Based in Washington, DC, the 3.1 million-member National Education Association (NEA) is the largest labor union in the United States. It represents public school teachers and support personnel; faculty and staffers in colleges and universities; retired educators; and college students preparing to become teachers. The NEA’s mission is “to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.”
The NEA pursues these goals through its 14,000+ local affiliate organizations (which are active in fundraising, conducting professional workshops, and negotiating teacher contracts); its 51 state affiliates (which “lobby legislators for the resources schools need”); and its Washington, DC-based national headquarters (which “lobbies Congress and federal agencies on behalf of its members and public schools, supports and coordinates innovative projects, works with other education organizations and friends of public education, [and] provides training and assistance to its affiliates”).
The NEA was founded in 1850 as the National Teachers Association, and adopted its present name in 1857. Promoting government-owned public schools and “modern” pedagogical ideas, this union permitted no private school teachers to join its ranks. These government-owned-and-run schools were modeled on statist European education in Prussia, and attracted socialist activist teachers who saw public school students as perfect subjects for re-engineering society. That remolding began with the anti-Catholic objectives of Horace Mann (1796-1859) and expanded to the anti-religious humanism of John Dewey (1859-1952).
In a 1935 report presented at the 72nd annual NEA convention, the union’s future Executive Secretary Willard Givens wrote: “A dying laissez-faire must be completely destroyed and all of us … must be subjected to a large degree of social control…. The major function of the school is the social orientation of the individual. It must seek to give him understanding of the transition to a new social order.”
In a 2003 article titled “NEA Hastens Death of American Education,” veteran journalist Ralph de Toledano wrote that in 1938 “the Institute for Social Research, founded by the Comintern, appeared on the Columbia University campus, taking over the Teachers College, the country’s most influential school of education.” “Better known as the Frankfurt School,” de Toledano continued, “… [the Institute] 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 the 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.’”
Added de Toledano: “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 … [a]nd it preached the alienation of children from parental guidance, urging them to ‘inform’ on their families, as in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.”
The NEA’s explicitly stated quest to “foster positive self-esteem” in schoolchildren continues to this day. In his book Inside American Education, Thomas Sowell observes: “Perhaps nothing so captures what is wrong with American schools as the results of an international study of 13-year-olds which found that Koreans ranked first in mathematics and Americans last. When asked if they thought they were ‘good at mathematics,’ only 23 percent of Korean youngsters said ‘yes’ — compared to 68 percent of American 13-year-olds. The American educational dogma that students should ‘feel good about themselves’ was a success in its own terms — though not in any other terms.”
As of 1957, the NEA had more than 700,000 members. (By way of comparison, in 1907 the union’s membership had stood at 5,044; in 1917 it was fewer than 9,000; and by the World War II era it was just over 200,000.)
In 1966 the NEA merged with the historically black American Teachers Association (ATA), which was originally founded as the National Association of Colored Teachers. The NEA and ATA had long enjoyed a close working relationship prior to the merger.
In the 1960s and 1970s, teachers were becoming unionized at a faster pace than ever before. Precisely at this time, minority student SAT scores, a popular and objective achievement barometer, deteriorated dramatically. Confronted by this embarrassing fact, the NEA responded by calling for the abolition of standardized testing of students.
At the 1976 NEA Annual Conference, NEA president Catherine Barrett delivered a speech in which she made the following comments regarding what she viewed as the changing role of the teacher:
“[D]ramatic changes in the way we raise our children in the year 2000 are indicated particularly in terms of schooling, and … these changes will require new ways of thinking…
“We will need to recognize that the so-called ‘basic skills,’ which currently represent nearly the total effort in elementary schools, will be taught in one quarter of the present school day. The remaining time will be devoted to what is truly fundamental and basic—time for academic inquiry, time for students to develop their own interests, time for a dialogue between students and teachers. When this happens—and it is near—the teacher can rise to his true calling. More than a dispenser of information, the teacher will be a conveyor of values, a philosopher. Students will learn to write love letters and lab notes. We will help each child build his own rocket to his own moon….
“Finally, if our children are to be human beings who think clearly, feel deeply, and act wisely, we will answer definitely the question ‘Who should make what decisions?’ Teachers no longer will be victims of change; we will be the agents of change.”
In recent decades the NEA has been outspoken about its positions vis a vis a host of social and political topics, including abortion, sex education, teen pregnancy, school prayer, socialized medicine, affordable housing, drug testing, prisoner rights, and bilingual education. In July 1997 the union formally adopted a series of resolutions that called for:
The NEA also specifically advocated:
Nine years later, at its 2006 national convention, the NEA proposed that all public schools should unequivocally support homosexual marriage and other forms of marriage (polygamy, etc.). In the NEA’s view, this perspective should be transmitted — via classroom instruction and textbooks alike — to all children at all age levels, without any requirement for the permission or knowledge of parents.
