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Next NEA leader's first task: Win back public
Politico ^ | July 6, 2014 | CAITLIN EMMA

Posted on 07/06/2014 9:29:08 PM PDT by Second Amendment First

The new president of the largest teachers union in the country will become the voice of roughly 3 million teachers at perhaps the most critical moment in the National Education Association’s history.

First item on the agenda: Win back the public.

Union watchers say the newly elected Lily Eskelsen García — a former school cafeteria worker teacher, folk singer and Utah teacher of the year — has a “hell of a job” ahead of her. She faces court cases challenging teacher tenure and job protections, the defection of historically loyal Democrats, growing apprehension over the Common Core, diminishing ranks, public relations campaigns painting her union as greedy and a complicated chessboard of state and local members with a variety of interests.

(Sign up for POLITICO’s Morning Education tip sheet)

Eskelsen García, elected Friday, has big plans: She wants to further shift the union away from its longstanding and reflexive support of Democrats — which it has already begun. She wants to banish what she says is a loaded word — tenure. And she wants to lead a campaign against high-stakes decision-making based on test scores at the same time she firms up her union’s support of the Common Core.

But to do any of it, she has to make clear not just what the union is against, but what it’s for, said Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform.

In an interview with POLITICO, Eskelsen García said indeed, the union must be clear about its agenda.

“People will take a bad idea if we don’t offer them something better,” she said.

DRAWING BATTLE LINES

At the union’s annual convention last week in Denver, where Eskelsen García was officially elected, some teachers said it’s time for a leader who will play hardball with the feds and push back against Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s agenda, which includes evaluating teachers in part by student test scores and supporting the growth of charter schools, often staffed by non-union teachers.

“We need a fresh face for the NEA, someone who will stand up to the conservatives — and stand up to Arne Duncan and say, ‘We don’t agree with your plans,’” said Reed Bretz, a high school fine arts teacher in the Kenowa Hills public schools in Grand Rapids, Mich. Current President “Dennis [Van Roekel] has tried to be too nice. He’s tried to play in the sandbox and it hasn’t worked.”

(Also on POLITICO: Full education policy coverage)

Eskelsen García already has fiery words for the feds, who she holds responsible for the growing use of “value-added measures,” or VAMs, an algorithm that aims to assess teacher effectiveness by student growth on standardized tests. The idea has gained traction under the Obama administration through waivers from No Child Left Behind and the administration’s signature Race to the Top program. But studies, including some funded by the Education Department, have cast doubt on the validity of the measures.

VAMs “are the mark of the devil,” Eskelsen García said.

The algorithms do aim to account for variables such as student poverty levels. But Eskelsen García said they can’t capture the complete picture.

The year she taught 22 students in one class and the year she taught 39 students in one class — “Is that factored into a value-added model? No,” she said. “Did they factor in the year that we didn’t have enough textbooks so all four fifth-grade teachers had to share them on a cart and I couldn’t send any books home to do homework with my kids?”

“It’s beyond absurd,” she added. “And anyone who thinks they can defend that is trying to sell you something.”

Reform advocates point out that VAM scores are never the only factor in a teacher’s evaluations. Principal observations and other factors are also weighted. They urge the union to embrace accountability and work to improve it, rather than resist it.

“We’re 20 years into the standards and accountability movement and accountability isn’t going away,” said Celine Coggins, founder of Teach Plus. “So how can teachers own that? How can that be part of the profession and part of how the profession defines itself, rather than have it be something that’s done to teachers?”

Duncan said he believes the department will find “common ground” with the union and and strengthen what he called their “longstanding partnership” to improve public education.

PUTTING OUT FIRES

But NEA recently split with the Education Department on a court ruling out of California that struck down job protections defended by unions.

“The world looks different today than it would have looked a month ago to a new NEA president because of Vergara,” said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution, an education reform group that often clashes with unions. Austin pointed to a new poll showing California voters uneasy with the tenure and job protection laws that unions have fought to defend. “The teachers union now finds itself politically isolated in the bluest state in the nation,” Austin said.

Eskelsen García must navigate that minefield carefully because the “public will smell bullshit from a mile away,” Williams said.

“The general public thinks it’s absurd that they’re willing to go so far to defend what seems indefensible,” he said. “They’ve got to shift the conversation to fairness for teachers. The public loves teachers, but they don’t want to stick up for bureaucratic processes.”

Eskelsen García said that going forward, the union must emphasize that tenure doesn’t mean teachers have a job for life, it simply ensures due process when they face dismissal.

