Thursday, August 30, 2007

California teacher offended by NEA's 'manipulative, dishonest' tactics

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Confidential strategy directives from the National Education Association urge the union's field representatives involved in the collective bargaining process to "attack the chief school administrator" and "mislead" their own members.

The confidential NEA documents obtained by OneNewsNow carry the title "NEA Strategy Directives to Field Representatives for Difficult Negotiations." The documents recommend strategies for field representatives who are engaged in negotiations with school districts that are reticent to certify the powerful teacher's union.

One strategy the NEA calls "Block the boss" calls on field reps to "Attack the chief school administrator. Charge him with poor mismanagement, poor working conditions and rotten personnel relations." The objective is to remove the school's chief from the bargaining process, giving the field rep "a clear shot at the [school] Board."

The directives urge NEA field reps to "mislead" their own membership during the collective bargaining process, the purpose being to "begin the process of dissatisfaction" -- and to "continue to mislead" the member teachers "to start to personalize the conflict in the negotiations."

California special education teacher Jeralee Smith is one of the founders of the NEA's Conservative Educators Caucus. Smith says she witnessed the NEA's strong-arm tactics during the Prop 75 campaign in California in 2005.

"We were made to watch a video -- without any discussion before or after of our own views -- about how much the governor was set to destroy teachers, just so that everyone would go and work really hard to defeat any of his proposals," she recalls. "They ignited our passions and made us fearful and angry." In contrast, Smith believes teachers should be disengaged from any political bias so they can train children to make up their own minds.

The confidential "Strategy Directives" include more than a dozen suggestions on what to do "if bargaining isn't going to your satisfaction." Among those suggested actions are:
  • Establish a "crisis center" in a rented, visible storefront and "have teachers mill around -- the more the better. Put on a real show." The objective is to gain publicity, say the directives. "Gives the illusion that things are getting serious. That a strike might be near."
  • Coordinate staff usage of personal and sick leave days so they are used on the same day, demonstrating to the school board that "teachers will follow your command."
  • Create a "neighborhood nuisance" by picketing the homes and/or businesses of school board members. "Creates pressure from within the homes" and "hurts business more," state the directives.

One of the final strategies involves a public demand that all school board members -- the "decision makers" -- come to the bargaining table. "Once you get them there," says the NEA document, "turn them against one another." This strategy is labeled "Lambs to slaughter."

Smith says the NEA's strategies rival the hardball tactics of the AFL-CIO. "It's manipulative of people who are really trying to focus on helping children," she states, "and to me it's a wholly dishonest approach."

And she calls such heavy-handed tactics "un-American." She cautions that "people need to be really aware of all kinds of manipulation [by] those who are struggling to get power. I don't believe there is any sense of moral right and wrong behind many people who are seeking power -- and they'll do anything to get it. So we need to have extreme discernment in this day and age."

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