"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, November 12, 2015

NEA: Acting Against Its Own Interest

I've never been particularly easy on NEA on this blog...and once again I find myself shaking my head because the NEA seems to be acting against its own best interest.


In 2011 I came out against an NEA endorsement of President Obama.
I urge the NEA not to endorse anyone...unless someone comes along who supports public education. As an individual, I will vote for the candidate who, on other issues, most closely fits my beliefs about where the United States should go as a nation, but as an educator I can't, and won't, support any of them.
They didn't listen to me, of course. After the endorsement they came out against Arne Duncan seemingly unaware that Duncan's work was either directed or approved by the same President Obama they just endorsed for reelection.
The NEA Representative Assembly directs the NEA President to communicate aggressively, forcefully, and immediately to President Barack Obama and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that NEA is appalled with Secretary Duncan’s practice of:
...insert a list of things Arne has done such as supporting local decisions to fire all school staff indiscriminately, focusing too heavily on competitive grants that by design leave most students behind, and focusing so heavily on charter schools...


Then, a few months later, I objected to then NEA President Dennis Van Roekel's op-ed written jointly with TFA's Wendy Kopp which called for the "best preparation possible" for America's teachers. Did Van Roekel think that TFA's 5 week training qualified as "best preparation" for teachers?
The presence of Kopp's name on the editorial implies acceptance of TFA as one of those "best preparation possible" routes.


In June of this year I was pleased to hear NEA President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia say, at the NPE conference, that NEA would not accept money from the Gates Foundation. The cheers from the NPE attendees was loud and long. A few days later she walked back that affirmation. Mercedes Schneider wrote...
But Lily Eskelsen Garcia is willing to defend NEA’s continued receiving of Gates funding on a technicality:

NEA doesn’t directly receive the Gates funding. The NEA Foundation does.

And she completely glosses over her verbal agreement at the NPE conference to no longer even collaborate with Gates.


Where does Hillary Clinton stand on public education issues? NEA has, with Lily's approval, already endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination despite her ties to corporate "reformers." We have learned that she is all for reducing testing...
Reducing the role of testing is something I would like to see, but what about teachers being evaluated by test scores, loss of due process, and loss of collective bargaining rights? What about the connection between poverty and low achievement?
What about Charters? What about Race to the Top, Vouchers, and inequity in funding?

NEA shouldn't endorse anyone until their positions on public education issues are clear. NEA shouldn't endorse anyone until the NEA-RA approves. I know that the NEA rules allows the Board to endorse a candidate for a primary...and it's time to change that. Last election cycle, we endorsed someone whose education policy, Race to the Top, was as destructive to public schools and student learning as was NCLB. Haven't we learned anything from that?


NEA has joined with other groups to "launch a joint campaign to Elevate Educators." The fact that Campbell Brown loves it makes me nervous!

I'm also concerned because, aside from NEA and AFT, and a few other groups, the "Partners" in TeachStrong are a collection of "reformers" like
  • Groups such as CCSSO, Deans for Impact, Education Post, TNTP, and others discussed by Peter Greene, in Teach Strong: Real Wrong
It concerns me that NEA has joined with these other groups whose goals include the destruction of public education and the teaching profession.

The Badass Teachers Association had this to say,

A Challenge To The TeachStrong Campaign By: Marla Kilfoyle, Executive Director, The Badass Teachers Association
To sum it up the #TeachStrong Campaign is just another corporate education reform coalition that ignores
  • Child poverty
  • Institutional racism
  • Destruction of the local school board
  • Destruction of the teaching profession (specifically targeted at Teachers of Color and Veteran Teachers)
  • Destruction of public education
On its surface, the "campaign" might be something which NEA could, or should support, but when you look who is actually participating it becomes just another group of "reformers" trying to increase their bottom line.

For more on #TeachStrong...

The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

Stop the Testing Insanity!


A Manifesto for a Revolution in Public Education
Click here to sign the petition.

For over a decade...“reformers” have proclaimed that the solution to the purported crisis in education lies in more high stakes testing, more surveillance, more number crunching, more school closings, more charter schools, and more cutbacks in school resources and academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students, particularly students of color. As our public schools become skeletons of what they once were, they are forced to spend their last dollars on the data systems, test guides, and tests meant to help implement the “reforms” but that do little more than line the coffers of corporations, like Pearson, Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.




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