Category: National Education Association


           As I mentioned earlier, I failed to withdraw my membership earlier this year.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, each year there is a window from Aug. 1-Sept. 1 in which membership can be withdrawn.  Unfortunately, I didn’t meet with my local Association president until Sept 6—five days past the deadline. 

            He called me into his office, and I voiced my request to withdraw my membership.  He politely asked me why—which was what I was afraid of—and asked if there was anything he could do to correct the situation.  I told him that there were some political reasons (that was against my better judgment; I should have kept my mouth shut about that), but more importantly, financial reasons.  With three small children at home, a brand new vehicle to accommodate them, and the likelihood that I would be RIF’d again at the end of the year, I felt that my $720 of dues would be greatly beneficial in preparing for a probable job loss.  Oddly, he gave me the name of a teacher and told me to contact her.  When I did, she acted surprised that he would suggest her name but told me to write a letter expressing my intent and then submit it back to the association president to be presented to the executive board.  I asked when the next executive board meeting was, and she told me it was at the end of the month.  So, I did what she suggested.

            Once September had passed and I still hadn’t heard anything, I contacted the president once again.  He met with me and told me that the executive board decided not to allow my withdrawal, asking, “Your reasons were mainly politically, right.  I asked if he had shown them my letter, and he replied, “Well, no.” WHAT?  He hadn’t shown them my letter? I explained to him that my letter mentioned nothing about politics but did focus strictly on finances.  His reply was, “Oh, well, here’s how I try to explain it to others,”—so there have been others, huh? —“Let’s say you get that $720 back.  The government’s going to take what, $400 of it in taxes?  That leaves you with $300, but the discounts you can get with your membership more than make up for that $300.”

            I guess like a brainless little puppet I was supposed to just accept that and walk away.  Well, I did say thank you and walk away, but I didn’t accept it.  His little explanation was great and all, except for the fact that it was a LIE!  That $700 dollars in dues would not be taxed!  It’s my money that I’m paying to the union after taxes.  It’s withdrawn from my paycheck just like all my taxes each week.  And even if it were taxed, the government wouldn’t take over 50 percent of it! But, he sure did make it sound good, didn’t he?  Great manipulation tactic.  I’m not happy about the fact that he just threw away my letter, and I am certainly not happy that he thought I was stupid.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just one more reason why I don’t trust my teachers union.

If you’ll recall, in Monday’s post I mentioned how a teacher said to me that the NEA doesn’t support abortion and that’s just the assessment of the “racist Tea Party.”  Well, does it or doesn’t it?  You decide. 

 As seen on the 2010-2011 NEA Resolutions document, Resolution I-17: Family Planning states:

The National Education Association supports family planning, including the right to reproductive freedom.

The Association urges the government to give high priority to making available all methods of family planning to women and men unable to take advantage of private facilities.

The Association also urges the implementation of community-operated, school-based family planning clinics that will provide intensive counseling by trained personnel. (1985, 1986).

 While you’re at it, also ask yourself if it’s right for taxpayer dollars and membership dues to be used to fund “family planning.”

             Because I wasn’t happy about being told whom to for—or the fact that my money was being used to tell others whom to vote for—I decided it was time to get out.  The problem was that I wasn’t sure how to do that. 

             I had heard from several people that non-union teachers were treated rather poorly by their colleagues, but I couldn’t believe that.  I worked with the nicest, most caring group of teachers imaginable.  Still, because I had to ask someone, I sought out one of my fellow teachers who had always been very polite and helpful on just about anything.  She was one of my former teachers, and any time I had a question, I went to her.  And she was always more than happy to help.  I knew that she was very involved in union matters, so I thought she was the most logical person to ask about withdrawing my membership. 

             As was typical, she had a smile on her face that day when I approached her.  When I asked how to go about withdrawing my membership, her face turned very stern.  She looked me straight in the eye and told me that she felt that was the biggest mistake I could make.  She went on to explain that the state was full of anti-public education politicians, and that we needed to clean house with the next election (keep in mind this was late August 2010).  When I asked her who these politicians were, she responded, “Anyone with an R in front of his/her name”.  She then went on to tell me that I needed to vote all Democrat in the upcoming election.

