Today on Blogcritics
Home » The NEA – It’s Not About the Children

The NEA – It’s Not About the Children

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

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.

Dave

Powered by

About Dave Nalle

  • Maurice

    Great post. I was waiting for you to mention that they have their own retirement plan which would explain why they have no problem with SSI.

    As far as CAFTA I am sure that is opposed by all unions.

  • ss

    DN, we both if you had agreed with the basic tone of the resolutions passed by the NEA, you would not be complaining about their lack of focus.
    So let me address your complaints one by one.

    I would suggest,DN, that the NEA has taken a political stance because they see Free Trade as harmful to all unions, and as a union, they believe in solidarty between unions.
    Whether the old union mentallity is really the best way to address the growing problem of wealth imbalance in America (see the CIA World Fact Book, 2004, United States, economic overview, among other government sources)in this rising economy is a more relevant question. Whether you, DN, believe this imbalance should be addressed, is also a pertinent question.
    Their belief in big government, though vile in your opinion, probably makes some sense for a union comprised largely of a membership that relies on taxes for their salary.
    As for Iraq, the neocons have us in a fine mess that will do nothing to counter terrorism(the bombs still go off around the world with regularity, and, based on the fact that a rabid idiot like George Galloway is an ELECTED MP from a largely Muslim district, [combined with global demograhic factors], the bombing will continue ). Also judging by the recent murder of pro-invasion journalist Steven Vincent by a Shia death squad operating within the Basra police, it seems the removal of Sadam will do little to ensure freedom or progress for the average Iraqi. Unless, that is, they agree loudly enough with the new boss, al-Sistani.
    That said, I differ with most on the left (and, judging from the plans to draw down troops before the 2006 Congressional Elections) the neocons as well in that I think leaving a country full of unaccounted for explosives and salafi jihadis could turn out to be a fatally bad idea. So on that I would say your right, the NEA has the wrong idea.
    I would also agree that the NEA has the wrong idea about privatized SS acounts, not because I harbor delusional right wing Libertarian bias, like some, but because I believe the global economy has changed, and the privatization plan Bush has put forward may be his one good idea for coping with the era of global change we find ourselves in.
    To be fair, I find the whole debt relief for developing nations idea idiotic myself. Developing nations need much more than a disguised attempt to ‘stick it to the rich’ by the Western left.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Great post. I was waiting for you to mention that they have their own retirement plan which would explain why they have no problem with SSI. < <

    What shocked me was learning that unlike just about everyone else in America who has another pension plan or would like to just use a 401K and/or an IRA, the teachers in 12 states have managed to get exempted from the SSI system. That seems blatantly unfair.

    >>As far as CAFTA I am sure that is opposed by all unions.<<

    A number of the agenda items are just solidarity shout-outs to other unions. It certainly makes no sense for them to oppose CAFTA for any reasons having to do with their own membership.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>I would suggest,DN, that the NEA has taken a political stance because they see Free Trade as harmful to all unions, and as a union, they believe in solidarty between unions.< <

    Yes, that was the point I made in the original post.

    >>Whether the old union mentallity is really the best way to address the growing problem of wealth imbalance in America (see the CIA World Fact Book, 2004, United States, economic overview, among other government sources)in this rising economy is a more relevant question. Whether you, DN, believe this imbalance should be addressed, is also a pertinent question.< <

    As I'm sure you're aware I think the 'wealth imbalance' is a completely spurious issue which there's no reason to address and which basically makes no sense. Thinking it's a problem arises from the fallacious belief that the rich get richer by making the poor poorer, which is demonstrably false. In fact, everyone is getting richer, it's just that it's more pronounced if you have more capital to grow.

    >>Their belief in big government, though vile in your opinion, probably makes some sense for a union comprised largely of a membership that relies on taxes for their salary.< <

    But when their interests pervert that government and lead to abuse and oppression of the people - including the kids in their schools someone has to speak up and take action.

    >>As for Iraq, the neocons have us in a fine mess that will do nothing to counter terrorism(the bombs still go off around the world with regularity, and, based on the fact that a rabid idiot like George Galloway is an ELECTED MP from a largely Muslim district, [combined with global demograhic factors], the bombing will continue ). Also judging by the recent murder of pro-invasion journalist Steven Vincent by a Shia death squad operating within the Basra police, it seems the removal of Sadam will do little to ensure freedom or progress for the average Iraqi. Unless, that is, they agree loudly enough with the new boss, al-Sistani. < <

    Last I checked al-Sistani was pointedly staying out of politics. And Basra is not the entirety of Iraq by any stretch of the imagination. As for Iraq and terrorism, that's really not relevant to this discussion. There are several other interesting threads on the subject you should go check out.

    >>That said, I differ with most on the left (and, judging from the plans to draw down troops before the 2006 Congressional Elections) the neocons as well in that I think leaving a country full of unaccounted for explosives and salafi jihadis could turn out to be a fatally bad idea. So on that I would say your right, the NEA has the wrong idea.< <

    Putting aside whether the NEA has the right or wrong idea, I find it dubious that they feel a need to express themselves on this topic at all.

    >>I would also agree that the NEA has the wrong idea about privatized SS acounts, not because I harbor delusional right wing Libertarian bias, like some, but because I believe the global economy has changed, and the privatization plan Bush has put forward may be his one good idea for coping with the era of global change we find ourselves in.< <

    Nice to hear someone on the left seeing some sense on this. Bush's plan, however, sucks enormously. Something more comprehensive and effective is needed.

    >>To be fair, I find the whole debt relief for developing nations idea idiotic myself. Developing nations need much more than a disguised attempt to ‘stick it to the rich’ by the Western left.<<

    As we’ve seen documented elsewhere on BC, this whole aid idea seems to have actually led to disastrous results in many countries. The whole concept needs to be rethought.

    Dave