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Teachers' Union Endorses Obama, Despite Being 'Appalled' By His Policies

Kevin Lock/National Education Association(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama seems to have a love-hate relationship with the nation's largest teacher's union.

On Monday, the National Education Association endorsed Obama in 2012 -- long before his Republican opponent has even been selected.  But the vote of confidence comes in spite of the fact that educators are less than thrilled with the president's efforts to reform education.

Two days before endorsing the president, the NEA passed a resolution outlining 13 areas where the union adamantly disagrees with the policies of Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan.

The NEA letter states that educators are "appalled" by Duncan's emphasis on competitive grants, standardized testing and one-size-fits-all policies.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said the disagreements that exist between the union and the president are merely about process, not about ideology.

"Where we are totally in sync is in our vision for America," Van Roekel said.  "I don't mind fighting like crazy with this administration on how to get there, but what I don't want to do is fight a system that has a different vision of education," referring to the Republican party.

But not all NEA members agree.

Dennis Kelly, who attended the conference as the president of the United Educators of San Francisco, said he was "extraordinarily disappointed" with the Department of Education under Duncan.

While he still plans to vote for Obama in 2012, Kelly said he did not expect to see any positive changes in education if the president is re-elected.  He said programs like Race to the Top, a competitive grant program in which school districts compete for federal funds, unfairly creates winners and losers, giving many educators a "deep sense of being cheated."

Democrats have traditionally not had a hard time garnering support from the education community. The NEA has never endorsed a Republican and contributes 10 times as much money to Democrats' campaigns as Republicans.

But this year's endorsement passed by one of the narrowest margins Kelly has seen in years, he said, with 28 percent of the assembly voting against supporting the president.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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