One of the most disturbing legacies of the Obama Administration's 7 years in office, which it shows every sign of continuing through its nomination of John King to be Secretary of Education, has been its war on the nation's public school teachers and on public education generally.
The President hit the ground running with this attack by appointing Arne Duncan, someone with no teaching experience, as Secretary of Education and set the tone for his Administration, shortly after his election, by praising the mass firing of teachers in Central Falls Rhode Island who refused to agree to dramatic modifications of their contract to lengthen the school day.
The attack escalated with the unveiling of Race to the Top, which gave huge grants to states who rated teachers on the basis of student test schools, closed schools designated as "failing"- also on the basis of test scores- and gave preference to charter schools over public schools. It was reaffirmed in subsequent years by the enthusiastic support given by the US Department of Education for the Common Core Standards- which were created with little teacher input, by the Admistration's grants to Teach for America and celebration of "National Charter School Week," and by the systematic exclusion of teachers by education policy bodies created by the administration
Worse yet, Administration's spokesperson in this area, Arne Duncan, took every possible opportunity to attack the nation's public school teachers as poorly trained, poorly qualified and in dire need of replacement by higher achieving students from the nation's top universities.
In the face of this attack, which was echoed throughout the country and turned into policy by Democratic politicians like Rahm Emmanuel, Andrew Cuomo and Dannel Malloy, teacher morale plunged to its lowest levels in recorded history and teacher activism in defense of public education exploded in the form of groups like Save Our Schools, United Opt Out, BATS and Network for Public Education.
But the Obama Administration was, and still is, tone def to these protests. The best sign of this is its current effort to have John King, the most hated education commissioner in the history of New York State, and one who helped generate an Opt Out movement than included well over 200,000 families, as Secretary of Education.
So if anyone wonders why Bernie Sanders is giving Hillary Clinton such a formidable challenge for the Democratic nomination, and why Donald Trump may be elected President, look at how the Obama Administration and the Democratic leadership throughout the country has treated public school teachers, one of the largest groups in the nation's fast shrinking middle class
This shameful story has to be part of the explanation of why insurgent candidates have spoiled the party for Democratic and Republican Party elites.