The Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) is "leading the charge" against state and national teachers' unions' influence on education policy, according to party chair John Wahl by banning campaign donations from the National Education Association (NEA) and the Alabama Education Association (AEA) in partisan statewide elections.

Last week, the ALGOP executive committee voted to approve a rule change to ban county and state school board and superintendent candidates from receiving campaign donations from either organization.

Supporters of the rule change have long bemoaned NEA and AEA influence in state politics and policy.

The NEA is the most prominent teachers' union in the United States, with affiliates throughout the country, such as the AEA, which has been operating in the state for over 165 years and has existed in its current form since 1969.

The NEA has been under scrutiny for decades, particularly in the past few years, for its actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as supporting vaccinating elementary school students against COVID in November 2021.

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The NEA has also expressed broad support for a bevy of far-left policies, such as critical race theory and LGBTQ+ issues, drawing further suspicions from conservatives and independents.

NEA president Becky Pringle rallied in defiance of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in July after DeSantis aimed at curtailing far-left curricula in Florida's public school system. An NEA article describing the rally claimed DeSantis was trying to "erase and dehumanize the LGBTQ+ community."

"We will not allow Ron DeSantis—or any other politician—to destroy our public schools for their own political gain," Pringle said. "We will continue to remind him—and everyone who stands against us—that our students do not need protection from drag queens. What they need is protection from gun violence. Every student deserves the freedom to read books that teach them the history, beauty, and diversity of their world."  

The NEA's political arm has no lack of concern for conservative politicians who see the NEA as advocating "woke" and far-left propaganda within the public school system. The NEA spends millions on lobbying and millions more on political contributions yearly. The cash-flush nature of the NEA has made its political leanings more concerning due to the NEAs ability to lobby effectively, especially for more federal and state funds year after year.

In 2004, then-U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige went so far as to call the NEA  a "terrorist organization." For ALGOP chairman John Wahl, the fight against the NEA is worth waging, pointing to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's victory over an incumbent Democrat in 2022 as a model for what to expect in the 2024 election cycle. Youngkin prioritized parental rights in education throughout his campaign and his time as governor.

"The Alabama Republican Party is leading the charge to decrease the influence of the NEA and their associate groups over school systems," Wahl said. "The new Standing Rule passed by an overwhelming majority at 68% to 32% and is similar in style to a lot of what Governor DeSantis has been doing in Florida to stop woke policies in our classrooms."

"There is a leftist agenda that is coming out of these groups and the National Department of Education that is very concerning to parents across the country. We saw that in Glenn Youngkin's race, and it is shaping up to be one of the defining issues of the 2024 election cycle."

The AEA has pushed back against Wahl after the ALGOP rule change, claiming Wahl was "irresponsible" and making "false accusations" against AEA's policies. The AEA also tried to downplay the relationship between the NEA and AEA, to which Wahl responded that they could disassociate at any time.

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