Recently, the largest teacher union in the United States held its annual meeting, referred to as a “representative assembly.” During this meeting, the more than 6,000 delegates submitted for review and approval over 160 “new business items.” These items amount to resolutions to be adopted as policy positions to be maintained by the union, its leaders, and its members.
Among these resolutions, the second of 161 in total, was an item that proposed the union “…re-dedicate itself to the pursuit of increased student learning in every public school in America by putting a renewed emphasis on quality education.”
This measure was voted down. The proposed resolution failed. Of the 6,000 delegates, all NEA members, they sponsors of the “new business item” could not garner enough support for its passage, and so it was “defeated.”
At first glance (and second, and third…) this seems quite strange. How could the largest teacher union not have a majority of its delegates support a “recommitment” to student learning as a priority?
Well, if you consider the primary function of the union itself, the picture becomes much clearer. The teacher union exists for the teachers–and nobody else. If someone else is positively impacted by the work of the union as a byproduct of its normal course of business, so be it. But, the union exists to support and protect its dues-paying members. Full stop.
Unfortunately, the defeat of the so-called “RA NBI 2” in Houston, Texas is not really as surprising as it is disappointing.
Most teachers really do care about their students. Their labor union, on the other hand, doesn’t collect more revenues by caring about children. It collects more revenues by adding dues-paying members.