Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) must be very proud. Along with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), he has received the National Education Association (NEA)’s “highest honor,” the Friend of Education award. The NEA bestowed this award for Alexander’s “bold leadership” in passing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as a replacement for No Child Left Behind. Previous award-winners include well-known conservatives Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Nancy Pelosi.
As one of the two major teachers’ unions in the U.S., the NEA has a much-deserved reputation for lavishly funding liberal candidates and causes. George Will has noted that in the 2014 elections, the union was the nation’s third-largest spender, almost exclusively supporting Democratic candidates. In connection with its recent national convention, the NEA announced its intention to fund LGBT initiatives, including support of President Obama’s radical transgender guidance for schools, and to oppose state religious liberty statutes (how children’s education is improved if their and their parents’ religious liberty is curtailed is not clear). And it goes without saying that despite complaining about the “poor implementation” of the Common Core national standards, NEA remains a proponent of that centralization scheme.
Conservative teachers have long resented the NEA’s confiscating their dues money, against their will, and using it to advance causes with which they disagree. A legal challenge to this practice fell victim to the absence of Justice Scalia when the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on whether such compelled speech violated the plaintiff teachers’ First Amendment rights. Continue Reading