NEA Convention 2011: The End of the Beginning

The 2011 National Education Association Representative Assembly adjourned this evening at 7:07 p.m.

I thought we were through with World War II references after Saturday, but in his farewell speech ousted executive committee member Len Paolillo compared NEA to the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain.

It made me think of General Anthony McAuliffe – “Nuts.”

Still, it was clear that NEA is preparing for war. In his goodbyes, executive director John Wilson sought to rally the troops by reminding them that “CEO salaries are obscene.”

We also have a pretty good definition of what is considered obscene – it must be something above the $357,870 Wilson made last year advocating for underpaid teachers.

But not advocating for all teachers. We’ve recorded time and again union ambivalence and sometimes outright hostility to charter school teachers – even ones who belong to NEA. Add to that list teachers who got their training from Teach for America.

Delegates directed their union to oppose TFA contracts “when they are used in districts with no teacher shortage.”

Boy, it’s funny how quickly that NEA-hyped teacher shortage crisis disappeared (but not from their web site).

Still, the important business of the union was accomplished. There was a successful vote for an additional $20 million for the union’s political issues fund, to be spread around the necessary states, and NEA raised over $1 million in PAC money during the convention (bringing its fundraising year total to more than $4.1 million) – earmarking $48,740 for NEA director Shelly Moore, who is running in one of the Wisconsin senate recall races.

The delegates sent 18,500 messages to Congress during the convention – coming in a distant second to spam for generic Viagra.

I think we have moved past the stage of a “battle of ideas” or even debates about the best public policy. This is a raw political struggle of weapons, ammunition and troops in the field. NEA has the factories going and can never be dismissed in a battle of brute strength.

But as history shows, the biggest armies and the largest bombs don’t guarantee victory.


One thought on “NEA Convention 2011: The End of the Beginning”

  1. NEA is also not generally a supporter of teachers who came through alternative certification routes, even when they are members.

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