Education Intelligence Agency

Public education research, analysis and investigations

NEA Can’t Deliver Common Message on Common Core

Written By: Mike Antonucci   – Jan• 27•14

January 27, 2014

NEA Can’t Deliver Common Message on Common Core. It is the established policy of the National Education Association that the Common Core State Standards are a good thing. There is a sizable faction within the union that disagrees. The problem is that there is an ebb and flow to the strength of these opposing positions that NEA seems entirely incapable of managing coherently.

Last July, delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly approved the creation of the Great Public Schools Fund, financed with a $3-per-member assessment. The roughly $6 million raised annually would go to union affiliates that “demonstrate leadership in enhancing the quality of public education and to assist in the development and implementation of a proactive agenda that engages members and leads to success for every student.” That is a fairly broad description, leading to expectations that a broad category of activities would be funded.

Nevertheless, the ultimate authority to release the funds rested in the hands of only two men, NEA president Dennis Van Roekel and executive director John Stocks. Last week the union announced 13 recipients of the grants. Nine of the grants are geared to ease the implementation of the Common Core standards.

The NEA delegates approved the fund by a relatively slim margin (55.6% to 44.4%). The margin might have been slimmer yet, or even entirely overturned, had Van Roekel hinted that most of the money would go to Common Core.

The NEA president is expending a lot of energy to diminish the concerns of the anti-Common Core members, writing in an editorial that “change is hard.” He also states, without a note of irony about the history of union communications, that “as a general rule, doomsday scenarios rarely materialize.”

The Badass Teacher Association, which is home for much of the opposition to NEA’s support of Common Core, reacted with a “BAT swarm” to fill NEA’s Facebook page with negative comments.

As a practical matter, the BATs are a minor annoyance for NEA’s powers-that-be. Of more concern is the recent unanimous vote of the board of directors at the New York State United Teachers to withdraw its support for the state’s Common Core standards until major corrections are made and a three-year moratorium enacted on any consequences from standardized testing.

“We’ll have to be the first to say it’s failed,” said Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers.

So the national union is heavily promoting a program that its largest state affiliate is denouncing, while its members continue to pay to implement it.

If that’s not confusing enough, Iannuzzi might be out of office by April, and Van Roekel will be gone by September. Will this policy continue under their successors, or will there be a change in direction?

No wonder the members don’t pay attention.

Recent Intercepts. EIA’s daily blog, Intercepts, covered these topics January 22-27:

* It’s Official: Civil War in NYSUT. Will it be New York City on one side and the rest of the state on the other? Inside the teachers’ union, that’s an even battle.

* Your Money, Your Voice, Your Choice. The forces of evil.

* Alabama Education Association Needs a Dentist. Bark but no bite.

* Let’s Do the Time Warp Again. The number one reason new teachers leave the profession is because we make them.

Quote of the Week. “Membership to the Unity Caucus in New York City is by invitation only. To be accepted into the caucus, one must sign a statement pledging to support the decisions of the caucus in union and public forums (the so called Unity loyalty oath). There is no public dissent allowed. In exchange for absolute loyalty, Unity members get all expense paid trips to the AFT Convention and the NYSUT Representative Assemblies where they vote as an enormous bloc. I very much doubt that the smaller locals in New York State have the funds to pay for their Delegates to travel to the RA and stay at the Hilton. The party discipline Unity has would make Mao envious.” – James Eterno, United Federation of Teachers chapter leader and member of the MORE caucus. (January 26 ICEUFT Blog)

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