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Reform: Matt Damon Hates Teach For America*

image from 3.bp.blogspot.com*Or at least his mom does.  How much?  Enough to turn down an NEA award over an oped the organization's head penned with TFA head Wendy Kopp.  Enough to let word get out about the decision.
This is the second instance of counter-reformers declining opportunities to meet with or be recognized by those in power.  As you may recall, SOS organizers declined a last-minute chance to meet with Arne Duncan last summer.   
Did the opinion piece warrant this kind of response?  I'm going to say no, not really.  Veteran classroom teachers may be deeply opposed to the TFA model (of which I've been pretty critical as well), but I'm not sure the letter represented any big change in NEA policy.  It was a publicity stunt as much as anything else.  
But the incident seems like a good indication of the black-and-white behavior going on within the education debate these days.  Either you're with us or against us.  Past history and context don't really matter.
Reform critics might think that this was a big win for them -- coverage in the NYT for one of their champions, a defensive response from the NEA -- but I'm not so sure about that, either.
The news distracts from the NCLB anniversary -- the vilification of which has to be one of counter-reformers' biggest victories, pushes the NEA into a reactionary mode rather than a proactive one, and pretty much ensures that someone's going to have to do the same kind of thing to AFT head Randi Weingarten, who is much more collaboration-minded of the two union leaders.
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Hate--such a strong word. I saw their action as principled and consistent. Teachers concerned with corporate reforms have been disappointed with the NEA's early endorsement on President Obama due to his massive support of such reforms. The op-ed is inconsistent with the idea that teachers need a lot more than a 5 week boot camp (with varying amounts of students per class, some in the single digits). Well either solid training is needed or it's not. That is black and white. I admire those who stick up for their convictions in the face of political and moneyed pressure.

Well said, Martha. In fact, our NEA union leadership is elected by us members, and it is appropriate for us to withdraw support from them as a step toward putting other leaders forward in their place.

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