A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

NEA PAC Council Vote by State – Abstentions Critical

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 04•15

The vote on Thursday by the NEA PAC Council to endorse Hillary Clinton required a simple majority, and was reported to be 82% in favor. But now we have the roll call vote by state and caucus, and things aren’t so simple.

Each state’s votes are weighted by the amount they contribute to the PAC, plus each major NEA caucus gets a single vote, as well as the Executive Committee members and two members of the Board of Directors. There are 4,028 votes in total. You may have to zoom in to see the tally, but there are a few curious results.

First, one executive committee member, Kevin Gilbert of Mississippi, abstained. That’s already unusual, since the Executive Committee generally votes in lockstep on important issues.

The caucuses that voted no were the Retired Caucus, the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus and the GLBT Caucus.

The states voting no were Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The big mystery is why five states abstained, including the two largest, California and New Jersey (the others were Delaware, Louisiana and Nevada). New Jersey was especially vocal about not supporting an early Hillary endorsement.

If all the abstentions had been “no” votes, the simple majority would still have been reached, but the margin would have been reduced to 58.17%.

You saw the uproar that occurred on Friday and Saturday. Imagine the pressure on the board of directors – which required a 58% majority to endorse – if NEA’s Sanders supporters felt they were that close to defeating it.

It was close even if you just look at state affiliates plus the Federal Education Association – 34 in favor, 17 against or abstained. That’s still close enough to prompt internal lobbying and at worst reduce Clinton’s margin of victory to the low 60s, which would have greatly diminished the triumphant tones we heard yesterday.

What’s next? NEA conducted its orchestra with skill and got what it wanted: the authorization to spend dues and PAC money promoting Hillary’s candidacy. Whether that will turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory is entirely up to what the dissidents do next. An NBI ain’t gonna cut it.


“It was truly what democracy looks like.”

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 04•15

That’s what NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia told members about the endorsement of Hillary Clinton by the union’s board of directors. And there’s no question the prescribed democratic process in the union’s by-laws was followed. The board reportedly voted 118-39 in favor of the endorsement, with 8 abstentions, clearing the required 58 percent hurdle.

Sanders supporters are complaining that NEA should have gone to the members before endorsing. But NEA has never gone to the members for anything. It operates solely on representation. And in the union’s defense, there is no empirical reason to believe that had it polled every one of its 3 million members the result would have turned out differently.

It is also true that 99 times out of 100 there would be no discernible difference between the majority opinion of the board of directors and the majority opinion of the 7,000-member Representative Assembly.

Oh, but there is that one time out of 100. And if a board of directors vote truly represented democracy in NEA, there would have been no board of directors meeting this weekend, because the board of directors would have disbanded 17 years ago.

You see, back in May 1998 the NEA board of directors voted on the Principles of Unity, which would have merged NEA and AFT at the national level. The new organization would have had a 37-member executive board, similar to the structure of AFT, and a 400-member “leadership council,” which was to meet only three times a year and had little policy power.

Despite the fact that they were voting to eliminate their positions, the directors approved the plan by a vote of 106-53.

Two months later, however, the Representative Assembly had its say, and handily defeated the Principles of Unity in a secret ballot vote – 4,091 in favor, 5,624 against.

What democracy looks like changes as you alter your viewing angle. Getting the result you want isn’t the indicator that it’s working.


Surprise! NEA Endorses Hillary

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 03•15

I’ll just repeat what I wrote last March 26:

The union also sent questionnaires to 20 people it thinks might run for President. Fifteen of them are Republicans, including John Bolton and Ben Carson. One is independent Bernie Sanders.

That makes 16 wasted stamps.

The four Democrats are Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb.

That’s two more wasted stamps and one necessary only as a courtesy to the sitting Vice President.

It will be Hillary, and if she wins we will have at least four more years of union complaints about the cozy relationship between establishment Democrats and corporate education reform. If she loses, the billboards for 2020 will go up soon after.


Full Court Press

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 03•15

Not taking any chances, NEA brought in Hillary Clinton to address the board of directors this morning in advance of their vote on endorsing her.


Duncan Resigns, King to Replace

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 02•15

I guess that 15-month-old NEA new business item finally worked its magic, as USA Today is reporting Arne Duncan will be stepping down as U.S. Secretary of Education.

The celebration at union headquarters will last all of two minutes, as President Obama will name John B. King Jr. to replace him.

King is Duncan’s deputy, and the former New York State education commissioner, where, sad to say, the New York State United Teachers had demanded his resignation.

Good thing NEA and AFT had that seat at the table, and I’m certain they were consulted before King was handed the job.


No Money to Bern

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 02•15

I tried to find out yesterday what the margin of the NEA PAC Council vote for Hillary was, and I got a lot of third-hand reports but nothing I could run with.

Steven Singer appears to have been a little more successful, and it coincides closely with the scuttlebutt I heard, so I’ll excerpt it here.

Many details of the vote, itself, are shrouded in secrecy and bad math.

Numerous sources in the NEA say the PAC council voted 82% in favor and 18% against. However, these figures are suspect. Two of the largest state delegations – California and New Jersey – abstained. The percentages being touted by PAC Council representatives do not seem to take that into account. The actual total should be somewhat closer.

…Opposition to this much anticipated vote has been mounting. State chapters in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont have come out publicly against the Clinton endorsement. However, when it came to a vote in the PAC Council, New Jersey abstained instead of voting the measure down. Moreover, the California chapter has been riddled with outspoken critics of the endorsement, yet they only pushed the state delegation to another abstention.

Ohio and Massachusetts delegations voted against it, but full tallies of the roll call vote could not immediately be determined.

So it’s very bad news for Bernie fans. This thing is a done deal, though I expect the board will have a spirited debate before the inevitable occurs. This is as good a time as any to mention that withholding PAC contributions is your right, but SuperPAC funding and all independent expenditures come from dues money, which means you can campaign for Bernie, but your money will be supporting Hillary.


Two State Union Directors Sue to End NEA’s Alabama Trusteeship

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 01•15

From the Montgomery Advertiser:

Two Alabama Education Association board members sued last week to end the National Education Association’s oversight of the group.

The complaint, brought by board members Bonita English and Darryl Traylor and filed on Sept. 24 in Montgomery County Circuit Court, argues that neither the NEA nor AEA constitutions permit NEA — which entered into a “partnership” with the AEA in February after an audit uncovered financial irregularities — to intervene in AEA affairs.

…The lawsuit seeks to end the trusteeship; invalidate any actions taken by Gregory Burns, the NEA’s representative, and stop any changes to the AEA constitution.

EIA was the first to report the establishment of the NEA trusteeship.