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NEA Gives Young a 'D' in 2006

| 8 Comments

I want to add something to last night's post on the NEA's letter to members of Congress.

Alert readers noted that I changed my item minutes after posting. I cut a reference to the 'D' NEA gave Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska., for the 109th Congress. In preparing the item, I had read that on NEA's site and written it in my notebook. But I pulled that sentence after the link in the item went to the wrong page. On that page, which was for NEA's 2005 report card, Young was not graded.

After checking with NEA, I can confirm what was in my notebook last night: Young received a 'D' from the union for 2005-06 (here's the link). NEA did not publish the grades for Young and Alaska's senators in 2005 at the request of the NEA-Alaska, Randy Moody, NEA's manager of federal advocacy, told me this morning. The state chapter changed its mind in 2006, and the national union published the grades for Young and the state's senators.

As I pointed out last night, it's ironic that NEA is encouraging House members to co-sponsor a bill introduced by Young, a member who has consistently opposed the union in the past. For more background, see here, here, here, and here.

Moody also explained why the union changed its grading policy in 2005 to include help members of Congress give the union, such as co-sponsoring specific bills.

"So many votes are procedural and sometimes very partisan," he said. "There's a lot of work members do—either positively or negatively—that isn't reflected in an up-or-down vote."

In the coming weeks, it'll be interesting to see if members sign up to support the NEA's favorite bills to improve their grades for 2007.

8 Comments

I'm not a NEA member, and I understand why the AFT must take a different approach. But the NEA is taking the more "pro-kids" approach.

Changing to growth models or multiple measures will help. But nothing will work if we persist in seeing accountability as the most important part of reform.

We need to shift gears and view accountability as ONE component of reform - not the "be all end all."

I was stunned the first time I read the opinion that playing games with the NCLB accountability rules was wrong and hurt kids. I participated in those meetings. We all knew what we were doing. We were consciously deciding on the "Balloon Mortgage" that would delay failure for the longest time.

We all assumed that we were doing it for the good of the kids. In retrospect it seems obvious that we were doing good for kids. And I have no doubt that educators continue to have the responsibality to evade NCLB rules.

If we could abandon utopianism and get back to realistically discussing ways of helping kids, I'd love the opportunity to do it in an honest manner.

Many may think that we are wrong, but we're not going away. And since its teachers who must implement NCLB, along with our administrators, NCLB supporters might as well stop demonizing us for doing what we perceive as our duty.

Besides, there is so much good we could do if we could get out of this stalemate.

I'm not a NEA member, and I understand why the AFT must take a different approach. But the NEA is taking the more "pro-kids" approach.

Changing to growth models or multiple measures will help. But nothing will work if we persist in seeing accountability as the most important part of reform.

We need to shift gears and view accountability as ONE component of reform - not the "be all end all."

I was stunned the first time I read the opinion that playing games with the NCLB accountability rules was wrong and hurt kids. I participated in those meetings. We all knew what we were doing. We were consciously deciding on the "Balloon Mortgage" that would delay failure for the longest time.

We all assumed that we were doing it for the good of the kids. In retrospect it seems obvious that we were doing good for kids. And I have no doubt that educators continue to have the responsibality to evade NCLB rules.

If we could abandon utopianism and get back to realistically discussing ways of helping kids, I'd love the opportunity to do it in an honest manner.

Many may think that we are wrong, but we're not going away. And since its teachers who must implement NCLB, along with our administrators, NCLB supporters might as well stop demonizing us for doing what we perceive as our duty.

Besides, there is so much good we could do if we could get out of this stalemate.

"...the NEA is taking the more "pro-kids" approach." YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!!!!! The NEA is concerned with one thing and one thing only, power (its own). Their constant pleas for smaller class sizes, quality pre-school and kindergarten programs, and mentors for new teachers are all code and translate into more NEA members, hence more dues for their coffers. They spend only a faction of these dues (from 3.2 million members) on collective bargaining. They spend an inordinate amount of these collected dues on other myriad "issues", especially developing the Democratic platform for president and other high profile subjects only barely/remotely related to education. They have fought education reform kicking and screaming every step of the way. They want desparately to maintain the status quo in our schools which pre-ed reform was an embarrassment.

