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.