Commentary and Criticism about the National Education Association (NEA)
We have absolutely no affiliation with the National Education Association.
"NEA Leadership Summit Brings Together Committed Educators”
NEA Today Article describing the NEA Leadership Summit, January 2014
“Get Uncomfortable: Talking About Race, Inequity, and Injustice”
NEA Today Article describing the NEA Leadership Summit, October 2017
THESIS OF THIS BLOG POST - THE TIMES ARE A CHANGING…
When we read those opening quotes, we were struck by what a difference three years can make.
Our contention is that the NEA has become highly radicalized as of late.
To support this claim, we will cite evidence from the content of past NEA Leadership Summits. We are also going to include an analysis of the current Summit which is planned for March of 2018.
Here is an interesting point to consider as you read the rest of this post. Lily Eskelsen Garcia was elected president of the NEA in September of 2014. This date is important, because it means that she was not in charge of the NEA at the time of that first Leadership Summit.
Interestingly, the first Summit contained no obvious liberal or radical agenda items. But when we looked at subsequent Summits, we found that the percentage of radical content increased each year.
INSPIRATION FOR THIS BLOG POST: THE NEA & “BLACK LIVES MATTER”
We were inspired to write this post after coming across a Power Point from one of the break-out sessions held at the 2017 NEA Leadership Summit. It was called Making Black Lives Matter in Schools.
There is so much in that presentation that we disagree with, but the one thing that struck us as most offensive is found all the way at the end in a section entitled Session Outcomes. One of the final suggestions is to create “… partnerships with Black Lives Matter Chapters.”
Below is a screen shot of the Session Outcomes we are referring to:
You got that right. The NEA actually allowed a presentation at its Leadership Summit advocating partnership with the Black Lives organization.
This is considered leadership?
So this got us wondering. If in 2017 the NEA went this far in its embrace of radical causes, did it represent a total shift in policy or was it just a one-off marginal point of view presented by mistake?
We needed to do some research.
THE 2014 LEADERSHIP SUMMIT – An Actual Leadership Summit
The NEA held its first National Leadership Summit in January of 2014. While we couldn’t find a detailed list of every topic discussed at this first Summit, we did find an article which described the general theme:
“A common theme throughout the summit was a focus on enacting change through collaboration.”
Nothing radical there…
Further along, the article describes the “… idea behind the National Education Association’s inaugural Leadership Summits …”
“In order to improve public education, it’s essential for educators to be at the forefront of student-centered, union-led efforts to transform schools and improve the quality of their overall teaching profession for the better.
Again, nothing out of the bounds of reason there either.
In fact, as you read through this entire article, the overwhelming take-away is positive. And it is important to note that there is no mention of Black Lives Matter, restorative justice, ending the school to prison pipeline, social justice, LGBTQ+ or any other of the current NEA liberal policy initiatives.
The 2014 inaugural NEA Leadership Summit appears to be exactly what it was advertised to be – a leadership summit.
For the remainder of the Summits we found detailed information. The NEA has provided break-out session lists which specify exactly what was discussed each day.
As a way of gauging the extent of radicalization that has occurred since Eskelsen’s election, we have totaled up the number of liberal/radical sessions provided at each of the Leadership Summits as a percentage of total available sessions that educators could have attended. These percentages will give some idea of the trend over the past few years.
THE 2015 LEADERSHIP SUMMIT – 6.8% Radical/Liberal
Results of the 2015 Summit Break Out Sessions List:
Liberal Policy #1: Restorative Justice – 2 sessions
Liberal Policy #2: Engaging Latino Youth - 2 sessions
Liberal Policy #3: Restorative Practices – 2 sessions
Liberal Policy #4: Social Justice – 3 sessions
Liberal Policy #5: Educational Justice – 1 session
That is 10 liberal policy sessions out of total of 148 over the three days of the Summit.
2015 Percentage: 6.8%
THE 2016 LEADERSHIP SUMMIT – 7.3% Radical/Liberal
Results of the 2016 Summit Break Out Sessions List:
Liberal Policy #1: Social Justice – 5 sessions
Liberal Policy #2: Ending School-to-Prison Pipeline - 2 sessions
Liberal Policy #3: Standing up for Undocumented Students - 1 session
Liberal Policy #4: Latino Outreach – 1session
That is 9 liberal policy sessions out of total of 124 over the three days of the Summit.
2016 Percentage: 7.3%
THE 2017 LEADERSHIP SUMMIT – 13.3% Radical/Liberal
Results of the 2017 Summit Break Out Sessions List:
Liberal Policy #1: Black Lives Matter – 2 sessions
Liberal Policy #2: Restorative Justice - 1 session
Liberal Policy #3: People of Color - 1 session
Liberal Policy #4: Social Justice – 4 sessions
Liberal Policy #5: American Indians – 1 session
Liberal Policy #6: Race – 3 sessions
Liberal Policy #7: Ethnic Studies – 1 session
Liberal Policy #8: LBGTQ+ - 1 session
That is 14 liberal policy sessions out of total of 105 over the three days of the Summit.
2017 Percentage: 13.3%
THE 2018 LEADERSHIP SUMMIT – 13.8% Radical/Liberal
Results of the 2018 Summit Break Out Sessions List (Saturday AM, Saturday PM, Sunday AM):
Liberal Policy #1: Black Lives Matter – 1 session
Liberal Policy #2: LBGTQ+ - 2 sessions
Liberal Policy #3: American Indians – 1 session
Liberal Policy #4: Cultural Bias - 1 session
Liberal Policy #5: Minorities - 1 session
Liberal Policy #6: Social Justice – 1 session
Liberal Policy #7: Undocumented Students – 2 sessions
Liberal Policy #8: Restorative Practices – 3 sessions
Liberal Policy #9: People of Color – 1 session
That is 12 liberal policy sessions out of total of 87 over the three days of the Summit.
2018 Percentage: 13.8%
And one final note about the 2018 Leadership Summit. Believe it or not, the first four breakout sessions listed for the entire program are liberal/radical. They are shown in the screen shot below:
CONCLUSION: WE GET IT - CORRELATION NOT CAUSATION
Before some reader tells us that we have gone too far in our analysis, we state here very clearly that we are not suggesting causation - only a possible correlation.
In other words, we are not saying that Lily Eskelsen Garcia is totally responsible for this radical shift in the NEA’s idea of what leadership is all about.
But after reviewing the content of these Leadership Summits and reading countless articles on the NEA website, we have to conclude that the current direction of our union is towards radicalization.
2014 – 0% liberal/radical sessions
2015 – 6.5% liberal/radical sessions
2016 – 7.3% liberal/radical sessions
2017 – 13.3% liberal/radical sessions
2018 – 13.8% liberal/radical sessions
FINAL NOTE – SOME HOPE?
People complain about the negative tone of our blog - It’s called “Anti-NEA” after all.
And how can anything “Anti” be positive?
The positive is that we are spreading the truth about our union. As more people become aware of the continuing radicalization of the NEA, maybe they will raise up their voices in protest.
Is it possible that this protest will reach the “ears” of the NEA and that our union will turn from its errant ways?
Hope springs eternal.