Trisha Connolly and Clare Kelly are teachers and members of the Illinois Education Association and the National Education Association. Both were elected delegates to the state and national Representative Assemblies. They wrote this in reaction to NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia’s statements about gun violence in the wake of the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings.
We’ve endured 255 mass shootings involving assault rifles already this year and the NEA leadership (National Educator’s Association) continues to defend funding and endorsing of candidates who promote the NRA’s agenda.
We presented New Business Items (NBI’s) at the NEA National Representative Assembly (RA), this summer and last, calling on the NEA to not endorse candidates who’ve solicited or taken NRA money.
The NEA is the largest union in the nation and as such the NEA has the potential and muscle to impact legislation to stem the flow of assault rifles in our communities. To most this seems like a no brainer – the largest educational association in the country would, of course, take a firm stand to not fund candidates who promote the proliferation of assault rifles in our neighborhoods, especially in light of all the school shootings.
NEA leadership strategized aggressively against these NBI’s both years. They didn’t pass.
Leadership argues that, at times, NRA backed candidates are more friendly to education and the goals of the NEA than their rivals.
We asked, which education bill or law is it that these NRA candidates support that is more important than the lives of our students and colleagues, and so important that we give our education dollars to a candidate who promotes the NRA’s agenda? Which one?
Lily Ekelsen-Garcia wrote last week, after the El Paso shooting, to NEA members asking them to send letters to Congress about gun control laws. This strategy which has been used in the past, is not working.
It’s time to send a clear message as an educators’ union that we will no longer fund candidates that promote the NRA agenda. Additionally, the NEA should join the AFT (American Federation of Teachers) in calling for a national boycott of companies such as Walmart that sell assault rifles,.
The ever more frequent active shooter trainings and trauma informed practices in our schools are reactions that ultimately do not resolve the issue of gun violence in our communities. Our educators’ union leadership must lead (and not hinder) in supporting our collective power and resources to leverage real and practical impact on gun legislation.
NEA sent out a survey to membership about guns in schools and thoughts on curbing gun violence. Over 1,000 responded.
“According to the NEA survey, educators support proposals ranging from banning assault weapons (85%) and bump stocks..(84%),..”
So while the majority of NEA members stand in favor of gun legislation to ban assault weapons, NEA leadership continues to protect its allegiances with NRA candidates.
Enough. Please join us in insisting that our education dollars stop funding NRA candidates.