President Joe Biden along with First Lady Jill Biden met with the National Education Association on Friday. The NEA, which is the largest teachers union in the country, is also the largest union in the country.
The NEA were staunch supporters of Biden's presidential campaign, and when he won the election in November 2020, they presented him with their "playbook" on education and how to get schools open after so much learning time was lost due to pandemic-inspired closures.
Biden thanked NEA president Becky Pringle, along with members, for backing his administration's initiatives, and touted his massive spending plans. He then proceeded to pander and laud the union for their efforts over the past year, not at all acknowledging that it was the unions that demanded schools stay closed. He said the teachers were "the single most important component of America's future."
"Every parent in this country who spent the last year helping educate their children at home understand that you deserve a raise," Biden told the teachers, "they figured it out."
While many parents found difficultly in working with their children to overcome the barriers of remote learning during this past year, many also found that what their kids were being taught was as faulty and disturbing as how they were being taught.
This was the year of remote learning, but it was also the year that parents became aware that critical race theory—the divisive concept that requires students to look at every event both current and historical through the lens of race and racism—had become embedded in curriculum and pedagogy from kindergarten through 8th grade. It was an eye-opening year not about how much teachers have been doing, but about how much harm they have been doing.
Yet, the NEA is dedicated to expanding both access and funding to critical race theory. The NEA has committed over $50,000 to "research the organizations attacking educators doing anti-racist work." They are inspired to to do this because they say that "attacks on anti-racist teachers are increasing, coordinated by well-funded organizations such as the Heritage Foundation."
In anticipation of that meeting, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the president's perspective on the divisive topic of critical race theory. "Is this something he's going to bring up in terms of the teaching of American history?" Psaki was asked. She deflected the question, speaking instead about how the First Lady is a teacher, and a long-time one at that. She said that "the focus of his remarks" would be on touting his spending plans.
The NEA has committed funds to commission articles to explain how important it is to pronounce people's names correctly. Another $13,500 will go toward the compilation of resources to help educators in "decolonizing the curriculum." This will help with "eradicating white supremacy culture, and lifting up Black Lives Matter in school."
Despite Psaki's deflection, the NEA will be discussing plans to spend nearly $350,000 specifically on the propagation of critical race theory. They want to employ staff to explain what critical race theory is and how to "fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric." They want to fund studies that critique "empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cis-heteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society." They want the 1619 Project in schools, and they want Black Lives Matter in schools.
The NEA is considering spending $1.1 million to combat the spate of legislation that bans critical race theory indoctrination in public schools.
They've got another $50,000 earmarked to "educate its state and local affiliates and members about the dangers of anti-transgender legislation targeting transgender youth in sports and/or restricting their access to gender-affirming health care."
This is in addition to a consideration to use $35,000 to create a training program on "how to support and effectively represent transgender and transitioning members" of UniServ. UniServ are union organizing staffers who swoop in to help local unions with contract negotiations, and other items. $7,000 may be used to add "gender identity and sexual orientation" categories to the Harassment and Discrimination Toolkit, which was last updated in 2014.
In speaking about his plans for increased broadband internet access, he basically told the teachers that the next time they want to keep kids out of school, it will be easier.
The NEA has numerous business items up for review during its Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly. They've adopted an action to "affirm its commitment to access voting and that state legislatures should not implement policies that overturn the will of the voters." This will cost $105,000. Their reasoning behind it is that "Voting rights and democracy are under serious attack, and the center of the attack has become Georgia, where right wing politicians are doing everything they can to keep Georgians, especially Black and Brown ones, from exercising their right to vote."
Still up for debate are actions that would "develop a set of standards of conduct for events and meetings within their own affiliation spaces" so that no one feels afraid at NEA meetings. $4,000 is requested to combat human trafficking in schools across the country. That compared to the $100,000 to make sure critical race theory can move forward in schools is quite something.
They want $72,000 to "publicize its support for the Palestinian struggle for justice and call on the United States government to stop arming and supporting Israel and Saudi Arabia." They say, as part of this proposed action, that Israel has engaged in the "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians. $48,400 is being considered to "promote teaching about the Armenian genocide." Holocaust and genocide education is being considered, too, with a funding ask of $2,500.
American schools in the biggest cities were shuttered in March 2020 as the pandemic hit. Many school districts, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland, San Diego, Lan Vegas, and others remained closed through the end of the 2020 - 2021 school year, and union leaders fully resisted calls from parents, students, and some educators to get kids back in the classroom. They used COVID-19 as the reason to keep kids out of class and in the realm of virtual learning.
As part of their playbook to get schools open, they demanded funding for social distancing and PPE, for more remote learning resources, and for COVID-19 testing. While Biden forked over the funding, it did little, if anything, to get schools open as school districts leaned into union fears and kept kids online. Now, the NEA is considering an action to spend $530,000 in grants to communities to create more of a health and remediation infrastructure.
The NEA is debating an action that would demand "mandatory safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations and testing for all students and staff before returning to face-to-face instruction in the fall." They want to spend $260,000 on that initiative, mostly to "publicize this position."
Nearly every Biden administration agenda item is listed as having either been approved for action or is under consideration from anti-border control positions to funding for community policing. The NEA wants almost $10,000 to lobby for a state run banking system. They are considering spending money to encourage Amazon workers to unionize, restorative justice, and $7,000 to promote the importance of fathers.
Many of these provisions are merely suggestions, but they are, each one extremely left-leaning. These positions are not mainstream by any stretch, and they are being proposed by the largest teachers union in the nation. If there's anything parents learned over the course of this pandemic year, it's that teachers unions have a greater impact on how and what students learn. Much of what the NEA is asking that American students learn, asking that legislators enact, and asking that their members undertake, falls under the heading of progressive propaganda that has no place in American schools.
The NEA backed Biden, and in turn, Biden is backing the NEA. But what they stand for, and what they wish to implement, in many cases is not only detrimental to Americans students, but to the nation.