Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The NEA Makes Me Sad

President Dennis Van Roekel drinks the kool-aid daily, and then goes swimming in it. He claims that NEA was consulted on the production of the Common Core, and that teachers were involved in the creation of the standards. In some ways this is one of the most discouraging things he keeps saying because while some statements about CCSS are opinions or interpretations, this "involvement" piece is a matter of fact, a matter of record, and he can't possibly NOT know that what he's saying is not the truth.

Take this piece, for example:

It's so stuffed with wrong that it's a miracle it can still breathe.

It's not that I've always had blind faith in the union. It's not that I haven't occasionally disagreed with choices they/we make.

But I subscribe to the theory that it's a mistake to assume that anybody is always trustworthy, always worth following. In the end, you have to weigh the message and not just blindly trust (or distrust) the messenger.

And I wouldn't do away with the union for a second. We work in a business where we often face big ugly dogs; it's just practical to have a big ugly dog of our own.

But what I learned back when I was the president of a striking union is that the larger union often gets its ways mixed up with its means. The ultimate corrosive in politics is that the end justifies the means, and the first thing that ends up on that list is the means of maintaining political heft at any price. Not much further down the list is the idea that leadership knows what membership needs to decide to do, and it's okay to direct, nudge, and maybe even mislead membership to get them to go in the right direction.

And I'm a big boy. Sometimes the world is not unicorns pooping rainbows and you have to get your hands dirty to get the job done.

But this is worse than that. This is the leadership of the NEA agreeing that teachers need the federal government to tell us how to do our jobs. This is the leadership of the NEA agreeing that rich, powerful amateurs, are needed to straighten out us poor mere teachers. And this is the leadership of the NEA telling us up is down and black is white and that kool-aid is reeeaaaallly delicious.

Van Roekel says that CCSS will be the end of one-size-fits-all education, and yet, somehow, this wide-open freedom will guarantee that every child in the country is on the same page at the same time. I am baffled, and flabbergasted, and ashamed of my union leadership.

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