Education: A Rival for N.E.A.

Despite its wealth and size, the 750,000-member National Education Association is impotent as a negotiator of salaries and working conditions. In N.E.A.'s "professional" world, a teacher is not supposed to air gripes in public; he goes to his boss, the school superintendent, who also belongs to N.E.A. The result, say N.E.A.'s critics, is a "company union."

The only organization that even remotely rivals N.E.A. is the 60,000-member American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. It is small because many teachers dislike the blue-collar union label; unlike N.E.A., it does no educational research. But A.F.T. does advocate collective bargaining and the...

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