In what is apparently the first time the National Education Association has bestowed its “Friend of Education Award” to a group rather than an individual, the union honored the Wisconsin 14,” the senators who left the state for three weeks this spring to try to block a bill supported by Gov. Scott Walker stripping public workers of many collective-bargaining rights.
No big surprises here, obviously. The delegates all held up “Thank you 14" signs, and shouted “Recall!” and chanted “Union busting, that’s disgusting,” while the union’s vice president, Lily Eskelsen, sang a moving rendition of “Solidarity Forever” and played the ukulele.
In all, the award reflects the larger theme of this year’s convention. NEA has temporarily ditched its “Great Public Schools For Every Child” slogan in favor of a new one for this convention: “Standing Strong For Our Students, Our Schools, and America.” Organizing and legislative muscle were clearly on the minds of the union’s budget committee this week.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.