Teaching Profession

NEA 2015 Convention Wrap-Up: Mixed Messaging

By Stephen Sawchuk — July 07, 2015 1 min read
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The nearly 7,000 delegates to the National Education Association have wrapped up their convention, and we’re ready to fill in all the final pieces for you here at Teacher Beat.

• Delegates approved a measure to keep a dues surcharge in place to fund the union’s Ballot Initiative/Legislative Crisis Fund. In 2012, the union doubled a number of dues to the fund from each teacher, and that addition was scheduled to sunset this year. (In all, the charge is $20.)

• Balm for the failure of the “one member, one vote” push: A task force will explore the issue further, and apparently the constitutional amendment will be resubmitted next year.

• Right after the NEA’s mixed messaging on opt-out (see this item), we got yet more mixed messaging, this time on issues of race. The NEA overwhelmingly approved an antiracist manifesto, but then members debated the Confederate battle flag forever; defeated a new business item to investigate “the impact of racist stereotypes and mascots on students"; and defeated yet another one supporting ethnic studies for students. Again, while perhaps the result of bad floor strategy, this is basically a PR nightmare.

• Meanwhile, the EduColor group signalled its intention to hold the NEA’s feet to the fire on this topic, issuing a press release that called for renewed attention to issues of racial disparity. Check it out here.

• The NEA still has a hard time calling itself a union; delegates nixed an item to rebrand itself as “a professional association and union,” rather than just “a professional association.” (In fairness, this was partly due to objections by delegates from the five Southern states that are not permitted to have public-sector unions.)

• Because of time constraints, a number of items were referred to internal committees, which I like to call “where NBIs go to die.” More often than not, those committees don’t do much with them.

• This was not a cheap representative assembly, with some items in the several hundred thousand dollar range. A few years back delegates were really careful with the purse strings. This time around, there seemed to be less concern overall about spending issues. As Mike Antonucci reports, the union will be spending $1.4 million to carry out new business.

And in the immortal words of Porky Pig: “That’s all, folks.” Thanks for following along.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.