Teachable Union Moments

Lesson plans are a teacher’s daily guide for what students need to learn and how it will be taught. Because educators are always looking for new and interesting ways to engage kids, I have a few ideas that can be used to further student knowledge.

In November, the National Education Association released its annual Department of Labor financial disclosure statement. As Mike Antonucci reports, the union took in $375 million during the 2019-20 school year, all of it tax-free. As 501(c)(5)s, the unions have a special tax exempt status with the IRS that is accorded to “Labor, Agricultural, and Horticultural Organizations.” Additionally, NEA sold more than $209 million of its stocks and securities during the year, but the union is also excused from paying capital gains taxes. At the same time as NEA benefits from this egregious tax exemption, the union came out with a “playbook” right after the presidential  election in November. In the “Tax Fairness” section of the manifesto, the union maintains that we need to repeal or amend tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations, and replace them with a progressive tax system. NEA also opposes “tax loopholes or giveaways that reduce revenues and shelter corporations and high-income individuals from paying taxes.”

Lesson for an English teacher: When defining the word “hypocrisy” to your class, make sure to use NEA’s double-dealing as a glaring example.

NEA president Lily Eskelsen García is vying for the Secretary of Education Secretary position, and some think she has a pretty good shot at getting it. In the past, as a hardcore unionista, she has referred to teacher performance metrics as “the mark of the devil.” She also claims that charter schools are “very misguided school reforms.” And just for good measure, she told a gathering in Michigan in 2014 that some school reformers are like zombies that are “eating our children’s brains.” As the union faithful were fawning over the above words, another comment by García has actually stunned them. Talking to a progressive political advocacy organization in 2015, it was recently revealed that she referred to special needs kids as “chronically tarded” and “medically annoying.” The hole she dug for herself was widened and deepened when she tried to explain that what she had meant to say was, er, um, “tardy” – and that the second gaffe was a reference to students who try to annoy their teachers when they have a bad day.

Lesson for a biology teacher: Point out that García is “chronically” afflicted with an “annoying” case of the deadly political foot-in-mouth disease for which there is no vaccine.

Talk about stepping in it, the Chicago Teachers Union did just that on December 6th, when it tweeted, “The push to reopen schools is rooted in sexism, racism and misogyny.” Which loosely translated means, we don’t really want to go back to work and we will tar everyone who disagrees with us with the dreaded “reactionary knuckle-dragging Neanderthal” brush. Hmm… Since Chicago schools are predominantly black and Hispanic, a strong case could be made can be made that the union behind the shutdown is indeed racist.

After getting pummeled by teachers, the media, etc., CTU recanted, pulled the moronic tweet, and then posted a convoluted apology. “Fair enough. Complex issue. Requires nuance. And much more discussion. More important, the people the decision affects deserve more. So we’ll continue give them that.”

Lesson for a debate teacher: As a member in good standing of the “kick ‘em in the groin” school of persuasion, CTU would most definitely benefit by learning the art of nuance.

And it’s not just CTU that is bonkers on Covid issues. Tennessee’s Metro Nashville Education Association held a “die-in” in July at a local farmers’ market. Their suitably apocalyptic message was that “Dead students can’t learn. Dead teachers can’t teach.” At the same time, NEA president Becky Pringle insists that, “some of our members are being bullied into returning back to classrooms. That’s not safe, we don’t want to support that.”

This is all laughable; the unions are educations’ #1 bullies. They continuously point to “science” to support their lockdown stance, yet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield asserts that “school is one of the safest places” for children. UNICEF  maintains that “there is strong evidence that, with basic safety measures in place, the net benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the costs of closing them.” In October’s Great Barrington Declaration, world renowned scientists noted that keeping children out of school is a “grave injustice.”

While the guy who stocks the produce shelves at my local supermarket, my dentist and my mailman are all on the job, teachers are demanding that schools remain shuttered, though they still insist on receiving full paychecks and benefits of course, while accepting no responsibility for the devastating learning loss that will affect many children for the rest of their lives.

And Pringle is whining about being bullied?!

Lesson for any teacher: Teachers unions are the embodiment of hubris, which is defined as excessive pride, self-confidence, chutzpah, pomposity, nerve, audacity or arrogance. And, in the teachers unions’ case – all the above.

Pop quiz on all this material soon, teachers!

This article originally appeared in the California Policy Center.

About Larry Sand

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network—a nonpartisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

Photo: CSA Images/Getty Images

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