Dana Goldstein looks at how the Democrats' convention shows new heterodoxy on education:
As a teachers' union activist, Nancy is typical of hundreds of delegates attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver this week. Teachers and their unions remain some of the most loyal and influential grass-roots Democrats; out of 4,400 convention delegates, about one-tenth are teachers'-union members. And what's more, teachers are a broad-based group in a party often accused of being little more than a hodgepodge of identity-based coalitions. No one race or sex enters the teaching profession. Instead, what most teachers have in common is the fact that they've consciously chosen to devote their careers to educating other people's children -- a selfless, difficult, and poorly remunerated task.
But the centrality of people like Nancy to the Democratic Party, long a given, was put in sharp relief Sunday at a pre-convention Democrats for Education Reform seminar, held at the breathtakingly postmodern Denver Museum of Art. The event, billed "Ed Challenge for Change," was sponsored by a coalition of foundations, nonprofits, and businesses supporting the charter-school movement, including Ed in '08, the advocacy group founded by Bill Gates and real-estate mogul Eli Broad. The evening provided a truly unusual spectacle at a convention: A megawatt group of Democrats, including Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington, D.C., and former Gov. Ray Romer of Colorado, bashed teachers' unions for an hour.
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