Questions About the Nadeau Sex Scandal.
Having been elected to the National Education Association Executive
Committee, Wayne Nadeau of Vermont was destined to labor in relative
obscurity for six years, facing no more media scrutiny than a rare mention
in the EIA Communiqué. Unfortunately for him, someone dug through the
public records of the Vermont Department of Education and came across the
fact that Nadeau’s teaching license had been suspended earlier this year for
having sex with a teacher’s aide in his classroom. Both the Stowe
Reporter and the Rutland Herald have examined a January 29
agreement between Nadeau and the Vermont Department of Education in which he
admits to the activity and that it “occurred when students were, and might
have been, present in the building.” His license was suspended for 20
NEA and Vermont NEA are
supporting Nadeau, though their reaction is tempered because Nadeau hadn’t
seen fit to mention his problem to his colleagues. The Rutland Herald
asked Mark Cebulski of Wisconsin, who ran and lost to Nadeau for a seat on
the NEA Executive Committee, for his thoughts. “I think the delegates would
have liked to have known all the facts surrounding it before making a
judgment,” he said.
The chairmen of the
Vermont House and Senate education committees (one a Republican, the other a
Democrat) both called on NEA to conduct a full investigation, but NEA demur
red. “Having an affair is not a disqualification, and I know
it’s something he regrets. He’s been disciplined; the matter is closed,”
said NEA spokeswoman Kathleen Lyons.
“There’s no legal basis
to exclude him from membership in this organization or a leadership
position,” said Vermont NEA President Angelo Dorta.
Lyons and Dorta are
evidently correct. In fact, in some circles Nadeau is now qualified to be
President of the United States. NEA officers can be impeached for violating
the Code of Ethics of the Education Profession, which was adopted by the
Representative Assembly in 1975. The preamble states, “The educator accepts
the responsibility to adhere to the highest ethical standards,” but the
provisions of the code do not apply to Nadeau’s case as we know it. The code
prohibits lying or withholding information on a job application “related to
competency and qualifications.” It also states that educators “shall not
accept any gratuity, gift, or favor that might impair or appear to influence
professional decisions or action.”
What’s missing from the
Nadeau case and the “personal mistake” defense is the other party. We know
that the sex was consensual, that it happened on more than one occasion in
his classroom, that it was a woman, not Nadeau’s wife, and that she worked
as a paraeducator in the same high school. That narrows the possibilities to
about six or seven women, but we do not know if she assisted Nadeau in his
professional duties, nor do we know what disciplinary measures were taken
against her, since paraeducators are not subject to the same oversight
agencies. We also don’t know who ratted them out and under what
circumstances. Nor do we know about Nadeau’s professional treatment of his
lover relative to the school’s other paraeducators. EIA does know that
Nadeau has no plans to resign.
If an extramarital
affair with a colleague is all there is to it, then Nadeau will simply pay a
price of current embarrassment for his previous silence, and suffer no
further repercussions. But maybe NEA ought to hear from the woman before it
starts bandaging Nadeau’s slapped wrist.
2) NSEA’s Role in
Nevada’s Constitutional Crisis.
If you pay any attention at all to politics, you know that the Nevada
Supreme Court effectively tossed out the state constitution’s requirement
that tax increases be passed by a two-thirds vote of the legislature. A
majority of the state assembly approved $789 million in tax hikes, but has
been unable to generate the necessary supermajority. The deadlock prompted
Gov. Kenny Guinn to go to the state Supreme Court to compel the legislature
to meet its constitutional mandate to fund public education.
Not as well known is
that neither Guinn nor any other party to the complaint called upon the
court to vacate the two-thirds requirement – a provision established by a
vote of the people via ballot initiative in 1996 (the Gibbons Initiative).
That request came specifically from an amicus brief filed by the
Nevada State Education Association (NSEA) and its largest local affiliates.
So while the constitutional questions are being bandied about by analysts
and commentators nationwide, the source of all this commotion has gone
relatively unremarked upon. And fascinating reading it is. Irony runs thick
through the unions’ brief:
* “With the Legislature
in gridlock, unless the Court acts swiftly, most of Nevada’s public primary
and secondary schools will be unable to open for the 2003-04 school year.
That will cause immediate and irreparable harm to students, their families
and to Nevada’s reputation and economy.” It was only two months ago that the
Clark County Education Association, one of the co-filers of NSEA’s brief,
polled its members to determine whether the union should “engage in a
prolonged work stoppage for five or more days,” even though such a job
action would be a violation of state law. Wouldn’t a work stoppage similarly
cause “immediate and irreparable harm to students?”
* The brief refers to
the lawmakers who refuse to vote for tax hikes as “legislative radicals” and
defends its choice of this term with the dictionary definition, which
states, “favoring or effecting fundamental or revolutionary changes in
current practices, conditions or institutions.” What is more radical than
tossing out supermajorities – a principle inherent to democratic
institutions from the U.S. Senate to Robert’s Rules of Order?
* “The existence of the
Gibbons Initiative has allowed a single member of the Assembly to ‘veto’
legislation approved by 62 percent of the Assembly and (in slightly
different form) by more than two-thirds of the State Senate.” No, the
Gibbons Initiative allows a single member of the Assembly to vote against
tax hikes. He still needs 14 other members to do the same thing to succeed.
