I’m thinking it’ll be impossible for the National Educational Association to claim that the education of America’s children is very important to it after its General Counsel revealed its real priority during his farewell address.
Power, on the other hand, it likes very much.
Despite what some among us would like to believe it is not because of our creative ideas; it is not because of the merit of our positions; it is not because we care about children; and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child.
The NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of million of dollars in dues each year because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them; the union that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.
This is not to say that the concern of NEA and its affiliates with closing achievement gaps, reducing drop rate rates, improving teacher quality, and the like are unimportant or inappropriate. To the contrary these are the goals that guide the work we do. But they need not and must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights, or collective bargaining.
That is simply too high a price to pay.
The first thing that jumps out at me is something Conn Carroll noticed as well. A big chunk of the millions the NEA collects in dues it no willingly paid at all. In states like California and New York, if you want to be a public school teacher, you have to belong to the NEA. You have no choice. In fact, the NEA has steadfastly and loudly fought any attempt to give all of its members the freedom to choose whether they wanted to be a member or not.
However, there’s no denying that the union does very well for its members.
And what are “employee rights” and “due process” you might ask. Well those are what require New York City to pay 700 union teachers $65 million a year to do nothing. Same thing in Los Angeles where 165 union teachers collect a total of $10 million a year from tax payers for doing nothing.
What it’s not doing is making schools better for your children.