The National Education Association: America's Fifth Column
By Alan Caruba
What will your child learn about
9-11 on the second anniversary of the attack on America's security and economy?
On the occasion of the first anniversary of 9-11, the National Education
Association urged teachers to not "suggest any group is responsible."
In suggested lesson plans, the NEA recommended that teachers "discuss historical
instances of American intolerance" as the lesson children in elementary,
middle and high school should take away from the most dastardly attack on
America since Pearl Harbor. The NEA is an American Fifth Column, an enemy
within that uses our public schools to turn children against their nation.
Teaching is one of the largest occupations in America. There are five times
as many teachers as lawyers and twice as many as nurses according to Census
figures. It also has one of the highest turnover rates. Little wonder when
you consider the lies teachers are asked to tell. The most recent national
data indicates a 16% annual turnover rate and, in schools with high concentrations
of poor students, the rate rises to 25%. As many as a third of all new hires
leave teaching in their first three years and 46% leave in five years. Almost
half of all teacher turnover is due to dissatisfaction or teachers seeking
Most Americans believe teachers are underpaid. This is a myth. Their income
is more than the average American's income. According to the NEA, the average
teacher today now earns $40,000 dollars a year and many teachers earn more
than $50,000. When you factor in all the benefits, the cost for teaching
nine months a year is somewhere between $50,000 and $60,000 dollars per teacher.
When you add in seniority, advanced degrees, and those in administrative
positions, they can and do earn more.
Teachers are good people with a desire to help youngsters develop into good
citizens, but they find themselves thwarted in many ways. Teaching to the
test is the most obvious. It is a desperate effort to insure that some basic
knowledge is taught in our schools. The government insists this one-size-fits-all
approach is the only way students can acquire the knowledge they need to
function in society, but the results are so dismal the entire system is in
meltdown. By comparison, those who graduated high school in the 1950's had
a body of knowledge comparable to today's college graduates.
Saul Cooperman, a former New Jersey education commissioner, recently took
a look inside the classroom to explore the differences between the way teachers
used to teach and today's demands. He noted that, beginning in the late 1970s,
the latitude teachers once had was increasingly diminished. "Public education
is changing as the federal government becomes increasingly involved in every
classroom in America." Suffice it to say that the NEA has a death grip on
the US Department of Education.
But are today's teachers equipped to actually teach? In a study, "What Do
Teachers Teach? A Survey of America's Fourth and Eighth Grade Teachers,"
conducted by the Manhattan Institute and Connecticut University, English,
math, history and science teachers revealed that "only a minority" favored
the "teacher-directed approach." If teachers are not directing the education
of students, what is their job description? Asked if they preferred teaching
"specific information and skills" versus "learning how to learn," the vast
majority, 74% preferred the latter. If students do not acquire specific knowledge,
why are they in school?
An equal number of teachers surveyed, 75% of fourth grade teachers and 72%
of eighth grade teachers, "believed it was more important that students approached
a task in a creative, thoughtful way and that should have the most greatest
emphasis in evaluating student work." Thus we have students who learn
to spell by writing a word any way that comes to mind instead of the right
way to spell it. Rather than grade a student on his or her individual achievement,
more than a third of fourth grade teachers and just under half of the eighth
grade teachers said "they graded on a single, class-wide standard." So how
is little Johnny or Jane doing? Parents have to guess because, if left to
some teachers, the class as a whole is being graded, not their child.
Compare this with the fact that every school day across the nation, 3,000
secondary students drop out. By the end of the 2003-2004 school year, nearly
540,000 students will leave school without having earned a diploma. The nation's
high school graduation rate is 69% overall, and those that remain in our
schools graduate with test scores that are a national disgrace. We are importing
physicians and engineers from other nations because we are not producing
students educated well enough to enter these and other professions.
Then there is the problem of teachers who lack the knowledge necessary to
teach a particular subject. There have been repeated instances where teachers
who were tested failed, often repeatedly, in the very subjects they were
supposed to teach.
Meanwhile, the dues of the National Education Association's 2.7 million members
are being spent on political activities. This is because the Democrat Party
is a wholly owned subsidiary of the NEA. In cases filed by the Landmark Legal
Foundation, it was revealed that the 1998-1999 NEA's Interim Financial Statements
showed that $3,026,212 had been spent through April 30, 1999 on "Increased
and lasting bipartisan advocacy support" and the NEA had budgeted an additional
$2,033,650 for the remaining four months of the fiscal year ending August
31, 1999. For the fiscal years 2000-2002, the NEA budgeted an allotment of
$1,993,735 for "coordinated state-specific campaign development and implemented
to elect bipartisan pro-public education candidates in the 2000 general election."
The NEA's agenda is not about the education of America's students; it is
about turning teachers into "change agents" who indoctrinate students with
a Leftist political agenda that too often smacks of anti-Americanism.
High teacher turnover, a massive school dropout rate, the low scores when
students are tested on English, math, history, geography, and science, and
the drugging of thousands of students, are symptoms of the deliberate destruction
of our educational system by the NEA and, de facto, the US Department of
Education. Throwing $49 billion dollars at this system, as President Bush
has proposed will not change this lethal threat to our nation. Ending the
NEA's control of the Democrat Party, eliminating the Department of Education,
and returning the education of students to the state and local level will
reverse this disastrous decline.
Alan Caruba is the author of Warning Signs, published by Merril Press. His weekly commentaries are posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center.