Holding your nose and closing your eyes.

The big votes at the NEA were today. Tomorrow is just an endless stream of New Business Items that are notorious time sucks.

A good amount of RA time today was spent on a proposal on accountability and teacher evaluation. It was a terrible proposal that was a feeble attempt by the NEA to respond to the current wave of reformy legislation.

IEA President Ken Swanson went to the microphone and gave a screeching speech that left delegates in their seats. Apparently he thought the proposal justified his sellout support for Illinois’ SB7, which replaced seniority with RIFs based on student test scores.

The proposal is fantasy in that it calls for something that doesn’t and can’t exist: “Scientific and valid” measures that assess “both students and teacher performance.”

As Matt, who sat next to me in the front row said, “It may as well have included the Easter bunny.”

The proposal was passed overwhelmingly. The first disappointment of the day.

My informal poll of delegates convinces me that most didn’t read it and couldn’t tell you what was in it. I’m not particularly proud of the fact. But it is what it is.

Kudos to the Michigan delegation, which opposed it. And to their representative on the NEA Board of Directors Dan Quinn who spoke passionately in opposition.

As for the Obama vote. Many activists I spoke with were dismayed. The 72% of the delegates that voted support are well short of the 80% that Obama received in 2008. But it is too many.

The difference is that in 2008, the vote of support was given with optimism and enthusiasm. Today’s vote was given with noses held.

I’m not proud of the vote. But it is what it is.

As always, it shows we have work to do.

My colleague Mark writes:

Obama gets our national endorsement with 72% of the vote.  Yet our brothers and sisters in Chicago can’t strike without 75% of the vote.  And this is the result of not only conservative pacs, but of Obama’s buddies Arne and Rahm and the sellout negotiations of the IEA and AFT. 

The arbitrary nature of the ed/politics should at least give DVR pause.  Why it doesn’t enrage more than 28% of the NEA is a mystery to me.

Me too, Mark. Me too.

6 thoughts on “Holding your nose and closing your eyes.

  1. I’m an AFT member and delegate and I was at the convention in 1998 when AFT voted 96% in favor of merging with NEA – and NEA voted the merger down. I’ve been mad at NEA over that ever since. Talk about voting against your own best interests. But I expect AFT to vote to endorse Obama this time next year. (We only meet very other year.) I imagine Randi and her team are watching NEA and taking notes, determined to get a better vote than 72%.

    We clearly need not only a new teachers union that actually represents teachers, we also need a third political party that represents workers.

  2. A few thoughts:
    *The apathy of a significant number of teachers today to know, understand and fight for a contract is appalling. We have teachers today willingly and freely going outside the contract and negating a legal document. They seem willing to give up due process or democratic procedure. A signficant number are voting for things they don’t take the time to understand.
    *There seems to be no concern for the big picture. Live for today is the concern.
    *As educators we don’t do enough in this negative educational climate to educate and promote ourselves. We are allowing the money people and our own leadership to erode
    the basic fabric of our democracy.
    *You should not have to pay DUES MONEY that will be used AGAINST YOU!
    *In all this accountability talk where is the discussion about ADMINISTRATOR ACCOUNTABILITY?
    *I still believe in the positive power of public education to strengthen one of the many things people have given their lives for, freedom and democracy.
    *Our sacrifice as educators pales in comparison to the sacrifice many have given on the battlefields for peace or social justice.
    *It is our responsibility to model and preserve our way of government.

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