At its 2007 national convention in Philadelphia, the NEA passed a number of additional resolutions — some founded on the axiom that American society is inherently discriminatory and unjust, and others advocating massive increases in taxpayer funding of school programs and extra-curricular activities. For example, the NEA stated that:
In addition to the foregoing resolutions, the NEA supports “the movement toward self-determination by American Indians/Alaska natives” and believes that these groups should control their own education. It further holds that all schools should designate separate months to celebrate Black History, Hispanic Heritage, Native American Indian Heritage, Asian/Pacific Heritage, Women’s History, and Lesbian and Gay History. This proposal is founded on the premise that members of these demographics are victimized by persistent, widespread discrimination.
In the NEA’s estimation, America’s alleged inequities are by no means limited to the domestic sphere but extend also to U.S. foreign policy. After 9/11, for instance, the union’s position was that America had long mistreated and exploited the peoples of other nations, and thus essentially had sown the seeds of the rage that ultimately found its expression in the 9/11 attacks.
Immediately after 9/11, the NEA issued guidelines on how teachers should discuss the topic with their students. These guidelines stressed the need for children to be tolerant and respectful of all cultures — and said virtually nothing about the fact that the U.S. was at war with an enemy that was aiming to annihilate it. The NEA came so close to blaming America for having provoked the 9/11 attacks, that a public outcry ensued and the union was forced to remove the teacher guidelines from its website.
In the summer of 2002, as the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks neared, the NEA again posted guidelines on its national website stating that classroom teachers should not “suggest any group [was] responsible” for the previous year’s atrocities. Rather, the union advised teachers to have their students “discuss historical instances of American intolerance.”
The NEA directed special praise to a 9/11 curriculum designed by Milwaukee fifth-grade teacher Robert Peterson, who explained the importance of helping students to: (a) “understand that they live in a global village”; (b) ask “why” the attacks may have been aimed against America; and (c) develop empathy for people elsewhere in the world. The NEA summarized what it considered to be one of Peterson’s exemplary lesson plans:
“[Peterson] leads the children in a study of world population and distribution of income, and then takes them outdoors to illustrate their research on a large world map drawn on the playground blacktop. With each child representing 240 million people, the kids spread out—15 students in Asia, three in Europe, three in Africa, one in North America, two in South America, none in Australia. Chocolate cookies are then distributed according to each continent’s gross domestic product. Six cookies are shared by the 15 people in Asia. Nine are shared by three Europeans, one cookie for South America, just half a cookie for Africa, eight for the lone North American. Most students have strong reactions and many questions. Why are there so many people in Asia? Why are the Europeans and Americans so rich? Some try negotiating with other ‘nations,’ while others even suggest war to even the odds. Peterson says his students begin to glimpse how the world’s enormous inequalities could lead to animosity.”
The NEA employs a larger number of political organizers than the Republican and Democratic National Committees combined. Fortune magazine routinely ranks the NEA among the top 15 in its “Washington’s Power 25” list of organizations that wield the greatest political influence over the American legislative system. The Association has earned that rating, in large measure, by making almost $31 million in campaign contributions to political candidates since the early 1990s. At least 95% of that total went to Democrats.
The NEA derives most of its operating funds from the member dues that, in almost every U.S. state, are deducted automatically from teachers’ salaries. In 2010, these dues accounted for $357.5 million of the union’s $376.5 million in total revenues.
Of course the NEA concerns itself not only with social and political issues in the U.S. and abroad, but it also is actively involved in negotiating the terms under which its member teachers work. For example, the union adamantly opposes merit pay (or “performance contracting”) for public school teachers — characterizing such a system as “detrimental to public education.” Delegates to the summer 2000 NEA convention openly declared their categorical opposition to “any … system of compensation based on an evaluation of an education employee’s performance.” In 2007 the union elaborated, “competency testing must not be used as a condition of employment, license retention, evaluation, placement, ranking, or promotion of licensed teachers”
Not only is the NEA opposed to merit pay, but for decades it has manifested a marked hostility toward outstanding teachers. The example of world-famous math teacher Jaime Escalante is instructive. According to Escalante (the subject of the 1988 Hollywood movie Stand and Deliver), who developed the most successful inner-city math program in America, teacher union officials chastised him for attracting “too many” students to his calculus classes. When Escalante finally resigned from the high school which he and his students had made famous, local teacher union officials circulated a celebratory note that read: “We got him out!”
