A constitutional amendment that would have decreased the number of classroom teachers required on National Education Association committees failed by just a handful of votes today to reach the two-thirds majority required. All committees will continue to have at least 75 percent classroom teachers, rather than the 50 percent proposed in the amendment.
This is, admittedly, really inside baseball. But it’s reflective of some of the NEA’s larger identity issues.
Unlike the American Federation of Teachers, which counts a large number of health professionals as members, the NEA has been hesitant to organize anyone other than certified public school teachers. It wasn’t until the 1980s that education-support professionals had equal membership status in the union, for instance. Private school teachers still can’t join NEA for the most part. You can see the legacy of such decisions in this committee-composition requirement, which dates from the 1960s.
But you have to wonder whether this legacy threatens to hamstring the union by limiting who it can organize during a time of falling membership.
In other news, it’s been a somewhat slow day at the convention. Most of the items discussed have been fairly routine. There are always a few oddball resolutions to spice things up, though. A few to be debated this afternoon include New Business Item 40, which would require the NEA to inform members and school cafeterias about genetically modified food, and NBI 83, which would require the union to avoid housing delegates in hotels that feature TV channels with slanted cable-news programs.
Happy 4th of July, everyone!
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.