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Education Reporter

NEA Plans Public Image Makeover
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Public support for teachers unions is dropping as their self-serving antics become more widely known. But the 9,000 teachers and education staffers who gathered in New Orleans for the annual NEA convention have plans for a public image makeover.

Charter schools are a particular target. Delegates passed New Business Item (NBI) 93, which proposed that the NEA and its affiliates "expose and educate the media and the public about allegedly grassroots, pro-charter 'parent groups' that are popping up with greater frequency."

The more extensive NBI 99 was also approved, and is meant to counter the public relations impact of live lotteries. Unions and the politicians they support severely restrict the number of charter schools allowed to open, so spots are limited, highly coveted, and often awarded by random lottery to ensure fairness. NEA delegates aim to disprove the growing perception that "charter schools and their operators are the heroes out to save education.against teacher unions who have irreparably destroyed education."

The stategy outlined in NBI 99 is to highlight success stories from public schools, and to educate the public on how "difficult" it is to be a public school teacher. The difficulties the NEA wants the public to recognize include shrinking budgets, "ballooning" class sizes, lack of materials, and buildings in disrepair. (Never mind that charter schools have much smaller budgets, fewer resources, and generally more austere conditions.) The proposal also complains that public school teachers have to teach the really tough cases, that is the special education, ELL, disruptive and poverty-stricken students the union disingenuously suggests charter schools don't accept.

Another measure seeks to "enlighten retired and post-middle aged populations about the negative effects of cuts to public education on economic viability, national security and public safety." This informational campaign will be in "partnership with pertinent organizations."

If the NEA can't win back parents and grandparents who know too much, the union will set its sights on the next generation. NBI 51 lays out plans to develop a national K-12 and college-level curriculum on labor unions in a "coordinated effort with the AFT, AFL-CIO . . . and other union and worker organizations" to push pro-labor propaganda into classrooms. Who better to explain the necessity of labor unions to kids than the teachers who profit from them?

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