The NEA is similarly opposed to vouchers which would permit parents to divert a portion of their tax dollars away from the public school system, and to use those funds instead to help cover the tuition costs for private schools to which they might prefer to send their children. In the NEA’s calculus, such voucher programs “compromise the Association’s commitment to free, equitable, universal, and quality public education for every student.” (Helping the NEA to lobby against vouchers and parental choice have been such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, and People for the American Way.)
Seeking to minimize competition for that government money, the teachers unions invariably oppose the use of school vouchers, which, according to the NEA, “compromise the Association’s commitment to free, equitable, universal, and quality public education for every student.” Further, the NEA asserts that voucher systems “only encourage economic, racial, ethnic, and religious stratification in our society.”
At its 2007 national convention in Philadelphia, the NEA passed a number of resolutions that were designed, like its anti-voucher platform, to discredit and undermine other educational initiatives that threatened to compete with the public schools. For instance, the Association claimed that “home-schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience,” and stipulated that “home-schooled students should not [be permitted to] participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools.”
Other NEA resolutions were likewise intended to promote maximum government expenditures on public education. For example, the Association stated that “full-day, every-day kindergarten programs should be fully funded”; “federal, state, and … local governments should provide funds sufficient to make pre-kindergarten available for all three- and four-year-old children”; tax dollars should “suppor[t] early childhood education programs in the public schools for children from birth through age eight”; and early childhood education programs “should include a full continuum of services … including child care, child development … diversity-based curricula, special education, and appropriate bias-free screening devices.”
The NEA also contends that “excellence in the classroom can best be attained by small class size,” the “optimum” being “fifteen students in regular programs and a proportionately lower number in programs for students with exceptional needs.” While such a policy is clearly compatible with the union’s desire to maximize the number of schoolteachers on the public payroll, there is a considerable body of evidence suggesting that class size is wholly unrelated to student performance.
The NEA ranks among the most influential entities in modern American politics. Wrote journalist Ralph de Toledano in 2003: “The NEA’s openly avowed goal today: ‘To tap the legal, political and economic powers of the U.S. Congress. [It wants] … sufficient clout [to] roam the halls of Congress and collect votes to reorder the priorities of the United States of America.’”
Specifically, the NEA’s closest political ties are with the Democratic Party. In 1976 the union used its financial resources and manpower to help elect Jimmy Carter to the U.S. presidency. After the election, Carter in turn thanked the union by creating the Department of Education in 1979, prompting one NEA executive to boast that this was the only union in the United States with its own cabinet department. At recent Democratic National Conventions, up to a quarter of the delegates have been members of teachers unions.
Today the NEA is a member organization of the America Votes coalition of get-out-the-vote organizations. America Votes is itself a member of the so-called Shadow Party, a nationwide network of activist groups whose agendas are ideologically Left, and which are engaged in campaigning for the Democrats. NEA’s fellow America Votes coalition members include: America Coming Together (ACT); the American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America); the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN); the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund; Democracy For America; EMILY’s List; the League of Conservation Voters (LCV); the Media Fund; the MoveOn.org Voter Fund; the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL Pro-Choice America); the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) National Voter Fund; People for the American Way (PFAW); the Planned Parenthood Action Fund; the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); the Sierra Club; USAction; and 21st Century Democrats.
Of the $341 million the NEA received from September 2004 to August 2005, some $295 million came from member dues. In turn, many of those revenues were used to promote political agendas and candidates — almost all of them Democrats. For several decades the NEA has been among the largest contributors of money and personnel to the Democratic Party and its candidates. Between 1990 and 2008, 93 percent of the union’s political donations went to Democrats. (And virtually all of the rest went to the most liberal Republicans running in primaries, not in general elections, to tilt the political playing field even farther left).
As reporter Lowell Ponte puts it, “The astronomical amount of political money thus coerced from workers is the lifeblood of [the] Democratic Party…. The NEA functions as a giant money-laundering machine for the Democrats. Democrats impose laws that let the union take a big piece of every employee’s paycheck, which in public schools comes from the taxpayers. And the unions pay for this power and privilege by splitting this taxpayer money with partisan Democrat politicians to keep the machine operating. Public schools are an ultimate example of this synergy, not only because they are government monopolies but also because already-taxed parents are required by law to school their children, to offer their offspring as hostages to this money-extorting government-union machine.” Because the NEA works so closely with the Democratic Party, it promotes the leftist ideologies and worldviews reflected in its aforementioned resolutions.
