Friday, July 19, 2019

OCPA column: Putting politics ahead of children’s learning


Putting politics ahead of children’s learning
by Jonathan Small

At a gathering of educators/union members, you might expect improving schools and addressing labor issues would be dominant topics. But, based on “new business” items at the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly this month, you’d be wrong. And those actions were taken with the full participation of the NEA’s Oklahoma members.

Union delegates considered 160 “new business” items and passed many, including measures that focused on ways to promote and support abortion, open borders, reparations for slavery, transgender issues, and more. Any focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic appeared an afterthought, at best.

Delegates approved a resolution declaring the union “vigorously opposes all attacks on the right to choose and stands on the fundamental right to abortion under Roe v. Wade.” They approved a proposal committing the NEA and its state affiliates, like the Oklahoma Education Association, to “organize and mobilize in support of the Equality Act,” a proposed law that would require Oklahoma schools to allow biological males to use the girl’s bathroom or participate in girl’s athletics – so long as the biological male claims to identify as female.

Another resolution said the NEA “will create space” on its name tags and IDs “for the individuals’ pronouns.”

Attendees called on the U.S. government “to accept responsibility for the destabilization of Central American countries” and claimed U.S. actions are “a root cause of the recent increase of asylum seekers in the United States.” Another resolution committed union members to “push reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans in the United States.” NEA members also adopted a resolution to “incorporate the concept of ‘White Fragility’ into NEA trainings/staff development ...”

Admittedly, some proposals were related to children’s learning. One resolution declared the union would “re-dedicate itself to the pursuit of increased student learning in every public school in America by putting a renewed emphasis on quality education.” Another resolution called for teacher preparation programs and trainings to be focused on “commitment to students and their learning.”

The only problem: Those last two proposals were rejected by NEA attendees.

The NEA Representative Assembly shows the union’s goals for schools nationwide, including Oklahoma, involve a lot more political indoctrination than academic learning. Some will respond, “That’s the NEA, not Oklahoma teachers.” But the OEA reports around 60 Oklahoma educators participated in the assembly. Membership in the OEA requires membership in the NEA, and OEA ships approximately 40 percent of educators’ union dues to the NEA. A member of OEA’s board of directors even served on the committee that developed the proposals voted on by delegates.

Put simply, there’s no sign of friction between OEA and its national parent. The NEA’s agenda is the OEA’s agenda. Parents should take note.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

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