Commentary and Criticism about the National Education Association
We have absolutely no affiliation with the National Education Association and do not represent its views in any way, shape or form.
“Honestly, I’ve had more students this year hospitalized for anxiety, depression, and other mental-health issues than ever.”
Kathy Reamy, Chairwoman of the NEA School Counselor Caucus
THESIS OF BLOG POST – Homeschooling should be considered
As a public school teacher, I certainly wouldn’t benefit by recommending home schooling as an answer to the problem of student anxiety. If too many kids are home-schooled, I would be out of a job.
But if I am going to be intellectually honest, then I have to consider it as a possible solution.
That implies there is a problem, correct?
Well, the NEA thinks there is. It published an article at NEA Today on March 28, 2018 which addressed this issue:
“The Epidemic of Anxiety Among Today’s Students”
If anxiety really is an “epidemic,” if it’s really that serious, then shouldn’t we consider every possible option for resolving this issue?
The NEA may not want to face it, but homeschooling might just be the best choice.
Unfortunately, as Upton Sinclair discovered a long time ago:
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
Think about that one for a bit…
WHY THE KIDS ARE SO FULL OF ANXIETY
“Today’s teens and young adults are the most anxious ever, according to mental health surveys.”
Taking this assertion at face value, the next step is to identify the factors which are causing this situation.
According to the NEA article, there are five:
These five are listed right near the start of the article. But when you read further, you realize that there are actually only two categories of problems – not five. In fact, the gun issue never resurfaces. No evidence is ever provided to support it.
Bridgeport, Connecticut school psychologist Rob Benner breaks it down this way:
“I see two major issues. One is testing anxiety, and the other is anxiety over social media.”
SUMMARY OF MY ANALYSIS
So here is my outline::
Even though Mr. Benner doesn’t mention guns, I feel that it should be addressed because the article brings it up.
ANXIETY FACTOR #1 - Guns
Kathy Reamy, Chairwoman of the NEA School Counselor Caucus makes the claim that:
“kids can’t even feel safe in their schools—they worry genuinely about getting shot”
This last factor is never really elaborated upon in the article.
My guess is that it is mentioned in passing simply because the topic has been in the news recently.
Personally, not one of my students has ever mentioned this fear. It has never come up in my advisory sessions with students or in private conversations between classes or after school. When I asked my school guidance councelors if any student had ever mentioned fear of getting shot, all three said no student had ever mentioned this.
The fact that this claim is made without evidence to support it makes me believe that Ms. Reamy is simply revealing her bias. She is taking a cheap shot at the NRA because she knows that the NEA and many teachers are anti-gun. I can picture them all nodding their heads in approval at this comment.
ANXIETY FACTOR #2 - Tests
How important is the anxiety over tests?
Let’s consult Mr. Reamy again here:
“By high school, high-achieving students face overwhelming pressure to succeed. They have start taking the SATs in eighth grade. It’s so hard for the kids who are already maybe perfectionists, and they’re getting the first B in their lives and they’re fearful it’s going to prevent them going to college, any college, never mind their dream college.”
Can you empathize with these students – can you feel their pain? They have to deal with the pressure of wanting to be successful.
Terrible, isn’t it?
Maybe we should teach them that they don’t have to be successful. Wouldn’t that relieve the pressure and thus lesson anxiety?
ANXIETY FACTOR #3 – Social Media
How important is the anxiety over social media?
According to Ms. Reamy:
“Students are incredibly mean to each other on social media. They say things to a screen that they would never say face to face, things like ‘you should kill yourself.’ And many studies have found that increased social media use actually makes people feel more socially isolated. It also disrupts sleep, which is related to mental health.”
Ms. Reamy goes on to describe the specific situation with one of her students:
“I have one student who is completely addicted to social media and her phone. It was honestly preventing her from doing what she needed to do at school. So, now she leaves her phone in my office. She still comes between classes to check some things, and she’s got it for a solid hour at lunchtime. For her, it’s like an appendage, like her right arm!”
Reamy lets the kid leave the phone in her office to check in on it every so often?
Isn’t the word for that “enabling?”
Should this counselor really be enabling students in this fashion?
Not to belittle the fact that bullying does, indeed, go on through social media, but how about recommending that the student just leave that phone at home?
NEA ANXIETY SOLUTION #1 – Stress balls and such
So how does this NEA article suggest that we lessen anxiety?
Reamy suggests the following:
NEA ANXIETY SOLUTION #2 – More money.
