Below is the election flyer for leadership of the National Education Association, by leaders of the Equal Opportunity Now/BAMN caucus of the NEA:
Elect EON/BAMN Candidates Tania Kappner and Mark Airgood!
Defend the Right to Public Education for ALL Students!
Get Rid of Arne Duncan and Stop the Privatization of Public Education!
It’s Time for the NEA to Start Acting Like a Union!
Build the New Civil Rights and Immigrant Rights Movement!
This year there are several states that will have new and greater budget allocations for public education. We cannot allow a dime of this money to go towards the perpetuation or furtherance of the disastrous policies instituted over the last four years by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
But this means our union will have to act like a union, rather than be Duncan acolytes and barely critical, meek and muted subordinates of the Administration.
It is our duty to our members, our students and to the Latina/o, black and poor communities that have borne the brunt of the decimation of public education to draw an honest balance sheet on the devastation of the last four years. This is the only way to stop the continuing degradation and destruction of public education and four more years of an unacceptable downward spiral. We owe it to ourselves as teachers and to our union to restore the dignity, respect, worth and appreciation of teachers. We must stop signing onto any teacher bashing and go from the defensive to the offensive. Our union has contributed to undermining of our profession. This too must stop.
On the Duncan policies, here are a few of the most important conclusions for us to draw:
1) charter schools and privatization of public education has made the achievement gap widen and are failing models for school improvement, 2) arrogant billionaires should not dictate the character of public education through the allocation of their private funding schemes instead of paying their share of taxes and must be replaced by letting the people democratically decide how to utilize the resources available, 3) implementation of all the joint union/management teacher evaluation policies is wrong, is not working, and cannot work in a democracy. All of these core Duncan policies are failing, will fail, and we need to make sure they never make a comeback.
How we need proceed is also evident.
First, let’s stop covering for and adapting to Arne Duncan’s arrogant, cynical, and in some cases, treacherous policies. We have so much power and will be heralded and respected by all if we just act independently.
So, instead of equivocating on charters, let’s be honest. They are bad schools that achieve nothing positive. Instead of agreeing with anti-union demagogues that “weeding out bad teachers” is the quick fix needed to turn around resource deprived, segregated schools, let’s defend our members instead of throwing them under the bus. We must stop participating in Peer Review schemes that force teachers to demean, harass, discipline, and demoralize our fellow teachers. It has been obscene for our union leaders to instigate or participate in the witch-hunting of teachers, especially older teachers and minority teachers, out of our schools.
Let’s admit now so that the millions of dollars we gave to the Democrats to “save our jobs” and protect our members has yielded nothing.
Instead of begging Duncan for a “seat at the table” let’s put our collective foot up their you know what. We have power. We have the support, respect and love of our students who have shown their willingness to fight for us even when we have preferred being defeated to joining forces with them.
We need to use the power of the social movements that support us to picket, to strike, to sit down or stand up – depending on the situation. Years of union inaction means we have lost our leverage with politicians because they neither fear nor respect us.
If elected, we will draw our union into the new immigrant and civil rights movement. We will mobilize our membership en masse to march in Washington, D.C. on August 28, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech to fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants—with and without papers, restore affirmative, and defend public education. We will restore the principle that equal, quality education must be a right for all rather than a privilege for a few through organizing local and national actions. We will never let anyone forget the failures of Arne Duncan’s ridiculous schemes so that they will not be repeated again under some new jargon name. We will restore teachers’ dignity and uplift our standing to what it was and should be by being proud of our members and their courage to teach through all the uncertainties and instability. We will mobilize joint teacher, student and community actions. When we mobilize the power of our membership, it will be for real and not for show. When we fight we will fight to win.