The NEA convention had its humorous moments as well as a very disturbing one.
The National Association Education’s yearly convention, which wrapped up last week, was mostly a tame affair with not much worth writing about. But NEA executive director John Stocks did provide some unintentionally comedic moments. His boiler plate lefty political ranting included solemn affirmations about “the insidious entitlements of white privilege” and the evils of “income inequality.” The latter is especially amusing since the latest available NEA tax filing reveals that Stocks’ total yearly compensation is $505,288. But upon further review, maybe his “income inequality” gripe has some merit. American Federation of Teachers president and fellow inequality-griper Randi Weingarten made $543,679 during the same time period. So maybe Stocks is irked about the $38,391 gap.
Then there were Stocks’ shout-outs to such fringe groups as Occupy Wall Street, all of which led Stocks to start screaming – not passionately – just screaming about how we are now in a “movement moment.” (The last time I experienced one of those was after eating some bad clams.)
For an organization that may well be on the verge of losing its forced dues racket and have to moderate its message to actually woo customers, Stocks’ talk was far out in left field, and surely turning off moderates and right-of-center members. For more on his talk, read Jason Hart’s account on Watchdog.org. If you have the stomach to watch to the whole 25 minutes, you can see it here.
Far scarier than Stocks’ talk was the recipient of NEA’s “Social Justice” award, one Jose Lara, dean at LA Unified’s Santee Education Center and a member of the United Teachers of Los Angeles board. The award honors the union member who “demonstrates the ability to lead, organize and engage educators, parents, and the community to advocate on social justice issues that impact the lives of students, fellow educators, and the communities they serve.” While “social justice” has as many definitions as people using the term, perhaps the most accurate comes from the Urban Dictionary:
Promoting tolerance, freedom, and equality for all people regardless of race, sex, orientation, national origin, handicap, etc… except for white, straight, cisgendered males. F*** those guys, they’re overprivileged no matter what.
That Lara was chosen as anything but “Leftist Indoctrinator-in-Chief” is a joke. On Memorial Day weekend in 2010, Lara, then a teacher, took his students to Arizona on a “field trip” to protest the state’s new immigration law. In a YouTube video, Lara is seen standing in front of a wall-to-wall mural featuring a Who’s Who of murderous revolutionaries, including Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, while proudly displaying the motto Patria o Muerte, Venceremos!!! (Fatherland or Death, We Shall Overcome!!!).
Lara’s radical activities have been well-documented since then. His latest coup was in November 2014 when he led a successful charge to get “ethnic studies” classes added to LAUSD’s graduation requirements beginning with the class of 2019. This move will serve to resegregate schools with each ethnic group separating itself from the general population. At a time when we desperately need to become more united at as a people, ethnic studies classes will further balkanize us.
But it’s really much worse than just ethnic studies. Lara’s brand comes with a radical hate-America, class warfare agenda. In his five minute acceptance speech for the NEA award, he made his thoughts known. He talked about, “fighting for the most vulnerable and oppressed in our community” and that the culture has been guilty of “institutional racism” by “keeping students from learning about their own history.”
Left in the hands of Jose Lara and his ilk, ethnic studies will become pure Alinsky fare, a never-ending barrage of revolutionary, America-bashing screeds, serving only to keep us in race, ethnicity and class ghettos.
That the NEA champions this type of indoctrination is reprehensible. Rich lefties like John Stocks, who laud the Occupy socialists and the Lara-type revolutionaries don’t know what they are in for. As Churchill said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” Whether Stocks is an appeaser or a true believer, he, as card-carrying one-percenter, will in time become croc fodder.
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.
A corrupt union official who orchestrated massive campaigns involving identity fraud in furtherance of voter fraud and who covered up a million-dollar embezzlement will soon have unfettered access to confidential information on thousands of people seeking health insurance.
That man is disgraced ACORN founder Wade Rathke, and his shady union will soon be helping people enroll in Obamacare exchanges. Rathke’s labor vehicle, United Labor Unions (ULU) Local 100 in New Orleans, announced on its Facebook page September 15 that it was gearing up “to do mass enrollment and help navigate people into the marketplaces in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas under the Affordable Care Act.”
“Local 100’s role as a Navigator, suggest[s] the program is less about health care and more about building a new progressive infrastructure,” said longtime ACORN-watcher Mike Flynn of Breitbart.com.
The now-defunct 400,000-member ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) was the nation’s pre-eminent protest group to be inspired by the work of Saul Alinsky. ACORN has a long relationship with the labor union movement. In 1979, ACORN created the United Labor Unions, which it used to organize low-wage, fast-food, and home healthcare workers in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas.
The former employer and legal client of Barack Obama, ACORN is the nonprofit group that knowingly hired felons convicted of identity theft to work on voter registration drives, giving them custody of sensitive voter information.
