A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Fill in the Blank

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 09•15

More than half of new __________ quit after five years.

Wrong! It’s school principals, according to this headline from The Hechinger Report. Actually, just like the previous claim for teacher turnover, the sourcing is a little fuzzy. The body of the story states, “This is one reason nearly 30 percent of principals who lead troubled schools quit every year. By Year 3, more than half of all principals leave their jobs.”

It cites this report from the School Leaders Network, which says, “Twenty-five thousand (one quarter of the country’s principals) leave their schools each year, leaving millions of children’s lives adversely affected. Fifty percent of new principals quit during their third year in the role.”

The report cites this July 2012 post by Penn State professor Ed Fuller on the Shanker Blog for this statistic, and sure enough we find this sentence, “Strikingly, only about one-half of newly hired middle school principals remained at the same school for three years, while only 30 percent remained at the high school level for three years. After five years, less than one-half of newly hired middle school principals remained, and only 27 percent of high school principals.”

That’s fine, except Fuller is referencing “data from Texas that spans the years 1989 through 2010.”

So we head back to the School Leaders Network report for further citations and find among the footnotes a reference to this National Center for Education Statistics report, stating, “Of the 114,330 school principals (public and private) who were principals during the 2011–12 school year, 78 percent remained at the same school during the following school year (‘stayers’), 6 percent moved to a different school (‘movers’), and 12 percent left the principalship (‘leavers’).”

That’s supportive, but the report makes no mention of three-year or five-year trends. It does have an interesting breakdown of why the 10,270 “leavers” left. Thirty-eight percent retired. Twenty-five percent were working in a K-12 school, but not as a principal. Thirty percent were working in K-12 education, but not in a K-12 school. Only 7 percent were working outside of education.

The “problem” then seems to be that principals are retiring, being kicked upstairs, or transferring to what they perceive to be better positions.

That’s not an education policy issue. That’s demographics, career enhancement and human nature. While such churn might be detrimental to how we currently run our schools, we better get used to it. The younger generation appears less interested in remaining in the same career field for decades than we were.


That Didn’t Take Long

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 07•15


EIA Exclusive: NEA Board Roll Call Vote on Hillary Endorsement

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 06•15

The National Education Association board of directors voted Saturday to endorse Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for President by a margin of 118 in favor, 40 against, 8 abstentions, and 4 absences. This was after the PAC Council vote on Thursday.

Now EIA has the roll call vote. I have chosen to identify the votes only by state. Though I know which individuals voted which way, I do not feel it is necessary to name directors here. If you are an NEA member and you want to know how an individual director voted, I suggest you contact him or her directly.

Alabama – 3 in favor, 1 abstain
Alaska – 1 against
Arizona – 1 in favor
Arkansas – 1 against
California – 9 in favor, 6 against, 1 abstain
Colorado – 2 in favor
Connecticut – 2 against
Delaware – 1 abstain
Florida – 4 in favor
Georgia – 2 in favor
Hawaii – 1 in favor
Idaho – 1 in favor
Illinois – 7 in favor
Indiana – 2 in favor
Iowa – 1 in favor, 1 against
Kansas – 2 in favor
Kentucky – 2 against
Louisiana – 1 against
Maine – 1 against
Maryland – 4 in favor
Massachusetts – 5 against, 1 absent
Michigan – 5 in favor, 1 absent
Minnesota – 3 in favor
Mississippi – 1 in favor
Missouri – 2 in favor
Montana – 1 in favor
Nebraska – 1 in favor, 1 against
Nevada – 2 abstain
New Hampshire – 1 in favor
New Jersey – 6 against, 1 abstain, 2 absent
New Mexico – 1 in favor
New York – 2 in favor
North Carolina – 2 in favor
North Dakota – 1 in favor
Ohio – 4 in favor, 2 against
Oklahoma – 1 against
Oregon – 2 in favor
Pennsylvania – 8 in favor
Rhode Island – 1 against
South Carolina – 1 in favor
South Dakota – 1 in favor
Tennessee – 2 in favor
Texas – 3 in favor
Utah – 2 in favor
Vermont – 1 against
Virginia – 3 in favor
Washington – 3 in favor, 1 against, 1 abstain
West Virginia – 1 in favor
Wisconsin – 3 in favor
Wyoming – 1 in favor
Federal – 1 in favor
Students – 2 in favor, 1 against
Retired – 3 in favor, 3 against
At-Large ESPs and Administrator – 10 in favor, 3 against, 1 abstain
Executive Committee – 9 in favor

There were a few differences between the board vote and the PAC Council vote, pretty much destroying my theory that states would be consistent from one venue to the other. Hawaii and New Mexico voted no on the PAC Council, and yes on the board. Ohio voted no on the PAC Council and 4 to 2 in favor on the board. Nebraska went public about its desire for a no vote, but its two directors split. Arkansas voted yes on the PAC Council and no on the board.


Lily’s Mea Culpa?

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 05•15

Click here to read.


Why the Long Facebook?

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 05•15

If you want to entertain yourself with even more reactions to NEA’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton, head over to its Facebook page, which at last count had 874 comments – almost all of them negative.

