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NEA Delegates Tackle State Takeover, National-Board Certification, and ... Breastfeeding?

It's day three of the Representative Assembly and delegates have voted on more than 50 New Business Items already. That means they're about two-thirds of the way through the votes. 

Following on the heels of its most notable item, which called for Secretary Arne Duncan's resignation, this morning the NEA demanded "for a moratorium on state takeovers of school districts and that state takeover districts be returned to local control." The item was submitted by the affiliate in New Jersey, where the state has taken over four school districts. The item's rationale says that state takeover disenfranchises parents and communities "while powerbrokers' corporate cronies exploit them with money-making schemes." Again, an indication that members are prepared to fight corporate interests

Here are some other relevant NBIs that passed: 

  • NBI 24 says the NEA will "promote the work of affiliates to protect the right of due process, tenure, and seniority." Surely this was another reference to the Vergara lawsuit
  • NEA passed NBI 31, stating it would "condemn the actions of organizations such as the Pew Charitable Trust and the Arnold Foundation, which are funding and leading a concerted attack on public employee defined-benefit pension plans." (Starting to see a pattern here with the skepticism around big-money donors?) 
  • Delegates voted to encourage mentoring, financial incentives, release time, and support for National Board Certified Teachers (NBI 32). The number of new board certifications has been on the decline, perhaps in part because some states have backed away from offering financial incentives to NBCTs.
  • NBI 36 stated the NEA will share local insights on peer-assistance and -review models. The unions have generally embraced peer review as an alternative to other teacher-evaluation methods. 

And in a less-education-relevant item, the delegates passed an NBI stating it would educate members about the effects of shale gas fracking, for a cost of nearly $10,000. The delegates also passed two votes—an NBI and a legislative amendment—on protecting and supporting breastfeeding mothers (both in schools and within the NEA).

During debate on a legislative amendment about opposing "the unreasonable search and seizure of personally identifiable data," one delegate offered a reminder that garnered chuckles from the crowd. "We are the National Education Association, not the National Everything Association," he said.

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