“Too many people have been told that it’s impossible to fire a teacher,” she said. “We want to stand for a reasonable due process when someone is about to lose their job. They should know why, they should be able to defend themselves … part of the bully pulpit that I have is to at least explain to the public that we’re talking about due process for educators.”

But unions have been explaining that to the public for more than a year — and emphasized that point over and over in the Vergara trial — and it hasn’t notably shifted public opinion. And while Eskelsen García hopes to banish the word “tenure,” which she says has negative connotations, no amount of union pressure can stop opponents from using the phrase.

A TEACHER’S TEACHER

Sitting on the couch in her office wearing a pressed white dress and gauzy pink scarf, Eskelsen García smiles at the wall where pictures of her past classes hang with pride. She points to her younger self with a mass of black hair (she irons it flat every day now) and remembers the year she taught 39 fifth graders at once.

“What I want to bring [to the NEA presidency] is that voice that says — unashamedly and without any modesty whatsoever — I was the teacher of the year,” she said. “And I was the Utah Teacher of the Year for a very good reason: Because I could get my kids to want to do their homework. To love to read the next chapter in Charlotte’s Web. To do project-based learning. And I think our members — and our potential members, by the way — want someone who’s going to stand up and speak that classroom teacher truth.”

She beat her opponent Mark Airgood by a wide margin. Airgood, who opposes the Common Core and is eager to take on affirmative action and immigrant rights, had little visible support at the union’s convention last week. But buttons and T-shirts supporting the “Elect Lily Committee” peppered the convention.

Several convention delegates said they found Eskelsen García endearing and her life story inspirational.

“I’m a huge fan of Lily. I think she’s very personable. She’s someone I can have a conversation with,” said Jess Hoertel, a sixth grade language arts teacher in Jefferson Township, N.J. She described Van Roekel as “a little out of touch” and “very serious,” whereas Eskelsen García is more of a “people person.”

Eskelsen García, formerly NEA’s vice president, is assuming the presidency from Van Roekel, who has led the union since 2008. Her term is three years long with an option to run for re-election once.

She has a long history of activism: When she was named Utah’s top teacher in 1989, she used the title as leverage to protest the state’s inadequate education funding. She was elected president of the Utah Education Association one year later.

In 1996, she was elected to NEA’s executive committee. She even won her party’s nomination for U.S. Congress in 1998, but lost when she earned 45 percent of the vote against her Republican incumbent. She also served as a member of former President Bill Clinton’s White House Strategy Session on Improving Hispanic Education in 2000.

Eskelsen García, now 59, has made a point to be visible and accessible during her time at NEA: She writes occasionally for her blog, Lily’s Blackboard. She plans to ramp up that blogging as president, though she’s the first to say that her tendency to speak her mind leaves her staff a little on edge.

Last year during a Netroots Nation panel discussion, she spoke out against politicians in Washington who refused to pass common sense measures to prevent gun violence. Her words quickly went viral: “People who were elected to protect us have allegiances to the gun industry and they have allowed this to happen. They’ve allowed it happen sometimes because the gun industry saw a true believer and helped them get into office … But others are just afraid of the gun industry and they don’t want to make any noise. And I’m not an ordained theologian, I’m not a minister, but these guys [elected officials] are going to hell…that is my daily prayer.”

During NEA’s 2012 Representative Assembly, she showcased her folk singer roots with a rendition of the National Anthem.

She has been open about personal hardships. Her husband of 38 years, Ruel Eskelsen, killed himself in March 2011. Eskelsen García, mother of two grown sons, harnessed union members, asking them to write to her adopted son Jared. He was in prison for theft at the time and couldn’t attend the memorial service.

Last year, she married Alberto García, an artist she met in Mexico. The couple is navigating U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services so he can legally live in the country.

She jokes that her Spanish sounds better than it actually is. Her mother, from Panama, was trilingual. But Eskelsen García said her mother never taught her Spanish, thinking people in the U.S. wouldn’t want to hear it. Eskelsen García decided to learn the language to honor her mother’s culture.

NAVIGATING POLITICAL WATERS

Eskelsen García, who takes the helm Sept. 1, will be steering the ship at a critical time as states head into the thick of midterm elections. Mark Naison, co-founder of the militant union splinter group, the Badass Teachers Association, said NEA has to “stop reflexively supporting Democratic candidates who are supporting policies that take power away from teachers.”

Others think that the union needs to play up the importance of politics.

