National Education Association Meeting: A Social Justice Summit?
Marxist philosophy, abortion, gun control, open borders and transgender advancement were among the political ideas marketed to educators and their classrooms last weekend at the National Education Association (NEA) annual union meeting, hosted at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
As teachers perused booths retailing titles such as “Marxist Education,” “A World to Win, the Life and Works of Karl Marx,” and “How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America,” some attendees questioned the legitimacy of the union as a representative body. As one vendor put it, “do you really think that the average joe, like a normal guy just off the street would come in here and be like yeah- this is what I think a teachers union should look like?”
However, political action wasn’t limited to the convention center. On Saturday the 30th, attendees spilled into the city streets, causing roadway shutdowns in the name of ICE abolition and opposition to President Trump.
This demonstration was the result of forces more insidious than a crowd of like minded teachers. Educators nationwide are settling into far left ideas on immigration, with the active encouragement of their unions. During the NEA national conference one year ago, the union dealt with and approved Business Item Number 18. This item proscribed that “The NEA will further encourage school districts to adopt policies refusing cooperation with ICE officials.” This year, Minneapolis is seeing one of the many consequences of this resolution.
Not all NEA members took to the streets, however. Paul O, a teacher from Florida who prefers to go unnamed in full for fear of union retribution, did not seem pleased with his bargaining unit becoming so political. His primary concern was how active the NEA has become with regards to promoting abortion. “Being pro-life or pro-choice has nothing to do with teaching. We’re a teacher’s union. Take positions on our issues.”
Christine Nowak, another educator in attendance echoed this sentiment. “I’m a union person, I like unions, but not in this way… People want abortion to be legal. Okay, but don’t ask me to support it through my union!”
“The average teacher joins a union because they want job protection from the whim of administration going AWOL,” says yet another anonymous teacher from California, afraid of union retribution should his name be distributed. Unfortunately, this idea that unions should exist for the protection of jobs has fallen by the wayside in the age of #Resist and #AbolishIce.
Fortunately, things are beginning to look up for teachers who just want to do their job with the recent 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court on Janus v. AFSCME. This ruling affirms for the first time that public sector employees are not required to give their hard earned dollar to a labor union. For teachers like Paul or Christine, this means that freedom from the hyper political unions can now become a reality.
Kyle Hooten is a sophomore at St. Olaf College and an intern for Center of the American Experiment.