A Teachable Moment

Former local teacher union pesident Morty Rosenfeld periodically attempts to make sense of the increasingly senseless world of public education.

Archive for July, 2012

Forget About Us for Awhile,President Obama

President Obama, here’s some free advice. From now until Election Day, forget about any new education initiatives. Unless you do, you can kiss the teacher vote goodbye. Here I am a teacher union leader gearing up to encourage our members to not only vote for you but put their time, money and effort into your campaign, while you are announcing yet another ridiculous program to incentivize quality teaching. Incentivize quality teaching indeed! Get it through your head, there are no teachers out there who but for a stipend of $20,000 per year would be providing great instruction. No one who knew anything about teachers would dare voice such a blatant stupidity. Here’s what forty years of working in public education have taught me. It’s yours free of charge. The overwhelming number of teachers try to be the best they can every day they step into the classroom. The very best teachers I have known, never feel good enough – always feel the lesson they just taught could have been better. Giving $20,000 to an elite few perceived to be master teachers would be nothing short of a kick in the teeth to the dedicated millions who give it their best shot every day.

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NEA RA A Missed Opportunity

Before I left for the NEA Representative Assembly in Washington D.C., I wondered whether the NEA leadership would leave the assembled delegates with some hope that the attack on public education and teachers could be thwarted and a strategy for the defeat of the enemies of public schools could be developed. That I doubted this would happen is no secret to my readers. My doubts were well founded.

What kind of leaders bring together over 7 thousand union activists and allow them to leave without any marching orders? Oh sure, delegates were challenged to take control of their profession and to continue to be social justice patriots, union citizens who see the defects of their society and fight to remedy them. But delegate were asked to do nothing concrete. While the NEA appears to be trying to resurrect the idea of an organizing union, it let a giant opportunity to organize the very people it needs to organize its members at the local level go by without any attempt at mobilization.

Imagine if, working through it state caucuses which met at the convention every day, each delegate was asked upon her return home to pledge that they world solicit as few as 10 contributions of $20 to the NEA political action fund. Something as simple as that could raise well over $1,000,000 and, more importantly, begin the training of the delegates as grassroots organizers. A delegate who can raise political action money can move members to take other actions as well.

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