From the Vault: July 2, 2000

People who write and comment about NEA discuss the new business items as they are passed, but often fail to discover exactly what action NEA took to implement those items.

Last year, EIA reported that the RA passed a new business item (NBI) calling on NEA to work with the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) “to strengthen teacher preparation programs to include an understanding of the history of education employee unions, incorporating the principles of collective bargaining, organizing, and the importance of union activism.”

If this didn’t seem right to you, guess what? NCATE agreed. According to NEA, “NCATE leadership pointed out that NCATE does not prescribe specific courses or the content of courses that are part of teacher education programs…. The discussion concluded that it would not be appropriate or informative to work with NCATE on implementing this NBI.”

In addition, the NEA Executive Committee decided to steer away from several controversial NBIs referred to it last year. It decided to take no action to petition for a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal, no action on refraining from doing business with companies whose owners support vouchers, and no action to boycott Wal-Mart.

But the most interesting news concerned an NBI that called on the union to “work to raise public and member awareness of the critical link between salaries for education employees and the quality and effectiveness of those employees.” The NBI directed NEA to “gather research and comparative data documenting the positive impact of higher salaries on the quality of education employees and the performance of their students” and then to disseminate it. NEA Research was immediately put on the job and two consultants were hired. The report is expected to be completed by October 15 but, according to NEA, “To date, the search has revealed no study that establishes a causal link between salary, education employee quality, and student performance.”