Fred Klonsky's blog, and over the past week I've been reading his missives from the NEA convention in New Orleans. I'm struck by the stark contrast in tone from what I've been hearing from the UFT and our parent union, the AFT. Most notably, NEA voted "no confidence" in Race to the Top. As one who shares that lack of confidence, I'm thrilled to see teachers standing up.
Another notable difference was the delegates did not vote en masse as instructed by Unity/ New Action, or whatever its equivalent may be. In fact, Fred's own Illinois delegation seemed to oppose this motion. So, at the convention, all the teachers voted their consciences without worrying about being expelled or barred from future conferences for doing so. I'm very hip on the whole notion of democracy, even for teachers, and I'm encouraged to see that. (In NYC, there's a concerted effort to crush any possibility of dissent, and the crown jewel, enabled by Randi Weingarten, is the faux-opposition New Action. Few UFT members understand NA's actual purpose, or realize it couldn't function without Unity support. Still, it's thus far successfully kept opposition fractured and precluded any possibility of the emergence of a unified and effective challenge to the Unity machine.)
Not only that, but the NEA President got up and stated he and his members felt betrayed. This is in stark contrast to the attitude of former part-time UFT President, current AFT President Randi Weingarten, who sponsored anti-teacher mayoral control in NYC both before and after it turned out to be disastrous for teachers, parents, and students. In fact, Ms. Weingarten saw fit to invite Bill Gates, one of the most destructive forces to education in the country, to the AFT convention. However, union dissidents like me, who support better conditions for working teachers, are specifically kept out.
I hope the NEA attitude catches fire among teachers. I have little faith it will have much influence on the UFT, which pretty much dominates the AFT. Sure, we may get a sound byte or two, but since the beginning of the year UFT President Michael Mulgrew has been cheerleading for Bill Gates, inviting his research team in to decide how to impose "value-added," insisting it was necessary, and then agreeing with the state to impose it without even going through with the experiment. Incredibly, while Diane Ravitch addresses the NEA, Bill Gates addresses the AFT.
It's time to stand up for teachers, and protect the future of our children. Obama and his minions need to know we're tired of being his scapegoat and will not support him. We have to not only tell them in advance, but to demonstrate in November that faux-Democrats cannot count on the votes of real teachers. Have Weingarten and Mulgrew got the belly to stand up and tell them what teachers feel?
I hope so. That's their job.