Was we warned?


In an earlier post about the NEA and NCLB, I responded to a statement by Jim Horn of Schools Matter that local affiliates had been warned not to sign the Educator Roundtable petition which opposes NCLB reauthorization.

I said that as president of a local affiliate, I never saw such a warning.

Today I received a comment. But I’m always concerned that nobody goes back to read comments on earlier posts. So I reprint the exchange here:

philipkovacs Says:
August 10th, 2007 at e
Actually, the NEA sent out a national memo warning members not to sign the petition.

Since you did not get the memo:

From: Anderson, Melinda [NEA] [mailto:MAnderson@nea.org]
Sent: Wed 12/13/2006 12:37 PM
To: State-Presidents [AFF]; State-Executive-Directors [AFF]
Cc: State-GR-Directors [AFF]; State_Affiliate_Comm_Liaison; VanRoekel, Dennis [NEA]; Eskelsen, Lily [NEA]; NCUEA President [NEA]; NCHE President [NEA]; NCESP President [NEA]; Daniels, Anthony [NEA]; NEAR President [NEA]; Executive Staff [NEA]; FieldOps [NEA]; GR.Allstaff [NEA]; PR.AllStaff; Billirakis, Mike [NEA]; Cebulski, Mark [NEA]; Crowder, Carolyn [NEA]; Marks, Michael [NEA]; Pringle, Becky [NEA]; Smith, Marsha [NEA]

Subject: Message from Reg Weaver & John Wilson: NEA *Does Not* Endorse NCLB Petition


State Affiliate Presidents
State Affiliate Executive Directors

Reg Weaver
John Wilson

Beware: NEA Does Not Endorse Online NCLB Petition

We have important information to share about a group of education advocates/activists calling themselves the “Educator Roundtable.” (www.educatorroundtable.org ) This new organization has posted online a new anti-NCLB petition — A Petition Calling for the Dismantling of the No Child Left Behind Act. The group has just issued a press release (see text below) to officially launch its effort to obtain signatures for the petition.

Information about the petition and calls for signing it have been circulating on many email lists. Affiliates, NEA staff, and others are asking questions about the petition and whether or not NEA endorses it.

The short answer? Absolutely not.

While the initiators of the petition are well-meaning and share many of the same concerns we have with NCLB, the petition does not represent our views. It calls for the dismantling of NCLB and does not propose any positive changes or alternatives.

Please get the word out in your state that:

• Some of the petition’s initiators have been critical of NEA and our efforts around NCLB.

• The petition is not consistent with NEA’s Positive Agenda for ESEA or our messaging (see http://www.nea.org/esea for details).

• We would not want NEA affiliates to sign the petition or promote it. Instead direct our members and local affiliates to http://www.nea.org/lac/esea/index.html so they can email members of Congress about our Positive Agenda.

Have questions or need more information? Contact Joel Packer, Director, Education Policy and Practice Department, (202) 822-7329.

Thanks for all you continue to do to ensure great public schools for every child!

cc: State Affiliate Government Relations Directors
State Affiliate Public Relations Directors

Dennis Van Roekel
Lily Eskelsen
NEA Executive Committee
NEA Board of Directors

NCUEA President

NCHE President

NCESP President
Chair, NEA Student Program
NEA-R President

NEA Executive Staff
State ESEA Contacts

NEA Field Operations
NEA-GR Staff
NEA-PR Staff

That did not stop members from doing so, and in fact, organization within the NEA against the NEA “fix it” is growing…rapidly.

See, for example: http://www.eliminatenclb.org/index.htm

You can read our response to the NEA memo here:


Great writing btw…will add a link to you from our page.

Take care,

preaprez Says:
August 10th, 2007 at e
So here’s what I’ve done.

When I received your comment, I gave IEA Government Relations a call. Now it is Friday afternoon and the IEA GR people are tied up for the most part in the legislative budget fight. But I did talk to Donna Prufrock from IEA GR, who I have talked to before. She never heard of the memo.

Now this doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It may say something about the effectiveness of NEA memos to local and state affiliates.

But I’ll pursue it. I’ll call Joel Packer, Director, Education Policy and Practice Department, (202) 822-7329 on Monday.

My view remains the same about fighting NCLB. Whether from the NEA or from independent groups, the battle today is against the Bush administration and those in Congress and the DOE who want to reauthorize the existing law. I have supported all efforts to change the law, encouraged my membership, friends and colleagues to do the same. And I plan to keep on doing that. I’m not going to get drawn into a battle against the NEA leadership on this. If the memo is accurate, while it is OK in my view for the NEA to promote its own approach, it is silly to stop others from opposing it in their own way. Then the IEA leadership is wrong.

Won’t be the first time.

You asked for it.

Big Hat, No Cattle by Randy Newman

Big Hat, no cattle
Big head, no brain
Big snake, no rattle
I forever remain
big hat, no cattle
I knew from the start
Big boat, no paddle
Big belly, no heart

IEA, IFT joint statement on IL state budget.

political-action-call.jpgCall your state reps at 800-651-0315

The broken system of funding public education in Illinois will not be fixed with the budget that is currently being considered. This budget does little to address the inequities in the Illinois school funding system. An adequate and sustainable revenue source to fund public education has not been established and the same-old band-aid solutions are being presented. For these reasons and more, we did not support the budget bill. We do not believe this legislation should become law.

We do not support a state shutdown that delays state aid payments to school districts and holds up paychecks for state employees. We believe the legislature and Governor must find a way to keep the state running while working towards a sustainable revenue source for education funding.

Recently, we unveiled an income tax increase proposal that we believe has strong support in both caucuses of the House and Senate. We urge you to introduce and pass legislation that follows the framework of that proposal. The General Assembly still has the ability to finally fix our flawed system of school funding. The time is now.