“We do need to sell ourselves a little better, both to the general public and to our own members,” said Martha Patterson, a special education teacher at an elementary school in Bremerton, Wash. She said she sees many union members tuning out of political campaigns because the NEA officers haven’t been able to persuade them that elections matter.

Eskelsen García said the union has to branch out beyond the Democratic party, endorsing candidates across the spectrum that give teachers more power. The union wants to know where candidates stand on equity and wants to endorse politicians who understand that “a student is more than a test score,” she said.

The NEA has already begun to support some Republicans, including several candidates for state legislature in Florida.

COMMON CORE CONFLICT

Eskelsen García is likely to come under pressure from some members, including the Badass Teachers Association, to renounce the Common Core.

But there’s no chance of García backing off completely. She even has a favorite Common Core standard.

Van Roekel famously said earlier this year that Common Core implementation is “botched” and requires a “course correction.” Eskelsen García said there’s nothing wrong with hitting the “pause button” to make sure states and districts are getting it right.

The Gates Foundation recently proposed temporarily suspending high-stakes accountability measures based on Common Core-aligned tests for that reason — which was an important announcement, Eskelsen García noted.

But NEA’s new leader realizes that Gates, which has donated to the NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education, isn’t so popular with the union’s members.

“They funded the Common Core,” Eskelsen García said. “And for some of our folks, it’s like, ‘But the Gates Foundation funded the Common Core, so we must be suspect. It’s corporate. It’s Bill Gates — the mega billionaire!’ But I don’t see it that way. I see the Gates Foundation as funding ideas.”

If she had to grade the Gates Foundation, Eskelsen García said she’d give it a B+. She questions some of the foundation’s investments, like Teach for America and the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

But Gates has supported “one thousand and two” great ideas that make perfect sense — the Common Core being one of them, she said. When the standards were still an idea, Eskelsen García said she told the Gates Foundation that it can expect a partner in the NEA on higher standards.

But she also warned them.

“I said I’ll be your personal nightmare if you betray high standards” by trying to cram them into a standardized, commercial, mass-produced test.

“Because you can’t do that with my favorite standards,” she said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: academicbias; folksinger; nea; teachersunion

1 posted on 07/06/2014 9:29:08 PM PDT by Second Amendment First
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To: Second Amendment First
cafeteria worker..... teacher, folk singer ......... KOOMBAYAH CITY!!!

perhaps she can post a Give the NEA...A Chance...Video..om youtube!!!


2 posted on 07/06/2014 9:33:23 PM PDT by MeshugeMikey ( "Never, never, never give up". Winston Churchill ....Barack Hussein LaRaza Obama Bites)
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To: Second Amendment First; Oldeconomybuyer; RightField; aposiopetic; rbmillerjr; Lowell1775; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

3 posted on 07/06/2014 9:39:05 PM PDT by narses (Matthew 7:6. He appears to have made up his mind let him live with the consequences.)
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To: MeshugeMikey
She wants to further shift the union away from its longstanding and reflexive support of Democrats — which it has already begun. She wants to banish what she says is a loaded word — tenure. And she wants to lead a campaign against high-stakes decision-making based on test scores at the same time she firms up her union’s support of the Common Core.

She has a hard row to hoe. I don't know anything about her, but if someone doesn't bring common sense to unionists it will get worst for them.

4 posted on 07/06/2014 9:41:09 PM PDT by Second Amendment First
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To: Second Amendment First

Lily Eskelsen García, an elementary teacher from Utah, is Vice President of the National Education Association. She is one of the highest-ranking labor leaders in the country and one of its most influential Hispanic educators.

Lily was president of the Utah State Retirement System, only the second woman to ever be elected to the position; president of the Children at Risk Foundation; and was a member of the White House Strategy Session on Improving Hispanic Education.

She often works with coalitions to engage the public in the political process, and she herself was the first Hispanic to run for Congress in her state, raising almost $1 million and taking 45 percent of the vote against the incumbent.

She has been featured on MSNBC and CNN en Español.

She believes that no matter how students arrive, and no matter what their learning conditions, their home conditions or their health conditions, that educators have the sacred duty to be professionals and to care for the whole child.

http://lilysblackboard.org/about/

Support the DREAMERS


5 posted on 07/06/2014 9:43:07 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: Second Amendment First

common sense would disallow her pet project... Common Core ...thats for sure.


