Home Climate justice Lankford slams NEA as union touts influence in Oklahoma

Lankford slams NEA as union touts influence in Oklahoma

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US Senator James Lankford has denounced a proposal by the National Education Association (NEA) to compile what it calls an “enemies list” of groups who have opposed critical race theory in schools and curricula. similar on the left.

Lankford’s focus on the union comes even as the NEA’s state affiliate touts its influence in the Oklahoma Legislature, particularly with top House education officials representatives from Oklahoma.

During the recent NEA Representative Assembly, union members across the country, including Oklahoma, considered several New Business Items (NBI).

One such measure, NBI 15, called on the union to spend $140,625 to “compile research to create fact sheets on the top 25 organizations that are actively working to diminish students’ right to honesty.” in education, freedom of sexual and gender identity, and teacher autonomy.

This provision would apparently lead the NEA to target various organizations in Oklahoma.

Groups such as the NEA have criticized states for passing laws that restrict the use of critical race theory concepts in classrooms, arguing that it prohibits honest or accurate education. Oklahoma law prohibits teaching students that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex”, that “an individual, by virtue of his race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously”, or that “an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or in part because of their race or sex”.

Oklahoma also has a law that limits student access to multiple cubicle bathrooms based on gender, rather than allowing access based on self-declared gender identity, and has implemented a similar law for sports competitions.

NBI 15 asked the NEA to investigate and compile data on organizations that support these laws, stating, “These fact sheets should include, but not be limited to, information on sources of funding for these laws. organizations, their leaders within the organizations, their ties to entities that seek to dismantle public education, the organization’s headquarters and chapter locations, characteristics of the campaign strategies employed by these organizations, and ties to known entities seeking to dismantle public education.

The NEA’s proposal was strongly rebuffed by Lankford, R-Oklahoma City and the US Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; and Steve Daines, R-Mont. In a joint letter sent to NEA President Becky Pringle, the senators said they were “concerned” that the NEA wanted to “create a ‘list of enemies’ of the groups.”

“We are troubled to know that the largest union in the country, with more than 3 million members working in public education, seems more concerned with advancing a ‘social justice’ agenda than meeting the needs of children and students who experience catastrophic learning disabilities,” Lankford and colleagues wrote.

The OAS celebrates the victories of Baker, McBride, Moore and Stanley

Even as Lankford criticized the NEA, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), the union’s state affiliate, touts the election of several lawmakers who aligned themselves publicly enough with the union’s agenda to receive union endorsement. .

The OAS highlighted the primary election of state representatives. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon; Mark McBride, R-Moore; Anthony Moore, R-Clinton; and State Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City, with OAS President Katherine Bishop, calling these four lawmakers “big primary wins.”

Oklahoma Ethics Commission records show that the four candidates’ campaigns were funded, in part, by the Oklahoma Education Association through its Children and Public Education Fund (CIPF). The union describes CIPF as “the political action arm of the Oklahoma Education Association.”

On the OAS website, the union states: “When the OAS CIPF and the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education recommend candidates for public office, whether it is a local school board or the election of the President of the United States, candidates are measured by their commitment” to various union causes, including “opposition to vouchers” which allow families to choose from several schools.

Parental support for school choice has increased in Oklahoma and nationally, especially in situations where families object to the inclusion of critical race theory and similar agendas left in the classroom.

Baker and McBride chair the House Common Education Committee and the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education, respectively, and both lawmakers have voiced their opposition to and/or killed bills that would expand school choice opportunities for families in the ‘Oklahoma.

The business items submitted to the 2022 NEA Representative Assembly offer a broader insight into the worldview and agenda embraced by lawmakers seeking the union’s endorsement and financial support.

NBI 41 called on the NEA to “take all necessary action to defeat and overturn Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law and other homophobic and anti-transgender laws and attacks nationwide.”

The referenced Florida law – which does not prohibit the use of the word “gay” – instead states that “school district personnel may not discourage or prohibit parental notification and involvement in critical decisions affecting mental health. , emotional or physical or the well-being of a student”. be”, unless there is reason to believe that disclosure “would result in abuse, neglect or neglect”. The legislation also states that “classroom instruction by school staff or third parties about sexual orientation or gender identity may not take place from kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not appropriate for the age or development of students in accordance with state standards.

NBI 82 also urged the NEA to “recognize the existence in our country of institutional homophobia and transphobia.”

NBI 29 called on the NEA to “publicly denounce current and pending anti-LGBTQ+ legislation,” including working “with state affiliates to challenge state legislatures that pass anti-LGBTQ+ legislation by filing amicus briefs. where appropriate” and assisting “state and local affiliates by actively organizing to defeat anti-LGBTQ+ bills through lobbying efforts.

Oklahoma’s laws on girls’ sports and bathroom access are likely among those targeted by this proposal.

Support for abortion and attacks on states that have restricted abortion, such as Oklahoma, was a recurring theme among the items of cases before the NEA’s Representative Assembly.

NBI 34 called on the union to “stand publicly in defense of abortion and reproductive rights and to encourage members to participate in activities such as rallies and demonstrations, lobbying and political campaigns, educational events and other actions to support the right to abortion, contraception and a person’s decision regarding their health.

The accompanying rationale read, “NEA is a social justice union made up of a majority of women, transgender and non-conforming people who will stand against these attacks on our members, students, families and communities.”

In an article for The 74, Mike Antonucci reported that Item 34 was approved by NEA delegates by a vote of 3,103 to 1,084.

NBI 62 called on the union to “use every means at its disposal to defend reproductive freedom and Roe vs. Wade, including working with affiliates to organize and support marches and rallies for women’s rights and supporting clinic advocacy in cities where abortion clinics are under attack from the right. This proposal also provided for the approval of the enlargement of the Supreme Court of the United States, the removal of the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States who had overturned the deer decision this year and an end to the US Senate filibuster.

A wide range of leftist causes were showcased through various other new NEA business proposals at the convention.

The proposed written rationale for NBI 11, which dealt with recruiting school board candidates, stated: “In the wake of right-wing attacks on diversity, inclusion and equity reform movements in of the school board, it is imperative that people of color have a seat at the table.

NBI 53 called on the NEA to “establish a policy working group to develop strategies to place the intersectionality of climate justice and environmental racism at the center of all relevant conversations and cases.”

NBI 63 asked the NEA to provide sample language for school employment contracts that substituted “biological parent” for “mother” and “non-biological parent” for “father.”

NBI 65 called on the union to “encourage members and others to wear orange every Tuesday in September and October to show support for common sense gun safety laws.”

At least one proposal appears to come from a union member in Oklahoma.

Among other things, NBI 68 called on the union to advocate “for classes that provide time and space to learn how to navigate white supremacist culture and address sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-darkness, colorism, etc. The contact listed for this proposal was Yesenie Cano from Oklahoma.

It takes 50 delegates to present a paper to the NEA assembly, but those 50 delegates represent approximately 30,000 NEA members.

Brenda Lebsack, a California teacher who has criticized many left-leaning tendencies in public education, was among those present at the NEA convention. In a column, Lebsack wrote that his “worst fears were confirmed” at the event.

“Public schools are no longer a safe place for families who hold traditional values ​​or for families who believe that gender (as in the male/female binary) is biologically determined,” Lebsack wrote. “It was also apparent that the teachers’ union is a pressure arm of the Democratic Party.”