Political conversation on the media is full of chatter about how to cut spending and debt, but it reminds us of the comment attributed to Mark Twain: Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it. There’s a lot of talk about how to cut back on entitlements, but why doesn’t somebody suggest cutting the extravagant federal dollars spent on education, which is not even an entitlement?
The billions spent on education have not achieved any of their designated goals, which were to raise the test scores and to close the gap between kids from upper-income and lower-income families. The handouts, however, produced a lot of cheating by teachers and administrators trying to hide their failure to achieve designated goals.
We hear about increasing the role of the states in other areas such as Medicaid. But the most important area where the states should have primary responsibility is education.
The most powerful union of government employees is the National Education Association (NEA), which held this year’s annual national convention as usual over the Fourth of July weekend, attracting 9,000 delegates. To no one’s surprise, it resembled a re-election campaign rally for Barack Obama, with the pressure on delegates to identify themselves as EFO (Educators for Obama).
Many delegates wore Obama campaign buttons and T-shirts and sported banners with messages such as “You are our knight in shining armor.” The official NEA Convention newspaper called “RA Today” featured a very political full-page endorsement of Obama headlined “Do your part and pledge to be an educator for Obama today!”
The NEA convention passed its usual scores of anti-parent, anti-school-choice, pro-feminist, pro-homosexual resolutions that morph into the NEA’s Legislative Program. This authorizes the highly-paid NEA staff to lobby Congress, state legislatures, education departments, and school boards to adopt NEA policies.
One significant new resolution adopted this year reads: “The Association also believes that members have the right to have payroll deduction of both Association membership dues and voluntary political contributions.” That should make it clear that the way to cut the NEA’s political power is for state legislatures to pass Paycheck Protection laws that prohibit state governments from deducting political contributions and turning the money over to the NEA bosses to elect Democrats.
We can get a look at NEA’s political clout by reading a Memorandum distributed to the delegates by NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. It reveals the amount of money available in the NEA Ballot Measures/Legislative Crises Fund in the current year, projecting $26,939,129 by the end of the year.
Already this year, the NEA powers-that-be have approved $270,000 to four state affiliates to use in ballot measure campaigns, $7,163,492 in assistance to 17 state affiliates for legislative battles, and $2,500,000 for lobby-campaign efforts related to the congressional reauthorization of federal education appropriations.
Another Memo Van Roekel distributed to delegates gave detailed information about the NEA Media Campaign Fund for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. These two funds are supported by a special dues assessment on every NEA member.
The NEA state affiliates that received NEA money from this Media Fund during the current year include: NEA Alaska $75,000, Delaware State Education Association $43,500, Florida Education Association $135,000, Idaho Education Association, $115,000, Illinois Education Association $400,000, Michigan Education Association $308,000, Education Minnesota $125,000, South Carolina Education Association $70,0000, Utah Education Association $105,000, Vermont NEA $108,500, and West Virginia Education Association $35,000.
The NEA’s official Legislative Program includes many items that implement radical liberal ideology but have nothing to do with educating students.
The NEA supports “national health care that will mandate universal coverage,” and a long list of United Nations treaties, all of which would limit U.S. sovereignty and meddle in our domestic laws.
The NEA supports adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would mandate “equality of rights . . . on account of sex.” To reinforce that goal, the NEA supports passage of a federal statute to assure “sexual orientation” rights.
The NEA supports “confirmation of Supreme Court Justices and federal judges who support civil rights.” According to the NEA, “civil rights” includes both “reproductive freedom” and “prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.”
Terminate the Racket of College Loans
One of the ways to cut the big-spending binge engaged in by the federal government is to terminate the racket of college loans. It’s counterproductive, discriminatory, and a bad investment for both taxpayers and students.
College-loan debt has soared to nearly a trillion dollars, more than credit-card debt or auto-loan debt. Financial commentators are beginning to compare college-loan debt to the housing bubble that nearly brought down the banking system in 2008.
However, it’s not the banks that will be the big losers if the bubble bursts. It’s the taxpayers, because the government is now on the hook for the majority of student loans.
Even worse is the burden on students. The debt requires students to keep paying for a product that lacks its advertised value either in education or employment opportunities. College education has been dumbed down to enroll more and more taxpayer-subsidized students, even if they take only remedial (a.k.a. high school) courses.
College-loan debt is a powerful deterrent to marriage and to getting on with life. Students cannot discharge the debt in bankruptcy, can’t get a job that justifies the loan, and may have had a lousy education.
For years we’ve heard the propaganda line that everyone should go to college and that a college degree will improve your status in life and standard of living. Not any more; in Obamaland, 53.6% of young college graduates are jobless or working jobs that do not require a college degree and don’t pay enough to retire the debt.
Making college loans more generous and easier to get does not make college more affordable. The easy availability of loans encourages colleges to raise tuition rates faster than inflation in order to rake in more taxpayer money, while discriminating against those thrifty enough to pay their own way.
The entire structure of college loans is discriminatory. It forces people who don’t want or are not able to go to college, or who work to pay their own way, to contribute taxes to support those who go to college at other people’s expense, often at pricey elite colleges.
