Analysis. As the largest labor union in the U.S., with over 3 million members, the National Education Association (NEA) exercises tremendous influence over the public schools. Whether it involves the promotion of CRT, or transgenderism, or any such, the NEA sets the policies that ultimately determine our schools’ academic and social climate. How did this happen?
The event that gave the NEA entry into the chambers of power over education goes back to 1906, when the government granted the NEA a federal charter.
Congress reserved federal charters for those organizations that operated as nonpartisan nonprofits and fulfilled a national need. At the time, the NEA met all requirements and stated that it existed to further educational excellence in America. From 1791 to 1974, the government issued a total of 351 charters to organizations it considered patriotic and national and operated in the public interest of the American people. Most charters expired as organizations dissolved, completed their tasks, or changed their mission. Today 94 nonprofit organizations hold federal charters, including Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, The U.S. Olympic Committee, The Smithsonian Institution, and the National Academy of Sciences.
When President Teddy Roosevelt gave his nod, he had little reason to think the NEA would not continue to be a patriotic service organization concerned with the educational welfare of our nation’s children, but as the times changed, so did the NEA.
Over the next 117 years, the NEA changed its original mission as it morphed into a full-fledged labor union. The lobbying efforts of the NEA became so prolific that in 1967, the IRS required (Baird page 11) the NEA to change its designation from a nonprofit to a full-fledged labor union — the only labor union to possess a federal charter. At this point, its federal charter should have been revoked to reflect that new mission, but no one in Congress has addressed the issue.
In 1980, the NEA scored a huge win in its efforts to affect public policy when President Jimmy Carter fulfilled his campaign promise to the NEA to establish a federal Department of Education, complete with a cabinet position. The NEA now had inroads to make and mold educational policy at the highest level.
Almost singlehandedly, the NEA transformed American education into the failing, liberal, anti-God institution it is today. The NEA no longer concerns itself with helping teachers instill in students good character and life skills for success. Instead, its leaders openly state that their purpose is to provide due process, employee rights, and collective bargaining for its members.
Until recently, there seemed no way to untangle public education from the clutches of such a powerful giant.
This year a brave group of congressmen and congresswomen came together to issue the first significant challenge to the NEA’s federal charter. If successful, the results could be the first step in reforming the NEA and closing the door to the excessive liberal influence on educational policy allowed to it by its federal charter. Some believe the NEA’s charter revocation could produce a dramatic shift in public education, in what some call the equivalent of a political earthquake.
Realizing that the NEA no longer met the requirements of a federal charter, on April 14, 2022, Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wis., introduced the National Education Association Charter Repeal Act to repeal the NEA’s charter. So far, 18 House members have signed the bill. Senators Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., introduced a similar bill in the Senate.
The NEA continues to benefit from the provisions of its federal charter while ignoring the foundational principles in its original agreement:
- Federal charter guidelines prohibit its grantees from lobbying. Yet, the NEA actively engages in lobbying Congress for higher salaries for its members.
- Each federally chartered organization was to exist for patriotic, civic-improvement, charitable, or educational purposes (Baird page 4). In 2018, more than 8,000 delegates to the NEA’s annual assembly voted to put racial and social justice at the forefront of NEA’s work. They overwhelmingly adopted a policy committing the NEA to actively advocate for social and educational strategies fostering the eradication of institutional racism and white privilege.
- The federal charter gives the NEA tax privileges not available to labor unions. The NEA does not have to pay real property taxes on real estate in the District of Columbia. While the organization is not to contribute to political campaigns, it donated 18 percent of its 2020–2021 budget of $374 million to Democratic middle-level nonprofits, which then donate directly to Democrats for political campaigns.
The NEA’s federal charter is a stronghold that allows the organization to be an open door for the further demise of our education system. It is time to revoke the federal charter that granted them unprecedented access to alter education in America. The NEA no longer implements policies that instill character, godliness, and life skills in the 77 million students for which it is responsible. Moreover, metrics show that in key areas, educational gains are being lost. For example, today’s high school students’ average reading level is barely above that of fifth-graders.
The NEA has failed parents, students, and our nation.
The revoking of the NEA’s federal charter would be a strategic prayer point with the potential to change America’s education system. We stand at a God moment to believe in the God who tells us that we speak to mountains and command them to move.
How are you praying about the NEA? Share your prayers and scriptures in the comments.
Nancy Huff is an educator with a mission to equip believers to pray strategically for the cultural mountain of education. She is the author of Taking the Mountain of Education: A Strategic Prayer Guide to Transform American Schools; Safety Zone: Scriptural Prayers to Revolutionize Your School; and Decrees for Your School. She leads groups for prayer at key educational locations across the U.S. For additional information, visit: https://takingthemountainofeducation.com. Photo Credit: Getty Images.