The decisive victory for education jobs in the US House of Representatives last week couldn’t have been done without NEA members, but President Van Roekel took a little time this afternoon to thank a valuable friend who fights for public education, Congressman David Obey of Wisconsin. Van Roekel publicly thanked Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, for his critical leadership in securing the passage in the House of Representatives of funding that will save an estimated 138,000 educator jobs. Van Roekel led the delegates in a chant of “Thank you Chairman Obey!” and reminded them the fight isn’t over.
I have had a half-life war with the NEA . For three years in a row I refused to even take any contributions because they had this silly deal that every year if you want to get their endorsement, you first had to fill out their silly questionnaire and pledge like a Boy Scout that you would do A, B, C, D and E. And I said I’m not going to do that. I have been the lead pony on education funding for 15 years around here, and if NEA isn’t smart enough to figure out where the hell I’m coming from on education after that time, they don’t deserve to be in the business.
I have been the leading proponent of funding for education for the last 15 years in this Congress at least. … And I’ve had a hell of a lot of experience fighting teachers unions, school boards, school superintendents, the whole damn bunch when I thought they were wrong. I don’t need any lectures from the secretary of Education or the president of the United States in terms of my willingness to take on teachers’ organizations.