What Hillary Told The NEA
What Hillary Told the NEA
Mike Antonucci’s Union Report is published on Wednesdays and the complete archive is available to view.
In October 2015, Hillary Clinton addressed the National Education Association (NEA) board of directors with the intention of securing the union’s endorsement for her Democratic presidential nomination before the primary elections. She was successful in achieving this goal.
At the time, the information I shared was based on the excerpts that the NEA chose to disclose to its leaders and activists. However, Wikileaks has now released emails between Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and others, including a full transcript of the town-hall-style meeting.
The confirmation or denial of the emails’ authenticity has not been officially provided by the Clinton campaign.
The excerpts from the NEA contained several notable statements from Clinton, such as:
– There are individuals with a libertarian viewpoint who seek to eliminate public education and all public services. I believe these individuals are not only foolish but also dangerous. Additionally, there are reformers who may have good intentions but lack the connection with teachers who know their students personally. Lastly, there are those driven by profit who do not care if education is provided by public or private institutions, as long as they can make money from it.
– I genuinely want Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the NEA president, and other leaders to recommend individuals for important positions who share and implement the philosophy that I am expressing. This way, NEA will have a voice and influence in decision-making processes.
– There was an argument in favor of Teach for America, but I believe we have learned a great deal about the challenges faced by individuals with only six to eight weeks of training in managing a classroom and effectively inspiring and educating students.
However, the complete transcript reveals additional comments and more detailed answers from Clinton. In a campaign where education has been a secondary focus, these private remarks offer a clearer understanding of what we can expect from a Clinton presidency, particularly in the initial stages. As Clinton noted during her address to the NEA, the honeymoon phase does not last long.
Regarding privatization, Clinton expressed her intention to address private contractors and combat the misclassification of employees. She emphasized the importance of maintaining quality and stopping unscrupulous contractors who do not contribute positively to education or any other service. Clinton pledged to utilize the law and regulation to prevent the negative consequences of a race to the bottom. She also mentioned her desire to phase out the use of contractors who are primarily motivated by profit, similar to her stance on for-profit prisons and other issues that have spiraled out of control.
On the topic of early childhood education, Clinton stressed the need to prioritize children from birth to age five, especially those with special needs. She acknowledged the significant impact that early interventions can have during this crucial developmental period.
Clinton expressed her desire to be prepared by Election Day, rather than taking three to six months into her first term to develop education-related legislation. She sought the collective wisdom of the NEA to guide her on immediate action plans for education.
Addressing campaign finance, Clinton highlighted the issue of undisclosed sources contributing to a third of the money spent on influencing the 2014 election. She expressed concerns about the lack of transparency and the potential for foreign entities to influence candidates without public knowledge.
In summary, these private remarks from Clinton to the NEA provide insight into her stance on various education-related issues, from privatization to early childhood education and campaign finance. They offer a glimpse into what her policy priorities might be during her presidency.
Despite the existence of these emails and private conversations, it remains uncertain how events will unfold in the future. Based on my understanding of this new information, it appears that Clinton has her own set of priorities, but it is highly probable that she will appoint an education secretary preferred by the teachers unions. Ideally, this education secretary would have a background in K-12 teaching and be a union member. This decision would not only appease the labor unions but also facilitate the fulfillment of Clinton’s promise, stated in the meeting, to involve teachers in the process of making policies and important decisions regarding education.
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