Teachers union out on fringe

7.22.10 – The National Education Association boasts a membership of more than 3 million teachers and is one of the most powerful interest groups within the Democratic Party. But, despite its size and influence, the nation's largest teachers union has positioned itself well outside America's political mainstream.

The NEA is so far out, the New York Times reported that union officials didn’t invite President Barack Obama or U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to speak at the union’s annual convention in New Orleans this year out of concern the 9,000 delegates might heckle them off the stage.

Never mind that Obama poured $100 billion in federal stimulus money into education last year, or that he wants to increase the Education Department’s budget to nearly $50 billion in 2011 even as the federal budget deficit tops $1.3 trillion. And pay no attention to the unprecedented steps Obama has taken to empower federal bureaucrats to usurp state and local education policy-making, which the NEA supports. To hear the nation’s largest teachers union tell it, the president’s policies mean the end of public education. The NEA is so far out that union President Dennis Van Roekel lamented in his keynote address to convention delegates in New Orleans, “[O]ur members face the most anti-educator, anti-union, anti-student environment that I have ever experienced.” Nonsense: Americans love teachers and care deeply about students.

If anti-union sentiment is rising, the blame rests entirely on Van Roekel and his ilk. They have all but purged the word “compromise” from their lexicons and, instead, continually insist taxpayers pour more money into a failing system.

The NEA is so far out that delegates on July 4 passed a “no confidence” resolution against Obama’s Race to the Top grant program. Now, there is plenty wrong with the $4.35 billion program. Overly prescriptive rules, top-down mandates disguised as guidelines – including a requirement that states “voluntarily” adopt national reading and math standards – and “stakeholder buy-in” that gives the union veto power over a state’s application are just a few of the problems.

But those weren’t what the NEA denounced. The union argues any competition “undermines public education.” The resolution’s author actually claims the reforms Race to the Top encourages – more charter schools, greater teacher accountability – “brutalize” students and educators.

For four days this month, speaker after speaker marched to the podium at a convention center in New Orleans to fulminate against charter schools, merit pay and virtually any other effort to change rules protecting incompetent instructors from layoffs while punishing energetic young teachers – reforms that have won bipartisan support this year.



  1. ataxpayer

    At last! The beginning of the end or the end of the reign of terror or however we choose to categorize it: teachers unions aren't about kids and parents and teachers and schools! It's ALL about and only about power and control. Finally, the reality is setting in. We can't fix what we won't admit is horribly, irrevocably broken. Many of us in the education reform movement have been saying it for close to two decades and it is just now, that some fairly reasonable efforts have been rolled out that the unions show their true colors to "the rest of the world". It is long past time for states to allow districts to go bankrupt and then rebuild them sensibly – which won't include paying teachers to not teach well or even to not teach at all – for the rest of their lives. It is time to get all public servants in step with the real world and not ask for more than those of us who pay can give. Will people accept superintendent salaries of less than 200K? I think they will. Until we deflate these education administrator salaries, good teachers will never get what they are worth and poor teachers who have been the dead meat for so long will continue to rake it in. NO private industry pays for mediocrity like public education. END IT NOW!

Leave a comment


July 22nd, 2010

Jimmy Kilpatrick

Career Index

Plan your career as an educator using our free online datacase of useful information.

View All

On Twitter

Penn State football scholarship, bow game ban lifted -- the right move? http://t.co/5U614aqwKw #highered #education #edchat

3 days ago

Washington DC, Tennessee make total 23 states with NCLB Waiver renewal http://t.co/SMSyq1zP3C #edchat #edreform #education

3 days ago

New survey tools by @PanoramaEd improve student feedback on classrooms, schools http://t.co/TqcvyV8cLB #edtech #education #edchat

3 days ago

On Facebook


Enter your email to subscribe to daily Education News!

Hot Topics