College loans seem to be based on the same pie-in-the-sky fiction that going into debt to buy a house you can’t afford is a good investment and will make you a worthier citizen. That’s another expensive lie told to gullible people by bankers and bureaucrats.
Then there’s the problem, as reported by the Washington Post, that nearly 30% of students with student loans drop out of college with debt but no degree. Of those who remain in college, the majority take five or six years, thus significantly increasing their debt.
This wastes some of what should be the most productive years of an American’s life. When I went to college, carrying a full load of classes, I worked a 48-hour week to pay my own way, and I can’t figure out what today’s college students do with their non-study time.
Why do spokesmen of both political parties keep urging us to import more and more foreign college students and falsely tell us they are “the best and the brightest”? And why do we let jobs subsidized by U.S. taxpayers go to foreigners?
In 2010 Obama gave $300 million of his Stimulus money to two Michigan plants to build electric car batteries. It turned out that the plants are owned by Koreans who outfitted their factories with Korean equipment and supplies and hired Korean workers.
Another major problem for students is that, having incurred all that indebtedness, most colleges today are a hostile environment for conservatives and Christians. A new report by the California Association of Scholars called “A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California,” explains that college graduates are alarmingly ignorant about history, literature and constitutional government because many professors have replaced real teaching with political indoctrination.
Another cause of higher tuition rates is paying high-salaried professors to teach worthless subjects that might justify one lecture but are not worth the price of a semester course. Let’s hear demands that wealthy colleges use their extraordinary endowment to pay off college loans and thereby make restitution for teaching leftwing propaganda masquerading as education.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that college loans are part of Obama’s policy to make as many as possible dependent on government, as well as to deceive us by keeping young people out of the unemployment statistics and in the totals of those attending college.
Some NEA Resolutions Passed at the 2012 Convention in Washington, D.C.
A-26. Voucher Plans and Tuition Tax Credits. The Association opposes voucher plans, tuition tax credits, or other such funding arrangements that pay for students to attend sectarian schools.
A-35. Federally or State-Mandated Choice/Parental Option Plans. The Association believes that federally or state-mandated parental option or choice plans compromise free, equitable, universal, and quality public education for every student. Therefore, the Association opposes such federally or state-mandated choice or parental option plans.
B-1. Early Childhood Education. The National Education Association supports early childhood education programs in the public schools for children from birth through age eight. These programs must be available to all children on an equal basis and should include mandatory kindergarten with compulsory attendance.
B-12. Diversity. The National Education Association believes that similarities and differences among race, ethnicity, color, national origin, language, geographic location, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, age, physical ability, size, occupation, and marital, parental, or economic status form the fabric of a society. The Association also believes that education should foster the values of appreciation and acceptance of the various qualities that pertain to people as individuals and as members of diverse populations.
B-14. Racism, Sexism, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Discrimination. Discrimination and stereotyping based on such factors as race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, disability, ethnicity, immigration status, occupation, and religion must be eliminated.
B-24. Education of Refugee and Undocumented Children and Children of Undocumented Immigrants. The Association supports access for undocumented students to financial aid and in-state tuition to state colleges and universities. The Association further believes that students who have resided in the United States for at least five years at the time of high school graduation should be granted legal residency status, and allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship.
B-30. Educational Programs for English Language Learners. The Association believes that ELL students should be placed in bilingual education programs to receive instruction in their native language from qualified teachers until such time as English proficiency is achieved.
B-39. Multicultural Education. The National Education Association believes that Multicultural education should promote the recognition of individual and group differences and similarities in order to reduce racism, homophobia, ethnic and all other forms of prejudice, and discrimination and to develop self-esteem.
B-40. Global Education. The National Education Association believes that global education imparts an appreciation of our interdependency in sharing the world’s resources.
B-48. Family Life Education. The Association believes that programs should be established for both students and parents/guardians and supported at all educational levels to promote —
- The development of self-esteem
- An understanding of societal issues and problems related to children, spouses, parents/guardians, domestic partners, older generation family members, and other family members.
The Association also believes that education in these areas must be presented as part of an antibiased, culturally sensitive program.
B-49. Environmental Education. The Association supports educational programs that promote —
- An awareness of the effects of past, present, and future population growth patterns on world civilization, human survival, and the environment
- Solutions to environmental problems such as nonrenewable resource depletion, pollution, global warming, ozone depletion, and acid precipitation and deposition
- The recognition of and participation in such activities as Earth Day.
B-51. Sex Education. The Association recognizes that the public school must assume an increasingly important role in providing the instruction. The Association also believes that to facilitate the realization of human potential, it is the right of every individual to live in an environment of freely available information and knowledge about sexuality and encourages affiliates and members to support appropriately established sex education programs. Such programs should include information on sexual abstinence, birth control, family planning, diversity of culture and diversity of sexual orientation and gender identification, sexually transmitted diseases, incest, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and homophobia.
B-82. Home Schooling. The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress.
The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools.
C-16. Extremist Groups. The National Education Association condemns the philosophy and practices of extremist groups and urges active opposition to all such movements that are inimical to the ideals of the Association.
