They Are Who They Say They Are: Teachers Unions Push Wokism Over Education

Foot soldiers of the culture war
Taylor Wilcox, Unsplash

As the American left becomes beholden to its more radical wing, our system of public education has followed suit. The education establishment has largely become just another wing of the radical left.

At the 2022 National Education Association (NEA) Conference, Becky Pringle, President of one of the nation’s largest teacher’s unions, called on teachers to serve as foot soldiers in the culture wars declaring: 

“As we have for decades, we will fight tirelessly for the right to choose … for the rights of our LGBTQ+ students and educators. We will say gay. We will say trans. We will use the words that validate our students and their families; words that encourage them to walk in their authenticity; to love themselves fully to become who they are meant to be!”

Abortion on demand and embracing radical gender ideology are merely the glamor issues de jure on the left. But conspicuous virtue signaling doesn’t define the limits of union commitment to the left’s agenda. To cite only two examples, the NEA is also on record against the second amendment and supports both BLM and critical race theory.  

A less politically blinkered individual might pause in the face of Ms. Pringle’s rhetoric and note her call to arms raises questions.  What exactly is a student “meant to be” and precisely how would Ms. Pringle know?  What unique insight does any teacher have about any student’s “authentic” path?  What if the student is “meant to be” an Iman, a pro-life activist, a venture capitalist, or a gun shop owner? Will Ms. Pringle acknowledge that, validate it, and encourage those kids to walk in their authenticity?

In a word, no. While Ms. Pringle parrots the far-left agenda, her union bank rolls a good chunk of it.

In his book Special Interest, Terry Moe makes the case that teachers unions were the number one hard-money contributor to federal election campaigns between 1989 and 2009.  The NEA spent about $136 million annually between 2013 – 2018 on political activities and lobbying. During the same period, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) spent an average of just under $32 million on political activities.  Between 1990 and 2022 the AFT donated a staggering $115,536,660 to political causes and candidates — 99.7% of which went to the left of the political spectrum. The NEA spent a grand total of $93,403,214 of its member’s money; similarly funneling 95.6% of it into the pockets of liberal causes.

Taken together, those donations make teachers unions the fourth fattest cash cow for left leaning politicians and the seventh largest source of money in American politics during the period in question.

Nor are their signs of the teacher cash to the left spigot shutting down. According to the right-to-work nonprofit Americans for Fair Treatment in fiscal 2020-2021, the NEA 

“donated $66 million to political activities and another $117 million to ‘contributions, gifts, and grants’ that were primarily political donations. The $66 million in political donations amounted to 18% of the union’s $374 million budget for 2020-2021, while the $117 million in “contributions, gifts, and grants” amounted to 32% of its expenditures. Meanwhile, just 9% of the union’s budget was spent on direct assistance to members.”[4] 

So, when Ms. Pringle says the NEA intends to validate their students, she means she intends to indoctrinate them in the left agenda for which the union is a bagman. Obviously, a teacher using the classroom to “validate” any socio-political cause “invalidates” every student that holds an opposing view. In short, the NEA’s President says the purpose of public education and the job of teachers is to produce kids who knuckle under to the agenda of the secular left. 

Maya Angelou is purported to have said that “When people tell you who they are, believe them.” Ms. Pringle is telling you who she is. Believe her.

Jeffry Bedore
After serving in the Marine Corps and working fifteen years in the private sector, Jeffry M. Bedore spent the last quarter century as the proverbial penguin in a flamingo flock, a conservative teaching in a high school history department.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chalkboard Review team.

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