As one of us, Matthew Vadum, shows in the ACORN exposé Subversion Inc. (WND Books, 2011), ACORN is infamous for such practices as hiring felons without bothering to do background checks, storming hospital emergency rooms and city council chambers, using voter fraud to turn graveyards across the nation into Democratic electoral strongholds, and using mob violence against bank executives and other shakedown targets. The organization has a record of ruthlessly exploiting its own employees, even going to court to seek an exemption from minimum wage laws. ACORN’s record was so atrocious that one of the two union locals it controlled, Local 100, was kicked out of the SEIU, America’s most prominent radical union. (The other, Local 880 in Illinois, was absorbed by a larger SEIU bargaining unit.)
The group collapsed three years ago after a series of long, painful scandals. In mid-2008 Wade Rathke was caught covering up his brother’s theft of approximately $948,000, some of it from ACORN pension funds. After ACORN’s national board expelled the group’s own founder, foundations ran away from the group. In fall 2009, undercover videos by James O’Keefe III and Hannah Giles showed ACORN employees giving advice on how to lie to the government, commit tax fraud, and trick banks into providing loans for brothels.
ACORN had received some $79 million in federal taxpayers’ money over the years, but after the O’Keefe/Giles exposé the government spigot was cut off and those donors who were not already put off by the embezzlement scandal stopped giving. The group went bankrupt. Today, however, although ACORN the nonprofit entity may be dead, its many successor groups are operating under different names (see “ACORN International” in the October Organization Trends).
ACORN’s resurrected groups aren’t the only ones involved in the effort to “sell” Obamacare. Many left-wing groups that have not signed contracts with the Department of Health and Human Services or received government grants to enroll new patients have nonetheless pledged to help promote the exchanges being created under Obamacare. Each recognized “Champion of Coverage” group vows to promote enrollment by emailing its members, hanging posters or giving out fact sheets and brochures, holding conference calls, or promoting enrollment in other ways. The HHS list of groups involved in the effort includes such left-wingers as Families USA, AARP, the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the National Council of La Raza (“The Race” in Spanish), and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.
Along the way, the Navigator effort will be aided by Hollywood. According to Newsmax, the Obama administration is “turning its focus on primetime television series, using the influential platform and the power of celebrity to spread the word about its healthcare initiative.”
With the White House’s blessing, the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Norman Lear Center, which has a “Hollywood, Health & Society program,” has accepted a $500,000 grant from the left-wing California Endowment to get pro-Obamacare information to TV producers, writers, and directors so they can incorporate it into their programs. It will also generate public service announcements to mirror the TV shows’ storylines.
The USC program also promotes Global Warming theory. Officials boast that the program’s “storytelling resources” contributed to more than 550 Hollywood storylines over just three years on programs ranging from “Mad Men” to “All My Children” and from “The West Wing” and “Desperate Housewives” to “Malcolm in the Middle” and the news show “60 Minutes.”
Navigators of the Left
One reason most unions still support Obamacare is the huge influx of cash it provides to the Left’s organizing efforts for the 2014 election and beyond. Obamacare regulations provide for the hiring of an army of “Navigators” who will help “educate” the public about the program, at an initial cost of at least $53 million. Navigators come largely from unions such as the SEIU and that union’s left-wing political allies such as the NAACP and the Urban League. The abortion industry will also provide Navigators, with more than $1 million going to Planned Parenthood in Montana, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C.
Obamacare may be considered too complex for the average citizen or even the average Ph.D. to understand, but the Navigators will be hired without regard to minimum educational requirements, and they’ll receive only about 20 hours of training before starting work at a pay rate of up to $48 an hour.
They will be hired without licensing or standard background checks, even though they will have access to Americans’ most personal information, ranging from employment and income history and Social Security numbers to a person’s record of medical conditions and pharmaceutical use. That information will come from a “data hub” that gathers personal records from at least seven government agencies, including the IRS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security. “Besides the obvious identity theft concerns, this is a frightening development in light of the political activities and invasion of privacy, which the IRS and others have engaged in during the Obama presidency,” noted Gov. Bobby Jindal (R- La.).
Jindal, formerly the top adviser to the HHS Secretary in George W. Bush’s administration, is painfully aware of ACORN’s antics over the years. He warns that the Obamacare Navigator program, like all of Obamacare, is deeply flawed. “‘Navigator’ is a crafty name, but in reality, there are very few restrictions on who they are, and what exactly they are supposed to be doing,” Jindal said. “‘Navigators’ are supposed to be hired to help consumers understand the law and the insurance coverage provisions in the new health exchanges. Sounds like a job for a rocket scientist.
“The Navigators are prohibited from having financial ties to an insurance company, but other than that there are few constraints. Union organizers and community activists are among the types that are allowed to be hired as Navigators, and having prior experience working in the healthcare field doesn’t seem to necessarily be a prerequisite for the job.”
Turning the tide
Here’s what’s likely to happen: Funded by taxpayers, Navigators will promote the idea that Obamacare is a historic achievement by a kind and loving federal government, one for which we should all be grateful. They will also register people to vote [ref. screenshot preceding this section]. They will build profiles of voter preferences based on their personal information, and build door-to-door networks that will be used to turn out the vote for favored candidates. Their efforts will focus especially on states and districts with key races that will decide control of Congress.
