A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The NEA promises a comments-enabled weblog?

My friend the Education Wonk wrote the other day about our discussion calling for the NEA to allow members to discuss its policies on a comments-enabled weblog. I commented about it here. The news is that that day may finally come! Thanks to Scott Elliot, who reportedthat the NEA has stated its intention to get into the game.

Although Eduwonk, whose blog is NOT comment-enabled, thinks this may be an unbelievable disaster for the NEA, I obviously disagree. The NEA needs more transparency. The NEA needs to do some more digging to find out what its members want it to do. I personally would like to see the NEA devote more of its muscle to improving the conditions teachers and students labor under, and less of itsclout on non-education related issues. We've got enough on our plate in the education field, thankyewverymuch.

I fully support the need for a professional organization for teachers. I am pro-union, the daughter of a union man who could have only supported his family with his union-negotiated wages and benefits. In the last few decades in this country, we have seen working people suffer where the ability to collectively bargain has been eviscerated. But the NEA suffers because it is out-of-touch with large numbers of its natural constituents. Every year, I have colleagues who would otherwise support the NEA refuse to join because of some unrelated position the NEA uses dues money to support. I fervently hope that a comments-enabled weblog would help the NEA get in touch with its members.

So we'll see how this turns out. Stay tuned.


At 6/6/06, 3:57 PM, Blogger NYC Educator said...

I'm pro-union too.

But I can't get enthused about particular unions unless they are pro-teacher, as opposed to pro-patronage mill, and pro-take the crap contract and shut the hell up about it.

I recognize we're far better off with unions, and that most Americans would benefit from unionization.

They have to do their job too, though.

At 6/6/06, 7:32 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Exactly! You said it so much better than I did.

At 6/6/06, 8:12 PM, Blogger NYC Educator said...

You said it fine. I agree with you always.

Edwize, though, has proven to be a huge disappointent. Rank and file doesn't bother with it, and it's habituated by Unity hacks and teacher-bashers.

They regularly ignore issues that directly relate to us in favor of self-serving propaganda.

At 6/6/06, 8:38 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

And that is too bad. I admit I don't get to read it often because, not being from New York nor in the UFT, some of the stuff goes right over my head.

But NEA thus far hasn't even shown the guts to try....

At 6/8/06, 9:28 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I don't belong to the union here in my area. The starting salary is $32,000, and it takes 12 years to break $40,000. My medical insurance for a family eats up $600/month. Administrators get paid mileage to attend meeeting, we do not.

And the list goes on.

At 6/13/06, 6:19 AM, Blogger James said...

I'm so ambivalent about this union issue. I go with it because I appreciate that without it the powers that be will swoop down and nickel and dime, or more, teachers to death out of a long list of entitlements and benefits. But I have little sense of it being a professional organization or something I in anyway really identify with. In fact I have a greater sense of paying protection money than anything else. - I'll give up about $600 a year to the NEA to keep the jackals at bay. Over time I'm sure I'll have more to say about this, hopefully more that's positive but given how little I hear from the union, other than for annoying mailings telling me about wonderful benefits I'm not particularly interested in, my guess is that my negative opinion will be reinforced, though I'll still likely appreciate the overall utilitarian aspects of membership. At this point I still see it worth the price of playing, I'll have to see as time goes by.

At 6/13/06, 3:19 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

And thanks, James, for providing an excellent example of my point.

Until the activities of the NEA seem relevant, many people will contemplate whether the protection the union provides is worth the other flotsam and jetsam the NEA distracts itself with, to the detriment of all.

This is why I think the NEA has tried to limit exactly these kinds of discussions. The leadership feels that they only have power if they address all kinds of unrelated political issues. They do not realize or do not care that this stance makes education issue less central within the current political arena.

I think education issues are important enough to deserve their own spotlight. Education issues certainly shouldn't be just one of a long line of interests that the NEA entertains occasionally.


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