Remember when I said we'd never hear about membership woes of the NEA? Well, Eduwonk (with the help of the Wall Street Journal, if you have a subscription) has proved me wrong. One paragraph alone lifts my spirits:
The rise of nonunion teacher associations is helping erode the longstanding clout of the NEA, the nation's biggest union, with 2.7 million members. Rival nonunion groups have amassed at least 250,000 predominantly rural and suburban members in 18 states -- including recent start-ups in Washington state, Arkansas, Alabama and Virginia -- by offering lower dues, a less-confrontational attitude toward school boards and fewer social pronouncements than the NEA. Now, after years of growth, NEA membership and revenue are leveling off, and younger teachers are less inclined than older teachers to agree with union positions.
The WSJ also covers the divide between John Kerry and the NEA:
But the unions are wrapping their support for Mr. Kerry around opposition to President Bush's No Child Left Behind education program...The unions are demanding changes to an initiative that many Democrats voted for and still generally support.
That could be a price that Mr. Kerry may be unable, or unwilling, to pay. The Massachusetts senator has generally endorsed the NEA's "fix it and fund it" mantra for No Child Left Behind. He promises more money to implement the law. He opposes judging schools by test scores alone, and proposes adding graduation rates and teacher and student attendance as other measures of school quality required by statute.
But Mr. Kerry hasn't promised big changes unions want, such as scrapping the "adequate yearly progress" measure that determines how schools are performing. And some of his proposals make teachers see red. In exchange for money to recruit, train and pay raises to teachers, he wants to make it easier for schools to fire those who are incompetent. Mr. Kerry calls for tougher teacher-certification tests -- someone with about a 10th-grade education could pass them now -- and for "rewards" for teachers who show "more skill or better results."
That has unions worried.
That's the same stance that some say he's backed off on, though. As I said before, it's going to be an interesting 100 days.Posted by kswygert at July 29, 2004 03:54 PM