NEA Off Strike, Off Balance 

NEA halted its landmark strike in New Jersey, urging a compromise on the
Middletown Board's demands that members raise their own health insurance
costs by about $600. This after NEA promised to fight to the wire, and
after dozens of teachers were jailed. NEA New Jersey is one of the richest
and most powerful of the state affiliates. The courage of the rank and file
teachers who went to prison is sharply contrasted by their leaders--who did
not--and who urged them back to work. This strike could have swept across
New Jersey and served as a beacon to workers all over North America, now
under harsh attack. 

Now, NEA PR people are both saying that NEA supports the Bush education
bill, and that they have no position on the bill. 

The bipartisan bill lays the ground work for more bogus standards, high
stakes testing, more Taylorization of teaching and learning, vouchers, and

Here is the Washington Post

Here is the New York Times.

Neither leaders of NEA nor AFT are positioned to make the fight ahead, or
have any desire to do it. 

What could do it is an organization of school workers, students, and
parents who are unafraid to make schools and communities ungovernable--and
to back that up with Freedom Schools. 

Here are Robert Moses thoughts about that, from 1965

        "We got freedom schools. You form your own schools. Because when you come
right down to it, why integrate their schools? What is it that you learn in
their schools? Many Negroes can learn it, but what can they do with it?
What they really need to learn is how to be organized to work on the
society in order to change it. They can't learn that in schools. 

        Now what the SNCC people have found in a slow process is that they don't
have to accept society's definition of work. That they can define on their
own. And that they understand a little better what it means to work. That
is to really put energy into something and to make something that is
meaningful to yourself. In a sense these people have found freedom. 

        They have been able to confront people who are on their backs. They take
whatever is dished out—bombings, shootings, beatings, whatever it is. After
people live through that they have a scope that they did not have before.
There is a whole new dimension ....."