As last reported, the idea of a nationwide teachers walkout for full school funding at corporate expense was greeted by passionate cheers on July 2. That was at an NEA forum attended by several hundred delegates just one day before the organization’s four-day Representative Assembly opened in San Diego. And it was after the famous, charismatic, and eloquent author Michael Eric Dyson endorsed the proposal as “beautiful” and the potential impact “extraordinary.” I’m no Michael Eric Dyson. But maybe a few other factors also account for the very different reception given the idea just down the hall the next morning by most of the nearly 900 delegates in the California Caucus.
Getting fifty signatures to qualify New Business Item 11 for a vote by the NEA Representative Assembly was slow going at first. (The text of NBI 11, calling for a 48-hour nationwide strike for full funding of public education at corporate expense, is in the previous post.)
When I passed the form for the NBI down the row at our early-morning meeting of the California delegation, most looked at the proposal and passed it on to the next person. After getting a “critical mass” (20 or so) signatures, mostly by talking with people one-on-one about it, the signatures came much more easily. That was interesting in itself. One reason many people initially dismiss the idea of an unprecedented mass action such as this is the assumption that nobody else will support it, so it seems ridiculous.
In fact, author Michael Eric Dyson pointed precisely to that fear, when I asked what he thought about this proposal.