* Has served in numerous high-level positions with the NEA
* Was elected President of the NEA in 2020
* Strongly supports the policies and agendas of the Democratic Party
* Views America as an irredeemably racist nation
* Embraces the tenets of Critical Race Theory
Born in 1955, Rebecca “Becky” Pringle grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated with a BS degree in Elementary Education from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master’s degree in Education from Pennsylvania State University.
After working for three years as a teacher in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia — where she was a member of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) — Pringle relocated to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There, she joined the National Education Association (NEA) and proceeded to serve for 28 years as a middle-school teacher in the Susquehanna Township School District.
In 1988, Pringle was deeply moved by the experience of hearing Mary Futrell, a black woman who served as NEA President from 1983-89, speak at the union’s annual convention. Pringle would later describe that experience as “one of the proudest moments of my life.” “I can remember sitting with 10,000 delegates,” she elaborated, “seeing a black woman up there, completely in control of this convention.”
During the two decades that followed the 1988 convention, Pringle herself went on to fill various key positions with the NEA, including stints as a local chapter president, a member of the NEA Board of Directors, and a member of the NEA Executive Committee. Moreover, she served some time as a Board member of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
During her tenure on the NEA Executive Committee from 2001 to 2007, Pringle helped develop a report entitled Excellence and Equity: Closing the Student Achievement Gaps, which focused on strategies aimed at creating greater parity in the scholastic performance of white students as compared to that of their nonwhite peers.
In February 2016, Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton listed Pringle as one of the “170 prominent African American women leaders” who had publicly endorsed Mrs. Clinton’s bid for the White House during that primary season.
In July 2017, Pringle stated: “We oppose any charter schools that do not meet the criteria because they fall short of our nation’s responsibility to provide great public schools for every student in America.”
In January 2019, Pringle hosted a friendly, so-called “takeover” of the Human Rights Campaign‘s Twitter account, in an effort to promote HRC’s “Time to THRIVE” conference in support of “LGBTQ youth.” “As a teacher,” Pringle tweeted, “I made it my mission to champion and advocate for the LGBTQ students in my school and let them know they were safe and welcome in my classroom—an experience many youth are unfortunately not afforded.” “While we have made strides toward equality,” she added, “too many LGBTQ young people still face dramatically heightened rates of discrimination in school, at home & within their community.”
At the NEA’s annual conference in July 2019, Pringle launched a bid to become President of the 3 million-member union. Among the many topics discussed at the conference were: the “need [to hire] more teachers of color”; the importance of supporting the “MeToo movement”; the phenomenon of so-called “white fragility”; and the “defense of a person’s right to control their own body, especially for women, youth, and sexually marginalized people” — i.e., unfettered rights to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy, and to transgender surgeries or medical interventions at any age.
As a committed supporter of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, Pringle in early 2020 promoted the NEA’s national Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, whose highly racialized perspectives were incorporated into innumerable classroom lessons across the United States during the week of February 3-7. “We as educators need to deepen the dialogue and support our students to dismantle institutional racism,” she said. “When we fight for education justice, all students win.”
In August 2020, the NEA officially announced that Pringle had been elected as its next President.
Pringle’s electoral victory as NEA President came amid the union’s ongoing resistance to the prospect of educators returning to teach in-person following the COVID-19 pandemic that had broken out earlier that year. Rejecting Republican officials’ calls for teachers to return to work like other “essential workers” had done, Pringle said: “I don’t think being in front of a classroom of 30 students is like anything else. You can’t make that comparison, and just say: ‘They are essential workers, so go back to work.’” Instead, she advocated in favor of continued “online lessons.”
When Pringle formally took over as NEA president in early September 2020, she pointed out the challenges associated with taking office amid what she termed “twin pandemics”: COVID-19 and the aftermath of George Floyd’s recent death at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis. In December 2020, Pringle authored an Essence magazine article titled “COVID-19 Is Not Over: Reopen Our Schools With Safety and Justice.” In this piece, she:
Following the presidential election of November 2020, Pringle applauded the victory of Democrat candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris. “Together, said the NEA leader, “we will strengthen our public schools by investing in neighborhood community schools, dismantling the institutional racism denying access and opportunity for too many students, and building our economy back better so it works for all Americans.” Pringle also noted that the NEA and the incoming Biden-Harris administration would work closely together on issues of “racial justice,” “social justice,” and “the rights of our LGBTQ students.” Moreover, she met personally with incoming First Lady Jill Biden and AFT president Randi Weingarten, to discuss her concerns and priorities.
In a June 2021 USA Today piece, Pringle attacked those U.S. states whose Republican legislatures had recently voted to ban schools from teaching the tenets of Critical Race Theory—the ideology that sees the United States as an irredeemably racist nation whose population consists of white oppressors and their minority victims. Although she did not specifically use the phrase “Critical Race Theory,” she denounced the “more than 25 states [that] have introduced or passed laws to censor teachers from speaking about race and racism and deny students the right to a truthful and honest education.” Added Pringle:
“These dangerous attempts to stoke fears and rewrite history not only diminish the injustices experienced by generations of Americans, they prevent educators from challenging our students to achieve a more equitable future. These antics are government overreach that interferes with teachers’ ability to do their jobs and students’ ability to learn and grow.
