joined by the liberal lightning-rod Al Sharpton and local Colorado Democrat leaders past and present – including former Gov. Roy Romer and current state senate president Peter Groff. (Perhaps, more notably, many other Democrat leaders were not on board.)

Yesterday’s enclave could be promising of a really healthy development. Strong leadership from both political parties to challenge the clout of the teachers union – which obstruct school choice and other reforms – is needed to hasten the progress we see around the country. Enough of the status quo.

Are we going to have figured out the best way to deliver public education by the time I get out of high school? Events like the one yesterday give a glimmer of hope that the old politics at least may eventually get out of the way.