6 posted on 07/06/2014 9:43:24 PM PDT by MeshugeMikey ( "Never, never, never give up". Winston Churchill ....Barack Hussein LaRaza Obama Bites)
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To: Second Amendment First

#BringBackOurInfluence


7 posted on 07/06/2014 9:44:38 PM PDT by aposiopetic
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To: Second Amendment First

I have been so busy lately I haven’t been able to keep up with the most recent supreme court ruling concerning unions. Could the ruling in anyway impact teacher’s unions? I sure hope so. The democrats will have to find another way to extort campaign funds.


8 posted on 07/06/2014 9:45:00 PM PDT by boycott
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To: MeshugeMikey

A collectivist is still a collectivist, even if female and cute by Latrino standards.

May G*d rot her and the collectivists she represents.


9 posted on 07/06/2014 9:46:08 PM PDT by GladesGuru (Islam Delenda Est. Because of what Islam is - and for what Muslims do.)
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To: Second Amendment First

In 1998 she attempted to put her 20 years of experience working with small children to practical use by becoming her party’s nominee for the U.S. Congress.

Her advice has been published in Parenting magazine and she has been featured on MSNBC, CNN en Español and as the noble opposition on Fox & Friends.

In 2000, she served as a member of President Bill Clinton’s White House Strategy Session on Improving Hispanic Education, and in 2011, President Obama named her a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Eskelsen García is a national leader among Hispanic educators; she addressed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Public Policy Conference in September 2008.

Her union leadership has included writing protest songs, including one about the No Child Left Behind Act. As vice president, she has been part of NEA’s recent emphasis on working with the American labor movement; she appeared in Washington, D.C. on December 10, 2009, with labor leaders from the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO to speak out against taxing health-care benefits, where she said, “We should tax the millionaires, not teachers and bus drivers.


10 posted on 07/06/2014 9:48:40 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: Second Amendment First

Abolish it


11 posted on 07/06/2014 9:48:53 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: Second Amendment First

One of my best friends, a teacher of 15 years, submitted her resignation because of Common Core. She doesn’t even know what she’ll do next, she just knew she couldn’t do THAT.

She is not alone. This country is being wrecked.


12 posted on 07/06/2014 9:49:19 PM PDT by KJC1 (When you are dealing with the devil, the only answer is God.)
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To: GladesGuru

Amen and Amen!


13 posted on 07/06/2014 9:50:58 PM PDT by MeshugeMikey ( "Never, never, never give up". Winston Churchill ....Barack Hussein LaRaza Obama Bites)
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To: GeronL
Bingo! Why should a union have precedence over educating children? The answer is obvious—money. Abolish the NEA, indeed!
14 posted on 07/06/2014 9:53:16 PM PDT by Fungi
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To: Second Amendment First

Eskelsen García brought the message into her meeting with students, drawing the connection between union membership and education and explaining how a national union of 3 million members finds its power in grass-roots organizing. “The union creates a circle of influence to achieve the education goals our members want,” she said.

“There are those motivated by greed and fear,” said Eskelsen García, describing interests that advocate putting colleges and universities in private hands and shrinking public funding for higher education. “At the NEA, we believe the business of education is to open students’ minds.”

http://www.massteacher.org/news/archive/2013/eskelsen_umass.aspx


15 posted on 07/06/2014 9:53:29 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: kcvl

It’s a bitch when you work so hard to get to the top and find out Obama is president.


16 posted on 07/06/2014 9:56:19 PM PDT by Second Amendment First
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To: GladesGuru
Latrino standards

Provided by us taxpayers of course. Nothing but the best. There is nothing funny about this epic disaster, but your "Latrino" typo did make me laugh.

17 posted on 07/06/2014 9:57:57 PM PDT by KJC1 (When you are dealing with the devil, the only answer is God.)
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To: MeshugeMikey
How, by lying? Death to the NEA... Communist anti American traitors.
18 posted on 07/06/2014 10:00:21 PM PDT by MaxMax (Pay Attention and you'll be pissed off too! FIRE BOEHNER, NOW!)
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To: Second Amendment First

Eskelsen García: We Are Fearless and We Will Not Be Silent

NEA president-elect Lily Eskelsen García, after praising those who have supported and worked in concert with her, concluded NEA’s 152nd Annual Meeting with a strong message to those “who don’t know what they’re talking about”: We will not be silent

“We,” of course, refers to the three million educators who know what’s best for students, learning, and the teaching profession.

“We know what is at stake and it is why we are who we are. It is why we are fearless and why we will not be silent when people who for their own profit and political posture subvert words like ‘reform’ or ‘accountability.’”

