NEA for Kerry

Hold on to your hat! The National Education Association has endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president.

NEA president Reg Weaver said, “There is no way around it: No Child Left Behind forces us to spend money we don’t have, on programs we don’t need, to get results that don’t matter.” Leaving the money issue aside, we don’t need programs to help low-achieving students improve? Results on reading and math tests don’t matter?

Kimberly Swygert adds:

The NEA also passed a new business item, NBI 12, which “requires NEA opposition to the passing of ‘barrier tests’ for grade promotion or high school graduation.” They’d rather stick with the plain old barriers of low standards and poor teaching, which do enough to prevent graduation.

And NEA delegates voted down a measure to call for international pressure on Sudan to stop killing and exiling blacks in Darfur. It wasn’t because the NEA doesn’t take stands on international affairs.

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Comments

  1. Bob Diethrich says:

    Like a lot of Bush policies which I don’t agree with, if Clinton had proposed this, most Democrats (except perhaps the teachers unions) would have gone totally ga ga over NCLB!

    Hey more Federal interference and more school bureacracy involved in education? What’s there not to love?

  2. Hunter McDaniel says:

    What’s not to love is the current system, which is only accountable to itself and is largely governed by its employees.

    My own preference is for reforms which bring accountability through parent choice – open enrollment, charter schools, and vouchers. NCLB is an attempt to bring in accountability from above; while not my preferred approach, it’s better than nothing.

  3. Steven Haskett says:

    The union president is not responsible to the customers of the school system, but to the employees. From that standpoint, every penny not spent on salary and benefits is spent on “a program we dont need.”

    Given that the cost of producing an educated student has tripled (adjusted for inflation) since 1960, with no measurable increase in quality, I’d say the teacher’s unions have done a fine job representing their constituancy.

  4. BigFire says:

    Not for nothing, but Kerry just cancelled on NEA’s annual meeting to show off John Edwards. It’s not like NEA is ever going to back Bush.

  5. “Kerry just cancelled on NEA’s annual meeting”. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I think the Dems have finally figured out that gov’t employees’ unions don’t help them in federal elections. At any rate, even CBS radio noted that the NEA has never endorsed a Republican.

  6. Hunter – Even though I support NCLB, I agree with you in a lot of respects.

    Given that there ARE government schools, and given that some kids have no choice but to attend those schools, we need to have some form of accountability.

    Ideally, though, I’m beginning to think the whole thing should be taken out of governmental hands. It’s hard not to suspect that something is wrong with the entire system when you see this much angry reaction and opposition to what are, essentially, simple accountability measures.

  7. Mad Scientist says:

    And someone called Ayn Rand’s ideas evil. I guess that holding people to standards is evil as well.

  8. Jetstorm says:

    Teachers unions disgust me. Boy, don’t ever let me become governor of my state. I’d ban teachers unions, and any teacher who complained about it would be fired and replaced. And I wouldn’t care how terrible the short term cost was, because I’d know that 20 years down the road, I would be hailed as a revolutionary.

  9. Interestingly, NCLB actively discourages exit and other high stakes testing. So, the NEA should actually support the law.

  10. Eric Jablow says:

    If only Albert Shanker were still alive. Either he’d battle against the NEA on this, or he’d destroy civilization with a nuclear warhead.

  11. Margaret says:

    So, why did the NEA vote down the Darfur measure? What’s happening there is appalling. Are the Darfur the “wrong kind of blacks” or something?

  12. Mark Odell says:

    Kimberly wrote: Given that there ARE government schools, and given that some kids have no choice but to attend those schools, we need to have some form of accountability.

    Except that I need not accept those two “given” assumptions as unquestionable or unchangeable. Those aren’t the premises, those are the problems.

  13. “Boy, don’t ever let me become governor of my state. I’d ban teachers unions, and any teacher who complained about it would be fired and replaced.”

    Er, I’m afraid I have to inform you that we have these things in this country called “legislatures.” Governors are not absolute monarchs, as benevolent a despot though it sounds like you might wish to be.

  14. Bill Leonard says:

    Golly, what a surpise. The NEA has yet again endorsed a Democrat standard-bearer.

    The point is, in a national, or even state-wide election, does a union endorsement mean anything, really? Yes, and no.

    Yes, because it probably guarantees a certain percentage of union membership votes (there are always loyal followers who don’t think for themselves about much of anything.

    Yes, because in selected states and locales, it means a guaranteed union rent-a-crowd when the candidate shows up. It can also mean a turnout of precinct workers and people to get the less mobile and elderly to the polls, as well as other logistic help. This can make a difference in certain locales.

    No, because the unions are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democrat party — or perhaps, more accurately, a great many Democrat candidates are wholly-owned entities of unions.

    And the problem unions have is, since about 1953, when something like 39 percent of the workforce was organized, the percantage nationally has slipped to about 13 percent of the workforce. And that membership overwhelmingly is represented by public employee unions. The other reality is, a great number of union members obviously don’t vote the union (read: Democrat) party line.

  15. [sigh] Whatever happened to the Beck decision?

  16. Alex Bensky says:

    Margaret:

    The NEA opposed the resolution on Darfur for the same reason that the American Library Association won’t condemn Castro for his suppression of independent libraries: it might make the U.S. look good.

