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Union Convention Reveals Fractured, Disorganized NEA
posted by: Guest contributor | July 17, 2015, 05:00 AM   

By Conner Dunleavy


This month, the National Education Association (NEA) - the nation’s largest teachers union, boasting around 3 million members – gathered in Orlando, Florida for their national convention. This convention hosted nearly 7,000 delegates and union members from across the country in order to approve resolutions, take up stances on issues, and conduct administrative tasks. The convention has been a decades long tradition, and it is here that delegates have historically decided how dues are charged and what political issues will be tackled by the union each year.


This annual convention is also notorious for producing controversial resolutions, including a pro-abortion family planning resolution, an issue which caused the convention to be picketed by pro-life teachers, students, parents, and community members alike. This year an assortment of over 100 items were on the legislative agenda for the delegates to asses. Among them were several interesting points, some of which were debated at length, including a resolution concerning the Confederate flag, another about racism, and one regarding world hunger.


Reports from the convention floor seem to paint a picture of a union organization that was anything but organized, with votes on agenda items meaning the same thing (item 5 opposing Common Core and supporting opt-out was voted down, while item 115, which supported the exact same causes was approved). This disorganization on the floor of the convention seems to represent a disorganization of leadership as a whole. With a new generation of teachers increasingly turning away from the unions and a resurgence of the school choice movement, perhaps the union cannot make up its mind as to the best way to go forward as an organization.


The teachers unions have been facing a lack of membership growth recently, meaning that fewer teachers are joining unions, and many are choosing professional alternatives such as AAE. This is explained rather simply, AAE offers teachers a professional benefits package, while treating all members as respected adults, and not taking partisan stances on political issues unrelated to education.


At AAE you have a home where every teacher’s voice matters and positions are not determined by an elite segment of union delegates. Each year members are invited to participate in AAE National Membership Surveys. Your ideas, priorities, and perspectives are then supplied to the national media, educational policy makers, and the U.S. Congress. U.S. Senator Charles Grassley from Iowa told us, "I was pleased to review your membership survey, which demonstrates significant policy differences with the unions. I didn't know there were teachers who think like you do. We only get one side of the story here in Washington."


Do you believe the unions are disorganized?

Tell us in the comments below!


ConnerDunleavyAs the 2015 summer intern for AAE, Conner supports the communications and marketing team in the DC AAE office. From the class of 2017, he intends to graduate from the University at Albany with a Bachelor's Degree in European History and a Minor in Education.




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