Commentary and Criticism about the National Education Association (NEA)
Comebacks to Annoying Comments About Teaching
November 20, 2017 on NEA Today.
I am sure that I will annoy some of the teachers who follow this blog, but I couldn’t let this NEA article go unanswered.
Where Cindy Long is Correct
I agree with Ms. Long that teachers are not glorified babysitters. Planning and carrying through a quality lesson takes serious effort and skill. Classroom management is no joke either. Great teachers can control a classroom and teach their subject without every having to raise their voices. Not everyone is able to do this and those who can are to be commended.
I will quote her exact words here because she is spot on:
“Teaching is not just about the transfer of knowledge. Teachers need to know how to plan a lesson, engage and motivate students of varying learning styles, apply information from formative assessments, manage classroom behavior, design tests and find other ways to accurately measure each and every student’s performance and comprehension. There are hundreds of skills necessary for effective teaching, of which content mastery is one.”
Where Cindy Long is Incorrect
Here I will re-post what I wrote on my Anti-NJEA Blog a couple of months ago. These words may be controversial but I am giving my personal opinion on the matter.
Most teachers I know complain that they are underpaid.
The media tends to support this notion:
Huffington Post - More Proof that American Teachers Are Underpaid And Deserve More Respect
Economic Policy Institute - New Jersey public school teachers are underpaid, not overpaid
Washington Post - Think teachers aren't paid enough? It's worse than you think
I don't buy this point of view for a second.
We work essentially 9 months a year.
How is that?
Well, we get 2 months off in summer, a week off for spring break, a week off for winter break, assorted holidays (another week off let’s say), 10 sick days and 2 personal days every year. That adds up to more than 3 months off per year by my calculation.
We get full health benefits.
We get a defined benefit pension.
We work from 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM and get time off for lunch and prep so basically we are active for maybe 6 hours a day.
Let’s be honest - It's a good gig if you can get it.
"I never get tired of promoting this wonderful opportunity for students (and educators) ..."
Lily Eskelsen Garcia from Lily's Blackboard, November 15, 2017
Talking Turkey - and Other Subjects - On Thanksgiving Day
The "wonderful opportunity" that Eskelsen is referring to is the annual Great Thanksgiving Listen, a project started by a non-profit organization called StoryCorps.
Actually it is a great idea. StoryCorps describes it as:
"... a national movement that empowers young people - and people of all ages - to create an oral history of the contemporary United States ..."
THE PROBLEM FOR ESKELSEN
Unfortunately, last year, StoryCorps tried to stop its employees from forming a union by joining the Communications Workers of America.
You can read all about it at Splinternews.com: StoryCorps, Of All Places, Is Running an Anti-Union Campaign, Hamilton Nolan, 6/27/17.
When the company found out about the desire of its employees to unionize, the employees ...
"were subjected to multiple 'captive audience meetings' at which their employers lectured them on why a union was a bad idea—meetings that grew so heated that one of the bosses even started yelling at one point."
By the way, they still don't have a union at StoryCorps ...
The details are in Nolan's article so if you want to read more I would suggest you go there directly.
WHAT TO DO?
Fellow NEA members, should we start an email, Facebook or Twitter campaign to protest our president betraying us in this fashion?
Or should we just let it go because, after all, Eskelsen is doing so much other good stuff?
After all, isn't she working hard to protect us against nasty people like Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos?
Isn't she supporting the DACA Dreamers?
She has the good of all teachers at heart for sure, right?
Has political correctness gone mad? Teachers are now ITFSLs (Individuals Tasked with the Facilitation of Student Learning)
Note: No offense to any ESP is intended in this blog post. Nothing that I am saying takes away from the job that these individuals perform in the schools around our country. My issue is with the politically correct culture that the NEA is cultivating by perpetuating the idea that more "acceptable" titles to standard jobs changes their nature. It doesn't.
I have an idea. Let’s call teachers Individuals Tasked with the Facilitation of Student Learning (ITFSLs).
How does that sound to my fellow educators?
So I started getting these tweets today about National ESP day. Several questions came to mind: Why is the NEA talking about extra sensory perception? Is this a new educational trend that I missed? Common core gone mad?
It turns out that ESP day has nothing to do with any of this. Instead, it is a day to support Educational Support Professionals.
I honestly had never heard this term before so I went to the NEA page to get some information.
While there was no article directly referring to this event on the NEA website, I clicked on American Education Week 2017 Focuses on Public Schools for All by Celeste Busser. This article then led me to a booklet entitled A Guide to Celebrate National Education Support Professionals Day.
Yes, that’s right. The NEA put out a 32-page booklet to help members celebrate their Educational Support Professionals.
So what exactly ARE Educational Support Professionals?
Most teachers are familiar with these individuals because we interact with them on a daily basis. We just don’t know them as ESPs.
