The NEA RA and anti-racist education.

NEA President Becky Pringle.

The Right-wing has gone bonkers in the wake of the National Education Association’s annual – but this year again conducted remotely – Representative Assembly.

This is all part of their contrived controversy over Critical Race Theory, which they hope to use as a wedge issue against the Democrats in the ’22 election.

To be sure, genuinely progressive educators have long tried to create curriculum that is anti-racist and inclusive. Often this has to be done subversively or at best with little encouragement from district administrators. Frequently outspoken anti-racist educators are more a target of administration than held up as models.

The idea that something called Critical Race Theory has taken over national school curricula is simply nonsense.

For years I was a delegate to the annual NEA RA, first as an elected active delegate and then as a retired delegate. 

Last year I followed it online. This year the online meeting of over 6,000 delegate was closed to public and press.

Jill Biden, a teacher and NEA member addressed the delegates.

But what Fox and National Review seized on were the New Business Items that addressed white supremacy. The NEA voted for items that were modest, but enough to cause outrage from those on the Right.

New Business Item 39

The NEA will, with guidance on implementation from the NEA president and chairs of the Ethnic Minority Affairs Caucuses:

A. Share and publicize, through existing channels, information already available on critical race theory (CRT) — what it is and what it is not; have a team of staffers for members who want to learn more and fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric; and share information with other NEA members as well as their community members.

B. Provide an already-created, in-depth, study that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society, and that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.

C. Publicly (through existing media) convey its support for the accurate and honest teaching of social studies topics, including truthful and age-appropriate accountings of unpleasant aspects of American history, such as slavery, and the oppression and discrimination of Indigenous, Black, Brown, and other peoples of color, as well as the continued impact this history has on our current society. The Association will further convey that in teaching these topics, it is reasonable and appropriate for curriculum to be informed by academic frameworks for understanding and interpreting the impact of the past on current society, including critical race theory.

D. Join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project to call for a rally this year on October 14—George Floyd’s birthday—as a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression. Followed by one day of action that recognize and honor lives taken such as Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and others. The National Education Association shall publicize these National Days of Action to all its members, including in NEA Today.

E. Conduct a virtual listening tour that will educate members on the tools and resources needed to defend honesty in education including but not limited to tools like CRT.

F. Commit President Becky Pringle to make public statements across all lines of media that support racial honesty in education including but not limited to critical race theory.

The wacko white supremacists on the Right also expressed outrage over New Business Item 2.

NEA will research the organizations attacking educators doing anti-racist work and/or use the research already done and put together a list of resources and recommendations for state affiliates, locals, and individual educators to utilize when they are attacked. The research, resources, and recommendations will be shared with members through NEA’s social media, an article in NEA Today, and a recorded virtual presentation/webinar.

Now the truth is that most New Business Items that get approved at the RA end up published online and that’s the end of it.

It the national organization does half of what is included in these two NBIs it would be a good thing.

I hope they do more.

5 thoughts on “The NEA RA and anti-racist education.

  1. Published New Business items agreed upon by the NA representatives without actual implementation are not worth the paper they are not printed on.
    Words and intentions without actions are, unfortunately, what NEA leadership and implementation are infamous for. Leadership that ignores members is self-defeating for the union.
    If NEA leaders would actually implement most of this year’s New Business items, the union could save itself and its members.

  2. Interesting that the NEA website has now removed the text of Business Item 39… maybe they had the sense to feel a bit of shame for such a travesty – and now they should feel even more shame for their lack of transparency.

    1. When a New Business Item does not pass, it gets deleted from the website. It had nothing to do with the content.

      Sadly, some delegates draft NBIs to call attention to themselves rather than to something that pertains to the work of the NEA, which becomes red meat for the anti-union crowd and also shines a bad light upon the 3 million members doing good for their students.

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