In preparation for tonight’s State of the Union address, the largest teachers union in America has sent a letter to President Barack Obama outlining its 2014 policy wish list.
Almost none of the National Education Association’s 1,122-word letter bothers to mention American students in kindergarten, elementary school, middle school or high school.
In fact, 60 percent of the five priorities NEA president Dennis Van Roekel mentions in his missive don’t really have anything to do with education at all.
At the beginning of the letter, Van Roekel says to Obama: “I would like to take this opportunity to convey to you the hopes and concerns of our three million members, and what I believe they would like to hear from their President.”
After taking great pains to explain that the NEA doesn’t hold Obama responsible for the terrible state of the economy these last six years, and then lamenting income inequality, Van Roekel makes his appeal.
The first two of the NEA’s priorities involve giving “all children access to high-quality early education” and making “higher education more affordable.” School kids aged five to 18 don’t make the cut.
Concerning early education, Van Roekel tells Obama that the NEA “supports your proposals to make high-quality early childhood education accessible to students from low- and moderate-income families, not just those who can afford to pay for it.”
On the subject of higher education, the NEA “believes that anyone who is qualified and interested in post-secondary education should have the opportunity to pursue it, regardless of ability to pay.”
Van Roekel doesn’t bother to suggest who will pay instead.
The next three NEA priorities for Obama are a higher minimum wage, amnesty for illegal immigrants and higher corporate taxes—all of which have nothing to do with labor issues faced by American teachers or American students.
Concerning a higher minimum wage, Van Roekel waxes on for 182 words about how the NEA believes it should be raised “to $10.10 an hour.” He notes that such an increase would incidentally help school cafeteria workers.
On immigration reform, the NEA wants “a realistic path to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens who call America home” and “an expedited path to college and citizenship for the many talented students who have grown up here and have so much to offer our nation.”
Finally, America’s largest teacher’s union wants to “close corporate tax loopholes” to “ensure that corporations and the wealthiest contribute their fair share.” Somehow — Van Roekel is a man short on details — higher taxes on job creators will “grow our economy by growing the middle class.”
Van Roekel then obediently concludes: “On behalf of the National Education Association’s three million members and the students they serve, I pledge to support and work with you to fulfill these goals and make America the land of opportunity we all envision.”