At the recent National Education Association (NEA) Annual Meeting, where Tennessee Education Association (TEA) representatives participated along with other affiliates across the country, the highly partisan NEA took strong positions against immigration reform and Republicans in general. They even gave an award to controversial former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to honor his activism in leading protests against the National Anthem.
Now NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia has weighed in on the US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Not surprisingly the NEA opposes Kavanaugh. Their opposition is NOT based on his rulings as a Court of Appeals Judge, but primarily upon the hysterical concerns generated in liberal circles with completely bogus claims about recent Supreme Court rulings. For example, she claims the Supreme Court weakened the right of educators and other working people to come together in their unions and through collective bargaining to advocate for fair pay, benefits, and working conditions (Janus v. AFSCME, a 5-4 vote). Janus actually granted teachers and others the freedom NOT to be forced to join a union if they didn’t want to.
And the “Muslim ban” that the Supreme Court confirmed, where travel from certain countries was restricted based on national security interests and was a list compiled by the OBAMA Administration, two of the seven countries on the list were those notoriously “Muslim countries” Venezuela and North Korea.
Keep in mind that several of the 5-4 decisions that Garcia complains of included Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority, and one was a 7-2 decision. Each of those cases would have had the exact same result with Kavanaugh replacing Kennedy and voting the same way. So much for the apocalyptic shift in the court that has produced the hissy fit that Garcia and other leftist extremists are engaged in.
Of course, the real reasons for the NEA/TEA opposing Kavanaugh are a desire for expanding abortion rights and implementing stricter gun laws by the Courts since the Left cannot advance those issues in the Legislative arena. They had already launched a website to take action against Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee even before he announced his selection! None of the issues that have Garcia and the NEA/TEA so outraged have anything to do with improving the quality of education for kids nor the professional work environment for teachers.
The NEA/TEA are totally focused on and obsessed with being loyal foot soldiers to advance liberal extremism — a political agenda that is much more in line with New York and California than with the values of teachers who reside in and raise their families in “red states” like Tennessee.
You would think as a result of the Janus decision, which gives dues paying members of public unions an exit ramp from being forced to pay dues to promote issues that they do not support, teacher unions might return their focus to public education. Instead, they are doubling down on progressive causes while teachers all over the country are voting with their feet and walking away from the NEA/TEA.
According to NEA member Jonathan Smith, a New Jersey teacher, who uses a fictitious name out of fear: “The NEA uses almost 100% of its money to support liberal causes, policies and candidates even though a full 58% of its members are either moderate, conservative or very conservative.” RiShawn Biddle of Dropout Nation has written in detail on the NEA political spending. Why do conservative and moderate teachers continue to pay money to a group that promotes issues they oppose? Because, until Janus, they had to; but now they can leave the extremist union that has held them, and their money, hostage.
The Center for Education Reform has appropriately dubbed the NEA, the “NOT Education Association” because a majority of their resolutions at their annual conference were not related to education. CER identified a few of the union priorities: “ensuring that Banana Republic doesn’t advertise with the union” and “planning at least one action to shut down an immigration detention center, a Customs and order Patrol office, or an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.” The last one apparently failed.
The NEA viewpoint is not in the mainstream of society. The California Teachers Association comprises about 12 percent of NEA’s total membership but drives much of the union agenda. Mike Antonucci writes: “It will be interesting to see, post-Janus, how the relative strengths of state affiliates change within NEA’s internal structure.” In other words, will it keep going further Left? We know that answer, and their own members know that answer. It’s California’s World and the rest of NEA membership just lives in it!
If you are a public-school teacher why would you allow unions to use you as an ATM machine to fund progressive causes unrelated to public education? Teachers who don’t like paying for their union’s political agenda need to stand up and just say NO. Until this happens, and enough of their members quit, expect the Californication of the NEA and state affiliates like the TEA to continue.
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Steve Gill is a media and political strategist and Political Editor for The Tennessee Star. He is a frequent commentator on public policy issues in local, state and national media.