by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
In a piece titled “Holding True to Our Vision of Excellent Schools,” Rodney Ellis, President of the N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE), laid out a new vision for the organization and their advocacy activities. He writes,
As we begin to prepare for the 2015 Legislative Session that will gear up in January, I also think we need to reach out to our Republican members and other newly elected officials and begin having meaningful dialogue. After all, you are their constituents as well. You are on the front lines so your input is valuable and your voice is important. It would behoove us to try and understand the different viewpoints and we can’t do that unless we have the voices of all parties represented in the conversation.
With this shift will come a new way of doing things. With a new way of doing things will come new and different points of view. It’s going to be about bringing all stakeholders to and keeping them at the table. As educators we embrace a love of learning and different ideas, even if the classroom takes the shape of a legislative conference room. However, we must always hold true to our vision of excellent schools and that our future doesn’t rest solely with a politician in a hearing room, but with our students in the classroom.
That is a superb approach and would have served the organization well after the election of a Republican legislative majority in 2010.
But it is 2014, and a lot has happened in the last four years. The NCAE joined the Moral Monday festivities to decry Republican education policies. They filed lawsuits to halt two signature reforms passed by Republicans, a voucher program for low-income children and changes to the teacher tenure law. Their parent union, the National Education Association, spent millions of dollars to perpetuate half-truths about state K-12 education funding. Their members actively worked to unseat Republican legislators.
And you think that Republican legislators will be interested in having a “meaningful dialogue?”
Good luck with that.