The National Education Association wrapped up their General Assembly recently and people can learn a lot from the event. I covered in a recent blog post the idea that the NEA cares about control; not students. As retiring general counsel Bob Chanin explained, “[The] NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power.”
So what do they do with this power?
Mackinac Center for Public Policy education policy director Michael Van Beek recently wrote about the NEA assembly. He explains what went on.
The NEA covered topics including corporate tax reform, “misinformation” about national health care reform, labor rights in Iran, ethnic study programs, same-sex marriage and adult stem cell research.
The NEA has also outlined their support for abortion in the past. Now, these issues may be interesting; but what exactly do they have to do with education?
The problem is not with the teachers; its with the bureaucracy and the system as a whole. The current educational system has tons of regulations, a tenure system that is out of control, and forced-unionization that cripples the system. The good teachers are caught up in something beyond their control. But just as its important for parents to remember that the unions aren’t in it for the kids, neither are they necessarily representing teachers well. As Van Beek reports,
A study of the LM-2 reports for both the NEA and MEA reveals that only 30 percent of their budgets are spent on representation, while almost 60 percent of their expenses go to “overhead” and “administration.” Union members should be aware that only a segment of their dues are used to represent their best interests.
The NEA (and its MEA affiliate) have become systems looking out for themselves. They are (in effect) supported by dues teachers have no choice but to give them. This provides them with less incentive to support their members and even less to work for students. Let’s not pretend otherwise.