            When I told her that I didn’t necessarily agree with a lot of the liberal/Democratic agenda, she asked me if this was because I had heard that the NEA supports abortion  (um, no, it wasn’t about that and, in fact, I hadn’t heard that) because, in her own words, “the NEA does not support abortion.”  She then went on to explain that that was just the assessment of the Tea Party racists.  Nice.  By the way, I looked it up just to see what the NEA’s stance is on abortion.  More on that later.

            Back to the topic at hand.  Since learning of my desire to withdraw my union membership, this teacher now treats me very poorly.  Instead of the cheery smile I used to receive when approaching her, I now get an annoyed look and hear a curt tone in her voice.  She avoids me whenever possible and often ignores me when I speak, pretending she doen’t hear me.  Other teachers are not as obvious, but I’ve noticed a difference overall in my coworkers.  Even though I failed to withdraw my membership, I guess I’m no longer part of the “in crowd.”  Sad.

The Indiana State Teachers Association, while it may be involved in political processes for the sake of education, is not supposed to endorse specific candidates. Union members’ dues are not to be used to endorse candidates that they may or may not support. That’s the job of one committee of elected union members: Indiana Political Action Committee for Education (a.k.a. I-PACE). All money used for endorsements by I-PACE comes from a separate fund of volunteer contributions. I am not on that committee, nor have I ever willingly donated any of my money to that committee. So my question is why, during the 2010 elections, did ISTA ask me to campaign for a certain Democratic candidate?

Why was I asked to fill out a commitment card calling for three hours of my time to “get the job done” by writing letters, working phone banks, participating in door-to-door literature drops, placing yard signs, etc.? I guess there’s nothing wrong with this; it is all volunteer work. But was I-PACE the one providing this commitment card, paying for the paper and ink? It didn’t say anything about I-PACE on the card. On the contrary, ISTA’s logo was all I saw printed on it. And, it said to return the card to my Association Representative—not to the I-PACE committee. Something didn’t seem right about this.

I have to ask myself just what are my dues being used for?  Well, when I look at my handy membership guide, Page 18 shows a pie graph depicting the distribution of dues dollars. According the graph, four percent of these dollars goes to government relations. Government relations? What’s that? Page 10 of the guide says that it is an ISTA department that “develops a pro-active political agenda.” That sounds a little suspicious to me. It sounds like none of my dues dollars are directly being used for particular candidates, but they are being used for a political agenda. Perhaps it is just the negative connotation of “political agenda” that makes me feel uneasy. I just thought this was supposed to be about education, not about a “political agenda.” But that’s only four percent. What is the majority of my dues dollars being used for at the state level? According to the pie graph, 53 percent is being used for UniServ, and according the ISTA website, “The ISTA UniServ program provides professional staff so members can be provided quality Association services.” Okay, that’s fine. But here’s where things get murky for me.

At the beginning of the school year, we had or first association meeting and our UniServ director—the woman whose salary I’m helping to provide—stood in front of the congregation of members and told us that, while ISTA usually doesn’t like to name political candidates for which to vote, this year they were. She then said the name of the Democratic candidate. It was then that I was informed of the commitment card that I would need to fill out to help with her campaign. This is the moment that I was awakened to the true colors of my teachers union. No dues dollars are to be used for political campaigns, but my dues dollars provide this woman’s salary, and she stood up and told me which candidate to vote for! And then asked for my commitment to help get others to vote for her! Is that not political campaigning? From that point on until the election, I continued to get several emails each day listing Democratic candidates by name for whom I was to give my vote.

Now you tell me, am I jumping to conclusions? Is it irrational to feel that my union manipulates its members through the possible misuse of our dues dollars?

It’s important to note that this is perhaps not the best reason for mistrust and is more of a personal grievance.  However, I feel it important to start from the beginning.

