Saturday, July 09, 2005

NEA's Convention Wrap-Up: Fun And Frolic In L.A.

Mike Antonucci has completed his on-the-spot coverage of the annual convention of the National Education Association. Here are our favorite day-by-day excerpts from Mike's coverage. Our comments are in [brackets] emphasis are ours as well.

Saturday, July 2

But my personal favorite by far came out of the Human and Civil Rights committee (also approved by the NEA board of directors) that β€œNEA and its state affiliates determine whether vendors or contractors have a history of profiting from slavery and if so, whether they have established plans for addressing said profit through reparations or other appropriate strategies.”

How would you like to be the poor slob NEA researcher who gets assigned to this job? "Hey Bob, we want to hire XYZ Plumbing to fix the toilets on the third floor. Check to see if they have a history of profiting from slavery."

"Audit findings are confidential documents." – NEA Vice President Dennis Van Roekel, after being asked when members would learn the results of the IRS audit of the NEA. The audit is ongoing, and Van Roekel said he expects the IRS to complete its work within the next six months.

Sunday, July 3

[President] Weaver completes his first three-year term at this convention (he was re-elected unopposed today).

[Ed's note: Reg Weaver was "re-elected" by the delegates present at the convention; NEA's rank-and-file aren't allowed to vote for their own leadership in open, honest, fair, and contested elections.]

Monday, July 4

Delegates approved NBI [New Business Item] 13, which reads, "That NEA continue to oppose attempts by billionaire Eli Broad and any other entities to remove elected school boards from cities in California and in any other state or territory." NEA is already on record as opposing mayoral takeovers of school boards, but it is still interesting that Eli Broad is mentioned by name and not the one man who most recently expressed support for a mayoral takeover of a California school board – the darling of the 2005 NEA Representative Assembly, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

[Ed's note: we covered then mayor-elect Villaraigosa's expressed wish to overthrow California's elected school boards less than two weeks before the convention.]

* Delegates approved NBI 32, which calls on NEA to study the feasibility of initiating a boycott of Gallo wine.

[Ed's note: What does Gallo wine have to do with any of this?!?]

Tuesday, July 5

Delegates held a lengthy debate over the relative merits of NBI 51, which EIA highlighted yesterday. It would have established an NEA media research center to monitor and correct misinformation about public education. NEA placed a price tag of $4.7 million on this item and last night EIA offered to do it for $1 million.

In what can only be termed an amazing coincidence, NEA without explanation lowered the price tag today to $1.6 million. The item's language was amended so that NEA could use existing publications and web resources, and that brought the cost down to $300,000. The debate continued, and a first-time delegate from Wisconsin amended it to add a provision to create an NEA blog. EIA was PRAYING this would pass. Unfortunately, another delegate probably had the same mental picture of what would happen that I had, and amended the amendment to make it a moderated blog, so that NEA could remove whatever it didn't deem suitable.

That bummed me out, but it also raised the cost another $100,000, which I didn't know was the going rate for a full-time censor. In the end, it was all for nothing. The delegates voted down the whole idea overwhelmingly.

[Ed's note: I couldn't resist commenting on this one, either. In fact, for $100,000 per year, we could think of someone willing to shill for the NEA. It would pay more than teaching. ;)]

Wednesday, July 6 (Last Day)

* Defeated NBI [New Business Item] 58, the moratorium on new prison construction.

* Approved NBI 61 after amending language softened the "U.S. Out of Iraq" message. The NBI calls on the President and Congress to create an exit strategy to end the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.

* Approved NBI 63, which commits NEA to educating members about CAFTA "and its serious negative consequences for education."

* Referred NBI 75 to committee, designed to set aside a fragrance-free zone at the RA. [Representative Assembly]

* Referred NBI 78 to the Executive Committee, to urge members to boycott Wal-Mart.

[Ed's note: What did any of these "new business items" that the convention debated, discussed, (and wasted time on) have to do with salaries, working conditions, or education?]

Our concluding thoughts:

Like many California public school teachers, I'm forced to pay monies to both the National Education Association and The California Teachers Association. Next year, the combined total taken out of my paycheck will be $910. This amount has increased each year for the past several, even though the teachers in our district haven't had a raise in over three years.

In our mid-sized California school district, our local union operatives choose among themselves (and their cronies) who gets to attend the annual convention. Convention delegates are not elected, they are appointed by the local's Ruling Clique. I'm told that this violates the rules of NEA and CTA.

Letters expressing concern over this (and several other items) have been delivered (by several members as well as ourselves) to the unions' respective headquarters. Neither NEA or CTA have bothered to answer the letters; they were ignored.

Update:(07/13/05) Captain's Quarters has quite a bit to say and Malkin weighs in.
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