Too bad truth-in-labeling laws don't apply to names of labor
unions. If they did apply, the National Education Association would
have had to change its name long ago.
Calling itself an education association is like calling the
United Auto Workers union a driving association. A more accurate
name for the NEA would be something like the National Teachers
Association, which would convey that the organization 's overarching
mission is not about educating students, but about furthering the
financial and occupational interests of teachers.
In fact, the National Teachers Association was the original name
of the NEA when it was established in the 1850s. It changed its name
to the NEA in 1870. Back then it was more of a professional
association devoted to teacher training and educational innovations.
Well into the 20th century, the NEA was opposed to labor union
activities like strikes and collective bargaining. But that changed
beginning in the late 1950s. By 1973 the NEA had become a full-
blown trade union, deducting union dues from teachers' paychecks and
agitating for better pay and benefits through strikes and collective
The NEA 's current status as a labor union poses an inherent
conflict of interest with the mission of educating children.
Following are some reasons why.
1) How can you effectively teach children if you can 't even
replace incompetent teachers with good ones? The NEA has imposed
collective bargaining contracts and pushed through state laws that
make it extremely difficult to fire teachers.
2) Not only do administrators have little control over firing,
but also hiring. The union has arranged it so that teacher vacancies
are filled not based on who is most qualified, but who has the most
3) The United States desperately needs better science and math
teachers in order to reverse our children's miserable performance in
those subjects, as compared with other industrialized countries. To
attract top teachers in those fields, they need pay incentives -
similar to what universities often do. But different pay for
different subjects is anathema to the NEA.
4) Exacerbating the shortage of good science and math teachers is
the requirement, championed by the NEA, to take years of education
classes before being allowed to teach. For people highly
knowledgeable in certain fields, that's a big disincentive from
entering the profession.
5) Onerous union work rules harm children's education as well.
According to an article by City Journal contributing editor Sol
Stern, union contracts stipulate that teachers in New York City
should not attend more than one staff meeting per month after school
hours, walk children to the school bus, patrol hallways and
lunchrooms, cover an extra class in an emergency, attend lunchtime
staff meetings, or arrive a few days before the school year starts. …