It all started back when I lost my job last summer—for the second year in a row.  The previous year I had been in a special position that required specific licensing with a minimum amount of teaching experience in one particular content area.  The union had been looking through the seniority list and had been wondering if perhaps another teacher with more seniority might be able to fill the position.  I was the only person on the RIF (Reduction in Force) list who met the qualifications required for the position.  In June when my principal and assistant principal pointed that out to those involved in the callback process (administration, school board, union), my union reps rubbed their chins and said, “We’ll have to think about it,” delaying my call back an additional month.  What was there to think about?  I can understand perhaps wanting to look over the list one more time just to make sure no one else was qualified, but something didn’t really seem right.  The more I thought about their response and the fact that they had previously been trying to get someone else in the position, I began to wonder if perhaps they wanted more time to find the loophole they needed or to get someone else licensed in that area.  Right or wrong, I don’t know.  It just seemed to me that rather than looking at the facts and considering the person most qualified for the job, they were willing to play small-town politics and put an unqualified person in the position.

To be continued.

You may recall a piece I posted in November titled “Shocking Recommendation from the National Education Association,” in which I expressed my shock and concern that the teachers union was recommending that association representatives (or those involved in grassroots organizing, as the NEA website refers to them) read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, and I couldn’t figure out why they would want my building reps reading such controversial literature.  (I read the book myself, and you can view my thoughts here).

Then, last week in my “Grow, Up People” post, I expressed my frustration with the educational reform legislation that has been presented in Indiana, Wisconsin, and other states.  More frustrating than the legislation, however, was the way that politicians—particularly Democrats—and unions have been handling this legislation.  In the post I pleaded for everyone, especially those in Indiana, to grow up and start handling this like adults.

After reading my post, a friend of mine, you might know him as btownmike, emailed me with a response that got me thinking about things.  I felt his response was blogworthy and needed to be shared:

You’re exactly right, no one is acting like adults. They all just want to whine and complain and fight, and nobody wants to offer any real solutions. But the more I think about it, I think this may be intentional. The Republicans are thinking big picture, but if they can’t get the details right, they’re going to end up passing bad legislation. But rather than helping with the details and creating a good, working system, the union would rather have bad legislation so they can blame the Republicans for ruining the system. It’s a long-term power play. This is a huge aspect of Governor Daniels’s agenda for this term, and the union wants to A) create a glaring blotch on his record in case he runs for another office and B) ensure a Democrat Governor and Legislature in 2012. Despite all the protests and the rallies, I think they know it’s eventually going to pass. And they want to be able to say the Republicans broke the system so they can come to the rescue and “fix” the system, thereby ensuring a bigger voice and more power in doing so.

Considering btownmike’s thoughts and the fact that that the NEA has been recommending Rules for Radicals for a couple of years now, I’m wondering if the union has been planning for this.  It’s like they’ve been waiting for just the right opportunity to strike and strike hard.  This might not be such a big deal if it weren’t for the ties that the NEA and other unions have with progressive and socialist organizations.  Plus, there’s what Michelle Malkin posted on her website last week about “Weather Underground terrorist and FOO (Friend of Obama) Bill Ayers’ 2006 speech at the World Economic Forum in Caracas, Venezuela, in which he declared education ‘the motor-force of revolution’ while singing dictator Hugo Chavez’s praises.” 

Now, for all of this to make sense you MUST read Michelle Malkin’s post titled “‘Educate, collaborate, AGITATE!’: Alinsky’s teacher corps.” This is all a part of why I don’t trust the teachers union.  Time permitting, over the next week or so I hope to post a series of other reasons—things I’ve experienced at the local level and have been keeping quiet but now feel need to be exposed.

