At its annual meeting in Chicago, The National Education Association's Representative Assembly passed Saturday New Business Item C., a strongly worded piece that comprehensively lists the NEA's grievances with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
The item was submitted by the union's board of directors, and according to the piece:
"…directs the NEA president to communicate aggressively, forcefully and immediately to President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that NEA is appalled with Secretary Duncan's [practices listed below]."
But other delegates are skeptical of the true influence of passing the item, as the piece merely reprimands Duncan, but does not call for active solution.
Among the union's 13 criticisms are Duncan's failure to adequately address "unrealistic" Adequate Yearly Progress requirements, focusing too closely on charter schools to the detriment of other types of schools, weighing in too heavily on local hiring decisions and failing to see the need for more encompassing change that helps all students and depends on shared responsibility by stakeholders, versus competitive grant programs that the NEA says "spur bad, inappropriate, and short-sighted state policy."
In response to the item passage, Duncan's press office told Education Week:
"We acknowledge differing views and interpretations among some education labor leaders around the administration's education agenda. But, on the whole our partnership with labor is having a positive impact on student learning and the teaching profession—and we look forward to continuing to work with the NEA in the months and years ahead to further advance education reform."
The passage of this item comes just two days before the NEA is scheduled to determine whether the union will endorse President Barack Obama for re-election. The delegates will vote by secret ballot on the endorsement, which requires 58 percent of the vote to pass.