NEA Representative Assembly 2015: This Morning’s Little Ironies

The good news is we won’t be here until the wee hours of tomorrow morning. The bad news (?) is that the agenda had to be truncated and debate accelerated. Why? Because the labor rules of the bus company NEA uses to ferry delegates back and forth to their hotels won’t allow drivers to be on duty for more than 15 hours.

As a result the delegates are running through new business items with little or no debate, completing action on 23 items in 90 minutes. Of note:

* Delegates approved NBI 32, directing NEA to conduct a campaign to end the use of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests.

* NBI 36, calling for the repeal of California’s charter school law, was withdrawn.

* NBI 46, which would have had NEA change its self-description from “nation’s largest professional employee organization” to “nation’s largest professional employee association and union” was narrowly defeated.

* NBI 54 originally ordered NEA to “cease promotion of Common Core State Standards (CCSS)” but was amended to instead say “monitor” CCSS. The new language was approved.

I want to spend a little space here on NBI 41, which read:

“NEA will, through closed social media, broadcast the NEA RA for members to watch in the comfort of their homes, offices, or on their electronic devices.”

This was overwhelmingly defeated for a number of reasons, including its $30,000 cost. I was struck, however, by the remarks of a delegate speaking for the Louisiana delegation.

She argued that the RA should not be broadcast to members – even through a password-protected site – because “debate sometimes gets ugly” and “We want to control the flow of information.” She wanted to delegates to have a “safe space” to speak “without fear of reprisal.”

You can’t go 10 minutes here without someone reminding you that the RA is “The World’s Largest Democratic Deliberative Assembly” and that the delegates are committing themselves to “do the work of the members.”

As the only remaining press outlet in the hall, I can say the NEA RA has virtually achieved the goal of controlling the flow of information. It’s fascinating to see that – in the case of at least one state delegation – democracy in action requires keeping members in the dark until the words of their ostensible representatives can be edited and sanitized for their protection.

Share