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.