Studies have shown that as few as 40 percent of NEA members are Democrats, the remaining 60 percent splitting evenly between Republicans and independents. According to the NEA’s own internal polling, half of the union’s members identify themselves as conservative. Yet the NEA, like other unions, claims an absolute right to spend dues as it sees fit, regardless of the viewpoints of the teachers it nominally represents.
The NEA has a permanent, paid, full-time staff of at least 1,800 United Service (UniServ) employees who function as political operatives — more than the Republican and Democratic Parties combined. In a presidential election year, this army of union foot soldiers is tantamount to a political donation of more than $100 million to Democrats. They are trained at radical boot camps, paid and typically given graduate school credit for attending. One NEA handbook is titled Alinsky for Teacher Organizers and teaches activists how to use the confrontation and pressure tactics of the late radical leftist Saul Alinsky.
As Joel Mowbray reports in a Capital Research Center study, the Virginia-based Landmark Legal Foundation (LLF) in recent years has investigated the NEA for possible illegal use of tax-exempt funds. According to LLF President Mark Levin, the NEA has “kept information from its dues-paying members and the general public that clearly shows improper use of tax-exempt money to influence elections.”
LLF’s investigation traces its path back to the 1996 presidential election, when the NEA was a key constituent of a “National Coordinated Campaign Steering Committee” (NCCSC) whose function was to help Democrats win as many national, state, and local elections as possible; to determine campaign strategy for Democratic candidates at all levels of government; and to coordinate spending on their behalf. Joining the NEA on this Committee were the AFL-CIO, the 1996 Clinton–Gore Campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Governors Association, the Democratic Leadership Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and EMILY’s List.
Because the NEA is a tax-exempt organization, the federal government places certain restrictions on how the union may use its immense revenues. Specifically, the government requires that whatever funds a union earmarks for political activities designed to influence an election, must be disclosed on IRS Forms 990 and 1120-POL. The latter of these must be filed by any tax-exempt group whose political expenditures exceed $100 in a single calendar year, and requires some disclosure about the details of those donations.
Yet from 1994-96 the NEA reported that it spent no money at all on politics. This is because an honest disclosure of its political expenditures would have entitled union members, if they objected to having their mandatory dues used to finance Democrat causes, to recover the portion of those dues that had been so earmarked. Also, union revenues used for partisan political purposes were taxable in certain cases.
Contrary to its claim that its political expenditures were nonexistent, the NEA not only spent millions of dollars on issue ads and get-out-the-vote drives for Democrats, but it also coordinated its campaign strategies with the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Confirming this was a key piece of evidence acquired by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) — an unsigned Coordinated Campaign memo from Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge. This memo stated: “When the DNC and its national Partners including … the AFL-CIO and the NEA … agree on the contents of a plan, each national partner will give their funding commitment to the state.”
In other words, if the NEA disapproved of a particular state strategy, it could prevent its “partners” — the DNC and AFL-CIO — from funding it, and the measure could effectively be stopped. This was akin to a veto power over Democratic Party political action plans. In other words, the NEA dictated terms to the DNC, not vice versa.
“Those of us who have long dismissed the National Education Association as a tool of the Democratic Party have been badly mistaken,” wrote columnist William McGurn in 2001 in the Wall Street Journal. “Apparently it’s just the opposite … it’s the Democratic Party that is the tool of the NEA.”
Beginning in 2005, new federal rules required large labor unions like the NEA to report in greater detail (to the U.S. Department of Labor) how they spent their money. Under these new disclosure regulations, it was confirmed that an immense amount of NEA money was being spent for purposes having nothing to do with the union’s purported priorities (i.e., better wages, benefits, and working conditions for teachers and school staff). For example, the NEA reported that during the 2004-05 fiscal year, it had spent $56.8 million on “union administration,” $25 million on “political activities and lobbying,” and $65.5 million on “contributions, gifts, and grants.” In other words, it is possible that up to $90.5 million (the sum of the latter two categories of expenditures) was earmarked for leftist political candidates, organizations, and causes. Among these expenditures were the following:
“What wasn’t clear before is how much of a part the teachers unions play in the wider liberal movement and the Democratic Party,” said Michael Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency, a California-based watchdog group. “They’re like some philanthropic organization that passes out grant money to interest groups.”
As of 2006, the NEA’s $58 million payroll included over 600 employees and officers, more than half of whom earned salaries exceeding $100,000 per year. NEA President Reg Weaver’s salary was $439,000. As of 2004-05, NEA Vice President Dennis Van Roekel earned $273,000, and Secretary-Treasurer Lily Eskelsen earned $272,000. By contrast, the average classroom teacher earned $48,000.
