The central issue of this convention illustrates the difference between myself and the current leadership.I disagree with Dennis Van Roekel on early endorsement of Obama for a second term. Endorsing now would send a clear message to the nation that the NEA does not intend to fight for its own principles — that we have made peace with the Obama/Duncan policy of destroying public education.
We have been through 3 years of unprecedented attacks on the entire system of universal comprehensive public education – – charterization – cuts in art and music – destruction of successful desgregation programs, for lack of funding for buses, decision making on the basis of standardized test scores – conditions and programs for our students are being decimated. The current generation is facing a future of less opportunity than their parents.
If we endorse now — we give Arne Duncan our stamp of approval for the continuation of the same policies for the next five years.We can’t retreat when we have the most leverage to win. Doing that would destroy the morale and trust of our base…. In fact, it will put the far right Republicans in the drivers seat. If no one is fighting on principle – they have the field to themselves.
Diane Ravitch understands that – she says “NEA – don’t endorse Obama until he changes his educational policy.” Over the last two years the NEA has been an important part of the independent student-led civil rights movement that has won real victories. We must expand this fight – we’re guaranteed to have tons of opportunities over the next year!
If we stand boldly on our own principles – if we make demands on the Obama administration from a position of power, if we continue to stand in solidarity with the young people and communities across the country who want to fight for their future –we can set the agenda for public education – we can win real gains – we can recover things we have already lost.
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