1) This Way to the
Egress. The 2006 NEA
Representative Assembly adjourned this evening at 6:54 p.m. (if you were
playing the adjournment time pool at home).
I was spoiled by my
first NEA convention in 1998, the year the delegates were to decide whether
to merge at the national level with AFT. There was a lot of freewheeling,
backroom dealing, hurt feelings, heads reeling, and more than a little
squealing back then. A lot of the spontaneity, and subsequently, a lot of
the news, is gone from the convention.
The Associated Press
sent their Tampa correspondent down for a couple of days, Education Week
was there, and a couple of Orlando reporters showed up for the local angle.
That was it, and who can blame the others for staying away? Sports reporters
don't cover roller derby or the WWE, and education reporters shouldn't waste
much time at staged events, either.
NEA is to be credited
for perfecting the annual circus. But the result is preordained. The clowns
always get out of the car, the human cannonball always hits the net, the
elephants always lift one foot in unison, the lion tamer always uses a chair
and a whip, and the high-wire artists wear safety harnesses. Despite a
growing young staff of professional ringmasters and barkers, there is
nothing to see here.
EIA is fortunate enough
at times to find a sideshow running far from the midway, and certainly
talking to delegates, officers and staff at the convention greatly improves
my reporting the rest of the year, but even the AP was so stumped that it
basically reported three-year-old news.
The TV networks cut back
their coverage of the political party conventions for this very reason. For
the 2007 NEA Representative Assembly, EIA may contract out its coverage to
2) Action on NBIs and
Other Business. Here's some of
what the delegates did today:
* Approved the NEA
resolutions, with little controversy, little debate, and extreme
orchestration. Resolution B-10 was set aside for discussion at the request
of the Alabama Education Association. AEA President Ollie Underwood asked
that the resolution be referred back to the Resolutions Committee, but made
no argument regarding why. He merely said he wanted AEA to be on record as
wanting to refer the resolution. His motion would have left NEA without any
Resolution B-10 for the 2006-07 school year. The resolution begins, "The
National Education Association believes in the equality of all individuals,"
so there was never a chance in a million the entire resolution would be
removed. After a speaker or two spoke against referral, NEA President Weaver
asked the delegates if they wanted to close debate, which wasn't exactly a
gold-plated tribute to Robert's Rules of Order. They closed debate,
and voted not to refer, and then to accept B-10 with the language EIA
Intercepts last week, all in overwhelming fashion.
When a delegate went to
the microphone and asked Weaver about his request to close debate, Weaver
replied, "What Alabama needed to accomplish, was accomplished." Neatly done,
if not very subtle.
Resolution B-73 on home
schooling also passed, with the amendment that home schoolers "must meet all
state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of
assessments to ensure adequate academic progress." The vote was close.
And just a note, dear
readers: Don't bother asking EIA for a copy of the new resolutions.
Reporters didn't receive the preliminary report of the Resolutions Committee
or the supplementary report, so I really have no idea what the changes were
in the resolutions that the delegates opted not to debate at all. Eventually
NEA will post the new resolutions on its web site. When this happens, I will
let you know.
* Delegates approved an
amendment to the union's policy statement on charter schools, changing
language that now says charter applications "must include a public hearing
allowing for teachers, school
employees and the community the opportunity to testify as to the positive
and negative impact of the charter on the authorizing school district."
* Referred to the NEA
president NBI 51, a motion to alert Americans to the dangers of trans-fats
in the diet.
* Approved NBI 59,
concerning the handling of teacher test scores at the Educational Testing
Service and other teacher certification test companies.
* Approved NBI 61, which
directs NEA to develop ballot initiative language for guaranteed quality
health care for all Americans.
* Defeated NBI 71 on the
effects of large scale philanthropy on public education. The vote was
largely due to the efforts of the Nebraska State Education Association,
whose delegates vouched strongly for the generosity of the Buffett family to
Nebraska's public schools.
* After debate, NBI 79
was withdrawn by the delegate who introduced it. The item directed NEA to
form a task force to study creating a U.S. Constitutional Amendment to
guarantee every child in America a free, high-quality, public education. For
a few sublime minutes, EIA was treated to the sound of NEA activists arguing
against the federalization of public education. NEA General Counsel Bob
Chanin mentioned the possibility of a federal court mandating vouchers if
such an amendment existed, or teachers being subjected to educational
malpractice lawsuits for violating the constitutional rights of students.
Delegates painted pictures of all education policy being run by the current
occupants of the White House and the current Congressional majority. The
sweetest moment came when one delegate asked about "a clause in the
Constitution that reserves powers to the states."
Hurrah! An NEA delegate
knows about the Tenth Amendment (even if she didn't know it was an
amendment) and knows part of what it's for! NEA delegates, can, even if it
is only in utterly extreme circumstances, fear the transfer of powers from
state and local governments, and the people, to the federal government.
Here, my NEA friends,
before the memory of your fears fades,
are a few things you should read.
* Delegates raised
$1,527,459 for the union's PAC, the NEA Fund for Children and Public
Education. This is an average of about $169.11 per delegate.
* NEA Executive
Committee members Michael Marks of Mississippi and Rebecca Pringle of
Pennsylvania will be term-limited out of office in 2007. Two people filed
for what will be those open seats (others may also enter the race until next
Paula Monroe of California and
Christy Levings, president of Kansas NEA.
3) Scheduling Note. That's all from the NEA convention. EIA will resume blogging at
Intercepts no later than Monday, but the communiqué will not resume
until after EIA's coverage of the AFT Convention in Boston, which will begin
Thursday, July 20.
4) Quote of the Day. "His efforts have laid waste to the district in which I teach." –
Oakland delegate Manny Lopez, discussing philanthropist Eli Broad.
Describing Broad's attitude as believing that students are "pawns" and "cogs
for the war machine," Lopez went on to link Broad with co-conspirators Rod
Caprice Young, and
Kati Haycock. Lopez failed to mention, however, that Broad has been a
major funder of the
Teacher Union Reform Network.