In an August, 2015 Politico article by Michael Grunwald called The Duncan Wars, Grunwald writes:
“Dennis Van Roekel, who led the NEA in Obama’s first term, used to meet Duncan for breakfast every month, and says they actually agreed on almost every issue—except testing.
“I constantly told him testing was a disaster,” Van Roekel said. “I warned him if he didn’t bring sanity to the testing craze, everything he was doing would collapse under its own weight. I wish he had listened to me about that.”
At the NEA’s convention in 2011, the union formally declared that it was “appalled” with Duncan’s work. But at the same convention, the NEA endorsed the president’s reelection, as if the education secretary whose family hung out with the Obamas at Camp David was some kind of rogue operative. I heard from several sources that Duncan actually helped negotiate the language of his own condemnation; he’s no politician, but you can’t run the Chicago schools without some sense of politics. “Arne understood the political realities,” a former aide said. “The union needed a target for its anger, and he was happy to take a bullet for the president.” Back then, resentment was starting to build over excessive “high-stakes” testing, and horror stories were starting to circulate about math tests being used to judge art teachers, but the dissension had not yet erupted into a movement.
It was New Business Item C and known as Thirteen Things We Hate About Arne Duncan.
I was a delegate in 2011 and recall being surprised that this was an NBI C since the letter C indicated it came from the leadership and not from delegates on the floor or from a state caucus/delegation.
The 2017 NEA RA is now wrapping up after passing a major policy statement on charter schools. It is the first policy statement on charter schools since 2001. It came from leadership.
I read that article by Grunwald in 2015 and totally missed the stuff about Duncan helping write his own denunciation.