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Re: critique of Gerstner 'Teaching at Risk' report

Yes, these are AFT union dues at work. Not that you are lumping all unions
together, Kristina. I am sure you would not. You are sharp and genuine. But
several others on the list have historically had the tendency to union bash
and not see the differences that have been occurring between the two
predominant teachers' unions of late. I want to make sure some do not lump
the unions together. NEA is NOT AFT. Unfortunately so many good teachers are
getting such poor representation when the AFT brass sells them out from the
top. I truly do not think there is much difference between all teachers NEA
and AFT at the grassroots level. The difference is that AFT is less
representative and must find ways of democratizing so the grassroots voices
can better be heard and represented and occupy leadership positions. Norm
has been working on such for so long. It has to be soooo frustrating for AFT
teachers during this time.

Well, I'm not just trying to do a pro NEA speech. We have had to work hard
to change this huge organization and still have a ways to go. But it has
been changing and we are moving in the right direction. Leadership has been
responsive. I feel for my colleagues in AFT (esp. UFT) who seem to be
subject to all kinds of stereotypical power plays and whatnot. Much less of
that is possible in NEA because of our democratic infrastructure, in my
opinion. So I know it is easy for me to sit and watch and criticize. But if
anything can be done about how democratic representation occurs from the
bottom up, it would be so healthy for AFT in my opinion. And I know that
George and Norm and others are trying, but this sellout at the top has to
stop. Voices have to rise up somehow and seize the day.

And people have to also stop lumping all unions together, because they are
not all the same. Unfortunately when unions are less democratic, it just
leaves them vulnerable to unrelenting union-bashing. That then affects even
other unions doing it right and in turn hurts us all. So those on this list
need to remember that NEA is taking a more progressive stand and has been a
real player in challenging the current regressive reforms. Give us credit
when we get it right and do not pigeonhole us with that stale and untrue
notion that all unions are corrupt or co-opted. It is not true. Kristina is
not doing this, but others on this list have had a hard time distinguishing
this and accepting the recent changes in the NEA as real. Well it may have
not been easy, but with concerted effort, things have changed and we should
do all we can to keep encouraging this change. It has been real and real
effective. With much effort, our union has changed because our voices had
true democratic means of rising up and were not quashed. This in no way
diminishes the grassroots work of others, it validates it. It can change
organizations from the inside out, if the democratic infrastructure is there
to facilitate it. And it does also help to have large organizations on your
side if they are getting it right. It helps those of us in smaller groups to
gain ground, keep momentum, and gives us hope that things can change.

It was interesting when Reg Weaver, (called a terrorist) said NEA leaders
and our member ARE the same. How much closer this is to reality than Sandra
Feldman's representation of AFT members. There is a disconnect in the
democracy of the AFT. I hope for all of the great teachers of that
organization that it gets fixed soon. I see no other way than for them to
stand up and demand it. Or maybe there is some way they can push for change
to join NEA. I am somewhat naive as to this (knowing that this relates to
bargaining, contracts, laws, closed shop, etc.) so it may not be realistic.
but something has to be done. I do not believe Feldman and several other AFT
leaders represent the majority of their members. They are isolated and
insulated. It is just that the AFT doesn't have the democratic set-up to
truly have their leadership represent them or get rid of them. NEA, though
not perfect, does this much better and I hope one day this same possibility
of democratic representation in unions will come to all teachers somehow.
Maybe this could be solved by merger, but only if AFT truly adopted NEA
democratic infrastructure and means of representation. There would be little
openness to merger at this point if NEA would lose its democratic system.

Well I know that this is a tangent with the main focus being the schlock of
this corporate-led report which bashes teachers, but hopefully one that
helps folks resist the temptation to see both unions as the same. There have
been times. . . but things change and now is not one of the times. The
report in itself is an attempt at union-busting and pitting teachers against
teachers. Collectively, we need to counter this crap and hopefully that
means using the unions to help with that effort and seeing that they can be
part of the solution, not just part of the problem.


----- Original Message -----
From: <kristina.pelletier@maine.edu>
To: <arn-l@interversity.org>
Sent: Friday, March 19, 2004 10:51 PM
Subject: Re: [arn-l] critique of Gerstner 'Teaching at Risk' report

> The members of the teaching commission include Sandra Feldman is the
> of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Union dues at work.
> Teaching Commission web site with a link to the full teaching at risk
> http://www.theteachingcommission.org/
> Quoting Victor Steinbok <victor.steinbok@verizon.net>:
> > At 11:04 PM 3/19/2004, Young, Alan wrote:
> > >Try this Victor. Monty sent it on another post on a different list.
> > >
> > >Alan
> > >
> > >Read this issue of EDPolicy Update
> > ><http://rdr.sbml.cc/Click?q=b2-M4zwQX0S3FCyzOvjzE4upxfi>
> > ><http://www.smartbrief.com/images/shim.gif>
> > ><http://rdr.sbml.cc/Click?q=c7-KGl3QLPLxrchBnvNLMVhF2Ry>
> >
> > Thanks. I got another one:
> >
> > <http://www.ascd.org/cms/index.cfm?TheViewID=2365>
> >
> > It leads to the same page.
> >
> >
> > -------------------------------------------------------
> > ARN-L archives:
> > http://interversity.org/lists/arn-l/archives.html
> >
> -----------------------------------------------
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