Matt Damon and mother decline award from nation's largest teachers union
Damon and his mother Dr. Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor of education, turned down the NEA's Friend of Education Award on Jan. 4. This decision came after the two found out that president of the NEA, the largest teachers union in the country, had co-authored an opinion article for USA Today with the founder of Teach for America.
The article in question focused on evaluating and improving teacher training programs. But this message didn't sit well with Dr. Carlsson-Paige, who suggests this isn't in keeping with what TFA does.
"I am very familiar with TFA and believe that its short-term, minimal training of teachers undermines teacher quality and harms children who too often get an inadequate education with its teachers," she writes in an email to Dennis Van Roekel, president of the NEA. "I have decided that because of your collaboration with TFA, it would not be wise for me or for Matt to be nominated for the Friend of Education Award. I regret this turn of events."
Van Roekel, taking the high road in this dispute, issued a statement on Thursday (Jan. 5) in which he says, "I respect Matt Damon and thank him for his support of public education. I believe NEA should talk to those who support public education, even if we don't agree on everything, and work together to serve students."
Damon is an outspoken critic of standardized testing in public schools and of requiring educators to teach to these tests.