Though the NEA consistently complains that education in the U.S. is underfunded, government spending on education has in fact outpaced overall economic growth by more than 50 percent since the early 1900s. As of 2004-05, the government was spending an average of $8,701 per year per public-school student.
According to its 2007 financial report, the NEA’s total assets were $188,710,730. Its total receipts for the year were $352,958,087. Moreover, the NEA’s aggressive lobbying of Congress has enabled it to benefit from an archaic law freeing it from having to pay its $1.6 million in annual property taxes. No other labor union in America has been able to negotiate such an arrangement.
In recent years, NEA has also contributed money to a wide variety of leftwing advocacy groups, including: ACORN, the AFL-CIO, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, Campaign for America’s Future, the Center for Community Change, the Children’s Defense Fund, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Democracy Alliance, the Economic Policy Institute, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, the National Partnership for Women & Families, the National Urban League, the National Women’s Law Center, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Service Employees International Union, the Sierra Club, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, USAction, the Voter Participation Center (formerly called Women’s Voices-Women’s Vote), and the WAND Education Fund.
In November 2009, the NEA website posted a page titled “Recommended Reading: Saul Alinsky, The American Organizer.” This page praised Saul Alinsky‘s two books — Rules for Radicals and Reveille for Radicals — as “an inspiration” to “every organizer” and “anyone contemplating action in their community.”
In the 2008 and 2010 election-campaign seasons, the NEA gave a combined total of more than $15.3 million in contributions to federal candidates; 97 percent of that money went to Democrats.
During its 100th Representative Assembly — held online from June 30 through July 3, 2021 — the NEA adopted a measure earmarking at least $127,600 to advance the promotion of critical race theory (CRT) in the classroom. The union described CRT as a “reasonable and appropriate” framework for an “accurate and honest” presentation of “unpleasant aspects of American history” — i.e., slavery, Jim Crow, and racial discrimination. The new measure was designed to: (a) publicize information about “what CRT is and what it is not”; (b) establish a “team of staffers” to help union members who “want to learn more and fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric”; and (c) provide information about how nonwhites in America have been harmed by white “power and oppression,” “white supremacy,” “cisheteropatriarchy,” and capitalism. The NEA also declared its opposition to efforts to teach children the tenets of The 1619 Project, which casts America as a nation whose entire history, since its founding, has been an unbroken narrative racist oppression. Moreover, the NEA website lamented that “attacks on anti-racist teachers are increasing, coordinated by well-funded organizations such as the Heritage Foundation,” and that it was vital for the union to be “better prepared to respond to these attacks so that our members can continue this important work.”
The NEA Supports Black Lives Matter & Critical Race Theory
In 2016, BLM started to move beyond street protests and began to establish a growing influence in America’s public schools. In October of that year, teachers in Seattle organized a “Black Lives Matter at School Day.” When the National Education Association (NEA) subsequently adopted a resolution endorsing that measure, “BLM at School Day” grew into a full “BLM at School National Week of Action,” to be held annually during the first week of February as part of Black History Month activities. In 2018, school districts in more than 20 major cities incorporated “BLM at School Week” into their curricula.
A key resource for BLM-related lessons is a textbook titled Teaching for Black Lives, a Rethinking Schools publication whose opening sentence reads: “Black students’ minds and bodies are under attack.” The book’s introduction challenges teachers to enlist in a campaign for racial equity, and, in fact, to transform classrooms into centers of resistance, with students as complicit activists. “The ferocity of racism in the United States against black minds and black bodies demands that teachers fight back,” the introduction states.
According to the editors of Teaching for Black Lives, teachers “must organize against anti-blackness amongst our colleagues and in our communities; we must march against police brutality in the streets; and we must teach for Black lives in our classrooms.” One of the book’s sections, “Making Black Lives Matter in Our Schools,” has as its purpose to show “how police violence and the movement for Black lives can explicitly be brought to schools and classrooms by educators through organizing mass action and through curriculum” and how “it is also important for students and teachers to understand their roles in organizing in support of Black life and Black communities, and against anti-Black racism” through “the hope and beauty of student activism and collective action.”
