Obama and Education

After a season of ambiguity, Obama will have to choose sides on school reform

Callie Shell / Aurora for TIME

Obama has praised Rhee, but she worries he is all talk.

Michelle Rhee is a Democrat, but she came very close to voting for John McCain in November. She chose Barack Obama because one of her closest friends had begged her to give him a chance. "It was a very hard decision," she says. "I'm somewhat terrified of what the Democrats are going to do on education."

Like most other Democrats, Obama is allied with the teachers' unions, which generally oppose efforts to weaken tenure rules that protect teachers from being fired or to pay them on the basis of merit. The biggest teachers' union, the National Education Association (NEA), has 3.2...

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