Earlier this month, the National Education Association held its yearly “Representative Assembly” in Orlando, FL. A visitor from another planet might think that a gathering of teachers would find them concentrating on the tragic learning loss caused by the devastating COVID-related shutdowns, the shockingly high rates of violence against teachers, or ways to improve the profession.
Hardly. This year’s theme centered around the “freedom to learn.” No, not learn the ABCs, but rather the debauched material that has become all the rage in public schools in recent years. And, of course, Florida and its feisty governor, Ron DeSantis, were the focal points of much of the unionistas’ scorn and outrage.
According to the NEA, the mood at the convention was “sober, but also defiant.” But at least one person was not at all sober. “You look magnificent!” shrieked NEA President Becky Pringle at a rally of teachers waving signs and rainbow flags. “Florida is our ground zero for shameful, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic rhetoric and dangerous actions. You are showing what it means to fight against out-of-touch politicians like Ron DeSantis.”
As shown by this year’s New Business Items (messages of concern from the hoi-polloi to the NEA aristocracy), the union faithful were certainly in sync with Pringle. For instance, NBI 4 asserts, “The NEA will inform states and locals of the following sample language that may be put in contracts and policies that is LGBTQIA+ inclusive. The language will be as follows: ‘Parental leave’ instead of ‘maternity leave,’ ‘parent’ instead of ‘mother’ or ‘father,’ ‘birthing parent’ instead of ‘mother’ or ‘father,’ and ‘non-birthing parent’ instead of ‘mother’ or ‘father.’”
NBI 88 wants the NEA to declare a national educator day of action whose purpose is to rally – among other things – to “protect LGBTQIA+ students and educators including the right to gender affirming care…and stop book bans.”
And speaking of “banned” books, the union’s “Great Summer Reads for Educators” includes kiddie porn like Gender Queer, which graphically depicts young people indulging in various kinds of sex. (It’s interesting that this “banned book” is on a reading list for teachers, and the book is available on Amazon and in local public libraries. The union’s snit is over the fact that Florida does not want the book in school libraries – just as Playboy and Penthouse do not grace their shelves.)
Another book on the NEA’s suggested reading list is Ready Player One, which has explicit descriptions of blow-up sex dolls, online brothels, and masturbation.
While sex is featured in many of the selections, other over-the-edge books are on the list. Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism is suggested reading.
As a rejoinder to Gov. DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law, some of the true-believing teachers wore t-shirts emblazoned with “Say Gay.” The fact that the word “gay” or “homosexual” never appears in the text of the Florida legislation doesn’t much matter to any of the gender-crazed social engineering teachers. What the law’s detractors also fail to acknowledge is that the word “parent” or “parental” gets 39 mentions. The law only mentions the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” twice.
One “it would be funny if it weren’t so sad” moment at the NEA shindig occurred outside the building. As Mike Antonucci reports, “NEA staffers represented by the Association of Field Service Employees have been working without a contract since June 1. In an attempt to move negotiations along, a group of them showed up at the convention center to hand out leaflets and hold signs.”
Of course, this didn’t go over with NEA executives, who sent convention center security and a sheriff’s deputy to have them removed from the premises. The staff union also asserts that it was prevented from joining the Freedom to Learn rally and that NEA honchos urged delegates not to interact with the staff union.
The staff union’s demands include pay increases and benefit improvements, but the association also “accuses NEA of increasing members’ workload while shrinking staff and relying on temporary employees, which it calls ‘an anti-union, exploitative practice.’”
Maybe just a wee bit of hypocrisy here? Nothing new, however. The NEA is very hard-nosed when dealing with school boards and other elected officials, claiming its right to hefty raises, smaller classes, more this and more that, all on the taxpayers’ dime. Yet when the shoe is on the other foot, the union does a 180, plays hardball, and seems to have no empathy for its very own workers.
If there is any good news pertaining to the NEA, it’s that its numbers are shrinking. At its peak in 2008-2009, the union had 2,906,211 members. That number dwindled to 2,463,076 in 2021-2022 – a 15% drop.
Even more importantly, there is a group with a rapidly growing membership that is a direct counter to NEA’s radical agenda. The fearless Moms for Liberty, whose convention in Philadelphia took place right before the NEA meeting, now boasts 120,000 members in 285 chapters in 44 states. The organization, founded by Tina Descovitch, Tiffany Justice, and Bridget Zeigler, fought the draconian lockdown measures and now regularly battles public schools that push critical race theory and gender ideology on children.
You know Moms for Liberty is on target and indeed making a difference when the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center equates them to neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, and labels them an “extremist group” that is “anti-government.” Additionally, The Nation describes Moms for Liberty as “hateful fascist bigots.” The New Republic claims the group has “created nightmares for schools across the country.”
On the eve of the Philadelphia summit, co-founder Tiffany Justice told American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Robert Pondiscio in simple terms what the organization is about. “We are fighting for the survival of America by unifying, educating, and empowering parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government.”
So as the parents fight for the “survival of America,” the National Education Association is hell-bent on destroying the country as we know it. The war for the soul of our nation is in full swing, and sitting on the sidelines is not an option.
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.