The Politics of Public Education

The motto of the National Education Association, which concluded a four-day annual convention in Orlando last week, is "Great Public Schools for Every Child." But a perusal of its "Legislative Program for the 110th Congress" reveals that the NEA's interests are, well, politically extensive.That document's contents are also the union's campaign priorities for electing the next Congress in November. And they are particularly enlightening for anyone still under the illusion that the NEA is simply a collective-bargaining outfit for teachers. The organization's primary focus continues to be self-preservation, which means obstructing any and all reforms that threaten union dominance of public education. But according to the program, the NEA also supports, among other things:

·          the development of a national energy policy that stresses conservation and "reduces dependence on foreign sources of energy";

·          the establishment and maintenance of federal wilderness areas;

·          stronger federal action in solving the problem of toxic waste dumping;

·          a tax-supported, single-payer (i.e., Canadian-style) health care plan for all residents of the United States, its territories and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico;

·          the return of a media "fairness doctrine," which muted broadcast competition for decades;

·          "reproductive freedom";

·          a national holiday honoring Cesar Chavez;

·          a nuclear freeze;

·          a moratorium on capital punishment at the state and federal levels;

·          "U.S. participation in and equitable financing of the United Nations and related bodies";

·          "a progressive tax system," and -- was there ever a doubt -- "restoring the estate tax."

How a nuclear freeze relates to high student dropout rates or dismal reading and math test scores is a mystery left unexplained. But with 2.7 million members, the NEA is the largest union in the country and has clearly become a powerful lobby for every active left-wing cause, and a few that are dead. Last year, the NEA spent $25 million on "political activities and lobbying," and another $65.5 million on "contributions, gifts and grants" to overtly politicized organizations that for the most part are in lock-step with the Democratic National Committee.All of this cash comes from mandated dues dunned from teachers who may or may not share NEA President Reg Weaver's affection for socialist labor leaders, or his aversion to "any means test for Medicare." But either way, they're paying for it.  Opinion Journal, July, 17, 2006

EFF delivers a message from teachers to the NEA Convention: 'No Means No!'

A professionally prepared billboard truck was parked at strategic locations during the National Education Association convention at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The truck carried three messages: “No Means No!”, “It Pays to be a Union Boss”, and “Fair Representation?”. The Evergreen Freedom Foundation is assisting teachers in their lawsuit against the NEA for illegally spending collective bargaining dues. “The National Education Association calls itself the world’s largest democratic body,” said Michael Reitz, director of EFF’s Labor Policy Center. “But its hostility toward teachers’ values, out-of-control political spending, and coercive policies are hardly democratic. Unfortunately, rather than representing teachers as professionals, the National Education Association treats its members as cash cows for its own radical agenda.”