I embarassed EdWeek’s Stephen Sawchuk when I brought up racism and the Confederate flag at the NEA RA.

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I really wanted to have my mind on only one thing last night.  That was the post-season fourth game between the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs. We had managed to get tickets – good seats – to this historic event.


Chicago Cub fans are long-suffering, as you know. Our northsiders have not won a World Series title since 1908.

You now know the result of last night’s game. The Mets swept. We witnessed the season end.


Wait untill next year!

Earlier in the day I reposted a story by Peter Greene that he had written for his blog, Curmudgucation. I liked Peter’s post because he wrote about the latest privatizing scam, edTPA. He started the post referring to an article by EdWeek’s Stephen Sawchuk on the potential for cheating with edTPA.

All during the game, my smart phone kept buzzing with tweets.

Sawchuk tweeted Greene’s post and then tweeted again, objecting to its snarky tone.

First of all, the blog is called Curmudgucation. Greene is snarky. Snark is what he does.

I got included in all the tweets because, unlike Sawchuk, I have been writing about edTPA for a while and Greene added me to the Twitter exchange.

But that’s not what I want to write about the morning of my Cub hangover.

There were a couple more Twitter exchanges, all of which could be called snarky. Sawchuk said I should get a hobby. He suggested macrame. I pointed out that the Gates Foundation has been known to subsidize EdWeek. He complained that I spelled his name wrong. I said that he claimed to have reported from the NEA RA but I knew he had left early and was only there at the start.

Then he tweeted that he had been at the RA long enough to “watch the embarrassing debate over your NBI.”

That tweet stopped me cold.


Let me remind you that I had introduced a New Business Item at the NEA RA calling for the nation’s largest union to support efforts to remove the Confederate flag from public schools and public places.

For nearly two hours – the longest debate at an NEA RA in memory – our union discussed racism and the symbols of white supremacy. The discussion wasn’t clean and it wasn’t always pretty.


But that was the point. Confronting racism and white supremacy isn’t pretty and clean.

And if it embarrassed Stephen Sawchuk, it says more about him than it does about those of us who brought it to the floor.

Would it have been better to avoid the issue so that Sawchuk could feel comfortable?

The discussion about racism and the Confederate flag at the NEA RA was not embarrassing. It was important. And more national organizations and unions in this country ought to have that discussion.

And the NEA should start acting on the NBI. It passed by the way. Overwhelmingly. The NEA leadership has done nothing to implement NBI 11.

For that, they should be embarrassed.

I just checked to make sure I spelled Sawchuk right.

9 thoughts on “I embarassed EdWeek’s Stephen Sawchuk when I brought up racism and the Confederate flag at the NEA RA.

  1. When you cannot refute the facts, attack the person…Basic spin strategy. Some things just don’t change easily, I guess. It doesn’t mean we should just let things be.

  2. Attempts to avoid the issues raised by the Charleston massacre were, I suppose, a bit embarrassing for the NEA RA, but Sawchuk’s attempt to hang that on you are pure snark from a snark whiner. I stopped reading Education Week long ago, when their links to their sponsors over their readers became embarrassingly obvious.

    • I get your point about avoidance. What should be embarrassing to the NEA and to all of us is the years we didn’t talk about it. Not the year we did.

  3. The continual use of the Confederate flag in public places is not history, it’s racism, plain and simple.Such discussions are always messy.  We Americans just ignore our prejudices. Look at the throngs of desperate immigrants in Europe, and we can’t even get a discussion about our own archaic immigration laws on the house floor to discuss them.Mary Richie

    • Mary–nice to meet you Sat. @ the IEA Fall Conference–hope you recovered your coat (I left it at the registration desk for you)!

      Oh, boo-hoo, Stephen–cry us a river into your EdWeek rag. After all, since being beholden to the corporatists, that’s all EdWeek is good for. We read Fred & Curmudgication to get the truth.

  4. I agree that this issue should be discussed – glad you brought it up.

    Also, as a 60 year Cub fan (and Chicago native) I feel for you, other Cubs fans and the team. What did you think of this Chicago Tribune headline “After ugly ending fades, Cubs’ beautiful season will be recalled warmly.”

  5. Fred, thank you for NBI ONE; thank you for confronting bigotry and ugliness in our society; thank you for being honest and forthright when many are merely self-serving, thank you for “calling them as you see them, etc.” and thank you for NOT tolerating “SNARK” from the “Up-Chuck”. As a retired teacher, I depend on you for all of the above while I delete most of the Education Week posts when I receive their propaganda.

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