In the book Power Grab, we find that the National Education Association (NEA) has sued teachers for revealing its political activities to their colleagues. Teachers who are reluctant to participate in strikes sometimes face violence. One found her cats and dog dead near her home. Strikebreaking substitute teachers have been pelted with eggs, spat upon, and had their vehicles damaged. While on the way to class, a 12-year-old Los Angeles girl was struck by a rock meant for a ‘scab’s’ car.
The author, Dr. G. Gregory Moo, having served a full career as an educator and school administrator, doesn’t merely share a lament borne of insider information about NEA excesses. A former high school principal, Dr. Moo reviews the NEA’s history and explores the depth and breadth of its effect upon nearly every American family. The largest teachers union’s true objectives and the methods used to achieve them are provided in lucid and disturbing detail.
The NEA is the nation’s largest labor union and a “near monopoly supplier to a government-enforced monopoly consumer.” The NEA is exempt from many labor laws, Dr. Moo tells us, including those concerning property taxes and political activity.
The teachers union has participated in political pressure, making “aggressive efforts” to remove a Michigan judge who roused the NEA’s ire by ruling against an abortion for an underage girl. The NEA has joined many other advocacy groups in characterizing those opposed to increased taxation as opponents or the disadvantaged and unfortunate.
The teachers themselves are also beholden to the NEA’s agenda and control. Membership in the NEA – and the payment of union dues — is mandatory in 21 states. The NEA affects even those without children, according to Power Grab, because it fights against any and all tax reductions lest its own share of government subsidies funded by taxes be reduced. The NEA doesn’t try to alleviate the causes of the widespread dissatisfaction with public education (such as poor student performance and employability). Instead, as Dr. Moo explains, the NEA fosters an “us versus them” mentality among teachers and presses for increased salaries (thus bringing in more dues for the union) and smaller class sizes (i.e. more teacher jobs).
Although the NEA fights strenuously to be a major player in deciding who is to be certified to teach, it is also adamantly opposed to any proof of competency or effectiveness, such as requiring language or math tests or tying salaries to student performance.
Conversely, exceptional teachers cannot negotiate better compensation packages for themselves, because they are collectivized under the NEA’s umbrella. Dr. Moo reveals that the teachers union uses the benefits under its control as a ‘carrot’ to entice teacher compliance with NEA policy.
There is a ‘stick’ as well for recalcitrant educators. In states where union membership is not compulsory, NEA has had good teachers fired for refusing to pay “agency shop fees, service fees, or in the twisted rhetoric of NEA, fair share fees.” These fees are sometimes deducted without teachers’ knowledge.
Transformed to militancy during the 1960s, Dr. Moo explains that the NEA has become a “hydra-headed… D.C.-based organization” that aspires to control a singular nationwide education system. In the NEA’s vision, local school districts’ directives should be circumvented, parental values should be undermined, and a good education for children should take a back seat to political power. The NEA’s Executive Secretary Sam Lambert said in 1967:
“NEA will become a political power second to no other special interest group… NEA will organize this profession from top to bottom into logical operational units that can move swiftly and effectively with power unmatched by any other organized group in the nation.”
Dr. Moo uses his knowledge and experience to provide a list of recommendations (backed up by arguments for each one):
· Stop forced union membership.
· Eliminate the Department of Education.
· Enforce the Hatch Act (prohibiting union political agitation) on the NEA.
· Restore local control of teacher certification and hiring and Implement school choice.
Recently, the state of Washington actually took the first step towards ending compulsory union membership and NEA rolls in the state dropped considerably as a result. Even more recently, an Ohio custodian, finding himself forced to support abortion and homosexuality via the NEA, enlisted the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s in securing a favorable EEOC ruling for himself and other school employees.
Power Grab is a must read not only for those concerned about children’s education, but also for those who recognize that America’s future depends upon free thought.
William R Alford is a Government & International Politics/Electronic Journalism student at George Mason University in Fairfax VA. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org