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.
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…
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!
Sending a very confusing message to American parents, the National PTA will be issuing a position statement on testing and opt-out in the next couple days. In anticipation of this, the Delaware PTA issued a press release indicating they still support House Bill 50 because it supports parent’s rights, and in turn, children’s rights. The National PTA will not support the opt-out movement according to the Delaware PTA statement. The Delaware PTA has always advised they do not tell parents to opt out or tell them not to. But they have done a lot for opt-out in their support for House Bill 50.
As state teacher’s unions and the national unions, National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers, have never really supported the movement one way or another, the focus for all these groups has now become the nature of testing. In other words, the reformers have won. They have convinced the biggest organizations concerning schools that the problem isn’t with these upstart parents opting their kids out, it is the actual tests. Which is why we are seeing these assessment inventory committees popping up all over the country.
The end goal will be the same tests parents object to, but in smaller chunks, embedded in tests throughout the year. As students reach the end of units they are learning in their personalized learning environment, they will be given unit tests. They will still be standardized assessments, but not on the surface. Students will only progress when they have become proficient on the material. Based on “their” material. Not the standards most people grew up with, but the Common Core standards.
It is a disgrace. I still believe the only way to stop the takeover of our children by these reprehensible companies and organizations is to make a lot of noise and opt-out. The PTA’s and unions have been lulled into a false sense of security by these animals. They still don’t get what the essential problem is here. But many parents do. It is Common Core. It is the resources pouring out of the classroom and into corporations that disguise themselves as think tanks and non-profits. Where their CEO’s make more than most people make in six years. Where they buy off legislators and politicians with their big money and big words. With promises of power and security at the expense of children.
I have felt many betrayals in the past year and a half, but none have stung like the ones in the past two months. Organizations and people I thought were allies. They know who they are. If they don’t, be assured I hear a lot. Much more than you probably realize. Delaware isn’t that big. People who think the world will stop revolving if they don’t make sure they are heard. I respect the Delaware PTA for getting this out there ahead of time. I joined the PTA back in September so I could hopefully get some more access to things. That never happened, despite assurances from someone that it would. So I will not be paying my “membership fee” again. I truly can’t support an organization that thinks a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced is okay but still thinks Common Core is a good thing. I always knew this day would come, but it happened much sooner than I expected.
Delaware and American parents are on their own. We can’t rely on anyone but ourselves. We must shoulder the fight for our children by ourselves, without any true support. And you know what, I kind of like it better that way…