In the deluge of news from the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, which featured a starring role for the heads of both of the national teachers’ unions, it’s easy to forget that both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers held their own internal political conventions this past summer.
If you missed them at the time, here’s your chance to get up to speed on all the details.
- Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton told the NEA what it wanted to hear, mostly. She promised the union she would support teachers rather than scapegoat them. She and made very similar remarks to the American Federation of Teachers just a few weeks later. Clinton’s cautious support for charters brought boos from the NEA, though—and generated a thousand commentaries trying to parse her words.
- Both unions’ memberships approved general election endorsements for Clinton.
- The National Education Association passed a statement supporting transgender students’ fight to use restrooms that correspond to their gender identity. The AFT also passed a resolution on safety for LGBT students.
- Lamar Alexander became the first Republican in more than 30 years to win a coveted NEA prize, cementing a productive political relationship with the union on Capitol Hill.
- The NEA and AFT both announced membership increases. The NEA now stands at just under 3 million members, and the AFT has a little more than 1.6 million members. Be careful, though— the combined total of their membership isn’t 4.7 million, because of the five states in which they’ve merged and share members. It’s closer to about 3.8 million.
- AFT delegates reelected Randi Weingarten by a landslide (though, for complicated internal reasons, it’s extremely difficult to challenge a sitting AFT president.)
- And will the more than $1 million the NEA plans to spend on “new business items"—directives from its members—amount to anything? Maybe or maybe not.
Photos: NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, left, and AFT President Randi Weingarten, right.—J. Scott Applewhite/AP
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.