The president of the country’s largest teachers union says that social justice, racial justice, and other left-wing ideologies are a major part of its efforts to influence public school education policy and educate elementary and secondary children — even as more states are passing comprehensive school choice legislation.
Becky Pringle, head of the National Education Association (NEA), made the claim at the Summit for Democracy cohosted by the U.S. Department of Labor, Department of State, and Agency for International Development on March 28. The intent of the Summit for Democracy was to “elevate the role of labor movements as drivers of democracy and essential components of democratic societies.”
“For us at the NEA, education justice must be about racial justice, it must be about social justice, it must be about climate justice. It must be about all of those things. For our students to be able to come to school ready to learn every day, we can never think of education as an isolated system because everything connects to our students’ ability to learn. So, we have to necessarily talk about housing justice, food inequality, and the reality that we all just went through a global pandemic together and of course it was the most marginalized communities that were already suffering from the inequities in every single social system in this country and every country.”
She said the NEA functions on three pillars: advocating for education professionals; elevating the teaching profession; and advancing racial and social justice.
As a union, Pringle stated, “we have to be the ones that are standing up and demanding those rights for all of our students. Our Black, Brown, API students, our indigenous students, our students with disabilities, our LGBTQ+ students — all of them deserve the right to a high-quality public education.”
The NEA’s commitment to left-wing priorities is not new. The union has been criticized for scrubbing its website of votes promoting controversial policies. These included:
A vote that did not pass was also scrubbed: the proposal that the NEA dedicate itself to “putting a renewed emphasis on quality education.”
The union also has a program called NEA EdJustice, which “engages and mobilizes educators, allies, and activists in the fight for racial, social and economic justice in public education.”
Pringle’s words come even as public schools are seeing a decrease in enrollment of over a million pupils and as U.S. students are failing academically. The Nation’s Report Card showed that 38 percent of eighth graders were below the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Basic level in mathematics in 2022, an increase from 31 percent in 2019. The percentage of eighth graders below NAEP Basic reading level was 30 percent in 2022, increased from 27 percent in 2019.
States are responding to the increasingly radical nature of teachers unions and school boards and the impact on student learning levels by passing school choice laws, which allow parents to choose where their child is taught. Already in 2023, Iowa and Utah have passed laws that provide statewide school choice programs.
Most recently, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R, signed a bill in late March that makes all 2.9 million students eligible to use the state’s education savings accounts. As of now, Florida provides access to states funds to children with disabilities or low-income families. The funds can be used on things such as private school tuition or books.
Now, though, the program will now be opened to all K-12 students, with those from low-income families or students with disabilities receiving funds first, followed by other students.
At a signing ceremony, DeSantis characterized the bill as a “game changer” that will “do even more to make people’s dreams become a reality.” He added,
“Fact of the matter is our school districts perform better because they’ve embraced choice. Our charter schools perform better because they have to compete for individual students. They’re not entitled to get anybody as a charter school, and of course, having private schools that can service the needs of parents so that a parent will take that [school choice] scholarship and say, ‘You know what? I want to go to this particular school because of what they’re offering.’ All that has created a very positive feedback.”
And last month, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, R, signed a bill that expands school choice to all students as part of the Arkansas LEARNS education law.
Alexa Henning, speaking for Sanders, issued a statement, saying,
“By the passage of AR LEARNS, Arkansas will be a blueprint for the country. It raises teacher pay, empowers parents, and gives our students the skills to succeed in life. Every kid should have access to a quality education and a path to a good paying job and better life right here in Arkansas.”
Many who oppose school choice and greater parental control over education claim that misinformation fuels outrage against those in education. The words of educators speak for themselves. This is not misinformation. These are the plans of the most powerful voices in education.
Those in charge of public schools are not interested in educating children, they are interested in proselytizing them to become Marxists and secular humanists.
And the result is not a rigorously educated generation that can thrive in the workplace and keep America at the top of the economic ladder — but rather indoctrinated, demoralized, discontented left-wing activists who hate their country, their parents, their classmates, and even themselves.
Proverbs 15:14 says,
“The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge,
But the mouth of fools feeds on folly.”
Students should be allowed to pursue truth at a school that teaches them reading, math, and other important areas of study, but those who are brought up on the teachings of racial and social justice will be foolish.
This is why the monopoly on public education must end, and school choice should be passed in all 50 states. These political operatives should not be permitted to have control over any aspect of K-12 education.
Those who care about moral and truth-based education have abdicated their responsibilities for too long — and children are now paying the price.
For this reason, parents must recognize how far to the left public schools have veered and get their children out of public schools as quickly as they can, while others, notably Christians and conservatives, must start working to positively influence education policy by running for local school boards; training to become teachers, principals, and superintendents; and always voting for candidates who support parents’ rights and school choice.
And this focus can’t just be until things get a little bit better. It must continue until America’s education system is fully wrested away from political idealogues and restored back to parents and children.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.
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