As mental health issues get worse each year, Ms. Reamy is overwhelmed. While she has enough on her plate (“more than 325 students in her charge and acres of paperwork to complete each week”), the situation is even worse for others (“the national average is 491 students per counselor”).
Here is the suggested solution:
“School psychologists and counselors need more time to spend with one-on-one with students, but that’s difficult to find in these days of austerity.”
Here is my translation of this last statement.
“Trump and DeVos are mean people who are withholding money from school districts.”
HOMESCHOOLING TO THE RESCUE?
Homeschooling gets a bad rap in traditional educational circles. You can read an article here which summaries them pretty well.
But U.S. News and World Report suggests that, not only are home-schooled children well socialized, they are also more than prepared for college.
Home-Schooled Teens Ripe for College
Here are the highlights:
Seems to me that a well socialized and well prepared home-schooled child will be less prone to anxiety than a child who is constantly worried about:
CONCLUSION - Take Ms. Reamy's comment literally
“Despite the fact I go to high school every day, I often say, ‘I would not want to go back to high school. People don’t understand how hard it is to be a kid today.”
Maybe we should take Ms. Reamy at her word – literally.
Let’s tell the kids NOT to go back to high school – stay at home and learn.
Home schooling may very well prove to be the best way to solve not only the anxiety problem at school, but so much more.
"Stupid is as stupid does."
It's no surprise that the NEA supported this past weekend’s “March for Our Lives” rally.
"Students, Educators and Parents March on Washington to Demand Action on Gun Violence"
One section of this article highlighted the types of signs carried by the marchers.
Here is a "bulleted" list from the article:
Notably absent from that list of signs were some classics that you have to see to truly appreciate.
Below are pictures of what ZeroHedge calls:
"The Most Memorable Signs from Yesterday’s ‘March for Our Lives’ Rally”
The first one is my personal favorite.
No other commentary is necessary on our part.
“The idea of arming teachers is ill-conceived, preposterous, and dangerous. This new national survey of educators confirms that.”
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García
“You may not be aware of a recent survey that showed that if the First Amendment were put to a popular vote today, it would fail by a 60% to 40% vote.”
James E. Rogers
"Opinion polls measure the public’s satisfaction with its ignorance.”
THESIS OF THIS BLOG POST – Facts and research (not opinion) should support policy
NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia believes that a survey her organization “commissioned” confirms a policy position that “arming teachers is ill-conceived, preposterous and dangerous.”
Hold on there - a survey is being used to confirm the position that arming teachers is inadvisable?
So you don’t need to support a point of view with serious research?
Facts don’t matter anymore?
Policy positions need only be grounded in survey results and polls?
Well, here is a fact that Garcia may want to ponder: Surveys and polls do nothing more than confirm the opinion of the people who were surveyed/polled.
So Eskelsen Garcia should be embarrassed even thinking about using that NEA survey. Coming to an anti-gun conclusion based on a survey which questioned a mere 1,000 union members (out of approximately 3,000,000) is the definition of an “ill-conceived, preposterous and dangerous” approach to determining the truth of an issue.
THE NEA’S SURVEY RESULTS
According to an article written by Tim Walker on March 13, 2018, the NEA conducted a survey of 1,000 of its members in early March to determine their positions on a variety of gun issues.
NEA Survey: Educators Say No to Arming Teachers, Favor Real Solutions to Gun Violence
Here is a summary of some of the results:
Or to sum it up in just one sentence: Guns are bad because “educators” say so.
You can find the actual survey results by clicking the link below.
The NEA Anti-Gun Survey
SURVEY PROBLEM #1 – How did they decide who to call?
According to the NEA, the survey was done “nationwide.”
But members are not distributed nationwide on an equal basis.
Take a look at the chart included below and you will see what I am talking about (these are figures from 2016).
California is home to 10% of NEA members (approximately 300,000 out of about 3 million total members in 2016). Because the NEA surveyed a total of 1,000 to decide its gun policy position, were 100 phone calls (10%) made to this state?
If the survey is to be considered trustworthy, we need to know if states were polled in proportion to their membership.
Because if liberal states like California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts were more heavily surveyed, this would probably skew the results in an anti-gun direction.
The opposite would be true if more phone calls were made to NEA members in Texas or Pennsylvania. These states would skew the results in a more pro-gun direction.
SURVEY PROBLEM #2 – Not all NEA members are actually teachers
According to an Education Week blogpost on 3/13/18:
“The poll, conducted March 1-5 by GBA Strategies, surveyed 1,000 NEA members who work in schools …”
Unfortunately, “NEA members who work in schools” could include Education Support Professionals (ESP’s) as well as standard classroom teachers.