Teaching for Black Lives is replete with narratives designed to stoke fear, anger, and resentment in the minds of black students. One reference to “the continuing police murders of black people,” for instance, declares: “In August of 2014, Michael Brown was killed in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, his body left in the streets for hours as a reminder to the black residents in the neighborhood that their lives are meaningless to the American Empire.” There are additional noteworthy references to “the school-to-prison pipeline” and the “epidemic of police violence and mass incarceration.” The book also includes essays bearing such titles as: “Rethinking Islamophobia: Combating Bigotry by Raising the Voices of Black Muslims”; “Plotting Inequalities, Building Resistance”; and “Racial Justice Is Not a Choice: White Supremacy, High-Stakes Testing, and the Punishment of Black and Brown Students.”
By 2019, “Black Lives Matter at School Week” (BLMSW) was being observed by thousands of educators in public school districts across the United States. BLMSW’s online guide abounds with suggested lesson plans and recommended resources for educating students:
Even very young schoolchildren are targeted with BLM propaganda in many classrooms. An early childhood teacher’s guide, for instance, emphasizes the importance of using “age-appropriate language” to help youngsters understand various concepts that are central to BLM’s philosophy. For example, teachers are urged to cultivate “transgender affirming” students by telling them: “Everybody has the right to choose their own gender by listening to their own heart and mind. Everyone gets to choose if they are a girl or a boy or both or neither or something else, and no one else gets to choose for them.” And to promote what the guide calls “the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the ‘collective village’ that takes care of each other,” teachers are instructed to say: “There are lots of different kinds of families; what makes a family is that it’s people who take care of each other; those people might be related, or maybe they choose to be family together and to take care of each other. Sometimes, when it’s lots of families together, it can be called a village.”
What began as a well-intentioned attempt to teach tolerance and anti-racism in schools, has widened into an ideological campaign permeating school curricula. Some components of that campaign were revealed at an NEA meeting, in one item adopted by members, New Business Item 39. Item 39 committed the NEA members to “Share and publicize, through existing channels, information already available on critical race theory … [and] have a team of staffers for members who want to learn more and fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric; and share information with other NEA members as well as their community members.” The language of Item 39 affirms the promotion of “an already-created, in-depth, study that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy [sic], capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society, and that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.”
The NEA’s obsession with race, social justice, and victimization permeates the organization’s ideology and its notion of what should be taught, and propagandized, in public schools. In an NEA resource guide, Racial Justice in Education, for example, the organization lays out for teachers a group of what they term “Guiding Principles on Racial & Social Justice in Education.” The NEA’s “vision for public education,” the guide proclaims, “advances inclusion, equity, and racial and social justice in our schools and society.”
The bias in the NEA’s vision is revealed in some of the subsequent language of the guide, such as the proclamation that teachers’ “work must dismantle white supremacy, and ensure that bigotry or discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, disability or national origin are not part of our classrooms, educational curricula, school policies and discipline practices,” and, in a nod to the false notion that white law enforcement brutalizes minorities, that “schools must be safe for all students, and free from state-sanctioned, racialized, and gender-based violence.”
The NEA’s Far-Left Political Agendas
The NEA’s far-left political orientation and agendas are evident in the “New Business Items” it adopted at its 2021 Representative Assembly. Some examples:
The National Education Association, in coordination with national partners, NEA state and local affiliates, racial justice advocates, allies, and community activists, shall build powerful education communities and continue our work together to eradicate institutional racism in our public school system by:
1. Establishing a task force that identifies the criteria for safe, just, and equitable schools, including exploring the role of law enforcement in education.
The task force will:
- Create a clear vision for the NEA on what must be included to create safe, just, and equitable schools for all students;
- Craft an Association-wide plan in consultation with leaders of current police-free school movements, as well as successful police-free schools legislation across the country, to include developing common language, understanding historical and current student experiences, training and workshops, and opportunities to take collective action;
- Provide recommendations to amend existing policy, including the NEA School Discipline and School-to-Prison Pipeline Policy Statement (2016), NEA Resolutions, the NEA Legislative Program, and any other related documents;
- Compile current data that documents the criminalization of Native students and students of color, the disparities in appropriate staffing with mental health professionals and caring educators, and provides analysis comparing the impact of on-site or community-based programs and personnel with the use of law enforcement on campuses;
- Inform the work identified in numbers two and three.
