Sunday, July 09, 2006

Your N.E.A. Dues At "Work"

Once again, Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency presents his start-to-finish coverage of the National Education Association's annual gathering of the faithful, which is more formally known as the Representative Assembly. Go here, and scroll all the way down to get to the beginning. Antonucci summerizes this multi day convention completely scripted gabfest:
The Associated Press sent their Tampa correspondent down for a couple of days, Education Week was there, and a couple of Orlando reporters showed up for the local angle. That was it, and who can blame the others for staying away? Sports reporters don't cover roller derby or the WWE, and education reporters shouldn't waste much time at staged events, either.

NEA is to be credited for perfecting the annual circus. But the result is preordained. The clowns always get out of the car, the human cannonball always hits the net, the elephants always lift one foot in unison, the lion tamer always uses a chair and a whip, and the high-wire artists wear safety harnesses. Despite a growing young staff of professional ringmasters and barkers, there is nothing to see here.

EIA is fortunate enough at times to find a sideshow running far from the midway, and certainly talking to delegates, officers and staff at the convention greatly improves my reporting the rest of the year, but even the AP was so stumped that it basically reported three-year-old news.

The TV networks cut back their coverage of the political party conventions for this very reason. For the 2007 NEA Representative Assembly, EIA may contract out its coverage to Spectacle magazine.
Among other tidbits that Antonucci supplies is the interesting statistic that the N.E.A. took in over 307 million dollars in revenue this past year, primarily from dues paid (at times by force) by the membership. This figure of 307 million does not include monies paid by (again, by force for many) members and fee-payers to state and local affiliates.

My favorite quote by an N.E.A. operative:
"We're kind of building the airplane as it's going down the track." – NEA Secretary-Treasurer Lily Eskelsen, on NEA's new performance-based budget.
The delegates passed a resolution concerning homeschooling that directs that homeschooled children "must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress."

One of the items that has been referred to the never-elected-by-the-rank-and-file President of the NEA for his further consideration is a motion "to alert Americans to the dangers of trans-fats in the diet."

No word on how President Reg Weaver feels about those trans-fats in his diet.
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