* “After all, if the
purpose of the Initiative is to limit the adoption of tax measures to those
that most people think is a good idea, doesn’t it make sense to
require that everyone agree? Shouldn’t one ‘statesman’ be
allowed to resist the ‘tyranny’ of a ‘temporary majority’ that includes
everyone but him?” Ever heard of a filibuster?
* “By giving the vote
of one legislative member more weight than that of another, the Initiative
corrupts or weakens the representative vote and thereby debases and
dilutes the equality of the popular vote.” A representative vote by
definition itself dilutes the equality of the popular vote. That’s why we
have redistricting and gerrymandering battles every 10 years.
* The brief claims
“super-majority rules are unconstitutional” violations of the Fourteenth
Amendment. Is that the same Fourteenth Amendment that required a two-thirds
vote of both Houses of Congress and ratification of three-fourths of the
* “Here, the Gibbons
Initiative results in some votes being weighted more heavily than other
votes depending on geographical locations, i.e., the precinct boundaries
that the 15 dissident Assembly members represent.” Kind of like Wyoming and
California having the same number of U.S. Senators.
* “To the extent that
the Gibbons Initiative allows the radical legislative minority to threaten
to abrogate the contract rights of school district employees, the Gibbons
Initiative is unconstitutional.” Who cares about a constitutional provision
when it threatens the ultimate law of the land: the teacher salary
As pungent as the rest
of the brief is, it’s nothing compared to the aroma raised at the end, when
the union starts to gas about Posterity:
“Nevada is at a
crossroads. In one direction lies a return to the past, in which a tiny
state was largely governed by ranchers, farmers, miners and merchants. They
were an independent breed, self-sufficient and suspicious of government.
Government was small because life was simple, public expectations were
minimal, and there was little for government to do. In the other direction
lies the future, in which Nevada’s population and economy will become
increasingly diverse, the problems of our society more numerous and complex,
and the demand for governmental services will steadily increase…. There are
those in public life – there will always be those – who resist change, who
yearn for the past, and who react passionately when their power and
influence are seen to wane.”
Oh brother. That last
sentence is rich coming from a union that lost 1,400 members last year.
Maybe Nevada is the fastest growing state in the nation because it resists
such thinking. Nevadans who think higher taxes and bigger government are the
way to utopia can simply elude the border guards and float a simple raft to
the western shore of Lake Tahoe, where the experiment has been so successful
the citizens are pondering whether to recall a career politician and replace
him with an Austrian bodybuilder.
Teachers Association Needles Gov. Davis Again.
Another Western state with a fundamental crisis in government is California,
with a budget deficit estimated at over $30 billion, and a governor facing
an impending recall. The two issues are related, yet are being attacked
separately by those involved, with no way to accurately predict how all the
variables will eventually fit into the final equation.
Events in Nevada have
had an immediate effect in California. Superintendent of Public Instruction
Jack O’Connell has already announced his intention to file a state Supreme
Court challenge to California’s own supermajority requirement to pass a
state budget. Gov. Gray Davis told O’Connell that “if a responsible budget
is not on my desk in the near future, I will join you in that lawsuit.” The
situation is slightly different than in Nevada, since in California the
education budget can be passed with a simple majority, but the total
budget still requires a two-thirds majority.
Democrats continue to agonize over the recall. All agree to fight it –
procedurally, administratively and legally – every step of the way. But
there is less certainty about what to do if these measures fail, and the
recall actually makes it to the ballot. The prevailing sentiment is to unite
behind Davis, and offer no alternative to the Republican and Green Party
candidates who will certainly run. The problem with this strategy is Davis
The governor is
disliked within his own party and among a large number of the interest
groups that make up the Democratic constituency in the state, including the
California Teachers Association (CTA). Should it come to a vote, there’s no
guarantee he would defeat the recall, leaving the governorship in the hands
of the GOP.
CTA opposes the recall,
and its efforts against it will be noteworthy for their lack of praise for
Davis. In fact, CTA reacted in its usual way when it found Davis flat on the
canvas: it delivered a sharp kick to the ribs.
While the leadership of
the state and national Democratic Party were announcing that no Democrat
would run on the recall ballot, CTA leaked a poll that suggested a
“caretaker” candidate would be viewed favorably by voters and specifically
named Leon Panetta, former congressman and chief of staff in the Clinton
Sticking a pin in Davis
is a time-honored CTA pastime. When Davis announced last year that he would
not sign AB 2160, CTA’s bill to expand the scope of collective bargaining,
then-CTA President Wayne Johnson told the press about how Davis kept
soliciting a $1 million campaign contribution from the union – one time
trying it in the governor’s office. Two weeks before the 2002 general
election, CTA leaked a poll it commissioned that showed Davis trailing
Republican candidate Bill Simon (Davis ended up winning by five percentage
Such pranks are
evidence of CTA’s frustration with being tied to a governor it doesn’t like.
The union and the governor do have common ground should it come to an
election: neither of them wants to defend Davis’ record. So expect them to
run a campaign as a referendum on the recall and its backers. CTA and Davis
can put their strengths to best use in such a campaign, and sublimate their
Quote of the Week.
“I just think there’s so much apathy. I don’t think the teachers have it in
them (to take on the union).”– Maryland teacher Mike Kandra, on his failed
attempt to bring the American Federation of Teachers into Anne Arundel
County. Discontent with the NEA local affiliate there has prompted other
teachers to begin organizing for Teamsters Local 103. (July 16 The