2. Supporting and leading campaigns that:
- Advocate for just funding formulas that remedy pervasive resource disparities based upon race, income, and geographic wealth patterns, and advocate for no-cost higher education;
- Reallocate funding to provide students with school-based, non-privatized, non-outsourced services to meet their social-emotional and mental health needs by;
- Training specific school personnel to be full-time restorative practice coordinators and providing all school employees with professional development around cultural responsiveness, implicit bias, anti-racism, trauma-informed practices, restorative justice practices and other racial justice trainings;
- Training educators to lead on equity and racial justice, leveraging the Leaders for Just Schools curriculum and model;
- Eliminate the school-to-prison and school-to-deportation pipeline;
- Win transformative investments for racially just schools that include addressing the academic, social, and emotional needs of every student through their entire educational journey, including non-biased access to pre-K and post-high school opportunities;
- Seek remedy to economic justice issues including, but not limited to, affordable housing, housing insecurity, food insecurity, and access to health care and childcare;
- Achieve dramatic funding increases for proven programs such as services for low-income students under Title I and students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA);
- Result in greater numbers of Native educators and educators of color in the education profession(s) and the union; specifically in high-quality, full-time, professional or tenure-track positions;
- Result in increased investment to expand community schools leveraging the NEA Community Schools Model;
- Result in increasing the implementation of culturally responsive education, critical race theory, and ethnic (Native people, Asian, Black, Latin(o/a/x), Middle Eastern, North African, and Pacific Islander) Studies curriculum in pre- K-12 and higher education;
- Eradicate racist laws, policies, and practices, the over-criminalization of communities, students, and families of Native people and people of color, as well as the criminalization of poverty.
3. Engaging and empowering students, families, community members and other key stakeholders in the decision-making process in their schools, districts, higher education institutions, and communities.
To this end, NEA will:
- Provide technical assistance to expand state and local affiliate education community partnerships to deliver professional development and training curriculum targeted to education employees charged with creating affirming accountability practices and supportive climates by: Expanding the implementation of training in age-appropriate responses and interventions, cultural responsiveness and culturally relevant pedagogy, implicit bias, anti-racism, trauma-informed practices, restorative justice practices and other racial justice training.
NEA shall use its public-facing websites, including educationvotes.nea.org, to publicly promote and affirm its commitment to access voting and that state legislatures should not implement policies that overturn the will of the voters.
Additionally, NEA will partner with external organizations in a public-facing national campaign to educate the public about voting that includes state-based lobbying language to condemn all efforts to limit the rights of voters to have full access to the ballot box.
NEA will research the organizations attacking educators doing anti-racist work and/or use the research already done and put together a list of resources and recommendations for state affiliates, locals, and individual educators to utilize when they are attacked.
The NEA will use existing materials to educate its state and local affiliates and members about the dangers of anti-transgender legislation targeting transgender youth in sports and/or restricting their access to gender-affirming health care. Resources should describe the current legal landscape at the federal and state levels, include model language from partner organizations on ways to support modifications to existing laws that prevent such discriminatory applications, provide talking points for advocacy, and link to existing resources for members and state affiliates to use in efforts to prevent the use of such laws as a license to discriminate.
NEA will use online platforms in addition to the NEA Today to raise awareness about the impact of period poverty (the lack of access to menstrual supplies) on our students.
NEA shall identify, compile, and share on NEA EdCommunities, existing “decolonizing the curriculum” resources to educators seeking to be anti-racist in their classrooms and use existing communications and social media to promote it through their affiliates so that rank and file educators can utilize the resources in the classrooms.
NEA shall advocate through existing publications and communications to members encouraging them to contact Congress for the need of equal access to health care services for all to minimize health disparities of educators, students and families in rural and/or multicultural areas.
NEA shall create a training program within the UniServ department to train UniServ staff and Association representatives on how to support and effectively represent transgender and transitioning members.
NEA shall update the Harassment and Discrimination Toolkit (published 2014) to include a gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation category.
The NEA will publicize via appropriate social media a call to end Title 42, the Trump-era racist policy of turning away immigrants at the southern border and forcing family separations. NEA will further publicize via appropriate social media a call for the shutdown of all child detention centers and support granting refugee status, as well as an increased number of work and family visas, to immigrant children and their families.
The NEA will, with guidance on implementation from the NEA president and chairs of the Ethnic Minority Affairs Caucuses:
A. Share and publicize, through existing channels, information already available on critical race theory (CRT) — what it is and what it is not; have a team of staffers for members who want to learn more and fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric; and share information with other NEA members as well as their community members.
B. 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, and that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.
C. Publicly (through existing media) convey its support for the accurate and honest teaching of social studies topics, including truthful and age-appropriate accountings of unpleasant aspects of American history, such as slavery, and the oppression and discrimination of Indigenous, Black, Brown, and other peoples of color, as well as the continued impact this history has on our current society. The Association will further convey that in teaching these topics, it is reasonable and appropriate for curriculum to be informed by academic frameworks for understanding and interpreting the impact of the past on current society, including critical race theory.
