Rainbow over Galileo Lane, Tucson

Thursday, May 3, 2012

IRA: The old and the new

I'm  just back from IRA in Chicago. I was President in Chicago 30 years earlier. Ira Aaron liked to tell the story that when I gave my Presidential speech only my nine-month old grandson Reuben turned his back on me. Debi had put him down in the aisle and he began to crawl away from the podium.

IRA has been through some hard times lately. Executive directors have come and gone amid rumors and lawyer imposed secrecy. The staff has had an almost 100 % holdover. Income and membership are down.

The new executive director,Marcie Craig Post met informally with past presidents and promised transparency.
She wants to visit us and get our advice. All signs so far are good.

One thing I ohpe we can turn around is the rampant commercialism. The badge holders had PEARSON on them  Pearson is underfire for being one of the corporate sponsors of the political group that's being writing the extreme legislation. . Yetta led a campaign to turn them around to get rid of advertising Pearson.

The opening session began with a commercial with a talking giraff advertising an alphabet phonics prorgram.
A young chorus sang (where did they find so many white kids in one place in|Chicago?)
And then came the major speaker  who reminded me of the spoof they do on Saturday Night LIve of the motivational speaker. Fortunately those of us on stage couldn't make out what he was saying. There is an explosion of protest on the internet on having this self-promoting, anti teacher anti teachers' union speaker .
I assume he came free with his publisher supporting his appearance.

This commercialization of IRA has to stop.


  1. So, how do we mount a campaign against the commercialization of IRA? I think of the very successful campaigns launched by www.commercialfreechildhood.org. They were successful in getting Scholastic to stop their support of a curriculum on coal, for example. I often get updates from them about their various campaigns with links for how to support them. Can something more proactive be done about this? How do we support Yetta's campaign mentioned above, for example?

  2. Good questions, Elisa. As a retiree, I dropped my membership in IRA because I simply couldn't afford all the professional organizations I had previously belonged to. Last year I moved to the Austin area so I will probably attend the IRA conference in San Antonio, especially the CELT sponsored session if Ken and colleagues do one. The first time I heard Ken speak was at IRA, I think right after he'd been elected President (actually I'd taken a miscue course taught by Ken and Yetta prior to that, but that's a different kind of speaking). I wonder if Pearson advertisements will be on the nametags in Texas...

  3. This year Pearson sponsored the badges too...so sad. I found your post looking to see if anyone had written anything about it. There were all kinds of large mascot like animals selling programs and book reps showing slides of the CCSS and explaining how "This book series has illustrations for every story, so you will meet that standard with this product." I was saddened and mad too. Did you read that the Girl Scouts are now matching badges to the CCSS? We need to all band together now. Thank you for listening. a.