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NEA Challenges Charter Movement in New Business Items
posted by: Steph | July 12, 2010, 06:08 PM   

At their annual convention held earlier this month, the National Education Association heard a series of new business items (NBIs) that display their distaste for the charter movement:

NBI 91, which failed to pass after debate, sought to start a counter-campaign to a number of documentaries about education reform and charters that will be playing in theaters across the country this year . These films include Teached, The Cartel, The Lottery, and Waiting for Superman. The cost of the NEA’s proposed counter-campaign was deemed prohibitive, but NBI 91’s anti-charter sentiment was upheld by NBI 93.

NBI 93 encourages NEA members to “expose and educate the media and the public about allegedly grassroots, pro-charter ‘parent-groups’ that are popping up with greater frequency on both the national and local level.” That the NEA is threatened by “grassroots,” “‘parent-groups’” efforts is like an elephant being afraid of a mouse, unless of course that proverbial mouse threatens something the elephant highly values. And the NEA elephant values power.

NBI 99 instructs the NEA to counter the “misleading impressions left by the charter schools’ and charter school organizations’ holding of live public lotteries for the selection of their students and the particular manner in which they do so.” In other words, the aforementioned documentaries weave too compelling a story by filming real public charter school lotteries where many parents and students walk away in tears.

NBIs 93 and 99 passed easily without debate.

No love lost between the NEA and charters

Most charter school teachers are not forced to pay the union, so it’s no wonder that the NEA doesn’t favor or promote the charter movement. The NEA is interested in maintaining firm control of educational reforms so that it can pursue those changes that benefit the union—even at the expense of others. Charter schools, often operating outside the control of the unions, threaten the powers-that-be and truths like the public lotteries and the real parent support for charters are just too dangerous not to challenge.

Thankfully there are independent educators associations that support the charter school movement. The Association of American Educators and others recognize that public charter schools can offer students, parents, and teachers innovative ways to advance education, and like traditional public schools, charter schools ought to be supported and encouraged.

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