The letter was signed by IEA President Swanson and IFT President Geppert.

Big Hat, No Cattle.


Deputy Chancellor for Organizational Strategy, Human Capital, and External Affairs for the New York City Department of Education

In a long post over at Eduwonk, guestblogger Chris Cerf, who must have one of the longer titles for an education bureaucrat, writes about merit pay.

I write this as our own state legislature is three months late in passing a budget and even if a budget gets passed anytime soon, it will still leave Illinois second only to Mississippi in state funding support for education. I am also writing this as contract talks between our brothers and sisters in the Chicago Federation and the CPS are getting hotter, with more frequent talk of a strike, and with CPS boss Arne Duncan trying to push in the media for no more than a 3% raise.

And here is Chris Cerf making a long argument for merit pay.

After having been part of more than half a dozen contract negotiations, and as one of the few people (I say modestly) that can actually explain a teacher salary schedule (I will admit that I cannot say the same for school budgets. I challenge anyone to explain what they say.) I, along with a growing number of teacher union folks, have no problem with taking a new look at the way we compensate teachers. I mean, I found it when I got here. I’m not wedded to it.

But you read the Cerf post. Tell me if I’m wrong. It starts out as a general argument for better compensation for teachers.

It argues that quality teachers are the most important factor in student success. It points out that only 4 in ten teachers are in the classroom ten years after they enter the profession.

But then Cerf switches direction.

Merit pay, in itself, won’t solve our retention challenges. But it’s a very good start.

A guy with that long title in front of his name. In the face of a general failure to adequately fund public schools, Cerf thinks we should start with the discussion of merit pay. How about “school funding, a good place to start?”

It was Randy Newman who wrote the song: Big Hat, No Cattle.

Tested again.


Linda Perlstein.

I posted a review of Linda Perlstein’s book Tested a week or so ago from Daily Kos.

Today there is an interview in USA Today (Short. After all. It’s USA Today) with Perlstein, a former Washington Post reporter.

Q: In one memorable scene, a district supervisor watches kindergartners in gym class waft a parachute into the air and scamper beneath it. She says of the teacher, “I can’t see his goal.” It seems absurd, but does she have a point?

A: No. The silliest thing I have seen in my decade of education reporting is the insistence that every “learning outcome” be posted — the more jargon, the better. Do 5-year-olds need to know that they are tossing balls onto a parachute and running underneath to “demonstrate ways to send and project an object using a variety of body parts and implements” and “move safely in personal and general space”? Can’t they just think they’re having fun?

Check the date. Charters and Unions.


Don’t forget. If you live or are visiting the Chicago area on Wednesday, August 15th, plan on attending the discussion between Green Dot’s Steve Barr, the CTU’s Marilyn Stewart and my IEA’s Executive Director, Jo Anderson. Small Talk blogger, Small Schools Worshop Director and older brother, Mike Klonsky will moderate. The time is 6:30 – 8:30 pm. The place is National-Louis University’s downtown campus, 122 S. Michigan Avenue, 2nd floor Atrium.

The event is free of charge and open to the public.

Three over coffee.


1) In a slam at NCLB, the National Council of State Legislatures sharply opposed any attempt by the feds to impose national standards on states and local schools. Edweek reported:

Much of the group’s opposition to national standards is rooted in its dislike for the NCLB act, which is up for reauthorization before Congress.

2) The Sun-Times reports that the three percent raise that CPS has offered non-certified staff won’t be enough to settle the teachers’ contract according to CTU president Marilyn Stewart. A joint promise not to negotiate in the press was broken last week by CPS chief Arne Duncan.

3) San Francisco’s school board, parents and communities are talking about how to pursue desegregation and social justice in the face of the Supreme Court’s decision, writes Eric Mar, SF School Board Commissioner.



Call your state senator and rep now.

Left to their own abilities the state’s political leadership has screwed up the budget.

Here’s IEA President Swanson’s take:

Some of the details of this proposed budget:

  • $308.8 million to increase the foundation level by $400 to $5,734.
  • $185.5 million to fully fund mandated categoricals.
  • A two percent increase for Illinois’ public colleges and universities.
  • $10 million for a block grant program for private schools.

After analyzing this proposal, IEA Government Relations and governance have determined that the organization must oppose this “no-solution” budget.

It is imperative that you and all your colleagues, friends and neighbors immediately contact every member of the Illinois House and Senate and urge them to reject this budget plan.

Here is A+ Illinois’ statement:

A+ Illinois today announced its opposition to the General Assembly’s proposed operating budget. The budget provides approximately $575 million for education, and does not include any new revenue sources. The proposal will not fully fund the current foundation level—the minimum funding amount recommended by the state’s Education Funding Advisory Board—or address schools’ other urgent funding needs.

“This budget does not address the core problems plaguing Illinois’ education system,” said A+ Illinois Campaign Manager Mary Ellen Guest. “The gap in funding and student achievement between wealthy and poor communities will continue to grow, local property owners will continue to pay the bulk of school funding costs, and Illinois will continue to rank near-last in the nation in our support for schools.”

Sliming the “vile” NEA.

Responding to the Washington Post’s editorial on NCLB, The Daily Howler nails it:

It’s the law! In mainstream “journalism,” you’re not allowed to write three grafs without sliming the vile NEA!

The Daily Howler goes on:

“There is no question that No Child Left Behind has brought accountability to America’s classrooms,” the editors say. Note: By “accountability,” they pretty much mean “testing.” Here’s what the editors actually mean: There is no question that No Child Left Behind has brought testing to America’s classrooms.