The thousands of delegates who filled the Denver convention center also got a taste of Eskelsen García’s grit when she reflected on the 1992 presidential campaign of the then-candidate Gov. Bill Clinton whose slogan made headlines: It’s the Economy, Stupid.
“For us, one thing is clear, before anything is going to get better: It’s the Testing, Stupid. Better yet, it’s the stupid testing,” she said, referring to the “phony” accountability system that has hurt students and demeaned the teaching profession.

Becky Pringle, a middle school physical science teacher from Harrisburg, Pa., was elected as NEA vice president, making her now one of the highest-ranking African-American female leaders in the labor movement.

Pringle served since 2008 as NEA secretary-treasurer, where she oversaw the fiscal integrity of the organization while advocating on professional issues important to educators and students, as well as issues of equity in education, diversity in the classroom, and human and civil rights.

“As vice president of the nation’s largest union of educators, I will work to ensure that NEA lives up to its rich history and legacy of human and civil rights, which is the foundation for realizing a great public school for every student.”

Rounding out the top three NEA leadership positions and making NEA the first major union to be led by three women of color, Princess Moss was elected secretary-treasurer. Her responsibilities will include overseeing the multimillion dollar budget and fiscal integrity of the organization.

NEA’s delegates have elected some extraordinary leaders who will continue to push for equity in education and carry on the organization’s commitment to student-centered union leadership and our commitment to social justice,” said outgoing NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, who leaves the term-limited post after six years.

http://neatoday.org/2014/07/06/eskelsen-garcia-we-are-fearless-and-we-will-not-be-silent/


19 posted on 07/06/2014 10:00:59 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: Second Amendment First

Teachers Union VP: Gun Rights Supporters “Are Going to Hell”

Kyle Olson | Jun 26, 2013

NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen Garcia even believes she looked into their souls and determined that NRA leaders and supporters “are going to hell.”

“I’m not an ordained minister, I’m not a theologian, but these guys are going to hell,” she said at the annual Netroots Nation conference last week, according to Mercury News.

“We have to make those senators as frightened of us as they are of the gun lobby,” she reportedly said. “Shame on us if we give one inch to the gun lobby. They got where they are because they never give up. ... Now the movement is us; we are the ones we were waiting for.”

http://townhall.com/columnists/kyleolson/2013/06/26/teachers-union-vp-gun-rights-supporters-are-going-to-hell-n1626575


20 posted on 07/06/2014 10:03:14 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: MaxMax
Shes probably lead at least one class in a rousing chorus of Oh Barack..We Looove You....in her time!

send her back to the cafeteria


21 posted on 07/06/2014 10:03:36 PM PDT by MeshugeMikey ( "Never, never, never give up". Winston Churchill ....Barack Hussein LaRaza Obama Bites)
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To: kcvl
NRA leaders and supporters “are going to hell

Thanks for the background on her. It's not going to be any easy gravy job, that's for sure.

22 posted on 07/06/2014 10:09:39 PM PDT by Second Amendment First
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To: Second Amendment First

Eskelsen García ran for Congress in 1998 as a Democrat in a district that included Salt Lake City. Her campaign was criticized for its negativity, and she lost badly.

She also says she will continue to use her Teacher of the Year recognition (1989), as she did in Utah, to disarm critics. “I did it shamelessly because people really do respect teachers, and it didn’t fit their mental model of a union activist,” she says.

“We feel embattled,” Eskelsen García says. “People have decided to take us out in a metaphorical war.”

Eskelsen García says it’s not just unions that are at risk, but the entire public education system. As a leader, she knows the motivating value of identifying and vilifying an enemy to build unity among her members. Among those she counts as enemies of public education are proponents of charter schools and vouchers. She said their goal is to “show that public schools have failed and can’t be trusted and they are going to swoop in with their answer,” which is privatization of public education.

Eskelsen García and other union leaders also see themselves as under attack by “self-described” education reformers and centrist Democrats who favor charter schools, performance evaluations that factor in student achievement, and changes to long-standing practices that mean teachers hired last lose their jobs first in the event of budget cuts or declines in enrollment.

Eskelsen García can be blunt, as when last summer she told a group of liberal bloggers that supporters of gun rights “are going to hell.” Urging the audience to take action, she said, “We have to make the senators as frightened of us as they are of the gun lobby…. Shame on us if we give one inch.”

