Consider these excerpts from a speech Kerry gave on June 16, 1998, at Northeastern University:
"We can't afford to be uncritical apologists for public schools that work for our bureaucrats, but not for our kids."
" ... [T]oo often there are too many teacher unions... which fight for turf when they should be fighting for the tools to succeed... We're left with a system where no one is held responsible for our kids."
"No teacher should have a lock on any job, and it should not take tens of thousands of dollars and years in the courts to let go a teacher who will not or cannot help our kids succeed."
"We are stuck in an ideological cement of our own mixing and because of it, American parents are voting with their feet... Every morning more and more parents -- rich, middle-class, and even the poor -- are driving their sons and daughters to parochial schools where they believe there will be more discipline, more standards and more opportunity."
"Shame on us also for not realizing that there are parents in this country who care little about politics or party, who, today, support vouchers not because they are enamored with private schools, but because they want a choice for their children. They want alternatives -- and seeing none in our rigid system, they are willing and some even desperate to look elsewhere... "
It comes as no surprise that his tune has changed since then. According to Kathleen Kelley, president of a Massachusetts teacher union at the time: "We sat down with him immediately after that speech." What an interesting talk that must have been.
The union again had a "talk" with Kerry last May when he reverted to his 1998 persona, suggesting that he would "establish new systems that reward teachers for excellence in the classroom, including pay based on improvement in student achievement." Kerry again changed his tune.
If the unions hadn't had these "talks" with John Kerry, you would have thought that Tim Pawlenty and Yecke were setting his education reform agenda (and we would have had to consider endorsing him for president)!