Teacher’s union head investigates whether parent is a neo-Nazi

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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A Pennsylvania father is steaming mad after the head of a local teacher’s union suggested he may be a “neo-Nazi” for questioning a school assignment.

Josh Barry, of Camp Hill, Penn., expressed concern after his daughter brought home an assignment analyzing a New York Times article discussing the recent government shutdown. first reported the story.

The assignment asked questions like, “Whom do you hold most responsible for the government shutdown?” and “Do you feel it is principled or irresponsible for politicians to threaten a shutdown?”

Barry thought it was an exercise in indoctrination.

After contacting his daughter’s teacher, Barry heard back from the school’s principal. After a discussion, a friend of Barry’s relayed a voicemail she received from another teacher named Cydnee Cohen.

Cohen, who is also the president of the local chapter of the teacher’s union — the East Pembrook Education Association, which is part of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) — said on the voicemail, “We’re having some problems with a parent in our school district and on his [Facebook] page you are one of his friends … but I would like to know, some of it seems like he is a neo-Nazi.”

Cohen then says, “Maybe he is Jewish, I don’t know.”

After it was confirmed that Barry is, in fact, Jewish, Cohen sent text messages to the mutual friend which read “he went to bishop mcdevitt!!” and “he is tea party right wing!” Bishop McDevitt is a nearby private Catholic high school.

“How absolutely disgusting,” Barry told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“You have a teacher who’s an officer in the union who looks at these teachers as hers,” said Barry. “Her method is to go after the concerned parent and discredit and slander them.”

Barry called Cohen’s inquisition a case of “big-time union thuggery on display.”

“She’s been taught to associate people who question authority, who raise their fist in the air who say I believe in the Constitution, or don’t indoctrinate my child, as you’re automatically a Nazi,” he said.

Barry said he was “absolutely not” a member of the tea party.

TheDCNF reached out to Cohen on social media. “When asked by a parent in the district if he was a neo nazi, I said I thought he was Jewish so I doubted it,” she wrote.

She then contacted the mutual friend she shared with Barry to find out for sure if he was a neo-Nazi.

Cohen said that the teacher’s union is not officially involved in the ordeal. “As an officer for EPEA, I make sure the teachers rights are protected, but we are not involved.”

Barry said that he merely wants schools and teachers to provide balance. “If you’re going to bring an article from the New York Times, throw something out there from somebody else,” he said.

“At least give two slants that oppose each other.”

Cohen’s union, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, is the largest teacher’s union in the state. In 2012, it had over 190,000 members and generated over $100 million in revenue. According to the Commonwealth Foundation, a Pennsylvania think tank, PSEA spent over $3.2 million on lobbying and political activities.

Nathan Benefield, the director of policy analysis at the Commonwealth Foundation, said this isn’t unusual. “This is often the kind of mentality of the teacher’s union, especially when you get into union leadership, of using name calling,” he told TheDCNF.

“The PSEA especially has done a lot to diminish anyone who opposes their political agenda.”

The PSEA did not respond to a request from TheDCNF for comment.

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