Eskelsen García is equally adamant that current policies that stress testing, accountability, and school choice are wrong for kids as well as for teachers. “You know, when something’s stupid you have to call it stupid,” she said in an interview.

Yet Eskelsen García is a big fan of another prominent “reform,” the common core academic standards now being instituted in schools across the country (see “The Common Core Takes Hold” and “Navigating the Common Core,” features, Summer 2014). Although critics have said teachers were not involved, she says expert teachers marked up drafts with red pens, and the authors of the standards agreed to most of their changes. “Every time I turned the page I thought, my God, this is how I teach, it really was,” she says. “Critical thinking skills, collaborate on problem solving, create, design, give me evidence of, give me your opinion and tell me why I should believe you, and organize a project.”

Eskelsen García portrays teachers as hardworking heroes who are under attack by wealthy, implacable, money-hungry foes. “The folks in this room are putting battle gear on,” she said later. “They are fearless warriors.”

To help bolster the professional image, Van Roekel persuaded the union’s representative assembly to dun members $3 apiece annually over 10 years to amass a $60 million Great Public Schools Fund the union could invest in the ideas of NEA members.

The goal of the defense is to block state initiatives that would weaken the union as well as to preserve the victories the NEA has made in the past.

The defensive effort also includes campaigns to fight legislation, such as the successful 2007 campaign in Utah to overturn a state law promoting vouchers for online schools, and the campaign in Ohio to reverse a law that took away most collective-bargaining rights from public-sector unions.

http://educationnext.org/teacher-year-union-president/


23 posted on 07/06/2014 10:17:39 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: Second Amendment First

The teacher scholarship fund endowed by Ruel and Lily, “Maestros Para Los Niños”, made payable to the University of Utah.

This fund is available to students seeking to become elementary or secondary school teachers at the University of Utah College of Education who have demonstrated a commitment to working with the Latino community.

*******

Her son...

Gay Marriage: Jeremy Eskelsen and Michael Hargreaves

July 24, 2008 Features0203
When did you get married?

We actually had our wedding Sept. 10, 2005 — here in Utah at the First Unitarian Church, but then again legally June 17, 2008 in Los Angeles at the Albertson Wedding Chapel.

http://gaysaltlake.com/news/2008/07/24/gay-marriage-jeremy-eskelsen-and-michael-hargreaves/


24 posted on 07/06/2014 10:22:02 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: Second Amendment First

Please keep NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen in your thoughts this week. Her husband passed away on Friday. Below is his obituary and a note that she has written to her NEA friends.

Ruel Eskelsen: In Loving Memory
Mar 22nd, 2011 by LilysBlackboard.

Ruel Eskelsen, husband of NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen, died in Washington, D.C. on March 18. He was a devoted husband to his wife of 38 years, and a generous and kind father to their two sons.

Ruel J. Eskelsen was born June 18, 1954, in Durango, Colorado, to Quinn and Ruth Eskelsen of Brigham City.

He lived a life full of love. Ruel loved books and jazz and hiking everywhere, but especially in our national parks.He earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Utah and received his master’s degree in Library Science from Emporia State University in Kansas. He was proud to be a veteran of the U.S. Army and was an active member of the Unitarian Church.

He is survived by his wife, Lily, their sons, Jeremy (Mike Hargreaves) Eskelsen and Jared Eskelsen, his father, Quinn M. Eskelsen, his brothers, David (Carla) Eskelsen, Doug Eskelsen, his sister, Amy (Don Standing) Eskelsen, and his grandchildren Quentin Smith and Nikita Eskelsen.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the teacher scholarship fund endowed by Ruel and Lily, “Maestros Para Los Niños”, made payable to the University of Utah.

This fund is available to students seeking to become elementary or secondary school teachers at the University of Utah College of Education who have demonstrated a commitment to working with the Latino community.

Scholarship donations should be sent to University of Utah c/o Maestros Para Los Ninos Endowed Scholarship Fund, 540 Arapeen Dr., Suite 250, Salt Lake City, UT 84108.

Sympathy cards may also be sent to Lily and Ruel’s children:

Jeremy Eskelsen and Jared Eskelsen,
c/o National Education Association
1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-3290

You can also share your condolences on Ruel’s Obituary page

Sympathy cards may also be sent to Lily and Ruel’s chidren:

Jeremy Eskelsen
Mark Hargreaves
2906 Ash Point Dr
Eagle Mountain, UT 84005

Jared Eskelsen
Inmate #42555
Utah State Prison
PO Box 250
Draper, UT 84020

Lily’s Note

My Dear, Dear Friends,

The outpouring of love and kindness overwhelms me and my family. You did not know that my gentle Ruel suffered depression to the point that finally he could not think through the pain. I found him when it was too late when I came home from work on Friday. It has taken me these days with my son, Jeremy, and my sisters and brothers and our Mom to work through what happened. There are, of course, no answers when there is the darkness of mental illness. Ruel did not decide to end his life. The mental illness took my sweet husband away.

