Commentary and Criticism about the National Education Association (NEA)
We have absolutely no affiliation with the National Education Association.
I had been following the Trump/NFL story with low to moderate interest (I don’t really care much for professional sports) until I read NEA President Lily Eskelson Garcia’s latest “blackboard” entry from September 24, 2017 – “Silent protest is a powerful lesson in civics and in our Constitution”.
Yes, Lily Eskelson, we all agree that no one should be forced to salute or pledge allegiance to the flag and it all goes back to a basic grade school civics lesson on the Constitution. Blah, blah, blah, etc., etc.
But are these highly paid football players really going out on a limb by making this type of protest? Are they really making a statement concerning the Constitution as Eskelson implies? Are they really true heroes standing up for racial justice and all of the good stuff?
No, not really.
They are not risking anything by acting in this manner. They will still get paid their million dollar contracts all the while being able to tell everyone how they “took a stand” for what is right.
What bullshit - and you fell for it Lily Eskelson because you are too tied up in your left-leaning political view of the world.
Do you want to know the story of an athlete who really stood up for a real cause at the expense of his freedom?
Consider the fate of Cassius Clay aka Mohammad Ali - the famous boxer. In 1967 he was convicted of draft evasion because he refused to serve in the US military during the Vietnam War. His boxing license was suspended; he was stripped of his title, and he eventually served time.
See this Los Angeles Time Archive article for more details about Ali and his fight with the justice system.
Silent protest, like we saw at various NFL games is a powerful lesson in civics and our Constitution?
Really, Lily Eskelson? A safe and easy silent protest is what it means to stand up for something that you believe in?
It is so easy to take the side of Colin Kaepernick. But if you had been a teacher in the late ‘60s early ‘70s, would you have been on the front lines defending a man like Muhammad Ali?
Would you have had the guts to teach your class about Civics using this draft-dodging pariah as an example back then?
I somehow doubt it.
The following article by Tim Walker appeared in NEA Today on September 12, 2017:
Whose Looking Out for Rural Schools?
As you would expect, there is much in this NEA article that, while though-provoking, is completely one-sided. After all, the NEA has an obvious bias and clear agenda when it comes to education in this country.
But it is one thing to present information in order to appeal to your base - it's quite another to make outright false statements.
Tim Walker is making an egregiously false statement (lie) when he writes:
“Private school vouchers are a uniformly unpopular idea … [underline and bold added]”
Now I realize that this falsehood (lie) is a small one given the length of the article. Someone might rightly ask: “So you had to pick one teeny tiny half-sentence out of a several page long article just to prove a point? You really are nitpicking aren’t you.”
Yes, I suppose I am nitpicking.
But it just struck me that the NEA would allow such a bold and unequivocally false statement - that vouchers are “uniformly unpopular” - appear in one of its articles.
Didn’t anyone over there do any fact checking?
Now, if Walker had at least provided some evidence to back up this statement, then I could accept it. But he doesn’t provide any evidence. He makes a misstatement (lies) and then moves on to another topic.
Probably because there isn’t any evidence.
SUPPORT FOR VOUCHERS
In fact, the truth is exactly the opposite.
In an article at Real Clear Education (May 26, 2017), “Trump Should Capitalize on Vouchers’ Newfound Popularity”, we read about the Education Next Poll:
“Now, according to a poll just released by Associated Press and the National Opinion Research Center, vouchers that use taxpayer funds for low-income students to attend private schools gathered support from 43% of the public, with only 31% opposed.”
That is an 12% increase in support since 2016.
And from the same website, how about the poll from the Harvard School of Public Health which showed:
“…54% of the public support vouchers, with only 41% opposed. That’s a jump upward of 9 percentage points…”
But don’t just trust that Real Clear Education got it right. The Mercury News also covered this increasing support for vouchers in an Associated Press story on August 15, 2017:
“At the same time, opposition to publicly funded vouchers that help parents pay private school tuition dropped from 44 percent last year to 37 percent; 45 percent of respondents currently favor the idea. When it comes to tax credit-funded scholarships for private schools, resistance fell from 29 percent to 24 percent, while support was at 54 percent now.”
And how would Walker and the NEA explain this event in Nevada from January 27, 2017?
