I once came frighteningly close to joining the NEA as a step in my teaching career. I’m now safely past that risk, but I still keep an eye on the NEA. What I see makes me very distressed, but very glad they aren’t using any of my money to promote their agenda.
At their recent national convention NEA delegates discussed and voted on a wide variety of policies and plans, very few of which had anything at all to do with educating children or protecting and providing for the needs of union members. In fact, looking over the approved items from the agenda you come away with the impression that teachers joining the NEA pay over $300 a year for membership in a bizarre, leftist lobbying organization, not a teachers union.
Here are some of the highlights from the Agenda which passed and will be acted on.
One of the most prominent themes is solidarity with other unions. Thus they passed resolutions agreeing to discourage teachers from shopping at WalMart and to encourage a boycott of Gallo Wines. I guess teachers are getting paid well enough now that they don’t need the savings WalMart offers, or cheap wine to drown their sorrows. They also offer a resolution to develop a curriculum to teach students the history and generall wonderfulness of trade unions that take their money, do nothing for them, and use the money to lobby and buy off corrupt politicians to pass legislation which is bad for the economy, bad for business and hurts all Americans.
They approved a whole raft of resolutions against privatizing Social Security, including protesting against organizations which support privatization, lobbying against privatization in Congress, and educating members about how the bankrupt and wasteful system is better for them than actually having a decent income to retire on. These efforts include lobbying against plans which would allow teachers to control their own retirement income by transferring low yielding pension funds into 401k plans. They are essentially lobbying against the welfare of their own teachers. In another shining example of hypocrisy, if you check elsewhere on the NEA website you’ll find that while they oppose privatizing Social Security for everyone else, they’re 100% in favor of protecting the right of teachers in 12 states who are lucky enough to be exempted from Social Security from ever having to pay into the disastrous system. So it’s okay for some teachers to be safe from the rapacious rule of the SSA, but not for the rest of us.
Bizarrely there are four resolutions relating to indoor air pollution, specifically the hazards of fragrances. These include a ban on perfume at NEA meetings. Apparently this is some sort of pet peeve of NEA president Reg Weaver. Just don’t call your teacher ‘smelly’. They passed a resolution against hate speech like that as well.
They’re also very concerned about mercury levels, though I doubt this concern extends to the mercury in the vaccines which they push so heavily on their students every year. And inexplicably they want to ban the use of latex gloves at NEA events – which might put a crimp in their yearly ‘full cavity search’ parties and amateur proctological examinations.
One interesting resolution is to oppose the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative which is an effort to get rid of racial discrimination in hiring and in education. This is all about fighting to preserve affirmative action so that we can make sure that our kids get underqualified teachers hired to fill state mandated quotas.
I find Resolution 42 to be particularly troubling. It says:
- “The NEA shall work with other pro-democracy and pro-labor organizations to lead an education campaign among members and the general public about the need for support of strong public programs and institutions in the face of increasing privatization.”
This resolution presumably targets efforts to privatize public schools, but it’s so broad that it essentially authorizes the NEA to take all of its members funds and donate them to PACs and special interest groups supporting any leftist cause they like. The very idea that we need to strengthen public programs and institutions in these days when we are increasingly under the thumb of the state is truly terrifying.
In another resolution they approve the idea of using data from the ultra-left-wing Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to help them campaign against the administrations ‘regressive taxation’ plans. It’s amusing that they refer to the CBPP as a ‘credible institution’, when any reader can go to their website and it is immediately apparent that not only are they basically a propaganda mill which promotes income redistribution, big government and bigger spending, but if you read their analysis of possible social security reform plans the lies and misrepresentations and plain faulty math are laid on so thick it’s hard to even call it analysis.
And, of course, they’ve got a resolution calling for a quick exit strategy for our troops in Iraq, because after all, war is bad and Bush is the devil. This resolution includes a call for the NEA to “advocate the reordering of national priorities toward peace and the human needs of our people.” Those needs apparently not including the need not to be blown up by terrorists or the need to have oil to heat our homes so the kids they are supposed to teach don’t freeze to death. Is the NEA unaware that schools are likely to be one of the top targets for terrorists should they ever turn from the distraction in Iraq to doing real harm within the United States?
For reasons I can’t even begin to fathom the NEA opposes CAFTA. I guess they’re concerned about cheap teachers from Costa Rica being brought in to take over their jobs. Or perhaps they just see free trade as generally a bad idea. That would fit in with the rest of their pro-government, anti-individual liberty perspective.
As these items indicate, the NEA apparently has its own foreign policy. This doesn’t include useful things like shipping teachers overseas or student exchange programs. No, they’re concerned about third world debt, and would like the government to encourage that debtor nations be absolved of their obligations. A nice sentiment, but why do our nations school teachers need a policy on third world debt? Are they planning on moving to Argentina?
To be fair, about a third of their resolutions do actually have something to do with teaching standards or the welfare of their members, but the majority of the output of their annual meeting makes very clear exactly why so many union members are dissatisfied with the representation which unions are providing. People join unions for job protection and to get better wages and benefits. They don’t join them to involuntarily lobby for political causes which have nothing to do with them and may very well work against their best interests. They don’t join a union to see their dues spent on foreign policy issues, on boycotting wine or on promoting big government.
Or maybe the out of control megalomania of the NEA is what teachers actually want from their union. If that’s the case it scares me to think that people who are that gullible or that deeply immersed in quasi-socialism actually hold the fates of our kids in their un-perfumed and un-latex-gloved hands.