In the wake of the Chicago Teachers Union strike that ended last week, President Obama on Tuesday took issue with the way that Mitt Romney addressed the issue, saying he was "teacher-bashing."
“I think Gov. Romney and a number of folks try to politicize the issue and do a lot of teacher-bashing," Obama said on NBC’s Today. "When I meet teachers all across the country, so devoted and dedicated to their kids, and what we've tried to do is actually break through this left-right, conservative-liberal gridlock.”
Obama called for a balance between respecting the work of teachers unions and the need for education reform. "From the perspective of Democrats, we can't just sit on the status quo or say that money's the only issue,” he said. “Reform is important also.”
Obama said he recognized that some teachers are not up to par by certain measures, but he said those teachers should receive better training rather than being dismissed.
“I just really get frustrated when I hear teacher-bashing as evidence of reform,” he said. “What is absolutely true is if we've got a bad teacher, we should be able to train them to get better, and if they can't get better, they should be able to get fired.”
The Romney campaign responded to Obama's attack, saying he put teachers' unions ahead of students.
“Instead of reforming education and putting achievement in the classroom first, President Obama has put politics and his allegiance to the teachers’ unions ahead of students," Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in an email. "When Mitt Romney was governor, Massachusetts’ schools had the best test scores in the entire country and his leadership expanded opportunities for high-achieving students. As president, he will stand up for students, not special interests, and work to ensure that every child has access to a great school, great teacher, and a quality education.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, speaking on said on MSNBC's Morning Joe, said he understood the dilemma that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel faced with the strike, but criticized the Chicago system of education.
“Where's the strategy to make sure that poor kids gain the power of knowledge?" Bush said. "Chicago's results are abysmal. When you compare them to New York, they're not cutting it. Or compare them to Miami-Dade County, where you have low-income kids doing significantly better. The strategies of learning are separate from the strategies of negotiating higher pay and greater job protection."