Written on Feb. 23:

We have some tough issues in education right now, and as a conservative, Christian, union member, Tea Party member, public school teacher, I find myself torn on many of the issues.  But what makes me really angry is that it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to sit down and have an honest, adult conversation about it.  Instead, it seems like everyone just wants to throw fits and use dirty tactics to get whatever they want.  For example, the teachers in Milwaukee who got the fake doctor statements so that they could miss work and protest, forcing schools to close and, as Megyn Kelly points out, forcing parents to pay extra in childcare because school wasn’t in session.  Watch it here.

Then there are the Democrats who skipped work and left Wisconsin to go to Illinois to avoid voting on these issues.  And if that’s not bad enough, the Indiana Democrats have decided to join them in Illinois.  Grow up, people! 

There are different teacher union rallies taking place each day throughout the state, and there’s a big one planned for the state house on March 5.  And now the Tea Party is planning a rally for the state house tomorrow, demanding that Democrats get back to work.  I feel like the last thing we need is more rallies, but what choice does the Tea Party have at this point?  And here I find myself torn right down the middle.  I think a lot of the legislation itself is just ridiculous.  I can see and understand both sides of the argument, but I feel like most of the proposed “solutions” are the wrong solutions.   It’s like this: I feel like Republicans are trying really hard to solve some real problems, but the ideas they’re coming up with are not the best ideas (I’ll talk more on this in a later post).  They sound really great in theory but will fail horribly in practice.  That’s why our law-makers need to go to work, sit down together, listen to each other and the people they represent, take their time, and settle this like adults—with open minds and no interruptions.  That’s the only way anything is going to get accomplished. 

As for the unions, the issue is this, plain and simple:  the unions have way too much power that they abuse, and they’re out of control.  And I can’t wait until I get the chance to drop my membership.  I’m getting out, and I plan to take with me as many as I can.  With that said, Republicans need to listen to school teachers, get out in the schools, do some real qualitative (not quantitative) research, and decide how to really solve the problems, and I can tell you right now that the solutions are not going to come in the form of standardized tests or evaluating teachers based on student scores.  Anyone who steps into a public school for any length of time will see how ludicrous that is.

There’s an interesting blog post I came across that sums things up pretty well. 

If schools are data-driven, they might make decisions like keeping students who are “borderline” between algebra and a higher-level of math in algebra so that they do well in the algebra state test. Or, in English, teachers might focus a lot of energy on teaching a “strand” that is heavy on the tests — even though it might not help the student become a life-long reader. In other words, the school can tend to focus on its institutional self-interest instead of what’s best for the students.

In schools that are data-informed, test results are just one more piece of information that can be helpful in determining future directions.

I’ve actually witnessed this firsthand and, one of these days if I get the time, will explain.

NEA Propaganda

            I’m so sick of NEA (National Education Association) propaganda that I can hardly stand it.  I get about five emails every day calling for action and telling of all the great things the union is doing.  The latest email I received can be read here on the NEA website, highlighting all these wonderful things that we’ve done to expand our already-ginormous federal government—all in the name of social justice, of course.  That term has become so perverted that I don’t even know what it means other than letting the government take care of everyone and everything.  Rather than doing its purpose, the teachers union just keeps revealing itself more and more as a political machine with an out-of-control, progressive agenda.  I joined the union for protection, but has the union done anything to protect me or save my job? On the contrary, when I was RIF’d and a position came open, I was the only on the RIF list qualified for the position.  But the union piddle-paddled around and tried to buy time until they could get someone with more seniority into the position.  Luckily it didn’t work, and I was able to keep my job based on my credentials.  But did the union help me?  No.  Instead, they take a ridiculous amount of my money each year and use it to fund their political agenda.

           Perhaps I’m not being completely fair, and I’ll admit that I am ignorant of many of the union’s operations.  I know there are good things that the union does, many with which I do agree.  But I feel that we need to keep our political acts within in the walls of public education.  The NEA supports much legislation that has very loose—if any—ties to K-12 public education.  And I’ve seen some pretty dirty things happen at the local level, including the misuse of members’ funds for political campaigning. 

