When a bunch of teachers gather for a yearly convention, you might think that education matters would be front and center. But when the National Education Association convenes for its yearly wingding, politics is the centerpiece. And this year’s event, which wrapped up last week, certainly maintained that hallowed tradition.
NEA chief Lily Eskelsen García’s opening comments laid the groundwork. After some obligatory kvetching about large classes and low teacher pay, she launched into a diatribe against the Koch brothers whose agenda she claims is “profoundly un-democratic; and un-American.” (She never explains why, but I can only assume it’s because the Kochs believe in educational choice.)
García then launched into a Donald Trump diatribe and remained there for most of her talk. After expressing her disgust for the president because he selected pro-school choicer Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, she then veered off the rails, accusing him of suppressing a free press, wages, the vote, and education.
The union’s New Business Items, proposed directives and projects from the delegates for action during the coming year, continued the theme. NBI 11 asserts that “…NEA will incorporate the concept of ‘White Fragility‘ into NEA trainings/staff development, literature, and other existing communications….”
NBI 25 has the union collaborating “with organizations and individuals who are doing the work to push reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans in the United States….”
NBI 37 directs NEA to publicize “our vigorous defense of immigrants’ rights: defending the right to asylum, ending the criminalization of border crossings, opposing child separation, the construction of a border wall, and immediately shutting down immigrant concentration camps.”
While the union has always skirted the abortion issue by using phrases like “The National Education Association believes in family planning, including the right to reproductive freedom,” the “A” word has now made it to the table. Among other things, NBI 56 states, “The NEA vigorously opposes all attacks on the right to choose and stands on the fundamental right to abortion under Roe v. Wade.”
At the same time the above NBIs got a thumbs-up, the union voted down NBI 2, which stated that NEA “will re-dedicate itself to the pursuit of increased student learning in every public school in America by putting a renewed emphasis on quality education.”
The latest political spending from NEA is in line with the tenor of the convention. For example, 98.8 percent of its political contributions went to Democrats in the 2018 election cycle.
One might think NEA’s teachers are predominately leftist, but actually its membership is politically mixed. A 2005 NEA survey, consistent with previous results, found that its members are actually “slightly more conservative (50%) than liberal (43%) in political philosophy.” In 2017, Education Week conducted a poll and found that just 29 percent of teachers considered themselves “liberal” or “very liberal.“
I then have to ask why on earth any right-of-center teacher still pays money to this overtly leftist organization since, thanks to the Janus ruling, no public employee is forced to do so. But according to Mike Antonucci, NEA has actually had a one percent increase in membership in calendar 2018. NEA’s share of a teacher’s union dues is $192 a year. With 3 million or so members, that translates to almost $600 million a year. So conservative teachers are paying about $300 million to an organization that spends virtually all their money on left-wing candidates and causes.
For those NEAers on the right:
- Do you really want to give money to an organization that is pro-abortion, but fights like hell to keep the same women from exercising “choice” when their kids are old enough to attend school?
- Do you want to blindly pay reparations when you had nothing to do with oppressing blacks? I had one scant relative who was in this country during the slavery era. My paternal great-great grandfather came to the U.S. in 1849 and subsequently fought for the union in the Civil War. Should I have to pay reparations?
- Do you really want to support an organization that advocates for open borders, which in time will make this country unrecognizable?
NEA doesn’t respect your values one iota; it just sees you as a cash cow. And justifiably so, to date. Time to #NEAexit. Now.
[Originally Published at the California Policy Center]