Speaking last year at a convention of the National Action Network, headed by the radical preacher Al Sharpton, HHS Secretary Sebelius declared: “In our country what we know is health care inequality [has been] one of the most persistent forms of injustice, but over the past three years, as Rev. Sharpton reminded us, we have begun to turn the tide. Now is not the time to turn back.”
Matthew Vadum is editor of Organization Trends and Foundation Watch at the Capital Research Center. Steven J. Allen is editor of Labor Watch. This post is the second of a three-part series originally published by Labor Watch, a project of the Capitol Research Center, and is published here with permission.
Time for being shocked, shocked about teacher union methods and objectives is over.
Last week, writer Rishawn Biddle broke a story about the American Federation of Teachers’ recent successful actions to neuter a Parent Trigger bill in Connecticut. The first Parent Trigger law, officially the Parent Empowerment Act, was passed in California early last year. It allows parents, via a petition, to force change in the governance of a failing school should the petitioners get a majority of parents to sign on.
The educational establishment – school boards, teachers unions and other special interest groups, dubbed the “Government Education Complex” by Bruno Behrend, director of the Center for School Reform at The Heartland Institute, don’t like the law since it allows a group of parents to trump their power.
Most writers and bloggers who have written about the incident have focused on a pdf, originally a PowerPoint, posted on the AFT website, which very honestly and cynically describes the process by which the union did its dirty work. Realizing that this display of raw union power was not in keeping with its persona as a reform-minded partner, always willing to collaborate with parents, communities and other stakeholders, AFT pulled the pdf from its website shortly after the Biddle piece was posted and started to play defense…sort of.
In an email to education writer Alexander Russo, AFT President Randi Weingarten wrote, “The power point didn’t represent AFT or my views, nor does it represent the Conn Fed’s views….” And the punch line, “We are proud of the work in Conn, but disagree with the wording and what the wording in the power point represented.”
The wording? She disagreed with the wording??!! That’s like pummeling someone, stealing their money and then apologizing because you dropped a couple of F bombs in the process.
While I am certainly not a fan of AFT’s tactics, I am hardly shocked by them. They are a labor union. It is their job to do whatever they can do to protect the interests of its members.
In fact, if Randi Weingarten or National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel were really honest, they’d lose all the phony caring about children rhetoric and say something like the following:
Truth is, Mr. and Mrs. America, we don’t give a damn about you, your children or your wallet. We want to have as many teachers as we can on the job, including the rotten ones – they pay dues also – and make you pay them as much as possible so that we can collect carloads of cash, which allows us to be a political powerhouse and pursue our very progressive social, economic and political agenda.
If they were being really honest. But of course, tactically, that would not be in their best interest. As Joy Pullmann, managing editor of School Reform News at The Heartland Institute, put it, “…unions must pretend to care for ridding schools of bad teachers, squeezing the most out of taxpayer dollars, and other public concerns.”
So, it is up to us – the public. We all must realize that no matter their rhetoric, teachers unions are anything but beneficent organizations that care about children, their parents, taxpayers or quality education. They must be seen as ruthless special interest groups that will stop at nothing to advance their agenda. No one should forget that the NEA playbook is adapted directly from Marxist community organizer Saul Alinsky. Alinsky’s best known book, “Rules For Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals,” opens with a paean to one held in high esteem by the author – Lucifer.
Once the public became aware of the NEA-Alinsky connection, the union pulled most of their fawning comments about Alinsky from their website, leaving only The Activist’s Library entry:
Rules for Radicals
Saul Alinsky, Vintage Books, 1989
The classic book about organizing people, written by one of America’s foremost organizers.
However, I did manage to salvage one of the pulled docs. As you can see by this adoring review of Alinsky’s work, the NEA writer is so blindly in love with his subject that he can’t quite remember from sentence to sentence how to spell his hero’s name. The review begins with “An inspiration to anyone contemplating action in their community! And to every organizer!” and gets more breathless and impassioned with each rabid paragraph.
If that review, proudly posted on their website until recently, isn’t enough to convince the public of the true nature of the teachers unions, how about this – a training tape, clearly inspired by Alinsky, made by the Michigan Education Association, an NEA affiliate, in the 1990s for union negotiators who collectively bargain with school boards. I urge you to listen to the audio and not just read the text. The creepiness of actually hearing the trainer pitch his hardball tactics adds a dimension that is missing when you just read the words.
For example, at one point in the tape, the trainer is advising a union negotiator how to best deal with someone running for school board. He says,
“Find out about his family; his marital status; the number of children he has and their ages and what schools they go to. Are they public, parochial, or are they private? And also, don’t forget to check into his politics. …when checking into his employment you might want to find out what do his peers think of him; what is his relationship with his employer or employees; and does holding a public office help him advance in his job or produce business connections?”
After listening to the tape, go here and read Alinsky’s 13 rules of power politics. It would seem that the negotiator is applying rule #13,
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
The teachers unions’ methods and objectives have been in plain view for some time now. Unless the public takes notice and withdraws their support, the unions’ perfidy will continue unchecked.
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.