In NCAE:Time for a Closer Look, Part I we examined the growing influence of socialism within NCAE’s ranks, the renewed emphasis on organizing to enhance their political efforts and the strong ties NCAE and NEA have to the Democratic Party. In Part II we discuss the radical policies NCAE and NEA want to bring to your schools, point out declines in NCAE membership and finally ask: what does it all mean?
Let’s summarize first. NCAE is a de facto teacher’s union dominated by socialist leadership and ideas that wants to mobilize to increase its political influence which historically has overwhelmingly been via supporting Democrats and progressive elected officials – despite the fact that a good percentage of their membership would take issue with such preferences.
The NCAE is currently mobilizing with the goal of enhancing its political influence. NCAE wants more say on how much teachers and educators are paid and also what is taught in the classroom.
It’s also important to note that
Radical policies for schools and the classroom
NCAE and NEA like to talk about protecting the interests of teachers, educators and children. Once you dig behind the boilerplate language, however, you soon find that the NCAE and NEA are advocating for policies and subject matter that contradict American values and ultimately works to undermine society. What do I mean?
Earlier this year the Durham Association of Educators(DAE) , a local affiliate of NCAE, demanded universal healthcare and welfare benefits for illegal immigrants. A look at the Anti-Racist Resources page of the DAE web site shows you defunding the police is a big priority along with educating people about “white fragility” and “whiteness.” NCAE has long advocated for the implementation of Common Core Standards. However, teachers, parents and students continue to fight Common Core. By almost any measure, Common Core Standards have failed to deliver on their promise of better students and better outcomes in North Carolina. NCAE professional development education programs such as cultural competency seek to institutionalize concepts of institutional racism and white supremacy and present them as beyond debate.
NCAE continues to advocate for school closures because they believe schools lack the necessary funds and safety measures to keep all students safe from coronavirus. While we acknowledge the real threat posed by a pandemic, the threats are manageable. NCAE points a finger at lawmakers for failing to fund PPE and other safety measures. This is nonsense and merely designed to give a Democratic governor, up for re-election and friendly to NCAE, political cover. K-12 schools received $400 million from the federal CARES Act to address coronavirus issues. NCAE’s advocacy for remote learning over in person learning is based on politics – not science. And the policy has massive costs. Again, we force working parents to choose between work and their children. Equally important NCAE’s preference for remote learning fails to remember that remote learning harms low income and poor students, puts many at a disadvantage and recent research says the spring shutdown and pivot to remote learning has only widened the achievement gap.
In addition to general questions, NCAE and NEA are moving to bring radical changes to our schools and classrooms. You can get a sense of the radical agenda NEA is pushing to states by reviewing the resolutions that have been passed — or defeated — at the NEA’s 2019 Representative Assembly in Houston (since this year’s NEA General Assembly was virtual – due to coronavirus, no resolutions were considered). I’ve written on this elsewhere. To recap briefly, resolutions were approved to:
- Teach white fragility
- Promote Black Lives Matter and mandate ethnic studies classes; end zero tolerance policies and replace with restorative justice practices
- Teach climate change and provide online and union-friendly resources
- End criminalization of illegal border crossings
- Expand the number of professional opportunities for GSA (Gay Sexuality Alliance) advisors
- Report on the negative effects of charter schools
- Lobby for LGBTQ curricula
- Lobby for Equality Act and other protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity
- Reaffirm fundamental Right to Abortion and oppose all attacks on the right to choose
- Acknowledge at beginning of all NEA meetings that US is an illegitimate country since lands originated from native peoples
- End white supremacy “English Only” culture and teach about “linguistic oppression” to children and how it “stifles their academic achievement”
- Force U.S. government to accept responsibility for creating immigration crisis
One year later, a number of these radical initiatives have already found their way into North Carolina classrooms, including teaching white fragility, promoting Black Lives Matter, climate change, protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the and calls to end white supremacy.
While the topics just referenced are tied to approved NEA resolutions, not all resolutions passed. It is especially telling to learn about one resolution that failed to pass. The resolution reads:
The National Education Association will re-dedicate itself to the pursuit of increased student learning in every public school in America by putting a renewed emphasis on quality education. NEA will make student learning the priority of the Association. NEA will not waiver in its commitment to student learning by adopting the following lens through which we will assess every NEA program and initiative: How does the proposed action promote the development of students as lifelong reflective learners?
The resolution was defeated. You read that right; a motion to make student learning the top priority of NEA, NCAE’s parent affiliate, was defeated. It only reaffirms what many have known: The top priority of NEA and NCAE is partisan politics – not improving the educational experience of students.
