We received this from one of our members, he would prefer to keep his identity and school district confidential, so we are going to post it for him.
Excitement always surrounds new beginnings. For the NEA, new teachers and the beginning of the school year is probably about as exciting as it comes. After all, the beginning of the school year presents fresh meat for the union pack.
I recently started at a fairly large school district in a middle sized city in the Midwest. I was certainly excited for the beginning of the year meetings, but I can’t say I was that excited about my inevitable encounter with the National Education Association. I figured why not turn this into a positive and go in as an undercover reporter, so to speak.
The NEA offered new teachers a breakfast and a lunch all on the same day. I decided that I would attend both of them, the ability to act like a liberal doesn’t present itself very often. Free food and the chance to waste NEA resources, what self-respecting conservative would turn that down?
For breakfast I had the option of some granola bars, juice, water, a fruit, and the ever important NEA membership form! You have to love the NEAs brutal honesty, it’s not about education, it’s about money. From a small flyer attached to the NEA membership form:
Research shows that over a ten-year period, school districts in [my state] with an NEA majority have experienced salary increases more than 30% higher than districts with an [other state teacher organization] majority. The higher the percentage of NEA members in a district, the higher the bargaining power for not only salary increases, but for benefits and working conditions as well.
Can we think about this a second? America is broke, but the NEA wants me to sign up so they can get me some more cash! Thanks for the breakfast (which really wasn’t much of a breakfast), but no thanks. The most irritating part of this form shoved in my face in the morning is they didn’t even tell me the cost of the membership. I guess it’s just assumed you don’t care and are going to join anyway. Hey, they were offering a free t-shirt on top of the promise of a higher salary down the road. What a deal!
I escaped the first meeting with no confrontation and headed off to my morning sessions. Lunch arrived, and it was time to head back into the lion’s den (snake pit?). While waiting in line for my sandwich, chips, and water I was given another folder with more exciting NEA information. It was apparent that time was waning for the NEA, and potential new members were escaping their grasp. Inside of this folder was another membership form and a little bright yellow piece of paper stapled to it.
Special New Member Incentive
Any new member who joins NEA between August 8 and August 12, 2011 will receive a crisp, new (or old, wrinkled) $10 bill!
Well, at least they have a sense of humor as they bribe you with money. It got better though, as I was eating my lunch our district’s NEA president marched in and told us that anybody that joined would be entered in a chance to win $100. At this point I was beginning to wonder if I could join, get the $10, have a shot at the $100, and then dump the membership in a couple days. As tempting as it was, I talked myself out of that. I did finally find out the monthly cost. I finished my lunch and headed on out. I actually had to come back down to the NEA area because there was some confusion on our meeting schedule. As was attempting to leave an NEA representative made some comment about filling out our forms. I can’t specifically remember what he said, but it was arrogant and presumptuous. At this point a somewhat heated discussion began.
Now the guy I was speaking to appeared to be a nice person, he seemed genuine anyway. Overall the conversation was semi-professional. As you would expect any NEA member to do he brought up the topic of Governor Scott Walker. I was a little annoyed with him and decided to tell him that I had a lot of respect for Governor Walker. He decided to share with me that he thought Governor Walker was “a douche bag.” Yeah, not kidding. Of course he attempted to bring up the Koch brothers, the left’s boogie men. I changed the topic quickly.
The thing that floored me as I continued to talk to him was just how little he knew about his own organization. I told him I was frustrated with the NEAs partnership with the AFL-CIO. He told me I had my facts wrong. I guess he ought to check their own website: NEA pledges to work with new AFL-CIO president. He told me that he was upset with WADC’s involvement in education. That’s been the result of decades of NEAs influence on education. He shared with me that he feels the country needs more personal responsibility. I mean, really, the NEA is an organization that supports the political left. I know of no other group in American society that celebrates and rewards personal irresponsibility more than individuals of this political perspective. After an hour I had about enough of Mr. NEA and decided to head on about my day. We shook hands, wished each other the best, and agreed to disagree.
At the end of the day I can honestly say my opinion has not changed of the NEA. I still think they are one of the biggest problems we have in education. This is why I am a member of the Association of American Educators.
Oh, one other beautiful piece of this story. I am working with another new teacher who is originally from Czechoslovakia. We are working in the same building so we were hanging out together. She was with me most of the day and saw the beginning of the discussion with the NEA representative. The next day we were talking and she said, “You know what that reminded me of? Communism.” Unprompted, unscripted, brutal honesty.