If you want to stay on top of what’s going on in schools, watch the policies adopted by the National Education Association (NEA), which attracts nearly 10,000 delegates to its annual convention over the Fourth of July weekend. The NEA’s three million members include most of the nation’s public school teachers, who fund its half-billion-dollar budget with their mandatory union dues.
NEA convention resolutions typically recycle every liberal buzzword you can think of: diversity, inclusion, sexual orientation, pluralism, stereotypes, reproductive freedom, racism, sexism, homophobia, equity, multiculturalism, undocumented immigrants and global interdependency. At this year’s convention in Orlando, several propaganda terms appeared for the first time: marriage equality, gender identity and institutional racism.
Until this year, the NEA had refrained from explicitly endorsing same-sex marriage, although it was on record in favor of equal benefits for domestic partners, repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and other tenets of the gay-rights agenda. In 2008, the NEA’s California affiliate donated $1.3 million of teachers’ dues money to the campaign against Proposition 8, which defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
Prop 8 nevertheless passed by a 600,000-vote margin, largely due to ads warning parents that schools would soon begin teaching first- and second-graders that boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls. Teachers complained about the ads when they were aired in 2008, but this year’s convention declared that teachers should tolerate no dissent on so-called marriage equality, even for sincere religious reasons.
The teachers union adopted this New Business Item A: “The NEA will develop educational materials for its state affiliates and members about the potential dangers of so-called ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Acts’ or RFRAs, which may license individuals and corporations to discriminate on the theory that their religious beliefs require such actions.”
Religious Freedom Restoration Acts offer a way for Christians to live their religious beliefs without being sued for not providing their services or facilities to gay marriage ceremonies. The Christian belief that marriage is an institution blessed by God to unite a man and a woman is just a “license to discriminate,” according to official NEA policy.
When the gay marriage case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year, the U.S. solicitor general was asked whether even private religious schools would have to change their teaching if the Supreme Court changed the public definition of marriage.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli replied with the chilling non-answer, “It’s going to be an issue.”
Not content with the redefinition of marriage, the NEA moved right along to endorse the “transgender” agenda for the nation’s public schools. In New Business Item 30, the NEA says schools must provide “transgender student and staff access to facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the employee’s or pupil’s records.”
The trans nonsense doesn’t stop there. According to the NEA’s New Business Items 45 and 74, schools must allow students to dress in the gender of their choice and should not require students to “obtain a court-ordered name and/or gender change as a prerequisite to being addressed by the name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity.”
New Business Item B, considered so important that it was introduced by the NEA Board of Directors and passed unanimously at the Orlando convention, declares that “we acknowledge the existence in our country of institutional racism,” which “manifests itself in our schools.” Because the existence of institutional racism is not open to debate, the delegates called for “partnering” with like-minded groups, “particularly in areas of cultural competence, diversity and social justice in order to address institutional racism.”
This is what Dinesh D’Souza calls “the shame narrative” of American history, famously advocated by the bestselling leftwing historian Howard Zinn, which presents American history as a cavalcade of oppression by the white Europeans who stole the country from Indians, Africans and Mexicans. Is that what you want your children and grandchildren to be taught?
Every presidential candidate has (or will soon have) a position paper on how best to reform public education, and both houses of Congress have passed bills to rewrite the law that provides federal aid to schools with strings attached. All these reform ideas depend on teachers to implement them in the classroom, but most teachers pay dues to a union whose policies are diametrically opposed to what parents and the public want children to learn.
There can be no positive change in America’s public schools as long as teachers unions have the power to collect mandatory dues from school employees whose salaries are paid by the taxpayers. The National Education Association must return to what it was for the first 100 years of its existence: a purely voluntary association of individual teachers who willingly choose to support the organization with voluntary contributions.
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Phyllis Schlafly is a lawyer, conservative political analyst and author of 20 books. She is the co-author, with George Neumayr, of the New York Times Best-Seller titled “No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom.” She can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.