            My husband had a good thought.  He suggested that instead of using so much time, money, and energy to empower the government to take are of everyone, why doesn’t the union use the millions of dollars that it brings in each year to fund education?  Hey, there’s an idea.  But, I guess that would mean they can’t use that money for power to enforce its political agenda—so, it would never fly.

The National Education Association is pushing pretty hard for the Dream Act.  An article on its website highlights NEA action in support of this legislation (http://www.nea.org/home/38653.htm): 

“NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen joined leaders from the United States Students Association, the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, the NAACP, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and other allies in a  press conference calling for passage of the DREAM Act.”

According to the Dream Act Portal , which describes itself as home to the largest community of undocumented youth in the United States, “the DREAM Act is a bipartisan legislation in which “undocumented youth would be eligible for a 6-year long conditional path to citizenship that requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service.”  To get technical, “undocumented” is another term for illegal immigrant, and several analysts are arguing just how bipartisan this bill really is.  Those in favor of this act feel sorry for these children because it’s their parents who came here illegally, and they were just along for the ride.  I’ll admit, this is a tough one because supporters present a very convincing, heart-breaking argument.  Notice how the DREAM Act Portal describes these individuals: “…they are smeared with an inherited title, an illegal immigrant. These youth have lived in the United States for most of their lives and want nothing more than to be recognized for what they are: Americans.”  Here’s where things get murky for me:

  • OK, they’ve supposedly lived here for most of their lives.  In order to qualify, one must have illegally come to the United States before the age of sixteen (I’ve also heard age fifteen).  Also, one must have lived here for five years prior to the enactment of the bill.  So, let’s say you were 15 fifteen at the time of arrival.  You’re now 20 so you would qualify (if the bill is passed, that is).  That’s only five years—not really most of your life!
  • Also to qualify, you must have good moral character.  The Dream Act Portal says “this is described as being a law-abiding resident of the United States.”  There’s only one problem with this: IF YOU’RE AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT, YOU’RE NOT ABIDING BY THE LAW!  How does this even make sense? 

This is a tough issue for me because I do feel sorry for these children.  Really, it’s not their fault.  BUT, what kind of message does this bill send? That it’s OK to break the law or go around it?  That it’s OK to be deceitful and go about things the wrong way?  Will this only encourage more illegal immigration?  Is this really fair?  Natural-born American citizens pay for the illegal actions of their parents as well.  It’s an unfortunate fact of life, and the only way to change things is to teach people that there are serious consequences, not rewards, for breaking the law—whatever that law may be.  As educators, I would think teachers would want to send this message to both the illegal and naturalized youth in our county.  Otherwise, it won’t stop.  I just don’t think this is the best path to take toward “immigration reform.”  My gut says this is wrong.  Once again, my union dollars are pushing something I don’t necessarily support.  I find this happening more and more.

This isn’t breaking news or anything, but I’m trying to get my head around this one:

            The longer I’m a member of the National Education Association, the more disturbed and concerned I become with some of its practices and leadership.  It has now been brought to my attention that the NEA’s Deputy Executive Director John Stocks is also on the Democracy Alliances’s Board of Directors.  Why is this a concern?  Because, according to its website, the Democracy Alliance is an organization that “was created to build progressive infrastructure that could help counter the well-funded and sophisticated conservative apparatus in the areas of civic engagement, leadership, media, and ideas.”

            The website describes Stocks as a “national leader in the fight to transform America’s public schools and progressive social change.” It is no longer a secret that the progressive goal is big government with largely secular ideology.  Of course, each educator is entitled to possess his/her own political views, and one should not be condemned for that.  Perhaps Mr. Stocks is able to keep his Progressive goals for America separate from his goals for the educational system, but it’s doubtful considering that, as NEA’s Deputy Executive Director, Stocks has worked toward “transforming its political organization.”  There is no doubt that Stocks is trying to get the NEA on board with his Progressive agenda.  The question in my mind now is how will this trickle into the classroom and influence what our children are being taught. 

 For more on the Democracy Alliance, visit its website at http://www.democracyalliance.org/home