  17. Eric Holcombe says:

    Did you catch the ‘substitute’ speaker for the NEA? I’m not sure which is funnier – Kerry brushing them off or her as the follow-up.

  18. mike from oregon says:

    The NCLB act came to be BECAUSE the damn schools (this would mainly be pointed at the school administrations) weren’t being accountable. Is the NCLB perfect, far from it, it has the typical problems that come with almost anything mandated by the Federal government; but the absolute shirking of responsibility that has been going on in the schools for several decades forced this action.

    I absolutely agree with Jetstorm, if there were some way to ban teachers unions, I’d do it. The unions should stick to worrying about wages and benefits and keep their noses out of what is taught and how it is taught. Since we can’t ban unions, then I’m all for vouchers.

    By the way, speaking of Democrats and their new nominee, Flipper. We all know that he NOW opposes school vouchers (because among other things he now has the NEC support) but in typical John Kerry fashion here is a report on how he felt in 1998.

    In a 1998 New Republic article, Dana Milbank wrote that Kerry told her he’d “even approve government-funded vouchers – good for tuition at any accredited private school – as part of an overall education reform. …” At the time, Kerry was proposing turning all public schools into charter schools. The reasoning was that, since students are assigned to public schools, the system has no incentive to improve and no accountability for failure. Stated otherwise, the public school system is a monopoly. But if poor families could send their children to any charter school, with the government paying all or part of the tuition, public schools would be forced to raise their standards or risk having their students flee.

    Bush may not be everyone’s first choice, but at least he doesn’t sway in the wind, depending on which direction the wind is blowing today.

  19. Mark Odell says:

    mike from oregon wrote: The NCLB act came to be BECAUSE the damn schools (this would mainly be pointed at the school administrations) weren’t being accountable. Is the NCLB perfect, far from it, it has the typical problems that come with almost anything mandated by the Federal government; but the absolute shirking of responsibility that has been going on in the schools for several decades forced this action.

    I think this view is giving the fedgov too much benefit of the doubt, and also far too much credit for integrity of principle.
    No Child Left Unbrainwashed
    Building the FedEd Leviathan

    Bush may not be everyone’s first choice, but at least he doesn’t sway in the wind, depending on which direction the wind is blowing today.

    Yes; he and his advisers/handlers appear to think “the wind” should obey them, like King Canute ordering back the sea.

  20. Michael says:

    Mark, Canute ordered back the tide to prove that he didn’t have absolute power; Bush wouldn’t be so smart or so subtle.

  21. Frankly, I don’t believe that NLCB has anything whatsoever to do with improving school performance. I believe it’s intended to create a “no-win” situation that will eventually force all schools to be directly administered by government, instead of by local school districts.

    Why do I believe this? Well, it’s simple: many of the tests to determine school perfomance are graded on the curve, so no matter what the results in absolute terms, half the students will be “below average.”

    The testing itself is quite expensive – for reasons that seem obscure to me, actually.

    Indeed, I can’t quite follow why the testing that’s done to determine comprehention as a matter of standard practice, as part of the actual curriculim is not sufficient.

    But making the testing separate subtracts two months from the school year, at least in our local school district. Which means, it downgrades the performance level just by existing.

    Accountablity and results are things I’m all for. I’m married to a teacher and am the son and grand-nephiew of teachers, so I know the plusses and minuses rather well. But if there are to be standards, they must be meaningful, fair, and most importantly, produce usable data.

    You want to fix the system? The schools and school districts, even the unions are not the problem. The PROBLEM – and I might add, a far more addressable problem – is the institutions that train teachers.

    My wife is an excellent teacher. But that’s because she’s naturally an excellent teacher. My mother was credentaled under the much more stringant Washington State provisions and she sucked as a teacher.

    I would also strongly suggest that one other factor be changed; using the most stringant credentialing possible – standardise teaching credentials and allow good teachers to go where the best rewards are. The current situation – where one starts over on the salery/benifit/tenure track if one moves one county over – is a system of peonage.

    And peons never do produce as well as free persons.

    My IDEAL model for a charter school is this: it’s a facility that provides basic infrastructure services for teachers, and from whom teachers rent rooms. Parents bid for slots in those rooms, teachers set their price per seat filled.

    My wife is currently tutoring in her spare time, and it’s clear to me how good she is at what she does, and how very individual and intuitive the process really is.

    It’s also clear to me WHY it’s such a magical thing that people will put up with such apparently low financial recompence for teaching elementary school children.

    She’d do it for free, just for those “ahah” moments. (and when she tutors here, I get to share the rush!)

    Come to think of it, my Great Aunts taught for free, after they retired. They sat on their lovely shaded porch – and if any neighborhood child was having struggles, they went over to see Miz A or Miz B.

    As I see it, we have far too much “Education” and far to little teaching. Currently, it’s possible to get through all twelve years by rote compliance, without ever really integrating the underlying fundimentals. As a special educator and tutor, that’s the gap my wife fills – making all that stuff make sense to individual children.

    Oh, and it’s startling to understand that you can go on to teaching college and get credentialed – and STILL not understand WHY there is a zero and why you need to carry the one.

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