No. 529



The National Education Association is the largest teachers union in the United States. This organization has affiliate chapters in every state in the nation, made up of a vast number of teachers and exerts a powerful influence over policy, curriculum and programs in the public schools in our country. Here in our state, and I assume it's the same all across the nation, when a teacher belongs to the local teachers union they are automatically a member of both the state and national organizations. Over the years, the stated objectives of the NEA have been to advance the quality of education for students and to improve the standards for teachers, including higher salaries, better benefits and better working conditions. As a quick sidebar, some of the best years of my life were spent working with teachers and students in our public schools, mostly here in my home state, but I have also been invited to speak to educators in many other states, including Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, New Jersey and North Carolina. I count many teachers and administrators among my best friends and I love teachers, so keep that in mind when you consider what I am going to say. Over the years I know that things have changed in our schools, but a reader sent me a "Letter to the Editor" from one of the newspapers that carries this column that at least raised a red flag. Allow me to share this letter with you, and then you consider whether or not it has merit. It is titled, "Be Involved in Schools" and begins, Dear Editor: School used to be where a child learned "reading, writing and arithmetic." Before all you parents celebrate too much about finally getting your children off to your neighborhood public school after the long hot summer É realize just who will be in charge of filling their minds and what they will be filling them with. The NEA Teachers Union convention this past summer passed a proposal to "develop a comprehensive strategy" to deal with the attacks on gay curricula, policies and practices by what the NEA calls "extremist groups" (NEA's term for parents). A big victory to its large gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender caucus. Other resolutions passed by the convention: 1. Boycott Wal-Mart. 2. Statehood for the District of Columbia. 3. Affirmative action. 4. Opposition to private accounts in Social Security. 5. Opposition to capital punishment. 6. Gun control. 7. "Single-payer health care." (ie. socialized government medicine). 8. Endorsement of the International Criminal Court and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. 9. Promote all feminist goals, including abortion for minors and taking over the baby sitting of children "from birth through age 8" whom the NEA wants to provide with "diversity based (homosexual) curricula" and "bias-free screening devices." Along with these additional education resolutions: 1. Teaching of global, multicultural, suicide, environmental education. 2. Home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools. 3. Home-schooled students should be taught only by people who are "licensed" by the state and use a curriculum approved by the state. Somehow resolutions about the need for improvement in the teaching of phonics or basic mathematics or sciences didn't make the cut. Be involved! Carl L. Steplock III It has been a number of years since I have worked directly with our schools, and I know things have changed in the recent past. I also know the quality of education has drastically declined when compared to other industrialized nations. My hope is that the dedicated teachers of America will make their voices heard and insist the leadership of the NEA drop their social agenda and get back to a strategy of teaching reading, math and science. ÑÑÑ (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)