The NEA RA. Falling delegate numbers and do nothings.

Mike Antonucci doesn’t like teacher unions. I don’t think he would argue with me about that.

We would argue about almost everything else.

Which we did a few times at the NEA Representative Assemblies that I attended for years as an elected active and retired delegate. Antonucci was banned from the floor on the convention, but I would wander over to the press section to say hello.

Although we disagreed on most things political (he would describe himself as a libertarian, I think) his facts tended to be solid. Even union staff I would talk to would admit that Antonucci knew internal stuff before they did.

Note: I was a rare retired delegate elected the first time I ran. You have to run state-wide as a retired delegate and unless you have been a big mucky-muck at the state level it is not likely people know who you are.  But for good or bad, my name was known to retirees.

Antonucci writes about the NEA for the 74/Union Report. In a July 8 post he reports on the low participation in this years on-line RA. It was online for the second consecutive year due to the pandemic.

Delegate attendance at NEA conventions has been falling for years, from a high of almost 10,000 at the 1998 assembly to the low 6,000s more recently. Without the need for travel, out-of-pocket expenses or even a brief absence from home over Independence Day weekend, the time was ripe for attendance to improve. The numbers looked good initially, as 6,702 delegates signed up.

But when opening day arrived, only 5,591 logged on. Even this number was inflated when it came to debating and voting. Most votes totaled in the 4,000 to 4,500 range.

That’s half the number of delegates that were at my first RA 25 years ago.

The other thing Antonucci reports that I found interesting is this:

It’s also useful to note that back in 2015, NEA passed a new business item vowing to battle institutional racism. Six years later, I defy any education policy person to identify a single NEA accomplishment relative to it.

2015 was the last NEA RA I chose to attend as a delegate. It was the year I offered the New Business Item that called for NEA support for removing symbols of the Confederacy from schools and public spaces.

After a record two hour debate and watered down language it passed by a unanimous voice vote.

The NEA leadership did nothing to follow up.

4 thoughts on “The NEA RA. Falling delegate numbers and do nothings.

  1. Time (actually beyond) to form a new union.
    NEA& AFT rank-&-file defect & reunite!

    (I know…easier said than done.)

  2. Do-Nothings is right! Our local NEA affiliate, the JCTA in Louisville/Jefferson County, KY colluded in 2021 with the KY Republican legislature to create a destructive “second” tier to our pension, cutting off new hires from the traditional DB plan, and creating “legacy” debt of the money owed the current retirees in the pension system, TRS. THAT is why there is now a groundswell among KY teachers to disaffiliate from the NEA, and to try our luck with the AFT. As an example of the abuse KY teachers are subject to: the current local president, Brent McKim, muscled through the elimination of term limits in 2001. By the end of his current term, he will have been in office 8 terms, 24 years. WE teachers are left with a pension that is bankrupt at 35% funded level on his watch. Disgusting. JCTA also recently passed, under a questionable “quorum”, “chill” by-laws which can punish a member for speaking against the shenanigans of the current leadership.

  3. &–BTW–Kirk Dillard is contemplating a 3rd run for governor. (Former IL ALEC Chair who stepped down to run.)

    Perhaps the IEA will endorse him again, as they (well, the IEA “leadership” did ) in 2014.

  4. Fred, I’m glad you mentioned some of the positives about Antonucci. I’ve been criticized for using his reporting by union officials. We sat together in the press section at the last AFT convention he attended – I think 2006. He’s from Bushwick in Broolkyn and we connected. He has covered stories no one else does. Like the only real reporting on the FMPR – a hard left union – in Puerto Rico and its battle with the AFT. I disagree with his politics but his reporting is often right on as is his analysis.

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