With a few minor amendments, the NEA's Representative Assembly today passed New Business Item C, a.k.a. "13 Things We Hate About Arne Duncan."
One of its sponsors said that unions are tired of being attacked, and they are "especially upset that the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Duncan are part of the problems we face every single day."
No one disagreed, and there wasn't a whole lot of debate on the item, which is a pretty good indication of just how ticked off the union is right about now.
Worth mentioning: One delegate offered and then withdrew an amendment to encourage President Obama to recall Duncan—and replace him with former NEA President Reg Weaver. (The amendment, believe it or not, went to a standing vote before it was withdrawn.)
Another delegate wanted to know whether there was any new information in the item that the NEA hadn't already conveyed to the Education Department. Apparently not. "They have all been related to the secretary of education, personally, by me, face to face," NEA President Dennis Van Roekel responded. (I'll bet that was a fun conversation.)
Another delegate was really angry, saying that the item amounted to a finger-wagging, when in just a day or two the union will be asked to endorse Obama for a second term. "This item is ... talk and no action," he complained.
After the item passed, Duncan's press shop offered this comment:
"We acknowledge differing views and interpretations among some education labor leaders around the administration's education agenda. But, on the whole our partnership with labor is having a positive impact on student learning and the teaching profession—and we look forward to continuing to work with the NEA in the months and years ahead to further advance education reform."
New Business Item C, which states, "NEA is appalled with Secretary Duncan's
practice of ..." and then goes on to list 13 things, was submitted by the union's board of directors, so it carries a fairly definitive sense of the union's view.