C-25. Comprehensive School Health, Social, and Psychological Programs and Services. The National Education Association believes that every child should have direct and confidential access to comprehensive health, social, and psychological programs and services. The Association believes that schools should provide —
- A planned, sequential health education curriculum for pre-K through adult education that integrates various health topics (such as drug abuse, the dangers of performance-enhancing dietary herbal supplements, violence, safety issues, universal precautions, and HIV education)
- Counseling programs that provide developmental guidance and broad-based interventions and referrals
- Comprehensive school-based, community-funded student health care clinics that provide basic physical and mental health, and health care services (which may include diagnosis and treatment)
- If deemed appropriate by local choice, family-planning counseling and access to birth control methods with instruction in their use.
C-26. School Guidance and Counseling Programs. The National Education Association believes that guidance and counseling programs should be integrated into the entire education system, pre-K through higher education.
C-31. Student Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification. The National Education Association believes that all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification, should be afforded equal opportunity and guaranteed a safe and inclusive environment within the public education system. The Association also believes that, for students who are struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identification, every school district and educational institution should provide counseling services and programs that deal with high suicide and dropout rates and the high incidence of teen prostitution.
E-3. Selection and Challenges of Materials and Teaching Techniques. The Association deplores prepublishing censorship, book-burning crusades, and attempts to ban books from school library media centers and school curricula.
F-2. Pay Equity/Comparable Worth. The “market value” means of establishing pay cannot be the final determinant of pay scales since it too frequently reflects the race and sex bias in our society.
H-1. The Education Employee as a Citizen. The Association urges its members to become politically involved and to support the political action committees of the Association and its affiliates.
H-7. National Health Care Policy. The National Education Association believes that affordable, comprehensive health care, including prescription drug coverage, is the right of every resident. The Association supports the adoption of a single-payer health care plan for all residents of the United States, its territories, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
H-11. Statehood for the District of Columbia. The Association supports efforts to achieve statehood for the District of Columbia.
I-1. Peace and International Relations. The Association urges all nations to develop treaties and disarmament agreements that reduce the possibility of war. The Association also believes that such treaties and agreements should prevent the placement of weapons in outer space. The Association believes that the United Nations furthers world peace and promotes the rights of all people by preventing war, racism, and genocide.
I-2. International Court of Justice. The Association urges participation by the United States in deliberations before the court.
I-3. International Criminal Court. The Association believes that the United States should ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and recognize and support its authority and jurisdiction.
I-12. Human Rights. The National Education Association believes that the governments of all nations must respect and protect equal access to education as embodied in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I-17. Family Planning. The National Education Association supports family planning, including the right to reproductive freedom. The Association also urges the implementation of community-operated, school-based family planning clinics that will provide intensive counseling by trained personnel.
I-18. The Right To Organize. The Association also believes that members have the right to have payroll deducation of both Association membership dues and voluntary political contributions.
I-22. Immigration. The Association opposes any immigration policy that denies educational opportunities to immigrants and their children regardless of their immigration status.
I-33. Freedom of Religion. The Association opposes any federal legislation or mandate that would require school districts to schedule a moment of silence.
I-34. Gun-Free Schools and the Regulation of Deadly Weapons. The Association believes that strict prescriptive regulations are necessary for the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale and resale of handguns and ammunition magazines. A mandatory background check and a mandatory waiting period should occur prior to the sale of all firearms.
I-47. Elimination of Discrimination. The National Education Association is committed to the elimination of discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identification, age, and all other forms of discrimination. The Association encourages its members and all other members of the educational community to engage in courageous conversations in order to examine assumptions, prejudices, discriminatory practices, and their effects.
I-58. Linguistic Diversity. The Association believes that efforts to legislate English as the official language disregard cultural pluralism; deprive those in need of education, social services, and employment; and must be challenged.
I-61. Equal Opportunity for Women. The Association supports an amendment to the U.S. Constitution (such as the Equal Rights Amendment). The Association urges its affiliates to support ratification of such an amendment. The Association also supports the enactment and full funding of the Women’s Educational Equity Act. The Association endorses the use of nonsexist language.
The above text is excerpted from NEA resolutions adopted at the 2012 NEA Convention. Much language has been omitted, but no words have been changed, added, or put out of order.
Phyllis Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since the publication of her best-selling 1964 book, A Choice Not An Echo. She has been a leader of the pro-family movement since 1972, when she started her national volunteer organization now called Eagle Forum. In a ten-year battle, Mrs. Schlafly led the pro-family movement to victory over the principal legislative goal of the radical feminists, called the Equal Rights Amendment. An articulate and successful opponent of the radical feminist movement, she appears in debate on college campuses more frequently than any other conservative. She was named one of the 100 most important women of the 20th century by the Ladies’ Home Journal.
Mrs. Schlafly’s monthly newsletter called The Phyllis Schlafly Report is now in its 45th year. Her syndicated column appears in 100 newspapers, and on many conservative websites, her radio commentaries are heard daily on over 600 stations, and her radio talk show on education called “Eagle Forum Live” is heard weekly on 75 stations. Both can be heard on the internet.