Power Grab: How the National Education Association Is Betraying Our Children

Article excerpt

Power Grab: How the National Education Association Is Betraying Our Children

by G. Gregory Moo

Regnery Publishing, Inc. * 1999 * 337 pages * $24.95 Consider these words of the late Albert Shanker, long-time president of the American Federation of Teachers. "It's time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance and there are very few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve: It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy."

It might seem strange that the same man who so accurately described the flaws of government-controlled education could also cavalierly dismiss its victims when he said, "When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children." But as Gregory Moo points out in his book, Power Grab, it only makes sense for the bureaucracy to defend the taxpayer-funded government monopoly on education. "Monopolies that exist under law and receive funding through the taxing authority of governments-without regard to productivity-," Moo writes, "are breeding grounds for sprawling bureaucracies." Naturally, they put their own interests first.

Moo, a former school administrator, presents an inside view of how the National Education Association (NEA) has made itself into a "powerful private government." "When I was a high school principal," he writes, "I often commented [rhetorically] that the NEA was out of control. But the truth is otherwise." The NEA is in control, not of just the pay and working conditions of teachers, but also of "curricula, programs, personnel, policies, budgets, and children."

The tool by which the NEA has seized this power was pioneered by the state of Wisconsin, which in 1959 passed the first law forcing public employees to accept union bargaining authority even if they voted against union representation. Today, 34 states allow NEA officials to impose their monopoly bargaining power over all teachers in the public schools, amounting to nearly two-thirds of all government-school teachers. In 20 of those states, which account for more than half of all public school teachers, from California to Ohio to New York, they can also force teachers to pay union dues as condition of employment. …