Tag Archives: NEA

It Says What? Facts, Fiction, and NEA's Foot-in-Mouth Disorder

(Update: The statistic in question was indeed released with the second half of the PDK survey’s data in September. That makes the third scenario at the end of this article the correct one, and it raises the question of why NEA was allowed to access and use a politically advantageous statistic long before the full data was released to the public. Perhaps it had something to do with NEA’s backing of the survey?) Everyone suffers from foot-in-mouth disorder at some point in their lives. You know the situation: You’re in the middle of an important conversation, things are going well, and you’re looking pretty smart.  Then, with no warning at all, you blurt out something silly. Maybe it was offensive, confidential, or ill-advised. Or maybe it was just plain wrong. Fear not, my friends. The National Education Association is right there with you. As you likely know, the results of two major, nationally representative surveys on education policy issues were released recently. I wrote about the PEPG/Education Next Survey just yesterday. Today, I got to dig into the second survey, conducted by Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup. Careful readers will note that I’ve outlined some issues with previous iterations of […]

Read More...

Of NEA, ACORN, Duncan and Electric Chairs: EIA is Back with a Bang

If you aren’t a regular reader of Mike Antonucci’s Education Intelligence Agency (EIA), you don’t know what you’re missing. Mr. Antonucci is one of the best national experts on teachers unions, has a very keen perspective on the significance of issues in unions and education politics, and breaks many stories with his vast network of (mostly anonymous) sources. That’s why when he took a break from his online reporting and commentary for nine or 10 days a little earlier this month, I was suffering from a mild case of withdrawal. But EIA’s Intercepts blog is back, with two new pieces I commend to your reading enjoyment and enlightenment: “NEA & ACORN: The Details” (adding more depth to an issue my Education Policy Center friends covered recently on our Independent Teachers site) How the two national teachers unions now face the equivalent of a political “electric chair” in their education policy discussions with a Democratic presidential administration … big stuff EIA is back with a bang. Happy Monday!

Read More...

Teachers in Another School District Decide to Break Away from the NEA

Back in the spring I told you about a local teachers union in Kansas that broke away from the National Education Association. Apparently the trend is growing. From a press release sent to my friends in the Education Policy Center this week about some happenings in Spokane, Washington:

Read More...

A Glimpse at New Schools: Math and Science Leadership Academy

After the Colorado Independent brought attention to Denver’s Math and Science Leadership Academy (MSLA) on Friday, I decided it was turn to shine the light on a brick-and-mortar school that is unique for one reason: no principal. No principal, you say? That has to be good, right? When I throw spit wads at the kid next to me, whose office are they going to send me to? Right? Okay, okay, I can stop being goofy for a few minutes. MSLA is not a charter school but an innovation school. The school’s founders had to ask for waivers from state law that would allow it to operate with two “lead teachers” instead of a principal. Teachers evaluate each other through a peer review system. Located in southwest Denver, it’s a K-5 elementary school with a “primary focus” on “science, technology, and mathematics.” MSLA opened its doors this year to students in kindergarten through second grade. Parents who are interested can go to the school’s website for more information on admissions.

Read More...

Will Colorado "Race to the Top" of the Class? Would That Be a Good Thing?

Update, 8/26: The witty voice of experienced education reformer Checker Finn eloquently notes that “the country’s most powerful education organization has fired a big grumpy shell across the bow of the country’s earnest and determined education secretary. This battle is joined.” I invite you to read his perspective. When it comes to the U.S. Department of Education doling out money to states for reform and innovation, is Colorado like the nerdy kid at the front of the class who sucks up to the teachers? That’s the colorful metaphor Education Week blogger Alyson Klein crafts to explain our state’s approach to getting Arne Duncan‘s “Race to the Top” money: If the competition for a slice of the $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund were a K-12 class, Colorado would be the kid sitting right up front, wearing gigantic glasses, furiously taking notes, and leaping up to answer every single one of the teacher’s questions. The latest effort? A petition, sent to folks in Colorado, urging them to endorse the state’s bid. Hidden beneath the surface are concerns that Colorado might not meet the early expectations and be one of the top finalists.

Read More...

NEA Backs Obama Care Plan, Doesn't Bother Asking Member Teachers

For some reason, these days all the big people are talking a lot more about health care than education. Hey, I’m not a huge fan of going to the doctor or going to school. But at least at school, you’ve got some of your friends around you. And learning can be fun, too (but don’t tell my friends I said that). Anyway, my other friends in the Education Policy Center provide one overlooked example of how the two issues overlap with this post on the Independent Teachers blog: If you were a full-time member of the National Education Association (NEA) through joining your local teachers union, then you sent money during the 2007-08 school year to support the current proposal from Congress and President Obama to promote socialized medicine. According to the latest disclosure report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, NEA gave $500,000 in 2007-08 to the group Health Care for America Now, a 501c4 political organization that is backing President Obama’s health care plan. (It is likely that NEA has made further contributions to this group since 2007-08, since NEA is listed as being a member of the HCAN steering committee.) Wow, you think the union could […]

Read More...

Status Quo in Congress Holds Back Teacher Incentive Fund Growth … Somewhat

Alyson Klein, one of the ladies who cover happenings related to education on Capitol Hill for Education Week, reports about an important committee vote yesterday: A bipartisan effort to boost funding for the Teacher Incentive Fund by an extra $100 million went down to defeat today during the full Senate Appropriations Committee’s markup of the bill funding the U.S. Department of Education in fiscal year 2010. The bill already includes $300 million for the TIF, a teacher performance-pay program that is currently funded at $97 million. The proposed increase in the failed amendment would have been paid for by taking $100 million out of the federal State Grants for Improving Teacher Quality program. TIF provides competitive grants to state agencies, school districts, and charter schools that develop quality performance pay programs for teachers and for principals. As my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow has outlined in his issue paper Denver’s ProComp and Teacher Compensation in Colorado (PDF) and elsewhere, local Colorado school districts have applied for and received a significant share of TIF grant money. Besides Denver, they include Eagle County, Harrison (El Paso County), and Fort Lupton. Our K-12 education compensation system badly needs a serious overhaul, and […]

Read More...

iVoices: Ben DeGrow, Amy Oliver Talk about Teachers Union Priorities

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:

Read More...

Politicians Attacking Successful, Locally-Supported DC Choice Program

I may get the occasional snarky comment from people who don’t like school choice, but don’t feel bad for me. Instead, get angry about the kids in Washington DC who are in the middle of a political tug-of-war over their Opportunity Scholarships and educational futures. Why get angry? [Illinois Democrat] Senator [Dick] Durbin was busy introducing new, onerous regulations on the program in an appropriations bill last week. In particular, his measures would require participating private schools to take the DC public school test rather than a nationally-normed standardized test, even though they may not have the same curriculum as DCPS. His measures would also require the Secretary of Education to prohibit voucher students from attending any private school that was not deemed “superior” to DC public schools.

Read More...

Kansas Teacher Independence Story Makes National Headlines Again

A couple months ago I told you about the Kansas teachers local that fought for and won its independence from the state and national union. I’m excited, because the podcast I posted up there was quoted in the latest edition of School Reform News: In a March 30, 2009 interview with the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank based in Golden, Colorado, [Riley County Educators] spokesman Gary [sic] Sigle explained that last year only 14 of the county’s 56 teachers were NEA members, which gave those 14 members exclusive bargaining power. Others wanted a greater say in what was going on locally. Sarah McIntosh, the writer of the story, also interviewed my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow to get his take on the issue:

Read More...