NCAE: Voting with your feet
There is no doubt that NCAE and NEA are trying to flex their muscles and mobilize for greater political influence. However, the organizations tactics and priorities are not resonating with everyone.
Membership in NCAE and NEA continues to decline. At the national level, the Janus ruling probably had some impact. Mike Antonucci, veteran teacher union reporter, recently wrote that NEA lost 33,000 members last year. Antonucci reports that membership in the NEA state affiliate, NCAE, is 17,580 (2019), down 4.4 percent from last year and down almost a third (32.3 percent) from five years. ago. Antonucci also reported that North Carolina had the second largest five-year decline of any state, behind only Nevada (-53.6 percent).
We need to remember however that the bleeding didn’t start last year. NCAE active and total membership have been in decline since 2011-12. Between 2012 and 2019, NCAE total membership is down 44 percent while revenue declined by 50 percent between 2012 and 2018. NCAE active membership in 2019 is 17,580, a little less than half of what the figure was in 2011-12. Active members are employed teachers, professional and education support employees.
NCAE claims to be the voice of educators in North Carolina. But how many of the 17, 580 active members NCAE represents, are teachers? We have no way of knowing. It’s probably a very high percentage. For the sake of argument, let’s assume 95 percent of active members are teachers. If that’s the case, that would mean 16,701 current teachers are members of NCAE. According to the Highlights of North Carolina Public School Budget, in 2019-20, North Carolina had 93,923 full-time teachers. If the figures are correct, that would mean that only 18 percent –fewer than one in every five North Carolina teachers – is a member of NCAE.
Considering the organization held large teacher rallies in 2011, 2018 and 2019 to mobilize support and increase membership, the trendlines must be disappointing. Considering the thousands that tuned out for rallies, it’s surprising we have not yet seen an uptick in NCAE membership.
What does it all mean?
It’s an interesting pattern; as NCAE grows more vocal, radical and aggressive, membership continues to decline. How can this be viewed as anything other than a repudiation by teachers of NCAE’s hard left turn?
In the meantime, NCAE continues to say schools aren’t safe and point a finger at legislators for more funding and more say on how schools are reopened.
While NCAE says they value “a just society that respects the worth, dignity and equality of every individual,” NCAE spearheaded a much-expected assault by the Left to limit educational opportunity for the poor. In July, the organization went to court to close down a popular state scholarship program that provides low-income children a voucher to attend a private school.
The NCAE mission statement says “To be the voice of educators in North Carolina that unites, organizes and empowers members to be advocates for education professionals, public education and children.” How does taking away vouchers from poor kids fit in as part of NCAE’s mission? Or is it that NCAE must oppose the program simply because it allows students to get a better education elsewhere – and therefore costs the public schools money. Since the program is popular and growing, it evidently is costing the public schools a lot of money. NCAE doesn’t care about the hardship closing the program would bring to more than 12,000 students. Only NCAE’s left-leaning friends – including Governor Roy Cooper who has tried to shut down the program on three different occasions – could understand and agree with such a decision.
Evidently NCAE does care about making sure children who are not well-served by the public schools have no options; since such programs could take money – and therefore resources – from the public schools. For the Left and NCAE it’s a simple choice: the system must be protected. Control, jobs and membership dues are at stake. You can’t have people leaving the public-school system for better choices. That jeopardizes the entire educational system and compromises government control. That can’t be challenged. Evidently NCAE’s social justice is limited to poor kids who only attend the public schools.
But that’s precisely the point.
Moments like this are truth moments where you see the difference between what NCAE and the Left says it is fighting for and what they are actually fighting for: more power and more control over people’s lives. Equity? social justice? racial justice? They don’t mean much now, simply because these values are merely the vehicles through which the Left continues to exert control.
Is NCAE’s hard left turn good for its members or North Carolina? It’s time to acknowledge there can be honest disagreements over funding and governance issues. Teacher unions can make things better. But have they? What credible measure can we use to demonstrate education outcomes are better now than years ago? NCAE is obsessed with money and inputs and seldom looks at outcomes – to the detriment of NCAE and North Carolina.
However, this isn’t a mere disagreement over policy. It’s much larger. There is a real problem when organizations and teachers advocate anti-American values, contribute to lawmakers who set policies regarding teacher pay and advocate for policies that undermine our civil society, democratic ideals and our system of government. This is wrong.
The truth is teacher unions like NEA and NCAE – yes, I’m calling NCAE a teacher’s union –have been hijacked by socialists and Leftists who want to control public education, indoctrinate students and undermine society. NEA and NCAE ARE the vehicles the Left is using to bring about radical change in the schools. It’s the Left’s plan. NCAE and NEA are working to destroy our schools and it’s time we realize we’re in a battle.