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NEA Hastens Death of American Education

Ralph de Toledano
Insight Magazine
January 6, 2003

The National Education Association (NEA), just prior to the anniversary of the horror of the Twin Towers attack, urged its members in a directive not to lay blame on Islamic terrorists but instead to lecture students on America's sins. For a day or two, there were some indignant outbursts. But few pointed out the connection between the unconscionable state of American education and the ideological hold the NEA has on our public schools and system of higher education.

Millions of high-school graduates pick up their diplomas though remaining functionally illiterate. Education no longer educates as it once did but indoctrinates in perverse antisocial and immoral values -- frequently attacking our Judeo-Christian heritage. In a country that spends more for education than any other (both gross and per capita), the quality of education is among the lowest in the industrialized world.

The City College of New York (CCNY) and Hunter College, two of New York's public colleges, once had the highest academic ratings in the country, with CCNY requiring a 90-point average for entrance. Then, with "open admissions," those formerly great educational institutions were moved by the politically correct NEA winds -- if you breathed, you were in. The city's foremost elementary- and secondary-school systems now are a jungle and in shambles. Political correctness is the order of the day in academia.

The responsibility is clear. But educationists vehemently deny that the answer lies in the corruption of principles and curricula by teachers' colleges and school administrators -- the wor* of the NEA.

Meanwhile, the NEA's annual budget is well more than $300 million, 10 times that of the entire AFL-CIO. Its membership, roughly 2.2 million, is second only to the Teamsters. Back in the 1970s, it was saying, "We are the biggest potential striking force in the country. We are determined to control the direction of education. We will become the foremost political force in the country." Since then, it thoroughly has infiltrated the U.S. Department of Education. It runs thousands of its members through "political-action workshops," sometimes giving graduate-study credit to attendees. In one election year alone, its political-action committees threw some $250 million into Democratic campaigns.

The NEA has a stranglehold on education and is the most actively radical, extremist and strike-prone union in labor's pantheon. It is employing its dollars and political clout to force Congress to shift control of education away from state and local governments to Washington, easier to manipulate than 50 state legislatures.

The history of the NEA is an interesting one. In 1938, it was an association of educators led by John Dewey. But in that year the Institute for Social Research, founded by the Comintern, appeared on the Columbia University campus, taking over Teachers College, the country's most influential school of education. Better known as the Frankfurt School, it had contributed to the death of the Weimar Republic and its delivery to the Nazis, and then fled to the United States.

In ideology, the Frankfurt School eschewed the economic aspects of Marxism and promulgated a substitute based on Marx's 1843 preachments. Later labeled neo-Marxism, the program called for the destruction of religion, the family, education and all moral values, along with the capture of the intellectuals and the instruments of mass communication such as press, radio and films. To this it appended a new Freudianism, which reduced human relationships to rampant sexuality and the grossest pleasure principles -- a program its secret founder boasted "will make America stink."

The Frankfurt School's program, implemented by the NEA, made the goal of education not to educate the young but to give them an anarchic "self-esteem" and deprive them of any sense of what's wrong or right. The "track" system, whereby the bright students could learn at a faster pace and the less bright at a pace of their own, was abolished, condemning the brighter students to boredom and the slower to frustration. And it preached the alienation of children from parental guidance, urging them to "inform" on their families, as in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.

Since the 1940s the NEA, the richest union in the country, has organized an average of 4,000 "political activists" in every congressional district to campaign for its radical program. It has the most powerful lobby in Washington, since teachers are regular voters, which keeps the Democratic leadership in thrall and blocks any legislation that will rescue public education from the pit it was pushed into by the NEA. Its 1970s slogan objectives have been achieved.

The NEA's openly avowed goal today: "To tap the legal, political and economic powers of the U.S. Congress. We want ... sufficient clout [to] roam the halls of Congress and collect votes to reorder the priorities of the United States of America." Democratic candidates see only the NEA's lavish contributions and teams of political organizers.

Meanwhile, the NEA fights the voucher system because it will offer real education to the poor and the lower middle class, which cannot afford to take their children out of the jungles of public education and enroll them in private schools. And it has good reason to: The voucher system will break the NEA's power over public education. That, of course, is what matters to the NEA. And Johnny, who cannot read, remains the victim.

Ralph de Toledano is the dean of Washington columnists and a frequent writer for Insight magazine.

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