Notes from Camp: Friday, July 4

A lot of the readers of these blogs are “folks back home”–family members sharing their loved ones’ experiences, retired delegates who don’t come to the RA any more, or colleagues who elected delegates and wonder just what they’re doing.

The question that many of those readers ask me is: what is it about? Just what are all these issues that so occupy this group?

Today I’m going to drop the details and focus on the broad strokes. Although today’s RA Today listed 77 NBIs, we know that there will be plenty more before the RA concludes on Sunday evening. Still, based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s possible to see the broad outlines of the delegates’ concerns.

  • They were angered but not surprised by the Vergara decision attacking fair dismissal rights in California, because like all educators, they know that we have enemies and that those enemies have a lot of money to spend on lawsuits aimed at educators. But they were enraged when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan–appointed by a President they believe should know better–said that the decision constituted a “mandate to fix these problems.” For years, the RA heard calls for Duncan’s resignation, and proposals to formally request that resignation never passed. Today, NBI 23, calling for Duncan’s resignation, passed with Ohio’s support. (Text can be found here.)
  • Call it what you like–“toxic testing,” “kill and drill,” or some other pejorative–educators have had it with the abuse and overreach of standardized testing. Whether they focus on the damage to students, to teachers, or to scholarship itself, just about everybody here opposes the way in which testing has taken over teaching and learning.
  • A third issue is the increasing trend toward education privatization–whether in the form of education providers like charter schools or testing providers like Pearson. Many speakers have claimed that the profit motive, and not actual concerns about school quality, is the major impetus for both accountability and school choice programs.

Tomorrow will be soon enough for a progress report, but sometimes it’s good to look at the big picture, so I wanted to highlight the emerging themes of this year’s RA. The three I’ve noted are dominating the discussions and influencing the elections. More on that tomorrow.

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About neoeaxd

Bill Lavezzi serves as Executive Director of the North Eastern Ohio Education Association. NEOEA is a professional association of educators consisting of the nearly 31,000 members of the 192 local OEA and NEA affiliates in northeastern Ohio. Founded in 1869 as the North Eastern Ohio Teachers Association, NEOEA took its present name in 1989 in recognition of the diversity of its members.
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