Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, July 5, 2010

The NEA Gets It

What do you know - a teachers union that actually pushes back against President Hopey/Changey:

NEW ORLEANS — For two years as a presidential candidate, Barack Obama addressed educators gathered for the summer conventions of the two national teachers’ unions, and last year both groups rolled out the welcome mat for Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

But in a sign of the Obama administration’s strained relations with two of its most powerful political allies, no federal official was scheduled to speak at either convention this month, partly because union officials feared that administration speakers would face heckling.

The largest union’s meeting opened here on Saturday to a drumbeat of heated rhetoric, with several speakers calling for Mr. Duncan’s resignation, hooting delegates voting for a resolution criticizing federal programs for “undermining public education,” and the union’s president summing up 18 months of Obama education policies by saying, “This is not the change I hoped for.”

“Today our members face the most anti-educator, anti-union, anti-student environment I have ever experienced,” Dennis Van Roekel, president of the union, the National Education Association, told thousands of members gathered at the convention center here.


“The administration is aware of the anger and wants to do whatever they can to cool it off, including getting third parties to issue words of praise for the unions when warranted,” said Chester E. Finn Jr., a Republican who last month used his influential education blog, Flypaper, to highlight the forward-looking positions taken by union leaders in Delaware, Tennessee and six other states. Mr. Finn said he decided to write the post after an administration official pointed out how many local unions had helped lead overhaul efforts.

Better relations are important to the administration. Mr. Van Roekel’s association, with more than three million members, says it spent $50 million in 2008 to help elect the president and more than 50 candidates for Congress and governors’ offices, most of them Democrats.

The American Federation of Teachers, with 1.4 million members, also spent millions of dollars to help elect Mr. Obama and other candidates in 2008.

“If the teachers sit on their hands this fall, it would be a disaster for Obama and the Democrats,” said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who has studied the teachers’ unions.
Indeed it would be a disaster for Dems and Obama.

And it must happen to send a message to both the White House and the Democratic Party.

I urge both the NEA and the AFT to NOT work to elect or re-elect any Dems who have supported the Obama administration's Race to the Top competition or No Child Left Behind Jr. re-authorization.

If a Dem is pro-testing, pro-charter, pro-RttT, or pro-Obama's education agenda, not one thin dime must be given to her/him.

I called the AFT yesterday evening when I saw the NY Times story about the NEA pushing back against the administration and left them a message saying this very thing.

You should call the collaborators at the AFT and tell them the same thing.

The NEA and the NEA president gets it - Obama is the enemy of teachers and public education.

And the administration, by using Republicans like Chester Finn and Republican-lites like Eduwonk to issue divide and conquer rhetoric about how some unions are "progressive" and some are "entrenched in the status quo," does not help the cause.

Instead they let us know EXACTLY where they stand.

They are anti-teacher, anti-public education, pro-privatization.

They are Republicans.

So why work to elect a DINO like Obama or any of the RttT backers when we can give money to Dems who actually support teachers and public education?

It is true that unions sitting out this election will bring a Republican onslaught in 2010 and that will not be an immediate help to public education and the teaching profession.

But in the long run, I believe by punishing DINOS like Obama and Duncan and rewarding pro-public education Dems, teachers will do themselves a better service.

Obama must be sent packing in 2012. And his power must be curtailed in 2010.


  1. Then, the UFT, with all its money from our dues, should be researching what politicians are public education friendly and start advocating. It would be this type of action that leadership could be pro-active instead of re-active about and let its members know we will not take the anti-public education abuse sitting down.

  2. Unfortunately, Randi, Mulgrew and the rest are too tied to the Democratic Party establishment. That used to be mean the Clintons; today it means the Chicago Democratic Mafia. Either way, both Dem establishments are pro-charter, anti-union. Instead of getting cozy with these scumbags, the UFT/AFT should be fighting them. But who wants to give up all that power, prestige, nice things Michelle Rhee says about you in the Daily News, etc?

    Here's a question - can we quit the AFT/UFT and join the NEA?

  3. If you read Fred Klonsky's blog over the last week, you got much better coverage than the NY Times offered.

  4. I think your title reflects a certain wishful thinking with respect to the NEA, another ossified, business-model union. Chicago is more like the way we want to go. But, at least YOU get the bigger picture. BTW ¡Viva Miéville!

  5. You are right about the NEA being another ossified business-model union and the Chicago insurgency more like the way we want to go.

    I guess I should have said that the NEA gets it a little, since the AFT doesn't seem to get it at all.