The National Education Association (NEA), the largest union in the United States, held its annual meeting and Representative Assembly (RA) in Minneapolis, Minnesota over the family holiday of Independence Day. While in past years there were as many 11,000 delegates attending, this year there were less than 6,200. The RA was a stage play of irony and hangdog bitterness following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus vs. AFSCME decision against forced union membership for government employees. The decision also requires every government employee to request union membership (opt-in) rather being forced by unions to annually opt-out of union membership.
Christian, conservative, and Republican teachers have long realized that the NEA does not represent their viewpoint and they will now be able to drop their membership and stop paying dues. The situation was one of the top topics at the RA.
The expected drop in revenue is forcing the union to make significant budget cuts. It has already laid off Washington DC based employees from its national headquarters and the cuts are likely to also affect the large amounts of money going out to state and local affiliates. The budget cuts will not apply, however, to the union senior management. NEA president Lily Eskelsen García’s annual salary will increase to $293,434, while the union's vice president and secretary-treasurer will each receive $257,954. In addition, each of these executives will receive 40 percent of their base salary — at least $103,182 each — to cover benefits and living expenses.
The National Right to Work Foundation has a website to inform union members of their new “Janus rights”. The website, https://myjanusrights.org/, has information for you whether you are a member of a union or a non-union member paying “fair share.” Contact The Center for Garden State Families at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to find an attorney in NJ regarding your Janus Rights.
Like so many socialist based organizations, the NEA is obsessed with sexual identity rights. At last year's RA in Boston, some in the NEA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Caucus members deliberately harassed the NEA Ex-Gays Educators Caucus. One GLBT Caucus member threatened the chair of the Ex-Gays Caucus with harm. After being called to task for their behavior, this year's NEA GLBT Caucus members were a bit tamer. The NEA GLBT Caucus provided its usual materials promoting the LGBTQIA+ lifestyle as normal and innate.
The Human Rights Campaign (the largest LGBT political organization in the nation) sponsored the “Welcoming Schools” exhibit, which displayed materials focusing not only on LGBT advocacy, but also put more emphasis on transgender acceptance among adults and students. Lists were provided at the “Welcoming Schools” exhibit of K-9 books advocating the homosexual lifestyle, same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting.
Chris Sgro of North Carolina won the 2018 NEA Human and Civil Rights Award, specifically the Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights. In NEA’s words, “Chris Sgro has and continues to be a champion for LGBTQ advocacy.”
The NEA sponsored an anti-Trump/anti-Trump-policies rally before the assembly officially began. Many signs being carried by the delegates pertained to the illegal immigration issue and a substantial number of those signs called for free passes for all illegal immigrants.
As usual, a straggling representative or two from the Socialist party could be found sharing the grounds with the rallying NEA delegates outside the Minneapolis convention center. The Socialists sold their wares, which appeared quite similar in theme to the signs and chants of the NEA delegates.
The majority of the New Business Items (NBI) dealt with at the assembly were focused on political or social issues, not educating children, test scores, teaching methods, classroom safety, etc. The following is just a sample of the more than 120 NBIs the assembly passed.
NBI 4, which called for the NEA to “promote the Black Lives Matter Week of Action in schools during Black History month in 2019, using existing communication resources, specifically calling for clear efforts to demonstrate support for the three demands of the BLM Week of Action in schools.” An Asian American woman spoke to the NBI recommending that “Black Lives Matter” be changed to “All Lives Matter.” Her recommendation was rejected.
NBI 11, which stated “NEA shall, using existing digital media, have all state and local affiliates encourage K-12 teachers to view a series of films called Creating Gender Inclusive Schools and use the accompanying study guides of the Youth and Gender Media Project (visit youthandgendermediaproject.org) to create inclusive communities for all youth, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum of gender identity and expression.”
NBI 32, which stated “NEA shall, using existing digital media, share with state and local affiliates a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website (visit https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth-resources.htm) that lists resources, government agencies, and community organizations for the LGBTQ+ youth, their friends, educators, parents, and family members to support positive environments.”
NBI 36, really “took the cake” (yes, a pun on the Masterpiece Cakeshop SCOTUS decision). The NBI said “NEA shall, using existing digital media, post a list of known individuals with businesses who are committed to refusing services to same-sex couples and/or LGBTQ individuals. NEA can access a list of these individuals and their businesses from organizations such as THINKPROGRESS (thinkprogress.org), Southern Poverty Law Center, and Human Rights Campaign, and share it with all state and local affiliates on nea.org.”
NBI 121, which stated “Using existing resources, NEA will release a public statement in opposition to conversion therapy, repairative [sic] therapy, reorientation, or any other process to alter a student’s orientation or identity.” While NEA, to its credit, has generally operated fairly and according to Roberts Rules of Order, the discussion on this item was clearly sabotaged. Normally, delegates are taken in the order of one speaker “for” and one speaker “against.” That was not the case here. One person who called in to submit an argument “against,” in fact spoke “for,” and when NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia caught the error, she said, “Wait a minute this is suppose to be against. Oh, but that’s okay.” A third person submitted an “against” position to speak to the item, but he simply said, “I’m against it.” Eskelsen Garcia said, “No reason?” and then added “Oh, I see what your doing.” Although at least one conservative delegate had submitted her request to speak against the item and stood at a microphone prepared to do so, when a delegate moved to close debate, Garcia said, “Yes,” quickly extinguishing any fair rebuttal.
It will be interesting to see what the NEA looks like in 2019 at it’s annual convention being held in Houston, Tx. The Center for Garden State Families will be in Trenton advocating for parental rights and focusing on real education objectives for New Jersey’s children.