This week, the National Education Association (NEA) kicked off its first in-person annual meeting and Representative Assembly (RA) since COVID-19. 

Consisting of around 6,000 educator delegates, the RA is the primary legislative and policy-making body of the teachers union. The RA claims that during the meeting it will debate what it calls “the vital issues that impact American public education.” 

However, a glance at the NEA’s agenda and calendar reveals a glaring absence of many vital education issues. Among some of the topics that the NEA will discuss are an end to book bans and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. The NEA will also host an LGBTQ+ Dinner. A full list of business items, though, is password protected

In 2022, the union discussed topics ranging from reproductive rights to gender ideology. As it did last year, the NEA will again prioritize ideology over the educational success of children. 

This year, the NEA is focusing on the theme of “freedom.” In her opening remarks as prepared to the RA, President of the NEA Becky Pringle, said, “Holding the legacy of leaders who came before us; building on what they’ve done, we, the NEA, are taking up the mantle to fight for freedom every day, all day.” On July 5, the NEA will hold a Freedom to Learn rally to demand an end what they call book bans and the politicizing of public education.  

But ironically the only freedom the NEA advocates for is freedom for a particular kind of public education that has a particular kind of ideology no one can object to. That doesn’t sound like freedom to me. 

The NEA politicizes education by introducing ideology and political activity that has no place in K-12 education. In fact, the NEA recently backed GLSEN, which provides gender ideology curriculum and policies that hinder parents’ knowledge of their child’s gender identity in schools, and endorsed President Joe Biden just days after he announced his reelection. 

Despite the conflict between the state of Florida and the NEA, this year the meeting is held in Orlando. The NEA explicitly called out Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis for leading a “destructive anti-public education and anti-democracy campaign.” A newly proposed bylaw amendment would add new language forbidding the NEA from holding a national meeting in a state that discriminates, including “the denial of medical services due to a delegate’s ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, and/or reproductive status.” According to the NEA, this would exclude Florida. 

What should be on the NEA’s agenda this year are vital education issues, such as declining academic scores, learning loss caused by COVID-19, the effects of smartphones and social media on learning, teacher shortages, and true educational freedom.       

IWF will keep you updated on how the meeting unfolds this week.