The NEA RA: a bleak look back and and hopeful look ahead

My posts on the National Education Association’s 2009 Representative Assembly have focused so far on a new business item I introduced calling for a national strike for full funding a corporate expense. I should note, though, that aside from the brief time it took to squash that motion, a few other things happened during the four days of meetings attended by 9000 delegates from all over the country.

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“Educational Transformation, YES! (but…)”

About 9000 delegates participated in the NEA Representative Assembly.
About 9000 delegates attended the NEA RA.

I’m as willing to compromise as the next “wild-eyed” radical.  (“Wild-eyed” is what anti-teachers union blogger Mike Antonucci called several motions Oakland delegates brought to this year’s NEA Representative Assembly in San Diego.)

So after the California delegation voted on July 3 to oppose my proposal for a two-day nationwide strike for fully funded public schools I considered some options.

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Political Strike for Equal, Quality Public Schools… A crazy notion?

Michael Eric Dyson speaking 7/2/09

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.

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From the NEA Representative Assembly – first post

We’re about to begin the third day of the NEA’s Representative Assembly(RA) And meetings for each of the state caucuses began earlier on July 1, so it’s a little late to be putting up Post #1.  I’ve been very busy getting support for a motion —   here called a New Business Item — qualified for consideration by the RA. I’m going to begin catching up by sharing the wording of the NBI as it was first submitted, before a slight modification.  (The thrilling story of the modification will come later.)  The language of the NBI appears first and then the rationale; you’re allowed a maximum of 40 words for the rationale.   Here it is:

NEA will launch a massive media campaign this summer and fall, paving the way for a 48-hour locally-initiated, nationally-coordinated political strike and teach-in at strike schools in January 2010.

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