New Business Items Approved
- Convention delegates approved NBI A, which establishes "an historic partnership agreement with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)." Titled the "NEAFT" partnership, the agreement is billed as "providing a framework for regular and focused cooperation between the two unions by creating a joint council composed of 15 representatives of each organization." Some observers expressed fear that this "partnership" merges education and labor - the AFT is affiliated with the AFL/CIO - and will further encourage the incorporation of Goals 2000 and School-to-Work in the public schools.
- NBI 10 opposes President Bush's plan to deploy a National Missile Defense system. It states that the union "will use its offices and publications to educate NEA members on this issue," and that "NEA shall recommend that funding for the Missile Defense Shield be diverted to a fund to uplift low-performing public schools and close the achievement gap."
- NBI 18 directs the NEA Office of the General Counsel to file legal documents in support of Affirmative Action "where Affirmative Action programs consistent with NEA's principles are under threat." This NBI also directs that the NEA publicize such actions and "inform members of how they can further support Affirmative Action as court cases or other opportunities arise."
- In what many parents view as a positive move, NEA delegates approved NBI 20, which opposes "exclusive marketing and vending contracts that commercialize public schools and target students and/or compromise student health and nutrition." NBI 20 notes that "companies are being allowed to market their products (junk food, soda, 'juice' drinks) to an impressionable captive audience, thereby contributing to obesity, osteoporosis, cavities, [and] diabetes."
Amendment to Give NEA Members Control of Their Union Dues Fails
Bylaw Amendment 4, which would have allowed NEA members "to apply in writing to receive a refund of the portion of their union dues allocated for 'political activity,' " was submitted by Educators for Life Caucus Chair Christine Nowak. This amendment voted down by nearly 80% of convention delegates would have assured members who disagree with the political agenda of the NEA leadership that their dues money would not be used to fund candidates and causes with which they disagree.
Fleecing for the Fund
Prior to the start of the convention, organizers began promoting the "2001 Giveaway and Race" (an annual NEA event) to raise money for the "NEA Fund for Children and Public Education." This fund is the brainchild of the NEAPAC.
A pre-convention letter from NEA President Bob Chase urged delegates to "begin collecting" from fellow union members in their school districts for both events. The letter pointed out that the 2002 elections are at stake, including "38 gubernatorial races," a "50-50 split in the Senate," and a "closely divided U.S. House of Representatives." Chase asked each delegate to contribute a minimum of $110 to this "voluntary" PAC and promised that "special prizes" would be offered to delegates "who perform beyond the call of duty." Prize winners were announced during the convention.
When the goal of raising more than $1,037,000 was not reached by the final day of the convention, President Chase ordered union stewards to approach each delegate for a contribution of $20 or more. NEA Executive Board members raced to the podium to donate $100 bills to motivate the audience. When the goal was met, delegates waved pom-poms, tossed beach balls and danced to loud beat music.