I have had so many of you ask what you can do. I woke up at 3am this morning thinking of a way that only you can help. I need you to write a letter.

Our second son, Jared, is in prison for theft. We adopted Jared when he was only 4 and he was already being treated for conduct disorders. Jared is not violent, but throughout his life his has acted out of anger for the abandonment, neglect and abuse he suffered in this early years. He steals. But I have always known him to be kind and generous and he was very, very close to his father. He called us twice a week just to hear a friendly voice, and he loved talking to Ruel about the latest book he was reading. He was hysterical when I had to tell him that his father was gone.

Jared is not allowed to go to the memorial service on Saturday in Salt Lake City. He has not reached a level where he is allowed such a privilege. I am not angry. I want you to know that the Utah Education Association made personal appeals to the Governor and that the NEA made personal appeals to Senator Hatch and Congressman Matheson. I want you to know that the Governor, the Senator and the Congressman all put aside partisanship and generously tried whatever they could do to help. I am grateful to them all for the attempt. But the law could not be put aside, and I accept that.

But you know that my friend, Dennis, is always asking us: When someone says, “no”, what can we do without anyone’s permission? In this case, we can show Jared that he is not alone. Not really. I am asking anyone with a pen and a piece of paper to write my little boy a short note telling him that they know he loved his Dad and that his Dad loved him. He loved going to his basketball games and he loved taking him camping and finding constellations of stars, all of us lying on the trampoline looking up at the night sky from the backyard, and he loved cooking dinner for him, even the time it upset Jared that he was making a ham stir fry and Jared cried because he thought he was cooking a “hamster” fry.

I write to Jared three times a week. Imagine if he got thousands of letters, all reminding him that he is loved. Jared may not receive any cards with glitter, glue or objects taped on. A simple card or better yet, a note, would make him feel the love that he will not be able to feel personally on Saturday. We are having the service video-taped, and I promised him that when he is out, our family will all sit together and watch it with him so that we can laugh and cry and hug. This is a great comfort to him.

When his birth mother died he was 3, his foster family did not take him to the funeral. He talked about that when he was older. For a long time, he thought it meant she wasn’t really dead and that we were hiding it from him. It will be so hard for him to miss this service, and he understands that there are consequences for the action that put him in jail. He takes responsibility for that and does not blame anyone but himself. But this pain is bad enough. I don’t think I could bear it without all the arms that have held me in these last days. He has no one to hold him while his brother and I prepare things here. I wanted him to feel arms holding him, and now I want to do the next best thing. I want each of you to hold him in your love for me and for Ruel, and he will feel it as each letter comes in.

Will you do this for me?

You can reach him at:

Jared Eskelsen
Inmate #42555. Offender #141478
Utah State Prison
P. O. Box 250
Draper, Utah 84020

Be sure that if you send a card, it has no glitter or glue. Please do this kind thing to bring some peace to a child who has had precious little peace in his life. And please pass this on to any other person who might help.

I love you all,

Lily Eskelsen


25 posted on 07/06/2014 10:26:51 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: Second Amendment First

Win back the public, sure.
How about no more “rubber rooms” for bad teachers, rewarding good performance, and not having crap curriculum like Rainbow, goals 2000, and common core!


26 posted on 07/06/2014 10:37:37 PM PDT by Darksheare (Try my coffee, first one's free..... Even robots will kill for it!)
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To: Second Amendment First

80% illiteracy rate... from those that have graduated

helping people read and write would go a long way towards restoring the public’s opinion towards ‘teachers’


27 posted on 07/06/2014 10:47:40 PM PDT by sten (fighting tyranny never goes out of style)
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To: MeshugeMikey

Yeah, really, if she’s not a commie I’ll eat my hat.

I wish this woman nothing but failure.

Break the unions, free the children.


28 posted on 07/07/2014 3:44:40 AM PDT by jocon307 (These people are (some Polish word) crazy)
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To: Second Amendment First

The very fact that the NEA has to “rebrand” itself to “win back the parents” tells you how evil it is.


