Teachers unions tax us out of our homes while pushing radical social agendas
By Seth Grossman Political Columnist
“I can’t hear what you’re saying because I’m too busy looking at what you’re doing”.?
African-American folk wisdom
We all pay taxes to support public schools-even if our kids are grown or go to private schools. As Thomas Jefferson explained more than 200 years ago:
“It is an axiom in my mind that our liberty can never be safe, but in the hands of the people themselves, and that too, of the people with a certain degree of instruction. This is the business of the state to effect, and on a general plan”.?
In short, if we Americans are to have government “of the people”, we must teach our children how to operate that government. If our officials take an oath to obey our Constitution, they -and every voter-must learn what is in it-and why. If we pledge allegiance to a republic “with liberty and justice for all”, we all must be taught what those words mean.
But do public schools teach these things today? Based on what teachers are doing today, I have my doubts.
A few weeks ago, I wrote how a local high school sponsored an event with a left-wing agenda, while we at Liberty and Prosperity can’t even talk to kids in a political science club after class. “Many” at the school were so “deeply offended” by my remarks that one of them publicly demanded that I be shut out of this newspaper as well.
State law (NJSA 34:13A-5.5) forces all 200,000 public school employees in New Jersey to either join three different teacher unions (state, local, and national), or pay 85% of their dues anyway. The package comes to roughly $850 per year for most teachers-less for janitors, clerks, cafeteria workers, etc. NJEA, the state union, alone has a budget of roughly $90 million per year. Most comes from dues, but businesses that sell stuff to schools are “persuaded” to add a few million more. In 2005, the national NEA collected $295 million from around the country. That figure is higher today.
The state, national, and local teacher unions are by far the most powerful political forces in America today. Last month, the NJEA Reporter bragged, “86% of NJEA-Political Action Committee endorsed candidates elected”. This included Obama. But NJ teacher money also helped teacher unions win key elections in California and Utah in 2007.
Last June, Democrat Senator Jim Whelan, himself a teacher, supported modest reforms to keep New Jersey’s pension plan solvent a few more years. NJEA reacted with flyers saying, “NJEA has declared war on NJ Legislature!”
Because of their muscle, teacher unions today are still winning 5% pay hikes and low co-pay health insurance for their members, even when most NJ taxpayers are now earning 20% less. NJ teacher salaries already average $60,000 per year-the third highest in the nation. Teachers who worked 25 years can retire any time, and many retire in their 50’s with $40,000 a year and free health care. Many of our ancestors fled the Old Country, when nobles in the castle taxed peasants more, even when the crops failed. Are today’s “public servants” in America any different?
When voters rejected an expensive language lab, Mainland High School bought it anyway.
But teacher unions are not just taxing us out of our homes and businesses. They are also pushing radical, anti-American social agendas.
Here is one example. Last week, NJEA told its 200,000 members that delegates to the next National Education Association (NEA) assembly must meet new racial quotas by December.
“According to data from NEA, 34% of New Jersey residents are identified as members of an ethnic-minority group. . . . NEA Bylaw 3-1.g requires NJEA to. . . achieve state delegation representation that reflects the state’s ethnic minority proportions. . . “Ethnic minority” is defined as “American Indian, Asian, Pacific Islander, Black, or Hispanic”.?
(NJEA Reporter, January, 2009 at Page 10)
The fact that 19% of New Jersey teachers are “ethnic-minority”, and New Jersey’s NEA delegation is 29% minority is not good enough. NJEA President Joyce Powell ordered all “local affiliates” to bring that to 34%, and replace the other 5% non-qualifying delegates with people of the proper race. If not, New Jersey will be barred from the next NEA Annual Meeting.
Many ask me why I spend so much time criticizing our public schools. The answer is simple. If today’s students behave like their teachers when they grow up, America is over.
Seth Grossman is a member of www.libertyandprosperity.org, a non-profit educational organization in Somers Point, New Jersey, firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-927-7333.