It is hard to fault the Alabama Education Association (AEA) when it comes to representing its constituents.

If only, when it came to education, the same could be said of the Alabama legislature.

Let’s be clear on what the AEA constituency is: Alabama’s public-school teachers, administrators, support employees, and retirees, not students or parents. As the teachers’ union it, like any union, exists to protect jobs, establish retirement benefits, and job security for its members. This is not the old AEA, that under former director Paul Hubbert was a powerful voice in many levels of state politics; this AEA seems to focus more on its “constituents,’’ which means promoting the industrial public education complex and opposing threats to the same.

You can’t blame the AEA for unleashing its money and army of lobbyists on Montgomery to protect the states’ ever-increasing education budget, ever-decreasing education results, and fighting anything that could take away from the job security of the public school system – including school choice.

On the other hand, too many Alabama legislators consistently vote against the 75 to 80 percent of their constituents (according to various polls) that favor approving school choice as a way to change the currently dismal education rankings of the state’s public education system.

If only our elected officials represented the parents and kids who are trapped in failing schools who desperately want a better option but don’t have time to work the halls of the State House like the AEA.

As reported last week in 1819 News, the Alabama Republican Party has, within its standing rules, a part that says Republican candidates are discouraged from accepting money from the AEA, as it is an affiliate of what the bylaws call a “veritable adjunct of the Democratic Party:” the National Education Association.

The story revealed that many Alabama Republicans, even those who represent traditional conservative activist groups, feel this rule is outdated, that the AEA is “different,’’ and accepting support from the AEA is no big deal. Indeed, the majority of public-school educators in this state no doubt vote Republican, and many current legislators take the position of Representative Will Dismukes (R-Prattville), who said the AEA is simply more in line with the GOP nowadays.

Unfortunately, the AEA’s national association – the National Education Association (NEA) - is not.

The NEA is, unsurprisingly, a long-term opponent of school choice, and is not quiet about this one at all. So, it should come as no surprise that the local representatives in the AEA and their 44 registered lobbyists follow the party line.

But there is more. For example, the NEA repeatedly supported Critical Race Theory. The NEA is such a fan of Critical Race Theory that it has even funded the investigation of parent groups that oppose it.

The NEA also opposed banning the controversial 1619 Project from school curriculums, a project that has been panned by historians across the political spectrum for being divisive and – more importantly - historically inaccurate.

Interestingly enough, the NEA supports a variety of Democratic-sponsored legislation on the national scale that seems to have little to do with education. That includes President Biden’s seemingly-dead Build Back Better Plan, an increase in individual and corporate taxes, and a study commission on potential reparations for African Americans.

The NEA also supports increased gun control; the Democratic-led voting and election bill that many suggest was an attempt to federalize the election system; making Washington, DC the 51st state; and offering permanent citizenship to individuals in the country illegally.

Presiding on the AEA’s board are three NEA directors as well as a former NEA director. To think that the NEA and the AEA could be so directly affiliated and still, as some suggest, the AEA be allowed to have policy positions that line up with the Republican platform seems a bit incredulous.

Clearly, there is something to see here that deserves attention.

But give the AEA credit: the organization is doing its job, protecting the best interests of its paying-member constituency.

If only the Alabama legislature would do the same for its tax-paying constituents.

Ray Melick is Editor-in-Chief of 1819 News. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to