29 posted on 07/07/2014 3:49:38 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Second Amendment First
“We need a fresh face for the NEA, someone who will stand up to the conservatives — and stand up to Arne Duncan and say, ‘We don’t agree with your plans,’” said Reed Bretz, a high school fine arts teacher in the Kenowa Hills public schools in Grand Rapids, Mich. Current President “Dennis [Van Roekel] has tried to be too nice. He’s tried to play in the sandbox and it hasn’t worked.”

Ah - so THAT's the issue... They haven't stood up to "the conservatives" enough! LOL

But unions have been explaining that to the public for more than a year — and emphasized that point over and over in the Vergara trial — and it hasn’t notably shifted public opinion. And while Eskelsen García hopes to banish the word “tenure,” which she says has negative connotations, no amount of union pressure can stop opponents from using the phrase.

Again - It isn't the issue that "tenure", the concept, has placed near impossible requirements in the way of handling teacher malfeasance or incompetence, it is the fact that people don't like the WORD "tenure".

She might or might not play a mean guitar, but there is nothing new in her agenda - she will keep the NEA marching staunchly leftward, while corrupting the minds of America's youth.

30 posted on 07/07/2014 3:57:32 AM PDT by MortMan (All those in favor of gun control raise both hands!)
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To: Gaffer

“The very fact that the NEA has to “rebrand” itself to “win back the parents” tells you how evil it is.”

That’s right; as the owners of the Democratic Party they are campaigning just like their candidates...


31 posted on 07/07/2014 4:17:14 AM PDT by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic warfare against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: kearnyirish2

The Devil’s greatest accomplishment has been to make people believe he does not exist.


32 posted on 07/07/2014 4:18:58 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Second Amendment First

According to Ms. Garcia, all of you radical folks who support Constitutional rights are going to hell:
http://www.guns.com/2013/06/29/second-amendment-supporters-are-going-to-hell-says-nea-vice-president/


33 posted on 07/07/2014 5:10:33 AM PDT by WorkingClassFilth
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To: KJC1

“Latrino standards

Provided by us taxpayers of course. Nothing but the best. There is nothing funny about this epic disaster, but your “Latrino” typo did make me laugh.”

That is NOT a typo.

I coined the term to describe the Hispanics now illegally invading America. They are the bottom of their national talent pool, sent here by Obama to destroy us.

Many are cartel members and are violent criminals.


34 posted on 07/07/2014 5:31:08 AM PDT by GladesGuru (Islam Delenda Est. Because of what Islam is - and for what Muslims do.)
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To: jocon307

“We don’t need no education.
We dont need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall

.as performed by” :pink floyd”


35 posted on 07/07/2014 5:38:17 AM PDT by MeshugeMikey ( "Never, never, never give up". Winston Churchill ....Barack Hussein LaRaza Obama Bites)
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To: MeshugeMikey

I remember a friend saying to me, when that album first came out, that it was far worse to be a brick in a wall than a cog in a machine. At least if you were a gog you were working, doing something. (Of course my friend and I both very much enjoyed work, maybe that made/makes us strange, but that was/is how we are.)

If there is any group that is truly bricks in the wall it is unionized public school teachers.

They’ve ruined 3 generations of poor blacks and whites and probably at least 2 of poor Hispanics. We’ll see if the Asians escape unscathed if this system is not done away with.

Hey Asians, don’t be complacent!


36 posted on 07/07/2014 6:20:17 AM PDT by jocon307 (These people are (some Polish word) crazy)
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To: jocon307

so many of the public school teachers these days want to “change the world”....for the worse....


37 posted on 07/07/2014 6:41:27 AM PDT by MeshugeMikey ( "Never, never, never give up". Winston Churchill ...)
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To: Gaffer

“The Devil’s greatest accomplishment has been to make people believe he does not exist.”

I live in NJ, where Chris Christie has exposed the teachers’ unions for the parasites they are. When other states get screwed by them in the same way, then they’ll REALLY have to re-brand. They are racketeers, killing taxpayers and local economies.


38 posted on 07/07/2014 4:02:26 PM PDT by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic warfare against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: MeshugeMikey
so many of the public school teachers these days want to “change the world”

Every time someone says they want to change the world, I think of Adolph Hitler. Probably no one in the last century did more to change the world than he did.

39 posted on 07/07/2014 4:19:09 PM PDT by JoeFromSidney (Book: Resistance to Tyranny. Buy from Amazon.)
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