So for the Educational Support Professional-Challenged teacher, here is a list provided by the NEA.
Next to the official NEA name I have included a possible translation:
Food Services – Lunch Ladies
Clerical Services - Secretaries
Transportation Services – Bus Drivers
Health and Student Services - Nurses
Skilled Trades – Plumbers & Electricians
Technical Services – Computer Geeks
Custodian and Maintenance Services – Janitors
Paraeducators – Classroom Aides
Security Services – Mall Cop (sorry, security guard)
None of my translations are meant to belittle these people in any way. I am just sick of the trend in modern society to rename things so that we don’t hurt people’s feelings.
Political correctness has to go.
I write about teacher pension problems a lot. It all sounds doom and gloom I know but I do it as a wake-up call and warning for teachers. Too many of my colleagues don't have a clue about what is coming and they will be the most hurt as a result. My basic advice is save and invest on your own - don't just rely on your expected pension.
The normal response from teachers is:
"That's not right. We contributed our hard earned money to the system out of our paychecks. The politicians promised us a solid defined-benefit and they are legally required to provide it to us. Period."
YOU CAN'T GET BLOOD FROM A STONE
Everything in that statement is technically correct - until the point where you understand that the money may not be there down the line.
What happens then? Well, if you consider Puerto Rico, it defaulted on its bonds. Of course it was obligated to pay but it just didn't have the money so it didn't pay. Same for Venezuela - this country just defaulted on some of its bonds. When the money isn't there, the money can't be paid.
What is that you say? Pensions are different? You say that public employees are not investors like those bondholders were?
I see your point, but in the end it may not matter. When a state pension is underfunded this means that it eventually won't be able to pay out future benefits in full.
BACK TO PENSION FACTS
I normally write about this topic in reference to New Jersey because that is where I teach. But the pending pension crisis is looming for so many other states that I thought that it would be appropriate to write about it here:
For reference, here are some pension blog posts from my anti-NJEA Blog Page:
Bloomberg posted an article in June of this year entitled "Pension Fund Problems Worsen in 43 States." This article came with an excellent picture to show the state of the U.S. pension system so you can actually identify how your state is fairing.
The first two lines from the article state the case clearly:
"The news continues to worsen for America’s public pensions and for the people who depend on them. The median funding ratio—the percentage of assets states have available for future payments to retirees—declined to 71.1 percent in 2016, from 74.5 percent in 2015 and 75.6 percent in 2014."
Check out how your state is doing.
And while you are at it, start thinking about saving more of your money outside of the pension system.
NEA - LOOKING OUT FOR ALL STUDENTS?
I visit the NEA website pretty much every day. One thing I can say for sure is that this organization is quick to let its members know about the plight of the downtrodden – those who are getting a bad rap in modern society. Just browse through the latest articles on the site and this becomes very clear. You will find articles supporting:
Seems like everyone is covered here.
NEA: WELL, ALMOST ALL STUDENTS...
But what about the lowly, forgotten “cognitively privileged" student?
For any “cognitively challenged” people out there, I am talking about the smart kids, the intelligent kids, kids that can process information more quickly and efficiently than their peers. These are the students that any honest teacher who you talk to will be able to identify within the first two weeks of school (at the end of September at the latest).
What has the NEA done for them lately?
I know, I know, Gardner says that everyone has an “intelligence” of some sort or other. All teachers know this. So really there aren't any kids that are smarter than others.
And no one actually wins in sports so everyone deserves a participation trophy ...
HETEROGENEOUS VS. HOMOGENEOUS GROUPING
I teach in a middle school where in 6th and 7th grades the kids are all lumped together in my classroom in what are called heterogeneous groups. This means I get a mixture of kids from the lowest ability dim 1-watt Christmas light bulb types to the highest ability bright 100-watt bulbs. Of course, there is also a healthy mix of 40, 60 and 75-watt bulbs in the classroom to round things out.
At least in 8th grade the district I teach in allows for an honors class made up mostly of 75-watt and up type students. Buy why not group the students by intelligence and ability in 6th and 7th also? Why not implement homogeneous grouping in all grade levels?
THE NEA VIEW – “HOMOPHOBIC”
The NEA states its position quite clearly in its Research Spotlight on academic Ability Grouping:
“The National Education Association supports the elimination of such groupings.”
As to why the NEA doesn’t support homogeneous grouping, it all comes down to “economic status, ethnicity, race … [and] … gender”
The NEA fears that “poor and minority students” will be put into the “low tracks where they receive a lower quality of instruction than other groups.”
So that’s it – a concern about poor people “of color.”
Wait a minute, hold on there…
Is the NEA really suggesting that poor people “of color” are intellectually inferior to better-off people “without color?”
Talk about prejudice.
So I guess that the NEA is not only “homophobic,” it’s also racist.