NEA’s Independent Teaching Commission Not So Independent
posted at 2:15 pm on December 15, 2010 by Mike Antonucci
At the union’s convention last July in New Orleans, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel announced the creation of a Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching, which would study teacher effectiveness and report its findings to the delegates of the 2011 convention.
“Let’s demand to be the ones in charge,” Van Roekel said, adding, “Imagine going beyond ‘being at the table’ to running the meeting.”
He asked, rhetorically, “What would the profession look like if we – the union of practitioners – actually controlled teacher training, induction and licensure, evaluation and professional development?”
Today, NEA announced the 21 members of that commission, and while the press release described them as “diverse” and “independent,” they seem committed to Van Roekel’s goals – union control of teacher training, induction, licensure, evaluation and professional development.
Many of the commission members are former teachers of the year, or have received public recognition as quality educators. There is no reason to doubt their abilities as teachers. However, there is good reason to believe they were also chosen for their ideological reliability and their strong philosophical ties to the union’s agenda.
* Andy Coons, described as “a middle school math teacher from Tacoma, Wash.” is also president of the Tacoma Education Association and the Tacoma UniServ Council.
* Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh is properly identified as president of the Utah Education Association.
* Robert Goodman is described as “a math and science teacher from Trenton, N.J.” He is also the director of the New Jersey Center for Teaching & Learning, which the New Jersey Education Association describes as “an independent board made up of leaders in education, business and philanthropy” – even though a majority of that board consists of NJEA executive officers.
* Mary Hatwood-Futrell is described as “a professor of education from Washington, D.C.” She is also a former president of NEA.
* Shelly Moore is described as “a high school English and drama teacher from Ellsworth, Wisc.” She also sits on the NEA board of directors.
* Lori Nazareno is described as “a science teacher from Denver, Colo.” She is also the lead teacher at the Math and Science Leadership Academy, a school created by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association.
* Kathleen Skinner is described as “director of the Center of Education Policy and Practice from Boston, Mass.” They neglect to mention it is the Center for Education Policy and Practice of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Don’t expect Skinner to rock the union boat:
“Far too many charter schools have established enrollment and exclusion practices that have winnowed out students with greater needs,” said Kathleen Skinner, director of the Massachusetts Teachers Association’s Center for Education Policy and Practice. Skinner authored the report, Charter School Success or Selective Out-Migration of Low-Achievers? “By law, public schools are supposed to serve all students in the Commonwealth. In practice, charter schools do not fulfill that mission. We need to face this reality as the Legislature and the public begin debating whether to increase the number of charter schools in this state.”
* Peggy Stewart is described as “a high school social studies teacher from Vernon, N.J.” She also sits on the board of NJEA’s Center for Teaching & Learning.
* Kathleen Wiebke is described as “executive director of Arizona K12 from Phoenix, Ariz.” In her spare time, she raises campaign funds for Penny Kotterman, the former president of the Arizona Education Association who ran unsuccessfully for the position of Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Other members of the commission may or may not hold union office or union-affiliated positions, but their viewpoints (Mary K. Tedrow, William Thomas, Andy Tompkins) are clearly aligned with those of NEA.
I hope the panelists receive a healthy per diem and nice hotel accommodations when they meet. Their findings, I’m afraid, are a foregone conclusion.
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