“That with the defeat of collective bargaining in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, the NEA will focus less on those kind of issues and focus more on issues of teaching quality, particularly the implementation of the Common Core.” – Dennis Van Roekel
The incredible importance of President Dennis Van Roekel’s statement to the NEA Retired Assembly at the NEA Conference in Georgia today must be read directly from attendee and Illinois RA Representative Fred Klonsky. See it, in full, below.
Quality control at the NEA RA by Fred Klonsky
The Retired Conference is over and now I have moved to an upper story room at the Omni at CNN Center.
Tomorrow afternoon is the first Illinois and other state caucus meetings. The first general meeting of the NEA RA will be Tuesday.
This morning retirees listened to speeches by VP Lily Eskelsen and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.
I posted on Facebook about DVR’s remarks.
And it has caused something of a stir as my short remarks were reposted and reposted.
Some have asked me for a written transcript. I don’t have one because there is none.
I only have my memory of what DVR said. I asked many others in the hall if they heard what I heard.
And, for the most part, they did.
Some who I asked differed over interpretation.
Yet here is what I heard DVR say: That with the defeat of collective bargaining in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, the NEA will focus less on those kind of issues and focus more on issues of teaching quality, particularly the implementation of the Common Core.
He was quite aggressive in his advocacy of the Common Core, throwing down the challenge to those on the Right and the Left who have been critical of it. DVR said that if you have nothing better to offer, step back.
Putting aside the content for a moment, I found his tone incredibly belligerent.
It is for DVR to speak and explain what he means by his statements about collective bargaining. There was not nearly enough explanation in his speech to retirees. But I have been told by those who have been involved in talks at the national level that this will be a recurring theme at this RA and after.
The theme being that the NEA must be seen as the leading advocate of quality, as opposed to a defender of the status quo.
That this echoes the attacks on teacher unions by those like Chicago’s Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel is apparently lost on DVR and the NEA top brass.
After over a decade of No Child Left Behind, Races to the Top and demands for accountability that have been turned into nothing less than witch hunts of teachers, who is the defender of the status quo?
And why on earth would the President of the nation’s largest union pit collective bargaining against quality?
In any case, the message delivered to retirees today was no slip of the tongue. It may have been more crassly expressed than it might have been had DVR read it off of a teleprompter from the RA dais.
Given the attacks on teachers, pensions, school closings and turnaround, a glut of standardized testing and job losses, it will be a disaster if this RA becomes nothing more than an ad for Common Core standards.
And should a fight break out over it on the floor, the message carried from Atlanta to the rest of the country will be that teachers were fighting over whether we are for quality or not.
Fred Klonsky (Direct link HERE.)