By Kelly Mann
Raleigh, NC – North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) and their parent organization the National Education Association (NEA) increased already exorbitant membership dues on North Carolina teachers for the 2022-2023 school year. Let’s try to put into perspective what NCAE/NEA member dues pay for and the value brought to paying teachers.
NCAE/NEA play politics. Contributions and endorsements are dedicated to a slanted agenda disregarding the views of the diverse membership. In 2022, NEA contributed $2,509,957 to Democrat campaigns compared to $24,000 to Republicans — about 100-1 in favor of Democrats. The political trend is not new and is consistent with the mission.
John Ryor, past NEA president, bluntly stated, “we will become the foremost political power in the nation.” The NEA 2022-2023 Resolutions lay out an agenda of goals, a significant number unrelated to education and improving teaching conditions. Climate change, nuclear plants, prison maintenance, and even holidays are a few covered in the resolutions. Many counties, including the biggest in North Carolina, implemented I-39 in renaming “Columbus Day,” as “Indigenous People’s Day.”
NCAE/NEA dedicates resources to obstruct education choice for students. The Opportunity Scholarship Program, Education Student Accounts (ESA+) Program, and public charter schools are a few of the programs available to ensure North Carolina students benefit from a sound basic education that meets learning needs. In July 2020, NCAE president Tamika Walker Kelly and NEA, joined in a lawsuit to challenge the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Opportunity Scholarship is a program serving low-income families and children in foster care. NCAE’s challenge to opportunity scholarship is still in court while student need continues to increase.
In February 2021, Kelly held a press conference and listed demands to safely reopen schools. Halting private school vouchers was among the demands Kelly gave to safely return students after a year of school closures. Most recently, NEA attacked North Carolina charter schools. While parents’ and students’ demand for school choice is at an all-time high, NCAE works tirelessly to eliminate and obstruct options families choose for their students.
NCAE patronizes teachers with calls for raises and improvements to teaching conditions, while their actions prioritize politicians. In 2019, NCAE supported Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper as he vetoed a budget that included a 3.9% average raise.
“North Carolina educators rejected the Republican budget as anemic and insulting in June, and we reject essentially the same today,” Mark Jewell, then NCAE president, stated.
Claims were made on behalf of teachers that no raise would be better than what was budgeted. While teachers worked exhaustively during school closures, NCAE toured the state in an RV. Rather than support teachers as they address learning loss in the classroom the union president claims “learning loss is a false construct.”
NCAE claims to be the voice of all teachers, but according to most recent data, less than 17% of North Carolina teachers participate. In 2021-2022, NEA reported a 40,107 drop in membership. Nationally, membership is at its lowest level since 2006.
NCAE does not promote teachers and their profession but instead is an effort to gain influence and power. It lacks focus and misguides members with their stated mission “to be the voice of educators.” Their focus is misaligned, and often troubling, to many of the dues paying members.
Former NEA general counsel Robert Chanin summarized it well, saying, “…it is not because we care about children, and it is not because we have a vision for a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power.”
Kelly Mann is the John Locke Foundation’s Grassroots Director, coordinating the organization’s engagement with community groups. Prior to joining Locke, Kelly founded and built a group of community members across the state to influence education legislation. Kelly is a mom to three beautiful girls and loves activities outdoors and watching her alma mater, Wake Forest, during football season. Kelly has contributed to Fox, Bloomberg, and Working Mother.