“What’s worse, this revisionist history is being pushed by the very same politicians who time and again have denied our classrooms vital resourceswhile demanding more and more from educators. …
“This senseless fearmongering should be seen for what it is: a desperate attempt by some politicians to distract from their own failures to address crumbling school infrastructure, embarrassingly low educator salaries, drastic racial inequities, and the very real problems facing students in our public schools, especially our students of color.”
At its annual meeting in the summer (June 30-July 3) of 2021, the NEA announced that, with guidance from President Pringle and chairs of the union’s Ethnic Minority Affairs Caucuses, it would: (a) “share and publicize, through existing channels, information already available on critical race theory (CRT) — what it is and what it is not”; (b) assemble “a team of staffers for members who want to learn more and fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric”; (c) “provide an already-created, in-depth, study that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society”; (d) “oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project”; and (e) collaborate with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project to hold an October 14 rally commemorating the birthday of George Floyd and making it “a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression.”
At the same 2021 annual meeting, Pringle characterized the NEA not only as a union of educators, but also of racial and social justice activists:
In August 2021, Pringle joined the Biden administration and labor union officials like Randi Weingarten in supporting the imposition of COVID-19 vaccine mandates on school teachers. “We believe that such vaccine requirements and accommodations are an appropriate, responsible, and necessary step to ensure the safety of our school communities and to protect our students,” said Pringle.
That same month, Pringle co-authored an article with Democrat U.S. Senator Tim Kaine on fulfilling “the promise of [the] public service loan forgiveness program and [canceling] educators’ student loan debt.” Some additional excerpts:
In September 2021, Pringle penned an opinion piece noting that “some politicians continue to focus on making it harder for millions of Americans—particularly Black, Brown, Indigenous and young voters—to cast a ballot.” “[N]ationwide,” she warned, “we are witnessing a massive, coordinated attack on voting rights, the likes of which we have not seen since Jim Crow.” Pringle also wrote that “[m]any of these [Republican] bills are predicated on the ‘Big Lie’ that the 2020 election—one of the safest and most secure elections in history—was stolen.”
In an October 2021 discussion with CBS News, Pringle derided parents who recently had been speaking out forcefully against schools’ mask and vaccine mandates aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic, and against classroom instruction promoting the tenets of Critical Race Theory. Said Pringle: “It’s not just the school board meetings. We have some people coming into our schools, punching teachers, spitting on school administrators because of mask mandates, because you know, masks, which we know we have evidence after 18 months that they actually save lives. It is absolutely unacceptable. This culture that exists and seems to be permeating many aspects of our society right now, of stoking fear and raising civil discourse to a level where we’re threatening bullying, treating people with disrespect, people who have dedicated their lives to educating America’s students.” Also in her exchange with CBS:
In June 2022, Pringle denounced the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton, which ultimately held that when a local public-school district had placed a Washington state high-school football coach on leave as a penalty for visibly praying on the field prior to his team’s games, the man’s First Amendment rights had been violated. The NEA filed an amicus brief against the coach, suggesting that “both students and staff at the school were adversely affected” by his actions. After the Coiurt ruled in favor of the coach, Pringle stated:
“All students — regardless of their race, gender or religion — should feel safe and secure from sectarian religious coercion in their public schools. Yet the Supreme Court stretched the record to reach the wrong conclusion in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. The Constitution should protect public school students from being coerced into religious activity. The [C]ourt’s decision here does the opposite: it ignores the real-life pressure and coercion that students will feel when school officials stage public religious observances in class or at school events.
“What is equally troubling is that the [C]ourt’s decision today privileges and protects specific sectarian religious speech while a long line of previous decisions gives educators no protection whatsoever for speaking out on corruption, abuse, and dangers to public safety. The [C]ourt today hints that perhaps there may be a different rule, at least for religious expressions at school, but sheds no light on what that rule might be. The result is to uphold one individual’s prayer at a school event under a ruling that will muddy precedent and confuse educators and school administrators, leaving kids vulnerable to religious coercion. There is no way to look at this ruling other than what it is: another example of a Supreme Court’s conservative super-majority continuing its politicized agenda.”
In July 2022, Pringle again attacked the Supreme Court. This time, she rejected its ruling in the case of Carson v. Makin, which deemed it unconstitutional for states to prohibit parents from using tuition-assistance programs to help them send their children to religiously affiliated schools. “Forcing American taxpayers to fund private religious education—even when those private schools fail to meet education standards, intentionally discriminate against students, or use public funds to promote religious training, worship, and instruction—erodes the foundation of our democracy and harms students,” Pringle declared. The NEA President further stated: “The Court’s job is to interpret the Constitution, not invent doctrines to promote radical education policy outcomes. We are witnessing one of the most extreme Supreme Courts in modern history rewrite the most basic social commitments of our society — that publicly-funded education should be free and open to all without discrimination is one of those commitments. Shamefully, the Carson decision tosses aside that social commitment.”
In 2016, Pringle’s total NEA compensation was approximately $434,000—a significant increase from the $371,000 she had received in 2015.