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National Teachers’ Union Adopts New Social Agenda, Votes Down Proposal to Prioritize Student Learning

The national teachers’ union—the National Education Association—held its annual convention in Houston the beginning of July. Attended by thousands of delegates on behalf of teachers and educators across the country, the meeting includes a Representative Assembly where resolutions and new business items are proposed and voted on.

This year, 6,000 NEA delegates (a low attendance compared to previous years) approved teaching the concept of “White Fragility” in trainings and staff development, endorsed “the fundamental right to abortion under Roe v. Wade,” and called on the U.S. government to “accept responsibility for the destabilization of Central American countries… and that this destabilization is a root cause of the recent increase of asylum seekers in the United States,” to name a few.

But a proposal focused on, wait for it, student learning, was defeated.

New Business Item 2 proposed the NEA should “re-dedicate itself to the pursuit of increased student learning in every public school in America by putting a renewed emphasis on quality education.”

The resolution continued by saying student learning should be the NEA’s priority and that resources should be focused on student learning because it is a “core idea[l] of our organization.”

Why the motion failed is unclear, according to the American Enterprise Institute, because the vote happened in a closed-door session. AEI also noted that there wasn’t a single breakout session during the convention on curriculum and instruction nor raising student test scores, per the convention agenda.

The NEA represents three million voices, and many of these voices believe the union is too concerned with non-education issues and partisan politics. Teachers want their voices heard, and they often expect their union to be that collective voice and advocate for their profession and their students. Why aren’t union delegates listening?

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