Thursday, July 07, 2005

More From The NEA Convention

Thanks to the Education Intelligence Agency, people the world over will get a view of the NEA Representative Assembly that's "slightly" different than the one that will be published by NEA itself.

I'll just cut/paste some of the interesting parts here.

The ostensible point of the show was to show displeasure with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and support for the California Teachers Association. The delegates collected petitions and resolutions, put them in a big barrel, and 300 of them walked over to the governor's Los Angeles office to deliver them. But first, the other state affiliates had to make it clear that California wasn't the only one with problems. So we were treated to speeches from NEA state affiliate presidents from Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts and Ohio – decrying their fiscal situations, referencing devastating cuts to education funding and complaining about "Third World budgets."

So I thought I would go to a couple of impeccable sources on issues of funding: NEA and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Here's what I found.

The percentage increases in current spending on public education for the last 10 years are: 4.7, 6.0, 5.7, 5.7, 6.5, 6.8, 5.5, 6.6, 3.0 and 4.4. NEA estimates that total expenditures on U.S. public schools in 2004-05 were $495,235,283,000.

Forget about Third World. OECD gives us gross domestic product (GDP) figures for Second World countries and the amount the United States spends on public education exceeds the entire GDP of countries like Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey. The U.S. public education system spends as much money as the total combined economies of 37 African countries.

How about devastating budget cuts? Here are the per-pupil spending estimates for 2004-05 from NEA, released just last week:
Michigan: up 3.6 percent
Illinois: up 6.0 percent
Kansas: up 3.5 percent
Massachusetts: up 5.1 percent
Ohio: up 5.8 percent
California: up 2.4 percent
Nationwide: up 3.3 percent

Don't you just love facts?

And then there was this one vestige of hope.
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.

But alas, it was not to be.

Then there were the New Business Items that were tackled.

* NBI 39 – Defeated this measure that would have encouraged strikes against the "war budget."
* NBI 46 – Defeated this measure that would have encouraged teachers to wear green the first Tuesday of each month to call attention to the "need for pension/retirement reform." It did, however, give me the idea of encouraging taxpayers to wear black and blue on April 15.
* NBI 48 – Defeated in a close vote this measure that would have directed NEA to urge colleges and universities to stop using the SAT for admissions.
* NBI 49 – This measure, which would have had NEA promote the establishment of a federal department of Peace, was ruled out of order after delegates defeated a similar amendment to the legislative program. Robert's Rules and NEA policies don't allow double jeopardy.
* NBI 54 – Approved this measure that, after amendment, now directs NEA to study the feasibility of informing its members of the "regressive taxation practices of the federal government."

Not as bad as it could have been.

Then there were these, from the last day. What do most of them have in common? Why, the fact that they have nothing to do with either education or working conditions, of course!

* Defeated NBI 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.
* Referred NBI 78 to the Executive Committee, to urge members to boycott Wal-Mart.
* Approved NBI 81, directing NEA to research the possibility of offering a labor union history training program that emphasizes curriculum for students. EIA will be happy to teach this.
*Approved NBI 91, the "alternative to latex" measure after minutes of entertaining debate about the "many satisfactory alternatives to decorative and recreational items containing latex" mentioned in the rationale for the NBI.

I would prefer it if these unions stopped trying to get involved in "education" and focused on working conditions--that is, collective bargaining issues. I'm mighty curious, though, about what prompted NBI 91.

Update, 7/7/05 11:39 pm: I learned of this article, originally apparently from the Washington Times, from Joanne Jacobs' site (see my blogroll). Here are the first two paragraphs:

NEA affiliate rejects freedom proposal

By George Archibald
Published July 5, 2005
LOS ANGELES -- The college affiliate of the National Education Association yesterday unanimously rejected a proposal to expand its policy on academic and professional freedom to protect "intellectual pluralism and the free exchange of ideas" in the nation's classrooms.
Randy Jackson, a delegate to the NEA convention now under way, appeared before the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) summer meeting to defend his proposal, which was attacked roundly as part of a conservative agenda.


Harry said...

If I'm correct, in Michigan, it's possible to ask for all of my dues back that I've paid over the years that don't go to collective bargaining. The union has been annoying me with their politics for years but after reading about the crap going on at the convention, I think I may make some enemies and check out this option.

Darren said...

That option is available everywhere according to the Supreme Court's Beck decision, but here in California, CTA only has to rebate the amount *they* say they didn't spend of collective bargaining! I have no idea how to get money back from the NEA. If you found out, please post it here!

Anonymous said...

They are there to help you and you are rejecting them? Ha!

Darren said...

They're there to help Democratic politicians, not me.