I will be heading down to the second state caucus meeting of the Illinois delegation in a few minutes.
NEA Board of Director Rainy Kaplan reminded me that when I said Bylaw Amendment #1 was presented to the caucus yesterday, that wasn’t precisely true. It was distributed, but the presentation of it will be today.
So far the IEA steering committee takes no position on it and the caucus has yet to hear about it.
The amendment calls for a $3 assessment to fund quality improvement programs in state affiliates.
Given NEA President Dennis Van Roekel’s aggressive defense of Common Core Standards, some see this as a Trojan Horse for the Common Core. There will be an NBI on the Common Core from the NEA Board of Directors for delegates to vote on as well.
From my conversations in the lobby, attitudes towards the Common Core on the part of delegates break down into several categories.
First, of course, there are no Tea Party, anti-federalists here. So that is not a factor.
Some delegates support the Common Core Standards out of a concern for equity and raising expectations for what students in their states are capable of doing. Many take their lead from the national civil rights organizations that see Common Core in much the same way.
Others view the Common Core as a done deal and want to be provided with the funding and the tools for implementation. Teachers worry about new and untested programs being thrown at them with no training, materials, support or money that these new programs demand.
Still others oppose the Common Core outright. And among the opponents there exists a range of arguments. Some oppose the concept of national standards as an imposition on teacher professionalism and autonomy. Some see it as a further consolidation of a corporate driven agenda by those like Pearson.
I am surprised and disappointed that the NEA leadership has apparently decided to make debate over Common Core a centerpiece of this RA.
I come from a city where 50 schools have just been closed. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ordered millions in budget cuts to individual schools. Hundred of teachers have been pink slipped. In Illinois, the corporate interests and the Democratic Party have formed an alliance intent on destroying teacher and other public pensions.
While the same range of opinions about the Common Core exist among teachers back home, the attack on public education is much broader and deeper than can be found in the Common Core debate.
Yet apparently Van Roekel in his last year as NEA President has decided that Common Core will be his legacy.
And that the outcome of the NEA RA debate has already been decided.
As Common Core begins to unfold across the country, the NEA Representative Assembly is poised to take action this week to ensure that implementation of the new standards is done in ways that support teachers, that ensure we teach first and test later, and that we achieve the Common Core’s promise of equity for all students. All students should be expected to learn 21st century skills and content, and the expectations we have for them shouldn’t vary based on what state they happen to live in.
Van Roekel appears to want this debate to take place now.
And it seems he will get it.