There Are Three Sides to Any NEA Story

NEAimagetriangleWhat you’re looking at here is NEA’s solution to what its cognitive linguistic analysis identified as the problem: corporate education reform language.

You may recall that the union determined “education reform” was too negative a term for public usage, and that “education improvement” or “education excellence” was preferred. NEA also dismissed “rigorous evaluations,” “basic skills” and “classroom investment,” replacing them with “love of learning.”

To depict graphically this change in semantic direction, the union came up with the “message triangle.”

As you can see, the three sides are opportunity, student success and quality. The text in the center reads: “As a __________ (presumably to be filled in with one’s job title), I am deeply committed to the success of every student. Students are at the center of everything we do.”

If I wanted to be a wise ass (and I do), I would agree that students are at the center of what NEA does. They are trapped there, surrounded on three sides and unable to escape to opportunity, success or quality.

But as you can see, the three sides are not joined to each other, leaving gaps through which a few students can squeeze and make their getaway.

One has to wonder if NEA’s officers really think a triangle will improve the union’s public image, or whether they are being deliberately obtuse.