A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

NEA Convention 2014: Playing the Long Game

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 04•14

NEA executive director John Stocks delivered his annual address to the delegates today, but I would rather not write about it in isolation. There is a clear theme already in this year’s convention, and it deserves discussion as a whole after the completion of all events and votes.

In the meantime, you can read NEA’s release about Stocks’ speech on its RA Media page.


NEA Convention 2014: Everyone Climbs One Rung

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 04•14

Election results:

NEA vice president Lily Eskelsen Garcia was elected president.

NEA secretary-treasurer Becky Pringle was elected vice president.

NEA Executive Committee member Princess Moss defeated NEA Executive Committee member Greg Johnson to become secretary-treasurer.

Earl Wiman was reelected to the Executive Committee.

The election for the open seat on the Executive Committee was tight but Shelly Moore of Wisconsin and George Sheridan of California will compete in a runoff tomorrow. They edged out former Massachusetts Teachers Association president Paul Toner, whose reputation for collaboration clearly hurt him with this RA.


NEA Convention 2014: Union Calls On Arne Duncan to Resign

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 04•14

The National Education Association Representative Assembly in a close vote officially called for the resignation of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. This is an accomplishment of sorts, in that the delegates have been trying to get him to resign since 2009, but this is the first time the vote has been successful.

This particular item was introduced in a rather odd speech from California Teachers Association president Dean Vogel, who went on about leaders needing to take responsibility for what happens under their charge. Vogel asked rhetorically “Where does the buck stop?” and concluded “The guy at the top has got to go.” Apparently the buck stopped far from the guy at the top if Arne Duncan is the cause of all this angst.

No need to repeat myself on this issue. Check out my post from May 2013 on how NEA could have easily avoided Arne Duncan’s appointment in the first place.


NEA Convention 2014: Collaboration

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 04•14

Former NEA president Reg Weaver and I debate the relative merits of fettucine alfredo and shrimp fra diavolo while plotting a palace coup at NEA.


NEA Convention 2014: Milk of Human Kindness

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 04•14

Delegates struck a blow against the lactation-intolerant today by passing New Business Item 15, which urges schools and colleges to set aside a clean and safe place in each work site so that new mothers – both teachers and students – can express milk.


NEA Convention 2014: Fewer Than 3 Million Bodies

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 04•14

I said I would get the warm body count and here it is, though I’m still working on the state-by-state numbers.

NEA’s 2011-12 membership numbers ended this way:

Active: 2,706,350

Total: 3,062,810

Today it was revealed that the 2012-13 figures showed a 67,146 active member decline, but only a 64,637 total member decline because there was an increase in the retiree category. That would make 2012-13 numbers:

Active: 2,639,204

Total: 2,998,173

So NEA fell below 3 million members at the time of last year’s convention.

This year there was more happy talk because the decreases were smaller, though again mitigated by an increase in retirees.

Active: 2,622,214

Total: 2,982,518

One more footnote about those active members. They include more than 42,000 working teachers who paid “life dues” in a lump sum decades ago and haven’t paid a dime since.

The union has lost more than a quarter-million members in the last five years.


NEA Convention 2014: Pearson’s Conspiracy Really Is Wide-Ranging

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 03•14

Earlier today I mentioned how long NEA’s enemies list has gotten. Little did I know how far the tentacles of the corporate monster can reach.

The delegates had a long debate about New Business Item 5, which concerned the evaluation of teacher candidates. Among other things, the item called on NEA to ensure that “edTPA developed by SCALE and scored by Pearson, Inc., currently mandated in several states, and other similar models, are not the only measure of a student’s readiness to enter the profession.”

We all know that Pearson is a charter member of the Axis of Education Evil, and it is in charge of the edTPA assessment for students who want to become teachers. It must be stopped, right?

Well hold your horses, hard-core union rider. SCALE is the acronym for the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity, whose adviser is the illustrious and union-beloved Linda Darling-Hammond. SCALE partnered with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), another union-beloved (and union-financially supported) organization to develop edTPA.

The edTPA is apparently scored entirely by classroom teachers and university professors, is endorsed by the union-beloved National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the self-loved National Education Association. In fact, sitting on the edTPA Policy Advisory Board are NEA secretary-treasurer (and soon to be NEA vice president) Becky Pringle and AFT president Randi Weingarten!

Egad, those corporate reformers are insidious.

Despite the hand their own leaders and leading lights had in creating and implementing this teacher candidate assessment, the delegates voted by a substantial margin to approve NBI 5. That’s right. NEA will be simultaneously advising edTPA and studying how to defang it.

If that seems goofy, it gets goofier.

The NBI doesn’t automatically undo NEA’s current policy. Instead, it creates a task force that will submit its recommendations for change to the union’s board of directors for action. That would be the same board of directors that must have approved the endorsement of edTPA in the first place and the placement of an NEA executive officer on its policy advisory board.