An Open Letter To NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia

Dear Lily Eskelsen Garcia,

As President of the National Education Association, I am very curious why the NEA Foundation accepts money from the Gates Foundation. While that foundation does have some very noble projects going on with health issues in Africa, they also have some very disturbing things that have caused serious disruption in public education.  I can’t remotely fathom how anything even associated with the largest teachers union in the country would want anything to do with the Gates Foundation.

Gates and all the other foundations that support corporate education reform want to bust the teachers unions. They want to privatize education and make schools 21st Century community learning centers.  Everything the NEA stands for will eventually crumble to dust.  Gone will be a teacher instructing a class.  Instead, they will get training on how to guide students on their 1:1 devices.

I am not a teacher. I’m a parent.  I understand NEA is about teachers.  But lately, at least in terms of leadership, it seems like those leaders are all about themselves and their personal quest for power.  It isn’t even about the teachers anymore.  If I were a teacher, I would consider it a slap in the face knowing NEA actually collaborates with these entities.

I can only assume you are well-connected with these organizations and know exactly what they are planning. As an education blogger, I’ve written about it as have many others.  The writing is on the wall but you seem to be worried about that one tiny corner in the room with a tiny cobweb.  At least that’s what you tell your membership.  I find it abhorrent you would sell out those who elected you.

But what I find even more bizarre is the buzzwords coming out of NEA and all these education organizations pretending they know what is best for children. If you are following the corporate mantras then you lost touch with what is best for kids a long time ago.  This makes you, NEA leadership, and the NEA Foundation a part of the problem, not a hope for a solution.

When I first began blogging over two years ago, I soon find myself rooting for teachers. I joined the Badass Teachers Facebook page and began to see how all of this affected teachers.  But I find myself wondering why the supposed leadership of teachers is getting in bed with companies that want to destroy you and your membership.

I would like you to explain this. Not for me, but for the hundreds of thousands of teachers who elected you as President of the NEA.  Also for the students who are under the care of teachers for 1/3rd of their life until they graduate high school.

I understand many will take offense to this very open and public letter to you. But I also know what is coming up in the very near future, based on the seeds planted by the privatizers of education.  You keep watering those plants and they will weed out what is left of public education.  I warned you and AFT about jumping on the Every Student Succeeds Act and begging your membership to support it before the final legislation came out.  That law will destroy NEA and the American Federation of Teachers.

You seem more concerned with Donald Trump lately than the very real danger facing teachers as every state in the country submits their ESSA state plans. It doesn’t matter who the next President of this country is.  Our national government sold their souls to corporations and foundations a long time ago.  This is all just distraction so they can get their final pieces in play. I suppose that is why the NEA Foundation is actually helping to fund all these ed tech conferences and global future forums.  It is complete nonsense and they are taking teachers money and investing it in what will replace them.  Doesn’t that bother you in the slightest?

In my viewpoint, this is like the snake giving you the apple. But you don’t just take a bite out of it, you start taking tons of apples, begin making apple pies, and sell them for the snake.  It is just wrong.  If you can’t look out for teachers and their future, please step down.  And for those who are also subscribed to these viewpoints in NEA and AFT, you should step down as well.  The price for teachers and students is too big to have power brokers dancing with the devil.  I’m sure the viewpoint of parents is the last thing on your mind, but we are sick and tired of those who think they know what is best for our children but are selling them out behind the scenes.  You seem to forget that today’s students are tomorrow’s teachers.  What you do to them now will make sure NEA will become an archived post on Wikipedia that gets less readers by the year.

If you want our schools to become personalized learning competency-based career tracking community schools of the future, where students have no privacy and everything is catalogued while they earn to learn, then please, go work for a cyber charter school. If not, then please detach from any corporation that wants to destroy what you lead.  Only then will I truly believe you have teachers best interests in mind.  Your job should be leading teachers away from this madness, not embracing it.

 

Sincerely,

Kevin Ohlandt

Dover, DE

 

NEA Members Call Out Lily Eskelsen-Garcia Over “Partnership” With Relay Graduate School

A new business item showed up this morning at the National Educators Association’s annual representative assembly, held in Washington D.C. This one is very interesting. It concerns an alleged partnership NEA has with Relay Graduate School of Education. They are both involved in the corporate education reformer led “Teach Strong” initiative. But a partnership bears further investigation. In an article calling out both NEA and the American Federation of Teachers, both NEA leader Lily Eskelsen Garcia and AFT leader Randy Weingarten were raked over the coals for their affiliation with these groups and companies.

