Teachers Now Backing ... the GOP

Republicans see more union dollars roll in
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2012 7:00 PM CDT
Striking Chicago Public School teacher Lanessa Mendoza pickets with fellow teachers from Peck Elementary School as Mayor Rahm Emanuel was visiting, in Chicago, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012.   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
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(Newser) – Talk about strange bedfellows: Some American teachers' unions, bruised by struggles with Democrats like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, are lending their support to ... Republicans, the New York Times reports. Reaching across the aisle in states like Illiinois, Ohio, and Texas, teachers' groups gave $1.2 million to GOP state candidates in the first half of this year. That's far less than they gave Democrats, but the percentage they're donating to the GOP is at a seven-year high. "The notion that just because you’re a Democrat" teachers will support you "has changed," says one observer.

Teachers have tried courting Republicans before, but now the issues have changed: Instead of seeking more public funding, unions want "people who are not sold" on charter schools, teacher-evaluation testing, or the notion "that teachers should lose job security," says one analyst. So Democrats are feeling the sting while some Republicans are easing pressure on teachers. Take GOP State Sen. William Seitz of Ohio, for example, whose top donor is a teachers' group—and who recently criticized a pro-voucher bill, telling proponents that "it went too far." (Read more teachers' unions stories.)

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