Keeping retirement weird. I move that we change the names.


This July I won’t be in D.C. for the NEA convention.

I didn’t run  this year as a retired delegate. Looking at the results it doesn’t seem as if anybody cared about who their delegate would be.  Out of what they claim are 13,000 retired members the highest vote getter received something in the triple digits.

IEA President Cinda Klickna, running as an at-large delegate statewide (130,000 members can vote) came in first with less votes then fans in line for a beer at a Cubs game.

Far less.

I have written several posts about my experience at last year’s NEA meeting in Orlando. Following up on the NEA resolution to organize against institutional racism I offered something a bit more specific. I wanted the NEA to support efforts to remove the Confederate flag and all symbols of the Confederacy from schools and public spaces.

Two hours of debate later, the delegates had voted to remove the language about symbols of the Confederacy and passed the language about the flag.

A few weeks ago I was sent a report on how the NEA had implemented by New Business Item. They had drafted model language that locals and state affiliates could offer to legislators and schools boards about the Confederate flag.

Sorry. That wasn’t worth two hours of my time. I’m almost 68. That’s two hours I don’t get back.

I read this week in the New York Times about how Georgetown University in 1838 paid off its debt of about $3.3 million in today’s dollars with the sale of 272 slaves.

Georgetown is a Catholic University founded by Jesuits.

It is not alone in having this sordid history.

Brown, Columbia, Harvard and other early universities were built on the labor and sale of African slaves.

Only recently, in response to student demands, has Harvard decided to drop its university symbol, which happens to be the crest of of the Isaac Royall family. The symbol includes the Harvard motto “Veritas” as well as three sheaves of wheat. According to the law school, Royall was “the son of an Antiguan slaveholder known to have treated his slaves with extreme cruelty.”

Royall used his fortune to help establish Harvard’s first law professorship in the 18th century.

“Veritas” means truth.

Anyway, the NY Times reports that there is now a committee that is trying to find the descendants of the slaves who were sold to pay for Georgetown.

There is talk that Georgetown should pay for the tuition of the slave descendants.

Some of those who they have found have said they don’t want to go to Georgetown.

Nicholas Brown, Sr. was a Providence, RhodeI Island merchant and slave trader who co-founded the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, which was renamed Brown University after Brown’s son Nicholas Brown, Jr. in 1804.

I think they should take down the names of the slave traders and slave owners whose names decorate these universities and replace them with the names of the slaves, whose loss of freedom paid for them and whose labor built them, or add the names of the slaves’ descendants.

Maybe somebody at this year’s NEA Representative Assembly in D.C. can offer up an NBI saying the same thing.

It just won’t be me.

8 Replies to “Keeping retirement weird. I move that we change the names.”

  1. Can’t you get NEA to remove any books from the schools that mention slavery, or the Confederacy, or – in fact – any part of our history before about 1870 or so? And maybe confiscate all the white sheets in the country, so they can’t be used by the KKK?

    Maybe you could go to the Convention in Philadelphia this summer; bet you’d get a hospitable reaction from the Sanders camp. Times a-wasting, Fred (you’re 68 after all; still younger than our Presidential candidates, tho).

  2. I follow your posts more closely than I follow the New York Times and Bernie.  Way back when you were a rep, I refused to join the IEA and the NEA because they did not represent anything.  Haisman insulted me for what I wrote on emails to him.  Klinkna just ignored me.  Ask me what they mean to me.  After a rousing rally in Naperville some years ago, I stood alone saying, “It has to go to court.”  I was solemnly informed by the lawyers, IEA’s, the Police Union’s and the Fireman’s union’s, that we would lose; the money was not there.  The State would go bankrupt.  I pointed out that, currently (at the time and now), the State could not declare bankruptcy, and that contract law would not allow us to lose…being an English teacher, I quoted Portia from The Merchant of Venice rather than case law.  Ah well. I am Irish both by descent and as a dual national.  Like my mother, I am of the opinion that the lost tribe of Israel landed in Ireland at some point, and I am proud of it.  It bequeaths some tenaciousness that I might otherwise lack.  I am painfully aware of the gross mistreatment of black people in this country.  And the gross mistreatment of the Irish.  When I was a child, my mother had a black lady who came once every two weeks to help her with the house cleaning…a great luxury at the time.  We lived in a two bedroom apartment with seven people in it.  Clara, the wonderful black cleaning lady, spoiled me rotten…the whole family agrees on that.  She carried me on a pillow from room to room while she cleaned.  She fed me, and bought me a blue silk dress for Christmas while everyone else in the family wore whatever.  We actually have film clips and of me in the blue silk dress.  Clara lived with us during the war (WWII), and went to work from our house because her son was drafted and she could not afford her apartment.  My dad, a dentist, invited her and treated black people free of charge on Sundays…because he would have lost his paying clientele had they seen the black folk during the week.  At the end of the war we also hosted a sailor on his way home…he also spoiled me with a sterling silver rosary in a tiny round sterling case.  It was glorious being spoiled.  I encountered Clara, the black lady several years later on a streetcar…I must have been in third or fourth grade…and we remembered each other.  As her son came home after the war, she had long since ceased to live with us. When I grew up and taught at Loyola University, I directed a summer play for Upward Bound.  It was Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder.  I had a black family and a white Irish immigrant maid as Sabrina.  It was glorious (1967) and the kids were brilliant.  And at that point I became aware of why so many black people have Irish last names.  They are descendants of the Irish (female) slaves who were used primarily for breeding purposes and the black (male) slaves who were valued for their strength and endurance.  What a heritage! There is more strength, endurance, and pride in this heritage than in IEA and NEA combined.  I value unions.  I support them.  These organizations are not unions.  They are sycophants clinging to the remnants of a proud heritage forged in blood.  Shame on them.  

