Friday, June 27, 2014

The Challenges Facing the NEA and the AFT at Their National Conventions

As teachers unions prepare to meet this summer, they face three great challenges, which are also opportunities:
The rapidly growing grass roots movement against the Common Core Standards, which has already led several states to withdraw from CCSS, and has probably doomed its creators vision of CCSS as a national curriculum
A broad based legal challenge and public relations campaign against teacher tenure and due process spurred by the Vergara decision, resulting in lawsuits against them being filed in New York and other states with strong teachers unions.
An emerging Charter School scandal which will soon make it much more difficult to give  carte blanche and unlimited funding to charter schools as if they were a panacea for the challenges facing public schools in high poverty areas.
Teachers unions cannot address only one or even two of these challenges and hope to defend the rights of their members and the future of public education- they have to move forward on all three. To do that, they will have to start reaching out to parents and backing off their position of support for the Common Core Standards. calling instead for a national dialogue about how to revitalize public education from the ground up rather than transforming it from the top down. They also need to start openly attacking the entire Obama Administration's Race to the Top policy and stop reflexively supporting Democratic Party candidates who work to undermine public education.
Will this happen? Probably not to the degree I am calling for. But unless the major teachers unions stop being cheerleaders for Common Core, they are not likely to get much support from parents in defending their members from legal and legislative challenges to due process rights for teachers.