Don’t know what an ESP is? I did a blog post on this topic which you can check out by following this link:
Has political correctness gone mad? Teachers are now ITSFL’s (Individuals Tasked with the Facilitation of Student Learning)
According to the NEA this group includes:
Why am I making a big deal about this?
You might not realize it, but ESP’s make up about 25% of the membership of the NEA. According to 2014 data (the most current I could find), there were 500,000 ESP members in the NEA at a time when total membership was 2.1 million. This suggests that almost 25% (250/1,000) of the individuals surveyed were not even actual teachers.
So when Garcia and the NEA claim that “educators say no to arming teachers,” this doesn’t necessarily meant that classroom teachers say no to arming teachers.
SURVEY PROBLEM #3 – Most respondents were women who teach in younger grades
77% of the individuals surveyed by the NEA were women. This may seem fair at first because about 77% of teachers in the US are actually female.
But consider that about 41% of secondary school teachers are men (according to 2015 data).
Why is this figure relevant?
Because between 2013 and 2015, 35 of the 72 school shootings included in an Analysis of School Shootings by Every Town Research happened at high schools.
But only 27% of those surveyed by the NEA were actually high school teachers.
Is it possible that high school teachers (who are men) might have a different position on the gun issue than women?
So maybe the NEA's claim that “educators say no to arming teachers” doesn’t apply equally to all levels of schooling.
ASSORTED OTHER PROBLEMS WITH THE SURVEY
Here are some other indications of bias within the survey:
And consider the answers to the following question:
“Now, I'd like to rate your feelings toward a few organizations and people, with one hundred meaning a VERY WARM, FAVORABLE feeling; zero meaning a VERY COLD, UNFAVORABLE feeling; and fifty meaning not particularly warm or cold. You can use any number from zero to one hundred, the higher the number the more favorable your feelings are toward that person or organization.”
WHO CONDUCTED THAT “SURVEY” ANYWAY?
“GBA Strategies offers broad expertise in survey research and strategic consulting in corporate communications, branding strategy, international relations, and political campaigns at all levels of government. From Democratic candidates for office to socially conscious small businesses and Fortune 500 companies, labor unions and progressive ballot initiative campaigns to world famous cultural institutions, think tanks to advocacy groups and civic organizations, we delve deeply into our clients’ issues and audiences, conduct high-quality research, and develop winning game plans.” [Bold and underline added].
Would you admit a possible bias in the survey questions?
I will leave that an open question.
CONCLUSION – I’M NOT ONE OF THEM
If you go to the NEA Today Facebook page you will see the following graphic posted on March 13, 2018:
Let me state this loud and clear – I’m NOT one of them.
The adults can all learn something from the brave students who are saying enough is enough about gun violence.” [bold and underline added]
NEA President Eskelsen Garcia’s Lily’s Blackboard, March 14, 2018
“The opposite of bravery is not cowardice but conformity.”
Robert Anthony, The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence.
“BRAVE STUDENTS?” – GET REAL
The students who wore orange and walked out of school on March 14 were not “brave students” speaking out against gun violence as NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia claims. This would imply that they were taking a position against something controversial at the possible risk of harm or ridicule.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Instead, they were doing the generally accepted and easy thing.
Standing up to “gun violence” in today’s world is socially acceptable – the main stream media pushes the anti-gun agenda whenever it can.
Really brave people stand up for an opinion under political, social or cultural pressure which can potentially destroy their lives.
For example, take the early Abolitionists who spoke out about the evil of slavery before the US Civil War.
Does anyone honestly think that these orange-clad students hold a candle to those individuals?
Abolitionists in the 19th century espoused views considered radical as far as their society was concerned and they paid a price for this – sometimes with their lives.
By contrast, the walk-out kids take absolutely no risk in the least for standing up for what they believe in.
When you do what is popular and easy – when you conform - you are not being brave. Instead, you become a lemming. You join the crowd and follow it where ever it leads…
THE ABOLITIONISTS WERE LEGITIMATELY BRAVE
I am not going to make this post long and involved like my last post on the March 14th Walkouts:
The March 14th Anti-Gun School Walkouts – Freedom of Speech or Violation of School Board Policy
That one was a bit over the top because I wanted to include all of the necessary research to prove my point.
