Last week, the National Education Association’s (NEA) Representative Assembly met in Chicago. Kim Anderson, NEA Executive Director, made the claim that “If we don’t achieve racial justice in our schools, we cannot expect to achieve it in our society. It begins with us.” In a speech to the assembly, she stated that “students are organizing, marching, posting, and speaking up for the progress we must continue to make if the United States is to be a more perfect union.”
Her idea of how the US could become more perfect included “the freedom to love who you love, proudly; the freedom to read the books you want to read; the freedom to choose when to start a family, or whether to start one at all; the freedom to be safe in every school and every neighborhood; the freedom to worship — or not; the freedom to be heard in the workplace and at the ballot box.” Anderson called on educators to join students and parents as “freedom fighters” and asserted that, “… we face a judicially imposed theocracy, given the decisions handed down by the Supreme Court in the last two weeks.”
If that laundry list of liberal talking points sounded like a political speech by a political leader to political activists, you’re not alone and you’re not wrong. The National Education Association estimates they will generate $327 million in revenue this year; the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers contributed almost $70 million to candidates in 2020 with 98% of that money going to Democrat candidates.
The NEA is a political machine. The assembly voted on a policy statement regarding “Safe, Just, and Equitable Schools” that included the adoption of restorative justice and culturally competent instruction. They also considered changing their internal language from “mother” to “birthing parent” in the name of inclusion, asserted that their organization and its members will “publicly stand in defense of abortion and reproductive rights and encourage members to participate in activities including rallies and demonstrations, lobbying and political campaigns, educational events, and other actions to support the right to abortion, contraception, and a person’s decision about their health,” considered measures demanding mandatory vaccinations and masking, and passed an item creating and funding a coordinated response for gun control measures. They also passed a measure opposing any state law aimed at restricting sexuality discussions to developmentally appropriate ages and allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars to attack and combat parents and/or lawmakers attempting to protect young children from being exposed to unwanted sex and gender instruction.
What does any of that have to do with Alabama? A lot. The Alabama Education Association (AEA) is the state affiliate of the NEA. It has been reported that almost 90% of those employed by public schools in Alabama are members of AEA and every single member of the AEA contributes money to the NEA. Every teacher, support worker, or school administrator who is a member of the AEA is either complicit in or willfully ignoring the liberal radicalism that the NEA supports.
In fact, judging from the AEA’s mission statement, they support the exact same policies. AEA’s mission includes: “To promote and defend human and civil rights, AEA will work to eliminate all forms of discrimination” and “To ensure equity, excellence, and professionalism, AEA will lead the movement to advance and, as necessary, restructure the state’s public education system.” After the NEA’s public stance on the promotion of critical race theory and their 2021 resolution to “Join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project to call for a rally this year on October 14 — George Floyd’s birthday — as a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression,” many Alabama teachers and schools followed suit.
AEA follows its parent organization as a political machine as well with its 44 lobbyists and its political action committee; AVOTE has contributed over $600,000 to political campaigns so far in 2022.
Much has been said about Alabama students being 52nd in the nation in math but probably not enough from the teacher’s union. Alabama’s 2021 state achievement tests showed a 50% proficiency in English, and 38% in Science, and 22% in Math. In response to our continual low test scores, elected officials partner with (i.e.: send inordinate amounts of money to) groups like PCG (Public Consulting Group). According to publicconsultinggroup.com, they help meet the needs of public schools, “Guided by our strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we work closely with our education partners to promote successful outcomes for all students. We do this by interrupting inequitable practices, examining unconscious bias, and creating safe, inclusive, and culturally responsive environments for school communities.” I’d like to suggest AEA and the elected educrats interrupt their politically expedient equity training in public schools and teach academic subjects if they want to rise above last place in the nation.
The abysmal performance of our state’s government schools disproportionately hurts poor and minority students. The soft bigotry of low expectations based on race, that have been in place in Alabama since at least 2013, have only aggravated disparities. In the end, this destructive cycle serves only the interests of radical ideologues. Perpetual victims and perpetual perpetrators of racism are simultaneously pigeonholed into a politically aggressive mindset based upon a secular humanistic mindset. Everything is political warfare and kids are locked into a continuous cultural battle with no end in sight. Children are being transformed into disgruntled activists through action civics, critical race theory lessons, and hyper-sexualization.
Teaching children that one race is superior to another is wrong. Teaching children about sexuality at school before they understand the birds and the bees is wrong. Teaching children that their parents are the enemy is wrong. Teaching children that any adolescent discomfort equates to gender dysphoria is wrong. Teaching children that their identity is based upon their sexuality is wrong. Regardless of the direction of your political leanings, one thing is abundantly clear: none of these things are English, Science, or Math.
Parents are the only group across every demographic and every single point on the political spectrum whose prime interest is the education of their own children. It’s time for parents to start paying attention and stop looking the other way. It’s time for parents to understand that the NEA and the AEA aren’t interested in their child's education; they have made their priorities clear. It’s time for Alabamians to expect more, demand more, and engage more. It’s time for lawmakers who believe that education should be focused on academic achievement to speak up and act accordingly. It’s time for Alabama students to spend more time on pronouns in English class than in the counselor’s office. It’s time for the perpetual taxpayer funding of these radical and destructive political pet projects to stop.
Let’s normalize academic excellence in Alabama and stop trading diversity, inclusion, and equity for English, Science, and Math. Enough is enough.
Stephanie Holden Smith is an experienced policy analyst, political commentator, and public speaker. Smith has worked and volunteered in Governmental Affairs in Alabama since 1997, including lobbying for a Fortune 500 company and serving as Deputy Director of Finance for the State of Alabama. She is currently the principal of Thatcher Coalition LLC. To contact Stephanie, please go to http://thatchercoalition.com. 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 Commentary@1819News.com.
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