The National Education Association (NEA) is the largest union in the United States with over 3.1 million members nationwide. They have over 14,000 local affiliates and 51 state affiliates with annual net assets in excess of $143 million. They disallow private school teacher membership which has historical roots in the anti-Catholic views of Horace Mann and the anti-religious humanism of John Dewey, two key framers of educational thought vis-a-vis the NEA.
This is an area from which this writer speaks from some first hand knowledge since I often substitute teach in a public school system. Over the years, I have met and talked to many teachers and have come to many conclusions. The first is that being an educator is like living in a bubble where teachers become brainwashed automatons of their unions. Without exception, every teacher who graduated college with a degree in teaching who immediately entered that field and remain there to this day are decidedly most pro-union and Leftist in political outlook.
Those that entered the teaching profession in a round-about way by first working in the real world are less pro-union and less Leftist. In fact, many confide that other teachers do not know how good they have it as a teacher in terms of pay, working conditions and job security compared to the private sector. They are the ones more willing to pay more for their lucrative employment-to-death health insurance coverage and more willing to contribute more to their pension. They are also the ones more resistant to the idiocy of Common Core. Even the worst of this group is at least willing to listen to opposing viewpoints.
It would be great policy to make every potential teacher work for just one year in the real world of the private sector before entering a classroom. Perhaps there would be less bitching about low pay, classroom size and pension/health care contributions. They also might be less inclined to blindly follow the dictates from their union leaders.
One need only look at their stated political agenda to understand why the NEA donates over 98% of their contributions to the Democratic Party and their candidates:
- state funded family planning;
- opposition to a moment of silence;
- opposition to English as the official language;
- increased social security spending;
- reparations for American Indians;
- a unilateral nuclear freeze;
- affordable and comprehensive health care as a “right;”
- universal, government-run preschool;
- affirmative action in college admission programs and the consideration of race/ethnicity in school decisions;
- open borders;
- bilingual education;
- climate change as scientific fact, and;
- participation in the International Criminal Court.
This is but a small sampling of their political ideals. It is one thing to espouse these goals and this agenda in the broader political context, but when they insert this nonsense into the classroom through changes in the curriculum, especially through the dreadful Common Core, this country has a real problem.
And who pays for this nonsense? Teachers themselves through mandatory union dues. According to their own figures, union dues collected account for $375 million annually. Not all of that goes towards negotiating collective bargaining contracts or protecting teachers in disciplinary hearings. In fact, if we accept the going rate that 15% of collected dues goes towards political purposes, that is over $56 million ANNUALLY collected for these purposes. Is it any wonder that Forbes annually ranks the NEA as one of their top 25 most influential organizations in Washington, and has done so for years?
The NEA has it’s hooks in every level of government. New Jersey is a perfect example and one which shows that Chris Christie is more talk than action. When first elected, he allegedly took on the NJEA, but did he really? He may have exacted some concessions on health care and pensions with a promise- since broken- to increase the state’s contribution. A promise is a promise and a contract is a contract and Christie basically broke both.
Even worse, he bowed to NJEA pressure in other reforms such as tenure, charter schools, vouchers, and teacher certification. It is no easier today to become a teacher than it was before Christie; in fact, in some ways it is harder. Tenure still guides employment decisions, not teacher performance. Potential charter schools still have to jump through bureaucratic hoops. Vouchers are non-existent. And lest we forget, Christie fired his first Education Secretary over a mishandled spreadsheet regarding Race to the Top grants which was the vehicle by which to introduce Common Core into the curriculum.
Since disavowing Common Core for political convenience, he has done nothing to dismantle it in New Jersey. The PARCC test, which is geared towards Common Core, is still the test used in the state to gauge student performance. Christie has been a disappointment at best and an NEA lackey at worst.
And if ever there was a wedge issue between actual teachers and their unions, it is Common Core. In fact, Common Core denies individuality when it comes to teachers and discourages time-proven strategies. Classic literature has been replaced with politically correct tomes of confused transgender teenagers. In history, students are taught that this country was founded by a group of old, white racist slave owners. It is as if every history teacher is now a mini-Howard Zinn. And the list goes on.
A direct line can be drawn from the socialist views of the most radical on the Left to the NEA to the Democratic Party to Common Core. The NEA has done more to stifle educational innovation and choice than any other group in the United States. They have a willing paid accomplice in their back pocket in the form of the Democratic Party. The unfortunate victims are the students chained to failing public schools and students in successful public schools who have to endure this inculcation into a Leftist mindset.
If a student is later to become a Leftist, let them find their own pathway there. But through the NEA and their goals and agenda, spurred on by donations to Democratic candidates, students are being led down that pathway with their collective hands being held by teachers who have undergone their own inculcation through teacher education programs long on theory and short on practicality.
The NEA cares little about teachers as individuals, but with the right message perhaps the Right and the Republican Party can change that for the better.