By Steve Gunn
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Not long ago, we received a message from a very upset public school teacher who said she wants everyone to “keep education out of politics.”
That would be a lot easier if the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, would get out of the political game.
But the NEA long ago established itself as a cornerstone of the Democratic Party. It spends millions of dollars every election cycle on Democratic candidates at the federal, state and local levels. It stakes out liberal policy positions on issues ranging from immigration and foreign policy to gay marriage.
And its leaders have never been shy about taking potshots at Republicans and their loyalty to the free market system that has served our nation for centuries.
If the union is so eager to play soldier on the political battle field, how can its leaders whine when the opposition shoots back? They can attack Republicans, but when GOP forces return fire, they accuse them of “attacking teachers.”
They shouldn’t be able to have it both ways, but somehow they pull it off.
It’s obvious that the union’s first priority is partisan politics. The few Republican union members who attended the recent NEA Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C. said it felt like an Obama campaign rally. They were booed and harassed when a few of them dared speak in favor of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
And if the pro-Obama atmosphere was not enough, the list of resolutions adopted at the meeting made it clear that this union is run by liberals with a very one-sided agenda.
Two Wisconsin teachers, Kristi Lacroix and Tracie Happel, tracked a number of resolutions that were introduced at the NEA Representative Assembly and addressed them in their weekly online newsletter, “Freedom from Teachers’ Unions.”
Below is a quick sketch of some of the issues the NEA considers worthy of its time and attention. Note that most of the items lack any connection to the improvement of K-12 public education. Who cares about that, when there’s an election to be won?
The educators address everything but education
New Business Item 3: NEA shall compile a list of individuals and corporations who contribute $250,000 or more to “Super PACs” and additional activities. The list shall include companies and the products they control. The information shall be published in the NEA Today prior to March 1, 2013.
We’re pretty sure they were referring to conservative Super PACs. Nothing like boycotting the companies that support your political opponents. This reminds us of the union thugs in Wisconsin who last year threatened to boycott local businesses that refused to display a pro-labor sign in their windows.
New Business Item 53: NEA will assist affiliates with planning for policy changes under the Affordable Care Act, augmented by cooperation with the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare Organization, all in support of the longstanding NEA goal of establishing a universal single payer healthcare system.
The union is clearly celebrating the recent Supreme Court victory for Obamacare, and is making it clear that it’s ready and willing to help push for an even more socialized health care system. A lot of kids may never learn to read, but the union is determined to get them “free” health insurance.
New Business Item 14: NEA will publicly oppose any policy of U.S. military action against Iran and will restate our belief that diplomatic and nonviolent means are preferable in resolving international political differences. Further, we will make this position known in an open letter to the President and Congress.
Amazingly, this radical motion was not adopted by the delegates. Apparently a few of them have the good sense to realize that Iran may very well employ nuclear weapons against Israel if we allow the Iranians to build them. Perhaps Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got on the phone to her union friends and told them to get real about a very serious foreign policy challenge.
The delegates did approve an item officially recognizing the International Day of Peace each September 21.
A few “education” items
Lo and behold, Lacroix and Happel came across a few “new business items” that were somewhat related to education. But as you might have guessed, they were completely self-serving.
New Business Item 62: The NEA, in conjunction with state affiliates, encourages organizing efforts in non-union public charter schools and will broadly share with state and local affiliates key information … that is relevant to any efforts by local and state affiliates attempting to organize non-union public school charter staffs.
If you can’t beat the competition, convince them to join you. At least you can add more names to your dwindling membership list and gain a lot more revenue through dues deductions.
New Business Item 35: The NEA … shall publish an article on the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ endorsement of parent trigger laws, and report on the concern that parent trigger laws conflict with NEA criteria for creating charter schools.
Parent trigger laws allow citizens whose children attend failing schools to pursue a number of remedies, including the replacement of teachers or a transition to charter school status. The union defends its members, even if they’re failing in the classroom. It certainly doesn’t want any of them replaced with non-union charter school teachers. The status quo must be maintained and angry parents must be kept at a safe distance.
New Business Item 41: NEA will encourage its state and local affiliates to help gather any written communications received from teacher recruitment organizations and/or their operatives that discourage member empowerment and activity in the work of the Association. NEA will then support its local and state affiliates in communicating the inappropriateness of this behavior.
We think this item refers to the growing popularity of the Association of American Educators, a professional association that represents the interests of teachers without engaging in collective bargaining or other typical union activities. More and more teachers are quitting the union and joining AAE or similar groups, and the NEA wants to stop the bleeding.