Leadership Symposium Early Bird Deadline Approaching | Join K-12 leaders nationwide for three days of empowering strategies, networking, and inspiration! Discounted pricing ends March 1. Register today.
Teaching Profession

NEA Sets Up Entity to Advocate Changes in Education Law

By Bess Keller — May 05, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The nation’s largest teachers’ union has launched a new advocacy organization focused on changing the No Child Left Behind Act and getting more funding for it.

Set up as a “social-welfare organization,” Communities for Quality Education may lobby and, on a limited basis, take part in political campaigns.

That gives the group a wider scope for advocacy than the National Education Association itself can have under the federal tax code.

Mike Casey, a public relations consultant to the new group, said the sweeping federal law is causing grave harm. “Teachers say the way the law is implemented now is taking the joy out of teaching and learning in America’s classrooms, and we want to change that.”

Leaders of the 2.7 million-member NEA have asked each of its 50 state affiliates to contribute $1 per member from either dues money or their political-action funds to get the group off the ground, according to internal documents.

The new Washington based organization opens its doors as Democrats, Republicans, and politically active groups of every stripe scramble to fill political-spending gaps spawned by the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law.

Both corporations and unions, for instance, can no longer donate so-called “soft money,” which went to political parties to try to influence voters during campaigns without directly supporting particular candidates.

The NEA itself has come under increased scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service, which is auditing the union, and the U.S. Department of Labor, which is investigating the union’s reporting of its political activities.

‘Something Different’

The new group is headed by John Hein, who until recently was the chief lobbyist for the California Teachers Association. Its initial board is made up of Anne Davis, the president of the Illinois Education Association, as chairwoman; and Robert Bonazzi, the executive director of the New Jersey Education Association, and Maurice Joseph, the NEA’s deputy general counsel, as members.

Despite the union ties, Mr. Casey, the spokesman, said: “We’re focusing on doing something different here that’s not being done now by an array of education organizations. We want to get a dialogue going on among people who often don’t see eye to eye.”

He said that while the group’s immediate aim was to “fix and fund” the law that the NEA has both tepidly supported and denounced, in the long run, Communities for Quality Education wants to generate a “discussion about the direction of public education” and involve busy parents, teachers, and policymakers.

Mr. Casey said the organization would be active on the local, state, and national levels, but that plans were still being laid.

Some union observers and education advocates did not immediately welcome the new organization.

Mike Antonucci, a teachers’ union critic who carried news of the group’s existence in his independent online newsletter, said Communities for Quality Education would have credibility in its mission “only to the extent that this organization can distance itself from NEA’s own agenda.”

Ross Weiner, the policy director of the Washington- based Education Trust, which influenced the federal law and advocates higher educational standards for poor and minority children, said he did not have much confidence in the new group because of its close connection with the NEA.

“The NEA has been the primary source of misinformation regarding the law,” he charged. “I worry there’s more of that in store for us.”

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion How I’m Keeping Ahead of Burnout: 4 Tips for Teachers
An English teacher shares her best advice for battling the long-haul blahs until spring break.
Kelly Scott
4 min read
Young woman cartoon character making step from gloomy grey rainy weather to sunny clear day.
iStock/Getty + Education Week
Teaching Profession Opinion Why Is the Nation Invested in Tearing Down Public Education?
Education professor Deborah Loewenberg Ball argues that panic over test scores keeps us from building on the strengths of our children.
Deborah Loewenberg Ball
5 min read
Illustration of school text books and wrecking ball.
F. Sheehan for Education Week / Getty
Teaching Profession Teachers Censor Themselves on Socio-Political Issues, Even Without Restrictive State Laws
A new survey from the RAND Corporation found that two-thirds of teachers limit their instruction on political and social issues in class.
4 min read
Civics teacher Aedrin Albright stands before her class at Chatham Central High School in Bear Creek, N.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The class is debating whether President Trump should be impeached. The House impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine has become a teachable moment in classrooms around the country as educators incorporate the events in Washington into their lesson plans.
Civics teacher Aedrin Albright stands before her class at Chatham Central High School in Bear Creek, N.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The class was debating whether President Trump should be impeached. A new national survey found that a majority of teachers are now limiting instruction on political and social issues in class.
Allen G. Breed/AP
Teaching Profession 10 Major Challenges for Substitute Teachers
Substitute teachers want more support to do their jobs well. One state has identified their top concerns.
4 min read
Illustration of people climbing stacks of books. There are 3 stacks of books at different heights with people helping people climb up.
iStock/Getty