“Hundreds Rally as School Choice Gains in Popularity”
SUPPORT FOR SCHOOL CHOICE A MYTH?
Let me finish my commentary by questioning another statement made by Walker. He states:
“That communities are profoundly dissatisfied with public schools is one of the myths used to champion policies that are wrapped in euphemisms such as “choice” and “competition” but have, where they have taken hold, often exacerbated the financial plight of rural schools.”
So here is a question for the NEA in general and Walker in particular:
If people love their public school so much why would choice and competition exacerbate “the financial plight of rural schools?”
That is a good question.
After all, if local public schools are so good, parents wouldn’t need to avail themselves of charter schools or vouchers.
Therefore, the local districts wouldn't be losing any money, right?
Looks like the NEA earned itself a nice Pinocchio on the voucher question.
This post is a continuation of my last post which criticized the practice of mainstreaming.
As discussed there, mainstreaming is the legal requirement that schools put Special Education students into Regular Education classrooms.
My commentary continues below:
The Orwellian Politically Correct Position
One particular annoying article is completely Orwellian in its political correctness.
"Advantages & Disadvantages to Mainstreaming Special Education Children"
It discusses the advantages and disadvantages of mainstreaming for special needs children and non-disabled students.
If kids with disabilities are in Special Education classrooms, then what are kids “without disabilities” in?
Non-Special Education classrooms, I guess.
Doesn’t that sound silly to you? It sure does to me.
So let’s get it strait. Disabled students are taught in Special Education classrooms and the other students are taught in Regular Education classrooms.
Differentiation is the Answer?
And one final point.
No matter how much training you give teachers so that they can “differentiate” their lesson to reach students of all levels, the bottom line is that the overall level of discourse in a mainstreamed class is lower than in a class made up of only regular education students.
Teachers can’t win.
If they differentiate and separate the students of higher intelligence into the smart groups and give them more challenging work and put the Special Education students together and give them less challenging work then you are going to be accused of counteracting the reason that the children were mainstreamed in the first place.
If you mix your groups and put two intelligent regular education students along with two special education students, then how do you differentiate when they are all collaborating and working on a project together?
Finally, when you do mix the groups, the Special Education students just end up copying the regular education student’s work because they can’t keep up. The more intelligent students end up getting so frustrated waiting for the slower learners that they let them copy.
In case you have never heard of mainstreaming, this is when special education students are put in regular education classes.
The opposite of mainstreaming would be when special education students are put in their own classes rather than mixing them into regular education classes.
A more formal definition of (and further details about) mainstreaming can be found in the following articles”
“Least Restrictive Environment, Mainstreaming, and Inclusion”
"What does Mainstreaming Mean?"
"Least Restrictive Environment, Mainstreaming and Inclusion"
Regular Ed Students Don't Count
Of course, you can Google the pros and cons of mainstreaming and get all sorts of results. But what is interesting is that when using the search term “pros and cons of mainstreaming,” the top results lead to articles that assume you are only concerned about the academics and welfare of the special education student. They tend to ignore whether or not mainstreaming helps or hurts the regular education students.
Here are some examples to show what I mean:
In “Examining the Pros and Cons of Mainstreaming” the writer only weighs the pros and cons from the perspective of the special education student. She says special education students benefit socially, academically and behaviorally.
Nowhere do we get mention of whether mainstreaming is good for the regular education student.
The same perspective can be found in “Special Needs Children Benefit from Mainstreaming”
Regular Ed Students Sort of Count
One article, “Is Integrating Children with Special Needs in Mainstream Classrooms Beneficial?” does mention advantages for regular education students:
“More than 15 years of research has proven the benefits of inclusion for all involved in the process. All students grow when schools include special needs children in a mainstream environment.”
But check out why this article thinks that regular students benefit.
Nowhere does it say that the benefit is academic in nature.
I guess academics aren’t that important anymore.
National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 - October 15 and the NEA has provided K-12 lesson plan resources to help celebrate this fact.
I don’t have a major problem celebrating Hispanic Heritage month in September/October, Native American Heritage Month in November, Black History Month in January, etc.
But consider the following:
Given the inevitable demographic shifts which are occurring, will future politicians and educators assign a month to White Heritage?
In other words, will a future white minority be given the same respect that we now give to present minorities?