Tag Archives: National Education Association

“Stupid, absurd, non-defensible”: New NEA president Lily Eskelsen García on the problem with Arne Duncan, standardized tests and the war on teachers – Salon.com

31 Jul

For years, politicians and policy leaders have been running the nation’s public education system basically by the seat of the pants, drafting and passing legislative doctrine that mostly ignores the input from classroom teachers, research experts and public school parents.

Just the latest example of this fly-by-night leadership came from Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky and expected GOP presidential contender. According to the Politico newsletter, Paul is “planning a major push on education reform, including ‘education choice, school choice, vouchers, charter schools, you name it.”

‘Gotta love the “you name it” proposal, don’t you? So reassuring to parents. “Relax, we’re enrolling your kid in the ‘You Name It’ program this year. Everything will be fine.”

In an astonishing display of incoherence, he told the Politico reporter how much he, and his children, had benefited from traditional public schools – “I grew up and went to public schools. My kids have gone to public schools” – and then suggested we create something that looks nothing like them.

“Have one person in the country who is, like, the best at explaining calculus … teach every calculus class in the country,” he rambled, in belief, somehow, that having “2 million people in the classroom” would ensure more children “have a teacher that may be having a more hands-on approach.” Really?

Have education policies from the Democratic Party been any better?

Apparently, most teachers don’t think so. As Politico, again, reported, teachers are organizing at an unprecedented level. Through their unions, teachers have amassed “tens of millions in cash” and have acquired “new data mining tools that let them personalize pitches to voters,” in an effort to “run a huge get-out-the-vote effort.”

Education Week suggested that a “new era” in teacher organizing has begun, with “a remarkable policy convergence, portending what could indeed be a more unified response to national and state education issues.

“The convergence, observers say, is the product not only of the unions’ need to assume a defensive posture in the face of legislative and legal attacks, but also of the pressure brought by internal factions that have urged the unions to take a tougher stance against market-based education policies.”

What’s got teachers stirred up? How real and potent is this upsurge of their activism? Why should people who identify with progressive causes care? Salon recently posed those questions, and others, to Lily Eskelsen García, the new president-elect of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, at the recent Netroots Nation conference in Detroit.

First of all, congratulations on becoming the new NEA president.

Still president-elect. I take office Sept. 1. We have an incredible president, Dennis Van Roekel, who basically said a transition period should be a transition period, not go stand in the corner. So he gave me the president-elect title and told me I would take the press calls, go to Netroots, meet with Arne Duncan, start establishing where you want to go and be as vocal and as visible as you can possibly be. Our members have asked NEA to step up and take things to another level. There’s too much at stake for us. There are policies that need addressing and we have some of the best policy expertise in the nation, but those ideas need a face to the NEA, a face for the American teacher that is channeling the voices of these 3 million educators, and when you hear the words come out of her mouth it’s not just her opinion — it’s a whole lot of teachers and support staff who are saying here’s an important thing for the American people to hear and an important thing for Arne Duncan and President Obama to hear. So he told me to start being that voice today.

The voices of these teachers are important, aren’t they? And too often we don’t really hear their stories about what it’s really like to teach in American schools, do we? For instance, I was just at a meeting of the American Federation of Teachers, where a teacher told us about showing up to school one morning and finding a man had been shot to death in front of the building the night before. The body was still on the sidewalk as the kids were coming to school, and the teachers had to decide how they were going to handle this with the children. So many of our teachers are really serving as first responders for kids, aren’t they?

That’s true. So how did the teachers handle this? More…

via “Stupid, absurd, non-defensible”: New NEA president Lily Eskelsen García on the problem with Arne Duncan, standardized tests and the war on teachers – Salon.com.


Teachers unions differ on approach to controversial education film – The Hill – covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill | TheHill.com

8 Sep

The leaders of the country’s two largest teachers unions are taking different tacks when it comes to a controversial film set to be released later this month.

“Won’t Back Down,” which is expected to get a wide release on Sept. 28, has angered teachers union members for its depiction of a teachers union that hampers a crusading single mother who wants to improve her daughter’s school. The movie has also gained heavy promotion from groups that often spar with teachers unions, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and StudentsFirst, which was founded by former Washington, D.C., public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. More…

via Teachers unions differ on approach to controversial education film – The Hill – covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill | TheHill.com.

Republican educators eager to engage GOP lawmakers >Education Votes

17 Jul

Republican members of the National Education Association realize they’re in a unique position to work around the party-line polarization that dominates politics today.