    I am not a blind supporter…of IEA or of you.  I may be mistaken,  but from personal observation (and, yes, I recognize the difference between anecdotal and empirical evidence), I have reservations with your strong stance regarding special ed.  In addition to University teaching (Northwestern 1 yr., Mount Mary 2 yrs, Loyola 4 yrs – all three of which included supervision of student teachers), U of I Bloomington 2 yrs- where I supervised and observed student teachers in Chicago Public schools), I taught for 29 years in a suburban public high school (where I had student teachers under me),  and for one year in England,  ILEA, Chrystal Palace.  I see a great need for Special Ed; there are most certainly students who need it.  There is also an astounding abuse of it.  MANY parents contrive to have their children identified as special ed when indeed the students need to learn self discipline (emphasize SELF).  Unfortunately, there actually are many teachers who go into special ed as an easy ride…no lesson plans…they ride on the classroom teacher’s, no homework…it won’t be done anyway, no grading, and very few students.  Many real special ed children are contained in non productive situations where they are not taught to cope with their particular issues, but are placated and have teachers submitting work in their names.  I observed this in the city and in the suburbs.  I do not suggest that it is universal, but I do suggest that it is worth recognizing that wide spread abuses exist, and that I saw more children  abused by the systemS (suburban and city) than helped.  I totally recognize that a large part of the problem is the lack of knowledge as to how to help some of these children with real learning disabilities.  Throwing money at the problem has not addressed it, nor has throwing resources at it.  Neither money nor resources without  proven pedagogy is working.  And pedagogy has become a dirty word…kind of like the Iowa Silent Reading Test – which I found to be a valuable resource for assessing strengths and weaknesses.  Again, ah well. I apologize for the rant.  I totally appreciate what you are doing, and will continue to read all of your posts…whether or not I agree with them.  I do not in any way mean to diminish the real successes of teachers who have helped special ed students.  I do mean to say unequivocally that they, and the rest of us, need to acknowledge the abuses that exist within the system.  Those abuses are on the part of the parents, the administrators, and the teachers.  The kids are the victims.  Unfortunately, I observed many more abuses than successes.  The abuses will destroy the successes in the systems. You taught art to grade school children.  I taught English and theatre to high school and (previously) college people.  Both the grade levels and the subject matters differ tremendously.  Theatre worked for everyone.  Special Ed students had difficulties in English while excelling in theatre.  One of my best theatre students was a senior in high school who could not read.  He spent eleven years memorizing before I had him.  No one knew he could not read.  And no one helped.  He coped by denying and memorizing.  The special ed department ( in a highly rated, excellent school with a caring faculty) could not find time to address his problem until four days before he graduated…I addresses it in my class by having him work with a singing teacher…because that worked for him…and this is not an isolated case.  Each case is different.  I retired 14 years ago.  I am still in touch with “my kids,” some of whom are well into their sixties, and real stories like this still break my heart. Thank you.  Again, I apologize for the rant, and keep the faith! Jean Moran P.S.  Roberta Rebb was a dear friend with whom I shared stories and students. Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    1. Agree on everything? Not possible. If you did, I would question whether you were really a teacher. Put five of us in a room together and we will get six different opinions.

  3. Nobody’s looking at reforming the unions, just forming new schools where there is no union for teachers. It shouldn’t be either/or.

  4. Dear Mary,
    Walker “reformed” unions in Wisconsin, Rauner is trying to “reform” unions in Illinois (unsuccessfully so far). New schools where there is no union for teachers is just one of many tactics to weaken the unions to the point where they are completely powerless.
    In some states it is against the law for a teacher to strike. Their penalties are draconian, they revoke teaching credentials forever for “official misconduct”, making it almost impossible to get a teaching job anywhere. In those states the NEA is an “association” not a “union”. If we don’t want that sort of thing in Illinois, we must fight against these “Turnaround Agenda reforms” right down to the wire.

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