Echo Chamber: The National Education Association's Campaign Against NCLB

Sarah Kim

Joe Williams
Education Sector
July 2006

The National Education Association has spent millions on
public relations campaigns attacking NCLB ever since enactment. What the
public doesn't know until now is that the NEA has also given millions
of dollars in backchannel support to advocacy organizations,
researchers, civil rights groups, and state political operatives to
erode the federal law's legitimacy. In this report, Joe Williams details
the support these groups and individuals received from the NEA to
"echo" and amplify the union's own criticisms of the law. A professor at
Columbia University's Teachers College, who wished to remain anonymous
because of his relationship with the union, said, "The [NEA] has a lot
of money for research, but it wants the conclusions to match its
agenda." For example, the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and
Practice, a nonprofit outfit, has supported many studies critical of
NCLB and high-stakes testing. According to Williams, "All [of those
studies] have been funded entirely with money from the NEA and several
state affiliates." While the center's director denies that his
organization's research also winds up supporting NEA policy positions,
so far as we can tell Great Lakes has never produced a study supportive
of testing or NCLB. Other, similar situations are detailed in the
report. Williams does not accuse the NEA of anything illegal (the union
has disclosed all financial dealings that the law requires). But
citizens should know that, when they read that some non-profit group has
condemned NCLB or some analyst has found another flaw in NCLB, NEA
money is probably behind it. To learn more about the union's tactics,
read the Williams report here.

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