EON/BAMN Candidate Statements for NEA Officer Elections

admin July 1, 2011 Labor Movement, Public Education Comments Off on EON/BAMN Candidate Statements for NEA Officer Elections

Public Education Must Be a Right –

Our Children Are Not for Sale!

Save Dr. King’s Vision for America!

  • Build the New Student-Led Civil Rights Movement
  • Organize Independent, Integrated, United Teacher/Student/ Community Action to End the Legislative Attacks
  • Stop Relying on the Democrats to Save Us
  • Tax the Billionaires, Banks and Corporations to Create Funding for Public Education! For a Massive Increase in Federal Funds to Education
  • Save Public Education: Stop Union Busting, Get Rid of Arne Duncan Now
  • All Our Students Can Learn and Excel – Reject High-Stakes Testing
  • Stop Teacher Bashing. Defend Their Dignity, Ability, Character & Right to Organize
  • Stop the Anti-Democratic Attacks – No Takeovers, Turnarounds, Shutdowns
  • No More Charters or Vouchers
  • Strengthen NEA Democracy. NEA Officers Paid No More Than Teachers’ Rate

Mark Airgood for NEA President

I am running for NEA President because I refuse to accept that teachers cannot stop the attacks on our union, our rights and public education. We have the power and support needed to win. We don’t have to accept what Arne Duncan calls “the new normal”—the continuous decline of resources earmarked for public education. The current policy of subordinating our interests and principles to the exigencies of the politicians, especially the Democrats, has made us weak, divided and incapable of making progress.I reject the popular but wrong premise that the rich and powerful are the only force that can determine our society’s direction. This belief keeps our union perpetually tied to the politicians, who are bending over backwards to do the bidding of the rich and elite.The oppressed communities, in particular the Latina(o) and black communities, which are bearing the brunt of the attack on public education, can organize and build a mass, independent movement based on defending public education, with the power to reshape our nation’s direction. Sixty years ago, Dr. King, using the victory of Brown v. Board of Education, did just that. Dr. King’s movement made access to a comprehensive public education a universal right. The King-led civil rights movement immeasurably strengthened the labor movement, while being itself immeasurably strengthened by union support.King’s movement would never have had the power to strike down the old Jim Crow if he had tied his movement to one of the two political parties.If we remain tied to the Democrats, we will betray our principles and lose the gains of the last civil rights movement. Our union is not organizing militant mass actions only because we fear unleashing the power and anger of our Latina(o), black, Asian, Arab and poor and middle-class white students more than we fear losing.I love being a teacher. I love my students—special-needs middle-schoolers, overwhelmingly black and Latina(o). They are among the most vulnerable students facing the cuts; they are determined to fight whether their teachers join them or not.My students have given me far more than I have given them. I have no interest in reaffixing the badge of inferiority onto them.We can win if we fight. I am tired of being scared, being surrounded by brilliant educators who are irrationally paralyzed by fear—fear of losing their jobs, of being downwardly mobile, of fighting, being equally scared of not fighting, and fear of losing our dignity and sanity. If I fight and get fired, I will find another job. So will my co-workers. But if we lose public education, my students, their sons and daughters and generations to come, will be relegated to permanent second-class status. I am most scared of living with the fact that I failed my students and abandoned my principles because I bowed to irrationality and convention.I want to be NEA President because I want us to win. If you agree, support EON/BAMN.

Ceresta Smith for NEA Vice President

The Civil Rights struggle of 1950-1970 garnered voting rights and quality public education. Together, they represent the cornerstones of American democracy and freedom. Both are expressions of a national commitment to equality. Right now we are in a fight to defend these historic gains in an effort to stop the new Jim Crow, the byproduct of the new “education reform.”In 2006, the massive immigrant rights demonstrations that shut down Los Angeles and other major cities gave birth to a new movement. This movement continues today—from the BAMN-organized school occupation to stop the closing of Catherine Ferguson Academy that serves pregnant girls in Detroit, to the Tucson, Arizona students who shut down the TUSD school board meeting to defend ethnic studies, to the marches and walkouts across the country against teacher layoffs, program cuts, and “high stakes” assessments. If the NEA builds this independent movement, we can defend public education and rebuild the American labor movement.We must embrace the boldness of the youth to safeguard rights that are rapidly eroding. Students are aware when they are confronted with an unfair or racist agenda. They are our strongest allies. Together, we can defend and protect public education and realize an American public school system filled with equity and integrity.We cannot accede to the politics of the Democratic Party or subordinate our principles to the political needs politicians; we weaken the NEA and the labor movement when we do. We are the acknowledged experts on education. It is essential that we not allow ourselves to be maligned by quick-fix reformers who try to profit as opposed to promote the needs of students.I challenge Lily Eskelsen and all candidates for NEA Executive Committee to an open debate on the way forward for the NEA at the RA.

Tania Kappner for NEA Executive Board

The right to universal public education, like the universal right to vote, was won out of the great civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. Together, they represent the cornerstones of American democracy and freedom, expressions of a shared national commitment to equality. Across the nation, we are now in a life-and-death fight to defend these historic gains for all students and to stop the new Jim Crow—legalized second-class status—from being imposed on black and Latina/o students and communities for the whole next period of American history.The furious bipartisan attack on public education is being applied to manufacture inequality for oppressed communities, in particular the black and Latina/o communities. An aggressive national campaign of cuts to the arts and humanities is designed to deny black and Latina/o youth the right to shine. Booker T. Washington’s plan, promoted and funded by wealthy white philanthropists, to limit the dreams of black youth to the dirt under their feet, not the stars above, is being implemented by force.We do not have to accept the degradation of public education. Our union must continue to defend our principles for a comprehensive public education, including the arts and humanities.The new Jim Crow, permanent second-cl
ass citizenship for black and Latina/o youth, is being promoted and funded by super-rich white philanthropists today.  But the rich and powerful are not the only force that can determine the direction of our society.Our union must take an independent course, stop relying on the Democrats to save us, and support the new youth-led civil rights movement that will in turn, strengthen our union.

Ed Guzman for NEA Executive Board

Across the nation, we are now in a life-and-death fight to defend public education for all students and to stop the new Jim Crow from being imposed on black and Latina/o students and their communities for the whole next period of American history.In city after city, the power of elected schools boards has been stripped away and replaced with an appointed “School Czar” whose sole job is to wage attacks on students, teachers, and public schools. Many teachers—especially pro-youth teachers and black and Latina/o teachers—have been singled out for attacks. If the NEA maintains a policy of subordinating our historic principles of intransigent defense of public education and the students’ and members’ rights to the whims of politicians, we can expect to see these same anti-democratic tendencies appear in our own organization.There is simply no way to destroy public education without destroying democratic freedoms. It was a victory for the NEA and public education that the main story coming out of last year’s convention was that the NEA rejected the Obama/Duncan plan for education. We need to maintain and expand that independence this year.Every RA delegate has a right to hear from the alternative candidates, to consider their positions, and to exercise their democratic right to influence the direction of the union in the RA. It’s essential that state caucuses do not take a position on candidate endorsements until all the candidates have been heard. EON/BAMN speaks for the vast majority of teachers who do not agree with the NEA’s current policies and who want to hear from the alternative candidates.We will hear lots of justified anger at Republican governors and state legislatures who have launched blatant anti-union attacks. But we don’t want to cover for Democratic governors and state legislatures who are advancing the attacks on public education. It makes no sense for CTA leadership to claim that only the Republicans are at fault while Jerry Brown and the Democratic majority administer the education cuts. It’s crucial for the NEA to build our defense of our union, our students and public education on an independent basis.

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