“In my experience, because I am Republican, even though I’m also a staunch supporter of NEA, doors are open to me that have not been opened for other people,” said Ted Payne, a middle school science teacher with 24 years of experience who currently serves as president of the Carroll County Education Association in Maryland. “I have worked very hard to build relationships with both Republican and Democrat elected officials…to actually get agreement so that we were able to get budgets passed.” Continue reading

How Should We Support New Teachers? Arne Duncan Hears From NEA-Student Members | NEA Today

11 Jul

How can this nation do a better job of attracting, supporting, and learning from great teachers? U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan really wants the answer to that question—the country really needs the answer to that question, he said—and he got it on Monday from a group of NEA-Student members.

These future teachers were frank: They want to be respected for their choice to serve students, schools, and communities, they said. And they want to be better supported as they make the transition from student to teacher. Continue reading


26 Jun
FROM TWITTER FEED: VEA: NEA President asks NCUEA/NEA delegates not to throw Arne Duncan “under the bus” at this year’s Representative Assembly.

Michelle Rhee’s Group Asks Teachers Unions To Promote Reform Policies At State Level

21 Jun

The day after Michelle Rhee’s education lobbying group, StudentsFirst, got dumped by progressive petition site Change.org because of intense pressure from teachers’ unions, StudentsFirst waved a thorny olive branch of sorts at the nation’s two largest such unions.

On Wednesday afternoon, StudentsFirst, along with other education groups such as Democrats for Education Reform, Students for Education Reform and Hispanic CREO, wrote a letter to Dennis Van Roekel and Randi Weingarten, presidents of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, asking for a “new opportunity to collaborate to improve public education for kids.” Continue reading

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel: 6-10-12 Interview – Fox News Sunday – Fox News

10 Jun

WALLACE: Now, we want to hear from the other side of the Wisconsin recall fight: organized labor. Joining us are two key officials: Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the country’s largest union. And Thea Lee, deputy chief of staff and a leading policy voice at the AFL-CIO, the federation that represents more than 12 million workers.

And welcome to both of you.


THEA LEE, AFL-CIO: Thank you, Chris.

WALLACE: Let’s start with the question I asked Governor Daniels. When you look at the recall vote in Wisconsin, as well as the vote in those two California cities to cut back on government worker pensions, what’s the message, Mr. Van Roekel?

VAN ROEKEL: I think one thing we overlooked is the changer in the Senate. There’s a balance of power now. I think that’s very important. Governor Walker —

WALLACE: You’re talk about Wisconsin?

VAN ROEKEL: Yes, in Wisconsin. And I think that’s very important.

The second thing I think, it really points out the impact of unlimited corporate funding in elections and we have to see as it plays out, especially as we move toward the November. Continue reading

NEA – Letter to Senator Harkin Supporting his Middle Class Bill

30 Mar

March 29, 2012

Dear Senator Harkin:

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association, we would like to offer our support for your proposals to help strengthen the middle class. We thank you for your leadership in introducing this legislation and in particular for your focus on investments in education.

Today’s middle class is struggling and many previously financially secure families are finding themselves falling into poverty. The faltering economy, the housing crisis, rising food and gas prices, and attacks on workers’ rights have combined to undermine and destabilize the middle class.

Public education is the greatest tool we have to maintaining, increasing and strengthening the middle class. Every day in schools across the country, hard working educators give children the skills they need to become successful learners, agile problem solvers, and creative thinkers, preparing them not only to enter the workforce but to think and act as citizens. Continue reading

The Science of Making Up Stuff – Lily’s Blackboard – Lily’s Blackboard

22 Jan

I took a deep, cleansing yoga breath and watched some panel of puny pontificators, who have never stepped in front of a class of 36 hormonally-challenged 7th grade unconscientious objectors to homework, sanctimoniously agree amongst themselves that the only problem with schools these days is: Bad Teachers.

Good Teachers have no problems. So. When there were problems, it must because of: Bad Teachers. I took another yoga breath, threw a pillow at the TV and screamed my best ten potty words. Namaste.

Schools are the current topic of conversation because it’s time to reauthorize the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provides modest federal education funding for children disadvantaged by poverty, discrimination, disability and language barriers. A Good Thing.

When last reauthorized, it was rebaptized “No Child Left Behind.” Not a Good Thing for many reasons, the least of which is that it mandates what competent researchers have found to be Highly Stupid Tests. Continue reading

Teacher tenure is under increased attack

20 Jan

If teachers in Missouri feel as though their job security is under attack, they’re not alone.

Efforts to abolish or chip away at teacher tenure and erode collective bargaining have been popping up across the country, most recently with the filing this week of an initiative petition that would eliminate tenure for new teachers in Missouri.

The petition comes on the heels of a year that saw an unprecedented number of legislative efforts to rewrite teacher tenure laws, according to one national education policy expert.

“Last year was a sea change,” said Kathy Christie, vice president for knowledge and information management with the Education Commission of the States, based in Denver. Continue reading

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