Last week I helped bring your attention to the National Education Association’s open declaration about their priorities as a labor union first, and kids second — as well as the latest published criticism of NEA, this time coming from a traditional political ally on the Left.
These are interesting times we live in, and my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow joined Amy Oliver on a new iVoices podcast to talk about these issues more in depth. I invite you to listen (click on the play button below):
For those of you who have forgotten, here’s what retiring NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin told a crowd of 8,000 cheering union delegates:
Despite what some among us would like to believe it is not because of our creative ideas; it is not because of the merit of our positions; it is not because we care about children; and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child.
The NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of million of dollars in dues each year because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them; the union that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.
This is not to say that the concern of NEA and its affiliates with closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality, and the like are unimportant or inappropriate. To the contrary these are the goals that guide the work we do. But they need not and must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights, or collective bargaining.
That is simply too high a price to pay.
Let me tell you what: I think that letting the NEA have so much power over education policies “is simply too high a price to pay” for the students and families of Colorado who are seeking the best academic opportunities.