Paul,

Join us with "constant pleas for smaller class sizes, quality pre-school and kindergarten programs and mentors for new teachers" and I won't care about your motives. In fact, I'll just assume that you are supporting these "pro-kids" prgorams for pro-kids reasons.

And guess what? Even if we went to an absurd extreme and just threw those resources out and did NO accountability, kids would get a whole lot more benefit than they have during the last five years.

John

John,

You seemed to have missed their code. If they were interested in these conditions for children's sakes it would be one thing. I know they are not. They are interested in these variables (AGAIN) to increse their ranks, bloat their coffers, and enhance their power/influence. You are not an NEA member. I was forced to be one for 34 years. I got tired of a bunch of self-serving morons trying to tell me how to think, how to vote, what was "right" and what was "wrong." Your naivete (sp?) is what's kept these folks in business/power for so long. They brainwash their members and sadly, too many buy into their party line. They are easily the single worst influence in public education in the country over the past three to four decades. If you don't have the experience or have not read enough on the issue(s) I suggest you read the new book about Albert Shanker. It might get your attention.

NCLB has a number of problems but it has at least initiated a dialogue on the importance of public education. With some key amendments NCLB will be reauthorized some time after Bush leaves office (that can't happen fast enough), despite the protestations of the myopic NEA.

Paul

John and Paul--I am a knee-jerk liberal from way back. I "know all the old union hymns," to quote Phil Ochs. But I am also a parent. My dogged liberalism has kept my kids in public schools. And I am really dismayed that the NEA, as well as the local union, has taken stands that are so profoundly anti-child and anti-education.

Included in NCLB are requirements to involve parents in evaluating progress and planning for improvement. These are requirements not yet implemented in my district (believe me, I have asked, I have lobbied, I have traveled up the food chain--finally getting some focus groups that the teachers were free to ignore).

Well itk may be that NEA lobbies for additional measures of assessing the success of schools. But I have no reason to believe that additional data will mediate the impression that education in this country is very unevenly distributed--and those students who have the most to begin with, receive the best. Apparently New York has just implemented growth measures--giving them a whopping 50% of the credit on a school report card. Surprise, surprise, some schools are shocked that they are doing worse than they supposed--and now they are mad.

We have available to us the lessons learned from the schools that have chosen to grasp the bull by the horns, and to implement reforms as necessary to improve achievement (as measured by test scores, or any other means that they find helpful). What is significant about NCLB's refusal to prescribe the needed reforms, is that it places that responsibility on the educators and administrators who claim to have the expertise.

In short--it's not the testing that teachers object to--they have been grading students on tests for years. Nor is it the fact that some students are failing--again this is nothing new. What is objectionable is that this has been made very public information, with an expectation that teachers, schools, districts and states, actually use the Title I dollars for their intended purpose, which has always been to level the playing field for all students.

Margo,

"What is objectionable is that this has been made very public information." You hit the nail on the head. Teachers' unions don't want any of this information made public. Rod Paige said in his book, The War Against Hope, we could get rid of the achievement gap in one day - simply eliminate the NCLB tests. The age old practice in public schools...if you pretend for a long enough time a problem doesn't exist, maybe, just maybe, it will go away.

John,

The NEA should be given credit for all the good it has done on behalf of its teachers, collective bargaining, improved working conditions, etc. My objection to the NEA is with their role as a political special interest group - and that interest is NOT about children.

In California, the NEA is opposing a ballot measure that would give community colleges funding based on their enrollment rather than the size of the K-12 population. California community colleges already receive less funding per FTE student than California's K-12 system receives for each student. California's K-12 system is a dump(consistently ranks among the worst few in the nation), but its postsecondary system is excellent. If the NEA was really "pro-student", they wouldn't be crying for the legislature to gut the colleges that have done reasonably well to feed a K-12 bureaucracy that hasn't done as well.

Additionally, they have opposed teacher certification exams such as the CBEST. I've looked at CBEST practice exams, and I could easily have passed that test in the fourth grade. Passing that test will not make someone a good teacher, but I can't see how anyone who can't pass that test is qualified to teach.

Comments are now closed for this post.

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