NEA Representative Assembly 2016: Extremely Careless or Politically Shrewd?

Hillary Clinton addressed the delegates to the National Education Association Representative Assembly for a half-hour this morning, during the very time that FBI Director James Comey was announcing she wouldn’t be indicted for her handling of classified e-mails. He did say she or her staff were “extremely careless,” and some might wonder if she was extremely careless at one point during her remarks to the delegates.

C-SPAN carried the entire speech, and at about the 6:35 mark, Clinton said, “And when schools get it right, whether they’re traditional public schools or public charter schools, let’s figure out what’s working.”

There followed a chorus of boos from the back of the hall, and Clinton responded, “No, let’s figure out what’s working and share it with schools across America.” She then turned it into a denouncement of “people from the outside who try to foist for-profit schools on our kids.”

Intermittently throughout the rest of her speech, there was audible chanting and ruckus from the same area of the hall, though its content couldn’t be discerned in the front. I did learn at one point they were chanting “No Arne Duncan! No charter schools!” Some delegates have reported that protesters were escorted out of the hall, though I haven’t been able to confirm that.

The Badass Teachers Association categorically denied any involvement in the protest, and the chant alone should tell you that the protesters were from By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), who are also responsible for virtually all of the anti-charter NBIs submitted from California.

Nonetheless, the vast majority of the delegates were either wildly supportive or respectfully silent during the speech, as Clinton promised them everything from higher pay to universal preschool to student loan refinancing to an end to teaching to the test, et al.

All in all, it wasn’t very different from the speech delivered via satellite by Barack Obama when he finally received NEA’s endorsement in 2008. He was also booed after mentioning charters and performance pay, and responded, “I know this wasn’t necessarily the most popular part of my speech last year, but I said it then, and I’m saying it again today, because it is what I believe.” Clinton also echoed the Obama of 2009, with her emphasis on collaborating and coming up with something that works – a message that, ironically, was delivered by Arne Duncan to the delegates that year.

Clinton did say the magic words, though. “Educators will always have a partner in the White House and will always have a seat at the table,” she told the delegates.

So it’s only fitting that I repeat this meme.