And words of wisdom to overcome division
Book bans and divisive tactics framed the annual NEA convention, where 6,000 educators and service workers - members of the NEA claiming to represent all educators - gathered for the union’s annual pep rally and political agenda setting meeting, set in Orlando, FL.
They took regular pot shots at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and NEA President Betsy Pringle assured him and her audience that “our students do not need protection from drag queens.” Their manifesto for the event was to demand:
A life free of hate and harassment, liberty, and being able to live as the whole human we are. Sounds amazing! But it doesn’t include freedom to be able to choose one’s own path to education, regardless of your zip code and stage of life. Such hypocrisy.
Mike Antonucci, who has watchdogged the unions' antics for more than two decades did a remarkable job following the action, which failed to garner nearly the press this year it has in recent years. Maybe the media is finally realizing there is no news story in an interest group trying to protect its turf. Or perhaps they finally realize just how responsible the unions are for keeping their kids (too) locked out of school for nearly two years. (N.B. It was interesting to follow members of the media reporting from home during Covid with their kids’ ‘work’ in front of them day in and day out and finally realizing what the rest of us who have advocated for something better have been talking about lo, these many years).
Union membership has declined since Covid and yet their coffers are more full, reports Antonucci in The 74, with $49 million more than they had before the loss.
Maybe some of it has to do with the fines that teachers have to pay if they choose to leave their job before a new contract has been negotiated. In Missouri, they are charging teachers anything between $500 to $10,000 for just wanting to leave their job. That’s if they don’t threaten you with “you’re never working again” first. And they complain teachers aren’t getting treated well…
Speaking of Hypocrisy…
It was George Wallace, about whom educator and Yass awardee Dr. Steve Perry once said worked to keep blacks from entering the school house during integration. And it’s the equivalent today who are trying to keep underserved children in a system that no longer works for most. The following new and challenging video recalls an era that Americans would prefer to forget, but which politicians seem to be content to let happen again. It’s not partisan, it’s just the sad truth, and for many Democrats, like Donald Hense, it’s not right.
Words of Wisdom
As Hense argues in a May opinion piece,
“Empowering families by offering better educational options means recognizing that public funds should follow the student in their family’s decision. Education funding belongs to America’s families to make their choices, not to politicians, political special interests, or philanthropists to decide what is good for them and how much should be available.
“Moreover, real education reform means not expecting families to be grateful for a few thousand dollars to exit the public school system, but rather to ensure that they can access quality tuition-free options.”
He should know. The Morehouse grad and lifetime achievement winner is informed by 50 years in education, and as many in fighting for civil rights. And he started what today is one of the most successful charter school networks in urban communities that transformed Washington DC and Little Rock, Ark.
Speaking of Trailblazers...
The incredible Taylor Shead was celebrated by Microsoft on Juneteenth, for her success in driving an AI education company whose products now reach thousands of students.
“Stemuli is a gaming company at the intersection of AI, education, and workforce development. Our mission is to make education and career navigation accessible to 8 billion people by turning brands into metaversities, while helping anyone navigate an intellectually and economically fulfilling career.”
A must read for this incredible entrepreneur, and Yass Prize ‘22 finalist!
The School Choice Sell-Out of the Century
This week’s Forza would be incomplete without a look at Josh Shapiro’s reversal of his commitment to enact lifesaving, Lifeline Scholarships.
As The Wall Street Journal opines, “it was an embarrassing surrender,” to the unions, of course. The full story is here, also in the Journal, in which Pennsylvania thought leader Charles Mitchell explains the sausage making:
“Mr. Shapiro had voiced his support for the scholarships last year on the campaign trail, making waves by bucking the teachers unions—a major campaign contributor—and their decades-long opposition to school choice. Why? ‘It’s what I believe,’ he said in October.
“Two weeks ago, Mr. Shapiro reiterated his support on Fox News, where viewers saw, perhaps for the first time, a swing-state Democratic governor invoking God and committing that he would ensure ‘every child has a quality education.’
But then he bailed, despite being the leader of a state where there are schools with zero proficiency rates.
“He said he would use his line-item veto to strike funding for Lifeline Scholarships from the budget.”
There’s just nothing more to say. It’s unconscionable. And behaviors like that of the Governor of Pennsylvania this month must be fought.
No wonder why parents are up in arms. You can ascribe any motive that suits you, but when education freedom is denied the children who need it the most, there is no excuse, no matter who, or in what you believe.
And on that note, I’m off! Next week there’ll be lots of news about what comes next about these dilemmas, from lots of corners. Stay tuned. All the best - Jeanne