Last summer delegates at the annual convention of the country’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), adopted a motion calling for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s resignation. The NEA had had it with Duncan’s support of testing students and evaluating teachers based in part on student performance.

Now that made big news because Duncan’s department was established back in 1979 as payback for the NEA’s backing of Jimmy Carter’s successful presidential run (by the way, Carter was the first president ever to be endorsed by the NEA).

Newly-elected NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia, who succeeded Dennis Van Roekel on September 1, is keeping up the drumbeat.  But the NEA’s real beef with Duncan isn’t his position on testing. It’s his support of a California court for striking down teacher tenure,  Vergara v. California. As Education Intelligence Agency director Mike Anonnucci writes:

NEA and Duncan do have a lot in common, and it’s only practical to continue to deal with the fact that he isn’t going away. But the union’s disillusionment with Duncan goes far beyond standardized testing, and it wasn’t even the trigger for the vote on the resignation … – his positive reaction to the Vergara ruling was. …

Duncan has been U.S. Secretary of Education for five years, and there is every indication he will remain in that office for the rest of the President’s term. More than that, for all his perceived missteps and blunders, he hasn’t suffered a single tangible consequence. Indeed, the allowance from the NEA president that he’s “a very nice man” is probably the only compliment a union officer at any level will give him. Nevertheless, he is Education Secretary despite the union’s explicit and direct call for his ouster, and the education policies of the Obama administration move forward much as they have since 2009.

So the question arises: If President Obama and Secretary Duncan can safely ignore NEA’s demands, why can’t we all?

More than three decades after the department’s creation, it’s now biting the NEA hand that fed it.

Ironic, isn’t it?