"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

The Education Spring and the Irrelevance of AFT/NEA

What do West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arizona have in common?  If you answered that they are states where teacher-led walkouts have resulted in gains in funding for teachers and school resources, you would be right, of course.  They are also right-to-work states where AFT and NEA influences are negligible.

The NYTimes Sunday Review had a piece this week that argued that the gains that are accruing to the teachers in these states will be short-lived without "strong unions."  I would agree with this if there were any strong national unions to choose from, but since AFT and NEA offer unhealthy choices that are more like Burger King or McDonalds than providing any substantive difference, then we are left with false choices, both of which are bad for you.

The Times piece offers the union in Racine, WI as an example of a strong union that has been effective in limiting class size, gaining resources, and increasing salaries.  Note that Racine is a local effort and not one headed by a bloated union hierarchy that pays its presidents almost a half-million dollars a year for doing PR for outfits that are in cahoots with the corporate education deformers.

The historic six-day wildcat strike in Arizona was led by a grassroots organization, Arizona Educators United (AEU), not the dress-up-and-go-to-a-luncheon crowd who run Arizona's NEA affiliate, AEA.  The future of teacher activism in AZ or elsewhere will not be in the hands of NEA or AFT functionaries who take hard earned teacher dues for nothing in return except the promise of supporting state candidates who, either Democrat or Republican, don't care a whit about the lives of public school teachers or their students.

The sad truth is that teachers around Arizona and the U.S. have been sending NEA and AFT hundreds of millions of dollars every year for, essentially, for liability insurance and some discount coupons for car insurance.

If organizations like AEU kept their dues money at home, they could build a legal defense fund that could support their actions in the streets and in the courts and in parent/student coalition building, where the battle to save public education will be fought and won.

Yes, it is time for strong unions for sure, which is bad news for NEA, AFT, and all their affiliates who stand by talking tough as teachers and children are abused, neglected, and humiliated by corporate education reformers and efficiency zealots trained to run businesses, rather than schools.

In my class on Sunday in Boston, a teacher told me about losing all their librarians in their system and 67 other faculty and staff. Another told me about losing all their ELL teachers, even though their student population is almost half English language learners.  This is in MA, where union membership is almost universal and collective bargaining is a fact of life.  The Education Spring has to grow in places like MA, too, which have, thus far, seemed immune from teacher activism outside the NEA/AFT bureaucratic stranglehold.

Children are being harmed.  That's the only justification any teacher needs stand up and to do whatever needs to be done to stop it.  Your AFT and NEA are not helping.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:25 AM

    The AFT and the NEA are not helping and moreover, they are hindering. A strategy advised by an union employee of an AFT affiliate was to avoid being insubordinate by keeping my mouth shut and praying. I was mindful of the fact that my union dues were paying for this travesty.

    Abigail Shure