Along with all those items of new business, delegates to the National Education Association Representative Assembly also elected two officers to the union’s nine-member executive committee: Robert Rodriguez of California and Christine Sampson-Clark of New Jersey.

Falling short in his bid for a seat was Ruben Murillo, the former president of the Nevada State Education Association. He managed less than 31 percent of the delegate vote.

It’s never entirely clear why delegates choose one candidate over another, since they all agree on every issue. But it appears losing half your membership (maybe more), a lawsuit trying to get back dues from those members, and your headquarters building, ended up being disqualifying factors for high national union office.

We can criticize delegates for a lot of the decisions they made, but this one seems pretty sound.


School District Border Patrol Snags a Teacher

Over the years I’ve posted many stories on what I call the school choice black market — that is, parents who falsify their place of residence in order to get their children into a preferred public school. Some school districts take extreme measures to prevent this, to the point of hiring private investigators to follow children home from school.

Now we have a unique tale out of Niagara Falls, where public school employees are required to live within city limits.

Adrienne Sayers is a teacher who is likely to be fired this month, after the district hired private eyes to put her under video surveillance. The district believes Sayers is violating the residency requirement.

Sayers says she has an apartment in Niagara Falls, but sometimes spends the night with her husband, who lives 20 miles away in Amherst.

The irony is why her husband lives in Amherst: He has to because his three sons from a previous marriage attend schools in that area.

I guess overzealous border enforcement is more widespread than we realize.


It’s Official: Baltimore Teachers Union Has a New President

The American Federation of Teachers ruled that the disputed election for the presidency and executive board of the Baltimore Teachers Union would stand. Challenger Diamonté Brown will take over as president of the 7,000-member union, replacing eight-term incumbent Marietta English.

“This decision does an injustice to our union,” said English.

AFT judged that while some minor violations had taken place, “We cannot conclude that this activity could have affected the election.”

The election may be settled, but trouble still looms for the union. Brown’s slate controls the teacher positions on the executive board, while English’s slate holds all the paraprofessional seats.

English also remains president of AFT Maryland, which portends a lot of internecine squabbling in the near future.


NEA Rejects Many California Delegation Proposals for its National Agenda

The delegation from the California Teachers Association is notorious for submitting a disproportionate number of action items to be added to the agenda of the National Education Association at the annual convention.

But unlike previous years, CTA met with some resistance in 2019. Head to LA School Report to see which California proposals are now official NEA policy, and which were rejected.


Don’t Get Too Excited About That NEA Charter School Vote

At the National Education Association Representative Assembly in Houston last week, delegates voted down New Business Item 59, which read:

The NEA demands that all candidates seeking our union’s endorsement publicly state their opposition to all charter school expansion. That would mean repudiating the policies of Arne Duncan and Betsy DeVos. The NEA will publicize this demand by all appropriate means.

There seems to be universal sentiment that this was a major statement by the 6,000 delegates.

Politico: “The vote could signal how tricky this issue may be for unions. While they have blamed charter school growth in some states for taking money away from traditional public schools, some charter school teachers are members of unions.”

Rick Hess at AEIdeas: “In what struck many as a surprising twist, especially in a time of progressive militancy and when Democrats have been more likely to denounce charter schools than defend them, the NEA membership voted the motion down. In other words, the NEA’s Representative Assembly left the way open for the NEA to endorse a Democrat more inclined to seek middle ground on charters.”

ICEUFT Blog (a caucus within New York City’s teachers’ union): “Its rejection by the NEA could mean the NEA and AFT are leaning toward a safe middle of the road endorsement for POTUS.”

All these things may be true, but they had little to do with why NEA delegates voted down NBI 59.

First, it was introduced by Mark Airgood of the Oakland Education Association. Airgood is a prominent member of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) and operates on the leftmost fringe of the teachers’ union. He and his compatriots are responsible for many of the incendiary NBIs that come before the representative assembly.

His rationale for NBI 59 was “Charter schools exist for one purpose: to cheapen education and strip young people and their families of the right to a public education. Equal, quality public education for all cannot be accomplished by the market economy.”

Although NEA delegates are considerably more liberal than the average American, they are not in the BAMN camp. Airgood is a perennial candidate for NEA higher office. This year he ran for a seat on the union’s executive committee and picked up 2.9% of the vote.

His NBI came with an additional cost to the NEA budget of $134,745. That alone might have put an end to the idea, but the real reason NBI 59 lost was because it attached a new string to the NEA endorsement process.

After the behind-the-scenes subterfuge that accompanied NEA’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton in 2016, delegates have introduced a number of measures to alter the union’s presidential endorsement process, and they all have gone down to defeat.

What isn’t well understood is that although NEA has a series of representative bodies that vote on presidential endorsements — the PAC Council, the Board of Directors and the Representative Assembly — their vote is only to concur or not with the choice made by the NEA President.

It’s conceivable, though unlikely, that these bodies could keep rejecting candidates until it gets the one it wants. But it’s also true that the NEA President could refuse to put forward another candidate for a vote.

This played out in the 2008 Democratic primaries when there was considerable NEA support for Hillary Clinton in a close race. However, then-NEA President Reg Weaver was an Obama supporter. He didn’t send any endorsement to the union’s representative bodies and NEA didn’t end up endorsing Obama until after he clinched the nomination.

In short, the delegate vote on NBI 59 ensured that NEA President Lily Eskelsen-García, in the last year of her term, would be unencumbered in her choice of candidate. She might make that choice with due consideration of what it means for the union’s charter school strategies, or she might not.

Both Obama and Hillary were wobbly (by NEA standards) on charter schools and the union endorsed them anyway. John Kerry was wobbly on performance pay. On the other hand, it’s a different world now, and the union might have a litmus test on a wide variety of issues.

How and if it gets applied, however, is up to one person: Lily Eskelsen-García.


TIL: You Can Get More than 100% of the Vote

This election result threw me, as I’m sure it did many NEA delegates:

So I’ll just reprint NEA’s explanation:

Bullet Voting

Many people do not vote in every race, nor do they mark all of the possible boxes in each race. When a voter casts a vote for only a single candidate in a multi-seat election, it is known as bullet voting.

Bullet voting can present special problems in calculating the results and tabulating percentages in these multi-seat elections that, like NEA’s elections, require a majority to win. (It is, for example, why a candidate can be shown to have received more than 100% of the votes.) To address these issues, NEA—like other unions and countless state and local governments across the country—uses a standard formula that creates a threshold to determine which candidates have received enough votes to win a seat in
the election.

The use of such a formula allows delegates to use bullet voting while still ensuring that the results in multi-seat elections comply with NEA governance requirements.

To get more detail, please visit: