The Year in Teacher Union Double Dealing

This has been an egregious year for the country’s teachers unions. Okay, you may be thinking, so what else is new? But 2023 has exposed them as hypocrites par excellence.

The National Education Association convention in July provides myriad examples. While one might think a gathering of teachers would be concerned with the lack of literacy in public school students, he would be dead wrong. This year’s NEA convention in Florida was strictly political, and sex- and gender-obsessed ideas were front and center.

“New Business Items” (messages of concern from the hoi-polloi to the NEA aristocracy) were indicative. For instance, NBI 4 asserts, “The NEA will inform states and locals of the following sample language that may be put in contracts and policies that is LGBTQIA+ inclusive. The language will be as follows: ‘Parental leave’ instead of ‘maternity leave,’ ‘parent’ instead of ‘mother’ or ‘father,’ ‘birthing parent’ instead of ‘mother’ or ‘father,’ and ‘non-birthing parent’ instead of ‘mother’ or ‘father.’”

NBI 88 wants the NEA to declare a national educator day of action whose purpose is to rally – among other things – to “protect LGBTQIA+ students and educators including the right to gender-affirming care…and stop book bans.”

And speaking of “banned” books, the NEA’s “Great Summer Reads for Educators” included kiddie porn like Gender Queer, which graphically depicts young people indulging in various kinds of sex. (Interestingly, this “banned book” is available on Amazon and in local public libraries. The union’s snit is over the fact that parents do not want the book in school libraries – just as Playboy and Penthouse do not grace their shelves).

The NEA also released a toolkit that offers teachers suggestions on how to circumvent rules that require them to call a student by their given name rather than a chosen “transgender” name.

Also, according to the most recent LM-2 form submitted by the NEA to the IRS, the union raked in $377 million in dues and agency fees during 2021. However, a mere $32 million was earmarked for representational activity, allegedly the NEA’s top priority, while it spent $66 million on political activities.

Then, NEA honcho Becky Pringle visited an elementary school in Chicago in early September and, with no sense of irony, insisted that the insidious creep of politics into our schools is a threat to education. “All of the politicians and pundits who are trying to politicize our school (sic), demonize teachers, which is new, who are not focused on what our kids need or what our parents say they want for their kids,” she said.

Shortly after the NEA convention, the nation’s other national teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers, held their annual wingding in D.C., and its theme paralleled the NEA’s. The titles of the various sessions tell you all you need to know: “Affirming LGBTQIA+ Identities in and out of the Classroom,” “Education for Liberation: The Role of the Racially Conscious Educator in Combating Oppression,” and “Strategies for Integrating Climate Change into Your Teaching.”

Shortly after their convention, the AFT hypocritically launched an ad buy that insisted schools need “real solutions over politics.” The union’s press release includes a quote from its president, Randi Weingarten, who maintains, “Now more than ever, our students need solutions, not smears from extremists trying to inject their political agenda into our classrooms. As I travel the country and speak to educators and parents, it’s clear that we all want the same thing: for our kids to be OK. And most of us agree that the best way to do that isn’t through banning books, demonizing teachers or censoring curriculum, it’s by investing in our public schools and seeding, sustaining and scaling the strategies and programs we know work.”

Here, Weingarten is living up to her reputation as an arsonist pretending to be a firefighter.

It gets worse. On Sept. 12, she gave an interview where she likened pro-school choice parents to segregationists. Getting more specific, she then laid into Christian parents. “They want to have, basically, a Christian ideology, their particular Christian ideology to dominate the country as opposed to those that was (sic) born on the freedom of the exercise of religion.”

But wait, there’s more!

After stressing that education should divest itself from politics, Weingarten stepped forth to defend her new best friend, Joe Biden. After House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the opening of an impeachment inquiry on Sept. 12, Weingarten asserted in yet another press release that Republicans have chosen to “weaponize the impeachment process and move forward with an ‘inquiry’ into President Biden with no evidence. None whatsoever. It leaves a deep stain on the congressional process and is an egregious abuse of power.”

She then went bull-goose loony, insisting that “While President Biden gets up every day and does the people’s business—strengthening the economy, advancing our national security interests, and bringing back stability and honor to the workings of government—House Republicans have done little other than pursue spurious, fact-free investigations.”

“Does the ‘people’s’ business?”

Let’s see. He was doing business all right, but hardly the “people’s.” There’s plenty of evidence that Biden’s son Hunter and others in his family received millions of dollars from foreign partners who believed they were buying influence with his father.

In fact, Hunter Biden’s former best friend and close associate, Devon Archer, has gone on record saying that “obviously” Joe Biden “brought the most value” to the Biden family brand and was frequently a party — via phone calls — to Hunter’s business dealings, as well as an occasional in-person guest when Hunter met with the oligarchs investing in or otherwise doing business with Hunter.

Seems like the “people” certainly deserve an investigation.

Then there is Stacy Davis Gates, president of the Chicago Teachers Union and candidate for Hypocrite of the Year, who, it turns out, sends one of her kids to a private school.

It is certainly understandable that a parent would want to send their kid to a private school, especially in Chicago, where only 20% of third- through eighth-graders are proficient in reading, and just 15% are proficient in math.

In an August interview, Gates was asked if she has concerns about school choice and privatization supporters running for the school board, and she hypocritically quipped, “Yes, we are concerned about the encroachment of fascists in Chicago. We are concerned about the marginalization of public education through the eyes of those who’ve never intended for Black people to be educated. So we’re going to fight tooth and nail to make sure that type of fascism and racism does not exist on our Board of Education.”

Shortly thereafter, it was revealed that her son attends a Catholic high school. Defensively, she claimed, “It was a very difficult decision for us because there is not a lot to offer Black youth who are entering high school in Chicago. In many of our schools on the South Side and the West Side, the course offerings are very marginal and limited. Then the other thing, and it was a very strong priority, was his ability to participate in co-curricular and extracurricular activities, which quite frankly, don’t exist in many of the schools, high schools in particular.”

What Gates can’t seem to fathom or admit is that her reasons coincide with those of the “fascist and racist” parents who send their kids to private schools.

While Gates, whose salary is about $150,000 a year, can afford a private school, it is utterly shameful that she wants to deny poor parents the same opportunity. The fascist label can certainly be applied rightfully to her.

It’s turning out to be a booming year for teacher union double dealing, and there are still three months left for them to do more of it. And they surely will.

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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: Chicago Teachers Union vice president Stacey Davis Gates. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)