“It’s been a great conversation,” an old (forgive me) fellow retiree and Retired delegate to the NEA RA told me this morning.
The vote on a Constitutional change allowing for what the leadership is calling public education allies will be by secret ballot and requires a two thirds vote to pass.
“I don’t think it will pass this time,” my friend told me.
I still think it is a good idea and it’s not too soon to be talking about reconceptualizing teacher unions in the 21st Century.
Not all my friends agree, of course. They don’t trust the leadership and worry about who will be considered an ally.
They have good reason to be concerned. We can recall the willingness of both the AFT and NEA leadership to take Gates and other corporate dollars, even after swearing they didn’t or wouldn’t.
The language of the Constitutional change refers to “persons interested in advancing the cause of public education.”
When NEA President Lily Eskelsen was asked about whether corporations would qualify for membership as an education ally, she responded with, “Only when a corporation qualifies for execution in Texas.” That’s a reference to the Citizen United ruling of the Supreme Court that corporations are people.
But the constitutional language is vague enough that a clever retort is not enough to dissipate the concerns.
The change may not happen this year. Although many state affiliates of the NEA already have language similar to the proposal being voted on in Minneapolis.
But I am pleased the conversation has started.