NEARelay

This action item calls for an explanation from Eskelsen-Garcia on why she is partnering with an organization that is the anti-thesis of NEA.  Programs like Relay and Teach For America diminish the role of teachers in public education and cause a wide-spread path of destruction along the way.  Their teachers, no matter what their intentions are, do not receive the same training regular teachers do, and get rammed into a crash-course on teaching.  Many of them frequently do not stay in the profession.  Some become administrators, leap-frogging past certified teachers, or get jobs with ed reform companies or state DOEs.  If NEA is partnering with an organization like Relay, their members definitely need an explanation from Eskelsen-Garcia.

I called her out last year over NEA’s rushed endorsement of the Every Student Succeeds Act.  As well, they were a very early endorser for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential candidacy.  Even though they are making it an official vote at this rep assembly to endorse her, it is something leadership did almost a year ago already.  Right now, Hillary is speaking to the assembled NEA members at their assembly.  In a picture taken before she arrived on the stage, teachers are seen waving and clapping as if Hillary is the second coming.  Someone made a comment of “Stepford Teachers”… a comment I am inclined to agree with.  I am no fan of Hillary, or Trump for that matter.  These are dark times…

NEAHillary

As the saying goes, while you may want a seat at the table, you also need to recognize when you are on the table.  NEA members need to be extra vigilant these days.  It’s not just a matter of trust, it is also a matter of survival in an increasingly hostile environment for public school teachers.   When dealing with these corporate education reform companies, collaboration is the same thing as alliance.  In Delaware, we have this ridiculous thing called “The Delaware Way” where parties comes to the table and compromise.  It is ridiculous and absurd and allows very bad entities into things they have no business being in.  NEA seems to have taken up this mantra as well.  Time to call out the leadership folks!

The Difference Between Lily Eskelsen Garcia And Donald Trump

It was brought to my attention today that I blasted the National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia over some recent comments she made in regards to students with disabilities while remaining completely mum on Donald Trump’s mockery of a New York Times reporter with a disability.  This is very true.  As I explained to my friend, I expected more out of the leader of the largest teachers union in the country than Donald Trump.  I expect Donald Trump to say and do stupid things at times that don’t make any logical sense.  But both actions offended not only the disability community but many in America as well.  I was very offended about Trump’s actions.  I also found out about his actions on Thanksgiving Day.  Had it been any other day, I most likely would have written about it, but it was a holiday and the only post I put up was things to be thankful for.  A few days later, I found out about the NEA President’s comments.  This was also immediately after I saw her urging all the teachers in the NEA to contact members of Congress to pass the “Every Student Succeeds Act”, which I do not support.

In the interest of fairness, I do not condone Trump’s actions by any stretch of the imagination.  Even more insulting was the fact that he did not apologize for his actions but rather insisted he doesn’t mock those with disabilities.  Today, The Daily Beast wrote an article about Trump’s history with the Americans With Disabilities Act and it is a very long and egregious list.

In terms of Lily Eskelsen Garcia’s comments, I truly believed along with many others that she used the term “chronically tarded” in a speech, along with the words “medically annoying” in describing things teachers in America have to deal with on a daily basis.  She has since issued a formal apology, via Youtube, explaining she was saying “chronically tardy” and why she used the term “medically annoying”.  She recognized her choice of words in the speech was not the best decision and I respect that immensely.

The difference between two similar actions could not have been more distinct and clear.  One apologized, the other made excuses.  One is redeemed in my eyes, the other is not.  In this very odd and peculiar battle of Lily Eskelsen Garcia vs. Donald Trump, she wins by a landslide!

Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Why Are You Telling Members To Vote Yes When Final Product Isn’t Out Yet? #StopESEA

I wrote a plea to the National Education Association earlier today to wait until they see the final product before urging members to vote yes on the ESEA reauthorization.  So can someone please tell me why their President, Lily Eskelen Garcia, is doing the exact opposite?  This was sent to all NEA members across the country earlier this week:

An ESEA Update from NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia

Admit it, I’ve been telling you since July that we were getting closer to the finish line of ESEA Reauthorization and you have been thinking, “Yeah right!” 

Well, as you can read in this statement from the House Education and the Workforce Committee or NEA’s statement, the House-Senate ESEA conference committee has voted to approve the framework agreement for ESEA reauthorization!  

What’s next? While we will not see official bill language until November 30th, this framework agreement does seem to address our core goals of closing opportunity gaps, giving students more time to learn and teachers to teach, and includes educators’ voices in the decision making process.  

The House is expected to vote as early as December 2nd followed by a Senate vote the week of December 7th. As usual, this is where you come in to continue the incredible work that has moved ESEA Reauthorization this far down the road. Go to GetESEARight.com  to send an email, or call 1-866-331-7233 to urge your members of Congress to VOTE YES on the ESEA conference agreement!

I would seriously question the wisdom of your President!  This is foolish and hasty at best…