D. Join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project to call for a rally this year on October 14—George Floyd’s birthday—as a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression. Followed by one day of action that recognize and honor lives taken such as Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and others. The National Education Association shall publicize these National Days of Action to all its members, including in NEA Today.
E. Conduct a virtual listening tour that will educate members on the tools and resources needed to defend honesty in education including but not limited to tools like CRT.
F. Commit President Becky Pringle to make public statements across all lines of media that support racial honesty in education including but not limited to critical race theory.
Additional items that were introduced, but not adopted, at the NEA’s 2021 Representative Assembly included the following items that were either “defeated” or “referred to appropriate committee.” These items are likely to be re-introduced and considered for adoption at future NEA assemblies:
New Business Item 3 (Defeated)
NEA will provide support to state affiliates in establishing and implementing a process to collect and distribute funds earmarked to pay educators who do volunteer anti-racist work (including, but not limited to, work such as participating in book studies, workshops, or presentations; supporting Black, Indigenous and People of Color [BIPOC] students in schools; or any other union work requiring a racial lens that comes from their lived experience and expertise).
New Business Item 4 (Defeated)
NEA will go beyond Land Acknowledgement to explore the concept of “Land Back.” NEA will recruit a committee of 10-12 Indigenous members that will reach out to federally recognized tribes for their recommendations about reparations.
New Business Item 13 (Defeated)
NEA will form and lead a committee of 12-15 people that includes members from some of the other larger national unions in the country to discuss and address the issues of police unions. The committee will ensure that racial justice is always centered in its discussions and that efforts are made to distinguish between police unions and the rest of the labor movement. The committee will make recommendations to the labor movement on what role we should play in putting an end to police unions’ ability to protect violent cops, harmful policing practices, and racist policies that too often lead to the terrorizing and deaths of our students and their family members.
New Business Item 27 (Defeated)
NEA shall, through existing electronic channels and communications, including social media, publish an article about the potential benefits of a state-owned banking system, including how a public banking system can help increase investment in school infrastructures.
New Business Item 29 (Defeated)
The NEA will publicize its support for the Palestinian struggle for justice and call on the United States government to stop arming and supporting Israel and Saudi Arabia. The NEA will further publicize its support for refugee status for the millions of people across the region who are forced to move and seek refuge for themselves and their families because of the ongoing conflict and repression.
New Business Item 49 (Referred to the Appropriate Committee)
The NEA will convene a task force to collect and analyze data and metrics about environmental pollution and its impact on America’s students and educational communities….
Data collection will include, but is not limited to, the following:
1. Data outlining the impact of environmental pollution on students in impoverished communities and/or Indigenous communities of color.
2. Data outlining the long-term health conditions suffered by communities impacted by environmental pollution (i.e., Flint, Michigan).
3. Data outlining the dollars spent on special education programs and supports for students who have been impacted as a result of environmental pollution.
4. A comparative analysis of impacted communities and neighboring non-impacted affluent communities in the same geographic region.
New Business Item 51 (Referred to the Appropriate Committee)
1. Use existing digital communication tools to educate members and the general public about the history, culture, and struggles of Palestinians, including the detention and abuse of children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
2. Use existing digital communication to publish an article in NEA Today recognizing the work done by our members fighting for the rights of Palestinian children and families.
3. Publicly advocate for Palestinian children to have access to a quality education while supporting their right to a safe and just future in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards.
4. Highlight the need for state and local affiliates to honor and protect the rights of members advocating for Palestinian human rights.
New Business Item 54 (Referred to the Appropriate Committee)
The National Education Association from this point forward will no longer hold its Representative Assemblies or any of its national conferences in any state that openly supports voter suppression, including states that revoke voting rights for people who are convicted of felonies who have completed their sentence.
New Business Item 58 (Referred to the Appropriate Committee)
NEA will generate a “Greenwood and Beyond” initiative. The goal is to make sure all students learn what happened not just in Tulsa, but in several Black townships during “The Red Summer” of 1921. Furthermore, NEA will work with historians and educators to create an online resource database that will store curriculum for “Greenwood and Beyond.” This database will provide educators with information that can be used to educate students in the factual account of what happened during that period.
New Business Item 64 (Referred to the Appropriate Committee)
The NEA will educate its members, using existing electronic media, about the positive effects that having a tax-supported, single-payer health care plan for all residents of the United States, its territories, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico would have on reducing the U.S. health care gap.
The National Education Association’s Radical Agenda for Public Education
By Richard L. Cravatts
Largest Teachers Union Endorses CRT Curriculum Nationwide
By Prager University
July 12, 2021