NEA Representative Assembly 2015: A Lesson in Time Management

This afternoon’s bone of contention was NBI 23, which as originally submitted, banned NEA from accepting monetary sponsorship or affiliation with any foundation or corporation linked to “the negative public education reform movement,” naming in particular the Gates Foundation, Microsoft and Pearson Inc.

The Utah and Washington delegations defended their work with the Gates Foundation, but the nail in the coffin was hammered home by NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia who, while answering a question, noted that passage of the NBI might preclude the union from working with a long list of civil rights groups, most of whom appear on this letter to the U.S. Senate. Eskelsen Garcia called this “an honest difference of opinion.” Perhaps if NEA labeled more things this way, we would all benefit.

New Jersey Education Association president Wendell Steinhauer then suggested that if the Gates Foundation was the enemy, the obvious solution was to “take all their money.”

NBI 23 was overwhelmingly defeated.

The debate took a long time, though, and delegates are getting very uneasy about tomorrow. Along with everything else, they still have to debate and vote on the remaining 95 NBIs on the final day – a total that usually requires about four days.

Youngsters might want to review the events of the 1999 Representative Assembly – in Orlando, as fate would have it. There were a multitude of NBIs to complete on the final day, and a misunderstood suspension of the rules led the assembly to blitz through dozens of them within minutes. We then spent several hours on points of order and parliamentary inquiry, finishing up somewhere around 1:10 am, if memory serves.

Finally, the delegates took up resolutions. The only one of note would have put NEA in favor of lowering the voting age to 16. That was quickly voted down.

Tomorrow will be a very long day so bear with me as the delegates and I put the finishing touches on our work here.