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PowerPlayer: NEA Government Relations Director Patrick Crowley

Monday, April 02, 2012


This week’s PowerPlayer is National Education Association Government Relations Director Patrick Crowley. Mr. Crowley was kind enough to chat with GoLocalProv about public sentiment toward unions and the NEARI’s top goals for election season.

1) It has been a difficult couple of years for all unions, but teachers in particular. How did we get to place where educators somehow have become villains?

What we are seeing across the country and in Rhode Island is really the culmination of a 30-year attack on unions and especially teachers unions. Unions like NEARI empower the middle class, especially professional women, who make an overwhelming majority of our ranks. The modern day Robber Barons see us as a threat to their attempt to manipulate the free market and political process and the attack on our members is really part of the coordinated, national attack on women. Conservative and right wing special interest groups hate the fact that our members have a voice at work and are effective in the political arena.

2) Election season is right around the corner. What are your top three goals for the year?

All of our goals relate to making sure our members’ votes are not taken for granted by any politician or political party. We are going to work very hard to reelect Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representatives David Cicilline and Jim Langevin because all three are champions in Washington for working Rhode Islanders. Our state house strategy is still unfolding but you can expect us to be even more active this year in town council and school committee races, especially in places like South Kingstown, Portsmouth, and Middletown.

3) Take us through a day in your life.

My day starts at 5:30 AM with reading the news online and firing off emails to whatever reporter got the story wrong that morning. After a couple of hours of emails to co-workers and members and prescheduling the days tweets, I hit the gym where I discuss the day’s strategic efforts with AFL-CIO President George Nee. Mornings are spent in coalition meetings about one or more of the projects NEARI is helping advance, like the Rhode Island Tax Equity project. I make sure to call around to allies like Ray Sullivan from Marriage Equality Rhode Island and Kate Brock from Ocean State Action and I make sure to issue a field report to NEARI Executive Director Bob Walsh on what political data I may have picked up. The afternoon is spent at the state house communicating with legislators and testifying on bills NEARI supports or opposes. NEARI has a great field team in place, so evenings are spent organizing with one or more of my co-workers in one of our local unions. If I get home by 8:00 PM it’s a good day.

4) Teachers have had a frosty relationship with Commissioner Gist, but it seems like the Department of Education has at least agreed to scale back parts of the teacher evaluation system. Is this a sign that the two sides are beginning to work together?

Some bureaucrats are quicker to point a finger in blame than they are to extend a hand in cooperation. We did a professional poll of teachers in January and asked them if they believe they are better off today under Commissioner Gist than they were two years ago. Only 8.5% of teachers said yes while 84% said no and the top issue named as a “major obstacle” hindering educators in doing their jobs was “Dept. of Ed. Policies.” We hope these realities are met with real change, not more mischaracterization of our positions.

5) Tell us something nobody knows about you.

I’m one of the 11 people who read Travis Rowley’s book and I own an autographed copy.

Quick Hitters

Role Model: Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein

Favorite Restaurant: Angelo’s Palace Pizza in Cumberland

Best Beach: Charlestown Breachway

Best Book You've Read in the Last Year: The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco

Advice for the next Patrick Crowley: Read “The Inner Ring” by C.S. Lewis before you start your first professional job.

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read the april issue of boston magazine.

the issue lists the 50 most powerful people
in boston.

not one union official

and what is the unemployment rate in mass
vs. ri?

Comment #1 by john paycheck on 2012 04 02

The most telling part of this interview is how much this guy comes off like a jerk:

"My day starts at 5:30 AM with reading the news online and firing off emails to whatever reporter got the story wrong that morning."

"I’m one of the 11 people who read Travis Rowley’s book and I own an autographed copy."

And this really says it all. His role model is a terrorist??? Nice representation the teachers have here:

"Role Model: Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein"

Comment #2 by Common Sense RI on 2012 04 02

This guy does not speak for all teachers when he says he supports Whitehouse and especially Cicilline. He speaks only for himself. He speaks about the attack on teachers here in the most democratic-controlled of states yet he expresses strong support for the party behind those attacks?

Comment #3 by Bernie McCrink on 2012 04 02

Government worker unemployment is at 3.9% nationwide and the public unions are under attack?

That's less than half the nationwide unemployment rate of 8.3% whioh would be higher still if stripped of the government numbers.

Comment #4 by Jim D on 2012 04 02

Take us through a day in your life. His daily routine mirrors in many ways the day of Sammy "The Bull"Gravano meeting up with his boss John Gotti back in the day. Its all about putting the screws to someone.

Comment #5 by David Beagle on 2012 04 02

I also love the bit about it being an "attack on women" and the first loaded question from the obviously "unbiased" reporter that says educators are being labelled as villans. Give me a break. No one has any issue with teachers. People have issues with teachers unions because they coddle and protect the incompetent and act as an auxilliary of the Democrat Party. Heck, most teachers I know don't even like their own union. It really is like the Mob. They can legally extort money from hundreds of thousands of people nationwide and then do whatever the heck they want with it.

I wonder if it has ever occurred to Crowley and his ilk that it's also a "war on women" to extort union dues from them and they have no say in where the money goes while he and his six figure cronies - nearly all men - at NEA HQ live it up at the Capital Grille.

Comment #6 by Common Sense RI on 2012 04 02

A true sign that Travis Rowley has gotten under this union hack's skin -- Keep it up, Travis!!

5) Tell us something nobody knows about you.

I’m one of the 11 people who read Travis Rowley’s book and I own an autographed copy.

Comment #7 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2012 04 02

Most teachers I know are embarrass that this man has a high position in their union. They see his tactics and his behavior as out of control and unethical. GoLocal continues to sink to new lows. Who will it be next week Ciccone?

Comment #8 by Scott Dickerson on 2012 04 02

George Nee goes to the gym? Do these two hacks do P90X together?

Doesn't Crowley's wife work for Whitehouse? Of course he's going to work hard to get him elected. Puts food on his table.

Comment #9 by Ron Restivo on 2012 04 02

I don't see any connection with what Crowley does and the teachers as far as quality and working with the kids. The teachers that need Crowley are the ones we do not want in our schools. The unions are the teacher’s worst PR enemy and it’s time for the teachers to stand up and give them the bums rush out the door.
We have a bloated union mindset in RI and in particular the NEARI. We do not want or need this short sighted self-serving aspect in our education system. We need performance without conditions, we need success without compromise and we need an educational system that works for our kids not for the union.

Comment #10 by Gary Arnold on 2012 04 03

This guy is a real sleazeball. He was in the elevator when Rep. Brien was attacked by Lou Rainone, another NEA operative. GOLOCAL should be taken to the woodshed for promoting this guy; he has power all right--the power to continue the decline of RI... he and his fellow socialists at the NEARI continue on their search and destroy mission for anything that stands in the way of their greed and intent to destroy the middle class. They are like head lice; very tough to get rid of... we must use coal tar. Someone, please, call RI Pest Control for this rat.

Comment #11 by Catherine Puleo on 2012 04 10

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