It’s important to clarify what the union is intent on obfuscating. Even NEA directors are telling members, “Your dues do not support this. All campaign expenditures come out of the NEA Fund, not membership dues, two separate entities.”


PAC funds are collected through voluntary donations, the bulk of which are made by NEA delegates during the four-day annual convention. That money is separate from the union’s general fund and is spent on direct contributions to federal candidates. Because of the votes this weekend, during the primaries money from this fund will go to Clinton’s campaign and no other. If you made no PAC donation, no money of yours goes directly to the Clinton campaign treasury.

HOWEVER, anyone with even the smallest knowledge of campaign finance knows that direct contributions to candidates are only a very small portion of campaign expenditures. NEA’s SuperPAC, member communications, independent expenditures and media buys that are not coordinated with the Clinton campaign ALL COME FROM MEMBERSHIP DUES MONEY.

NEA isn’t worried about whether you are a Sanders supporter, or how you will vote in the primaries, or even if you are a Republican, Green, Libertarian or Communist. The votes over the weekend authorize the union to spend the money from ALL MEMBERS to promote Clinton’s candidacy.

You don’t have to take my word for it. has NEA’s PAC finances by two-year cycle since 1990. The most the PAC has ever raised through voluntary contributions in a cycle is about $7 million. In the 2014 cycle, NEA’s SuperPAC alone raised and spent about $21 million.

To repeat: If it’s a check to the Clinton campaign, it comes from voluntary PAC money. To use dues money for such a contribution is a criminal act. Any other campaign or communications spending by the union not coordinated in any way with the Clinton campaign comes from DUES MONEY and is perfectly legal.

My apologies for all the capitalization. Despite it, I’m sure I’ll have to do this again between now and November 2016.


NEA PAC Council Vote by State – Abstentions Critical

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 04•15

The vote on Thursday by the NEA PAC Council to endorse Hillary Clinton required a simple majority, and was reported to be 82% in favor. But now we have the roll call vote by state and caucus, and things aren’t so simple.

Each state’s votes are weighted by the amount they contribute to the PAC, plus each major NEA caucus gets a single vote, as well as the Executive Committee members and two members of the Board of Directors. There are 4,028 votes in total. You may have to zoom in to see the tally, but there are a few curious results.

First, one executive committee member, Kevin Gilbert of Mississippi, abstained. That’s already unusual, since the Executive Committee generally votes in lockstep on important issues.

The caucuses that voted no were the Retired Caucus, the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus and the GLBT Caucus.

The states voting no were Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The big mystery is why five states abstained, including the two largest, California and New Jersey (the others were Delaware, Louisiana and Nevada). New Jersey was especially vocal about not supporting an early Hillary endorsement.

If all the abstentions had been “no” votes, the simple majority would still have been reached, but the margin would have been reduced to 58.17%.

You saw the uproar that occurred on Friday and Saturday. Imagine the pressure on the board of directors – which required a 58% majority to endorse – if NEA’s Sanders supporters felt they were that close to defeating it.

It was close even if you just look at state affiliates plus the Federal Education Association – 34 in favor, 17 against or abstained. That’s still close enough to prompt internal lobbying and at worst reduce Clinton’s margin of victory to the low 60s, which would have greatly diminished the triumphant tones we heard yesterday.

What’s next? NEA conducted its orchestra with skill and got what it wanted: the authorization to spend dues and PAC money promoting Hillary’s candidacy. Whether that will turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory is entirely up to what the dissidents do next. An NBI ain’t gonna cut it.


“It was truly what democracy looks like.”

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 04•15

That’s what NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia told members about the endorsement of Hillary Clinton by the union’s board of directors. And there’s no question the prescribed democratic process in the union’s by-laws was followed. The board reportedly voted 118-39 in favor of the endorsement, with 8 abstentions, clearing the required 58 percent hurdle.

Sanders supporters are complaining that NEA should have gone to the members before endorsing. But NEA has never gone to the members for anything. It operates solely on representation. And in the union’s defense, there is no empirical reason to believe that had it polled every one of its 3 million members the result would have turned out differently.

It is also true that 99 times out of 100 there would be no discernible difference between the majority opinion of the board of directors and the majority opinion of the 7,000-member Representative Assembly.

Oh, but there is that one time out of 100. And if a board of directors vote truly represented democracy in NEA, there would have been no board of directors meeting this weekend, because the board of directors would have disbanded 17 years ago.

You see, back in May 1998 the NEA board of directors voted on the Principles of Unity, which would have merged NEA and AFT at the national level. The new organization would have had a 37-member executive board, similar to the structure of AFT, and a 400-member “leadership council,” which was to meet only three times a year and had little policy power.

Despite the fact that they were voting to eliminate their positions, the directors approved the plan by a vote of 106-53.

Two months later, however, the Representative Assembly had its say, and handily defeated the Principles of Unity in a secret ballot vote – 4,091 in favor, 5,624 against.

What democracy looks like changes as you alter your viewing angle. Getting the result you want isn’t the indicator that it’s working.