National Education Association declares war, but finding allies could be difficult.
It’s hardly a secret that the National Education Association is an organization that has had its political way for the past 35 or so years. However, voters are fed up with the union’s attempts to keep a failing public education system from being reformed and having massive debt foisted on them in the form of public employee pensions. In November, the populace voted flinty governors and no-nonsense legislators into state houses all over the country.
Clearly NEA, to maintain its hegemony, must now combat the reform fires that are spreading wildly from sea to shining sea. But according to teacher union watchdog Mike Antonucci, the megaunion is indeed going to war with not as much money as they once had. “… after some 27 years of increases, NEA membership is down in 43 states. The union faces a $14 million budget shortfall, and the demand for funds from its Ballot Measure/Legislative Crises Fund is certain to exceed its supply. Even the national UniServ grants, which help pay for NEA state affiliate employees, will be reduced this year.”
So, what will the war look like?
With whatever funds it can muster, NEA strategy is to stop legislation before it begins. Barring that, it will try get judges to overturn any legislation unfriendly to NEA. If they can’t get judges to do their bidding, they will then try to elect friendlier judges, as is happening in Wisconsin today.
NEAs latest gambit is to rouse the troops and regain public support by taking to the streets and trying to tie their plight to the Civil Rights movement. They have set up a new website where they proclaim that We are one. We are everywhere. And yesterday, unions held rallies across the country in an attempt to channel Martin Luther King who died 43 years ago in Memphis while supporting striking sanitation workers.
But the rallies were very tame and not well attended – only 200 in Louisville and 300 in Cleveland, according to the AP. Even in King’s home town of Atlanta, only about a thousand demonstrators showed up.
Is it possible that private sector union members are waking up to the fact that maybe “We are not all one”? Maybe they realize that those in the NEA and other public employee unions are better paid and have more perks than they do – and that these extravagances are being paid for by taxpayers, which include those union members in the private sector.
Is it possible that many Americans realize that the NEA wouldn’t hold anything for MLK? This is the union that by being virulently anti-school choice is doing everything within its mighty power to keep African-American children stuck in failing schools across America. Even the union’s former allies in the mainstream media are now in increasing numbers coming down on the side of choice.
Is it possible that the NEA and other public employee unions have exposed themselves as bullies who are detrimental to the country at large?
Is it possible that fewer people are being fooled by their hollow and abusive rhetoric?
About the author: Larry Sand is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan,non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.