So when it comes the abolitionists, I will provide just a handful of quotes to support my contention that:
They were espousing a point of view that was not popular: “American abolitionism laboured under the handicap that it threatened the harmony of North and South in the Union, and it also ran counter to the U.S. Constitution, which left the question of slavery to the individual states. Consequently, the Northern public remained unwilling to adopt abolitionist policy and was distrustful of abolitionist extremism.” [Bold and underline added]
They suffered hardship for their beliefs:
PLENTY OF MAINSTREAM SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS
Whereas abolitionists had to fight an uphill battle against society, today’s students stand on top of that hill supported by most of the mainstream media and even school administration:
Viacom Networks Are Going Dark to Support National School Walkout
Katy Perry, Susan Sarandon and More Celebrities Support Students on National School Walkout Day
Local students plan to join March 14 school walkout
“… throughout eastern Connecticut …several local school administrators said Tuesday they plan to allow – if not outright sanction – student-led events in connection with the national walkout …” [Bold and underline added]
Walkouts planned in March in aftermath of Parkland shooting
"Support for the walkout, announced Friday, increased over the weekend on social media, with parents and teachers around the country vowing to participate, and actresses like Justine Bateman, Amber Tamblyn and Piper Perabo along with W. Kamau Bell of CNN all offering their support to the planned protest." [Bold and underline added]
THE BOTTOM LINE
Its sad to acknowledge, but the students who took part in the March 14 Anti-Gun Walkouts were simply pawns of a main-stream, corporate media intent on forcing a politically correct agenda down the throats of all Americans.
And when NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia calls those same students “brave,” not only is she obscuring the real meaning of the word, she is also complicit in the media’s propaganda campaign to destroy the Second Amendment.
"During this year’s Read Across America and National Reading Month, our theme is “Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers …”
NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia
DIVERSITY SHOULD BE CELEBRATED, RIGHT??
March is National Reading Month.
According to the National Education Association, this year’s focus is on “diverse” readers.
That sounds nice, doesn’t it?
So very inclusive, don’t you think?
After all, who could possibly argue that diversity is a bad thing?
Don’t we like a choice when we go out to dinner? Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Japanese …
I mean, wouldn’t you get tired of going out to eat if all you could get at a restaurant was a hamburger and fries?
And how about when it comes to people? How boring would it be if everyone thought the same, dressed the same, liked the same kind of music, etc.
THE NEA’S HYPER-FOCUS ON DIVERSITY
But has the National Education Association taken the idea of diversity too far?
Take the March 1, 2018 article from the NEA website entitled: “A Celebration of Diverse Books and Readers.”
Apparently (at least according to that title), not only should readers be diverse but so should books.
But why stop there?
At the NEA auditorium in Washington DC last week, Garcia spoke to students who came from “diverse schools across D.C.’s Maryland suburbs.”
There is that word diverse again. So now readers, books and schools are diverse.
But wait, there’s more!
In the third paragraph of this same article, the word diverse is actually used 6 times …
That’s right: Six times – in ONE paragraph!
In addition to diverse readers and books, we have diverse authors (mentioned 2x), characters (1x) and formats (1x).
Here is a sample:
“The books are not only written by diverse authors about diverse characters but they are written in diverse formats …”
What is with the hyper-focus on diversity????
THE NEA AND DIVERSITY GO WAY BACK
Hyper-focus is the exactly correct word to describe the NEA’s position on diversity. Do a quick search on its website and you get probably 100 articles dealing with this topic.
Has a diversity toolkit
Has a diversity calendar
Recommends diversity in teaching
Celebrates a multicultural diversity day
Has leadership diversity
You get the idea - the list could go on and on.
CONCLUSION – Good (not diverse) books are worth reading.
Back to books …
Garcia states that she wants to celebrate reading for an entire month …
“… because there are so many good books to read! Books about different cultures, races, languages, and traditions.”
Yes, Ms. Garcia, you are correct. There are thousands of good books out there that are well-worth reading. But can you please let the children read them because they want to?
Do you have to focus on the ones that highlight “different cultures, races, languages and traditions?”
The NEA praises Gene Luen Yang who challenges kids to “read without walls”
“Read a book about a character that doesn’t look like you”
Listen, if a kid wants to read about a different culture, race, language or tradition, more power to him.
But can we just let the kids pick their own books and not impose our own ideological beliefs on them by helping them in the selection?
As a parent, I can certainly understand how I have the right to suggest books that are appropriate for my children to read. But what gives the NEA or the school district this right?
It’s bad enough that the state is imposing a curriculum upon our children - now it wants to recommend leisure reading?
Here is what Garcia should have said:
“Children, March is National Reading Month. Find a good book and read it!”
Period. End of sentence.