Teaching Profession

UPDATED: AFT and NEA Differences on the ‘Race to Top’ MOUs?

By Stephen Sawchuk — January 04, 2010 2 min read
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I must apologize for my extended absence from blogging, thanks to a combination of delayed holiday travel and a sinus infection (‘Tis the season to be, uh, jolly.)

Fortunately, there’s been a lot of interesting things going on out there on the Race to the Top. So we return to our regularly scheduled programming!

At the end of last year, I did a couple of blog items on how state unions were responding to their respective state’s Race to the Top applications. You can read a fuller version of what I wrote in those posts in this Education Week story.

Since then, some additional developments have occurred. Much like affiliates in Minnesota and Florida, the Michigan Education Association is also advising local affiliates to not yet put their signatures on local memorandum of understanding, which would commit them to implementing the reform plans if the grants were won.

A counter-example can be found in Louisiana, where the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, an American Federation of Teachers affiliate, appears to be endorsing the plan. But the president of the National Education Association-affiliated Louisiana Association of Educators, Joyce Haynes, wants student achievement to make up no more than a third of teacher evaluations, rather than the 50 percent figure state leaders have proposed.

That’s an interesting difference between the two unions that hasn’t really been fully explored yet. As I noted in my story and as Sherman Dorn also highlights, both Minnesota and the Florida state unions are merged NEA-AFT affiliates, making it difficult to determine whether or how their relationship with the national unions shaped their sentiments toward the Race to the Top.

When I checked in with the national teachers’ unions, AFT leader Randi Weingarten said that the Florida and Minnesota state unions didn’t feel that the process of devising the applications was collaborative. But state officials dispute that, and it’s clear that there are substantive policy disagreements in Minnesota, where Q Comp is a sticking point. National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel never got back to me.

The clock is ticking down to the application due date, January 19. How many unions will be in or out?

UPDATED: According to this news story, the Michigan Education Association has told affiliates not to sign off on the MOU while the plan is still in draft form. Detroit, which is represented by the AFT, is also out.

UPDATE 2: A reader helpfully pointed out that one of the links wasn’t working. It’s fixed now.

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