July 26, 2000
The federal antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft has illustrated
the evil of monopolies and the tactics that monopolists use to maintain
their power. But the biggest monopoly in our midst, the public school
system guarded by the teachers unions, seems so far untouchable.
At its annual convention over the Fourth of July weekend, the
National Education Association flung down the gauntlet in its war
against school competition, a.k.a. school choice. Meeting at McCormick
Place in Chicago, the delegates voted to impose a $5 a year increase in
each member's dues in order to raise $6 million to combat vouchers and
related ballot initiatives.
The NEA delegates approved numerous resolutions and a legislative
lobbying program to back up this very political decision. In
Resolution A-29, the NEA declares that it "opposes all attempts to
establish and/or implement" voucher plans or tuition tax credits
because they "undermine public education" and "reduce the support
needed to adequately fund public education."
The NEA knows how to sling the semantics. Resolution A-27
describes all the following as "Deleterious Programs" that must be
eliminated: "privatization, performance contracting, tax credits for
tuition to private and parochial schools, voucher plans (or funding
formulas that have the same effect as vouchers), planned program
budgeting systems (PPBS), and evaluations by private, profit-making
The NEA gives us a case study in how a monopoly freezes out its
competition. NEA Resolution A-10 states that "closed public school
buildings should be sold or leased only to those organizations that do
not provide direct educational services to students and/or are not in
direct competition with public schools."
The NEA is also trying to restrict competition by having NEA
bureaucrats impose regulations on private schools. Resolution A-2
states that "all schools must be accredited under uniform standards
established by the appropriate agencies in collaboration with the NEA
and its affiliates."
Of course, the reason parents remove their children from free
government schools and take on the burden of paying for private
schooling is to get out from under the phony "standards" set by
"appropriate" union-controlled government agencies.
The NEA feels particularly threatened by homeschooling, possibly
because of the way homeschoolers have outperformed public school
students on national tests. The long tentacles of the public school
monopoly are trying to erect barriers to keep homeschool competition
excluded from the market.
Resolution B-67 seeks regulations to forbid parents from teaching
their children unless they are "licensed by the appropriate state
education licensure agency" and use "a curriculum approved by the state
department of education." The NEA even wants to forbid homeschooled
students from participating in any extra-curricular activities in the
public schools and wants to give the public schools sole authority to
determine credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-
entering public schools.
The NEA fully realizes the importance of capturing its customers
at the youngest age possible. Resolution B-1 demands "mandatory
Kindergarten with compulsory attendance."
Resolution B-1 also states that "The National Education
Association supports early childhood education programs in the public
schools for children from birth through age eight." That's not a
misprint; it does say "from birth."
The NEA's monopoly extends not merely to funding and "customers"
but also to curriculum. The NEA wants no interference from parents
when it comes to teaching children about sex.
Resolution B-38 states that the NEA believes "it is the right of
every individual to live in an environment of freely available
information and knowledge about sexuality." The information, which the
NEA demands be "freely available" to every child at every age, is
specified to include birth control, "family planning," diversity of
sexual orientation, incest, and sexual harassment.
NEA resolutions endorse a wide range of leftwing policies. New
Business Item B requires NEA members to distribute "a petition calling
for meaningful gun control, specifically licensure, registration,
bullet imprinting, child safety locks, mandatory background checks
including waiting periods."
New Business Item 21 endorses another petition campaign demanding
that the University of California Regents reverse the ban on
affirmative action in the UC system.
In an effort to help the Democrats take back the House, the NEA
decided to spend most of its NEA-PAC money, estimated to be $8 million,
on 25 hotly contested congressional races. It's no surprise that 89
percent of the NEA delegates endorsed Al Gore for president.