I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, August 13, 2010

More NJEA Politics

I often cross-post at Blue Jersey, particularly if I think a post has political ramifications. That's why I cross-posted about the NJEA and NJ's 7th District: Leonard Lance voted against the school stimulus money, but the NJEA won't endorse his opponent, a former teacher (!).

After Rosi promoted the post to the front page, a very interesting discussion ensued. Some highlights:
As long as we're on the subject of the NJEA... (4.00 / 1)
They also refused to endorse marriage equality.  We asked, and we repeatedly called them on it, and their response was, that's not fair, Garden State Equality - you know we played a major role in getting the domestic partnership law passed in 2004.  (HUH - like that excused the NJEA from endorsing marriage equality in 2009?)  We're just not comfortable yet with a formal position on marriage equality, we were told.  Yes, this came during last year's legislative battle.  And it came from a leader at the NJEA whom I met at an event with the leader's same-sex partner - I was stunned.
This is the ineptitude I'm talking about. Personally, I think the NJEA needs to be involved in the ME battle, because they have plenty of GLBT members, and standing up for their civil rights is part of what they should do.

But, OK, maybe you make a political calculation to stay out; I don't like it, but fine. But how do you get justify getting involved with domestic partnership in 2004 but not ME in 2009? Don't you know that's going to piss off people who should be your political allies - people who are on your side of the aisle?

And then:
My actual legislative experience with them [the NJEA] was in 2006. It came 5 minutes before the Senate Judiciary hearings on our Transequality bill, I found out the NJEA was offering a "friendly amendment" to a bill that was carefully written and had been vetted by a myriad of LGBT attorneys and in place over a year. I was furious at being completely blindsided by their arrogance, they never contacted anyone involved with the legislation and because of their "strength", the committee chair accepted the amendment.
The amendment would in the opinion of national legal experts weaken the bill, and it took my own relationship with Senator Adler,numerous letters from national legal experts, and a NJEA lobbyist who had gone on vacation to come back, agree to back down, and we finally got the bill passed easily without the NJEA interference.
They can be very aggressive when they want to be ... I have the feeling that they lack the education and comfort levels with LGBT issues that a reasonable New Jersey person  in the 21st century might expect.
Babs - (0.00 / 0)
Curious.What was in the amendment?
*[new] Language out of mainstream LGBT law (0.00 / 0)
It's technical ...They wanted to add "transgender status" to the language which the legal experts considered unnecessary and possibly confining and limiting in scope.the bill simply added "gender identity or expression" which includes all transgender people, gender variant and androgynous gay and straight people.
Ironically because of the added language we had to get out, the legislation came up twice in the Senate. The first time it passed 31-5 and I had a chance to reach out to the "no" votes to flip them and it actually passed 33-3 the second time in the original clean version
So, the NJEA stick their noses into the LGBT law without consulting the folks who are shepherding it through, and then they beg off the ME fight. How does that make any sense?

The NJEA has been meeting this week to plot political strategy. I should have gone; I'm really having some serious doubts about the political abilities of our union leaders. They have been blindsided since day one of the Christie reign, and they are constantly either blundering or getting mowed over. There's a whole lot more to politics than throwing money at candidates; NJEA had better learn that fast, or...

One other interesting thread at Blue Jersey:
Sociology of Teachers (0.00 / 0)

The teaching profession as a whole is known to be a very conservative one, though not necessarily conservative in political terms.  In general, activists don't become teachers.  That's one reason why the status quo changes so slowly in schools.

*[new] Wow. (0.00 / 0)
Maybe I've been hanging out with the wrong teachers. All the ones I know are firebrands and hotshot progressives. ;-)
I think princetonblue's right about that. Teachers are at the front line in maintaining the societal order; we are charged with turning children into responsible citizens. That's a fundamentally "conservative" position. Most teachers are not looking to upend the system; they are incrementalists.

But I do think teachers become teachers because they believe they can affect positive change in the world through their actions, which is a core "liberal" value.

Conservative liberals?

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