Bill to Repeal NEA’s Federal Charter Could Light Reform Match Within Teachers Union

By Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Congressional Correspondent
Congressional Correspondent for The Epoch Times.
April 19, 2022 Updated: April 20, 2022

When news broke that the National School Board Association (NSBA) urged federal officials to brand parents protesting far-left classroom curriculums on race and sex as “domestic terrorists,” it sparked a stampede of angry members out the group’s exits.

At last count, nearly half of the NSBA’s state associations have either left the group or are making plans to do so. Six members of the NSBA’s national board of directors have also resigned and more departures may be coming. All of those leaving are refusing to be associated with the “protesting-parents-are-terrorists” policy.

Virginia Gentles, director of the Education Freedom Center for the Independent Women’s Voice (IWV), says she wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happens to the National Education Association (NEA) if Congress revokes the teachers union’s federal charter.

“Look at what happened with the National School Board Association, that didn’t even take congressional action to dismantle a pretty powerful and influential organization,” Gentles told The Epoch Times on April 19. “That just took parents rising up and saying, ‘No, you’re not going to call us domestic terrorists,’ and then putting pressure on their local and state associations to pull out from the national organization.”

Gentles was referring to HR 7510, the National Education Association Charter Repeal Act, introduced in the House of Representatives on April 14 by Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Wis.) and co-sponsored by House Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and 16 other House GOP lawmakers.

In addition to Gentles’s group, the bill has been endorsed by the American Principles Project, America First Policy Institute (AFPI), Club for Growth, Concerned Women for America LAC, ForAmerica, FreedomWorks, Heritage Action for America, the National Right to Work Committee (NRTW), and Young America’s Foundation (YAF).

Congress granted the NEA a federal charter in 1906 “to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching; and to promote the cause of education in the United States,” according to the legislation.

But the NEA long ago ceased doing what it was created to do, and instead has become “a massive political operation dedicated to electing Democrats and imposing a radical progressive agenda on America’s schools,” the measure’s text states.

Gentles pointed to an event that’s noted in HR 7510: the defeat by delegates during a 2019 NEA conference of a resolution calling on the teachers union to “re-dedicate itself to the pursuit of increased student learning in every public school in America by putting a renewed emphasis on quality education. NEA will make student learning the priority of the association.”

Gentles said “there are these alternative professional associations like the Association of American Educators. They are quiet, but they are there—waiting in the wings to welcome teachers who want freedom from a union that does not represent their interests.”

In an April 4 letter to Congress, the IWV endorsed HR 7510, stating that “a federal charter, sometimes known as a congressional charter, recognizes an organization’s authority and purpose. The NEA is a politically motivated labor union with a budget of over $370 million that gives the vast majority (at least 94 percent) of its political dollars to left-wing candidates and causes.

“It should come as no surprise, then, that the policies adopted by this partisan organization run counter to the views of large shares of the American public, particularly parents of school-aged children. Thus, the NEA does not belong on the list of federal charters.”

A spokesman for the NEA didn’t respond by press time to a request for comment on the repeal proposal.

The repeal proposal “is a recognition that the NEA is actively engaged, not just in politics, which we’ve known for a long time, but in the culture war,” the Heritage Foundation’s Jonathan Butcher told The Epoch Times. “This union is representative of the efforts to keep parents out of school board meetings, to promote the idea that children should be able to go to school, say they are assuming a new gender, and that their parents shouldn’t know.”

Butcher is Heritage’s Will Skillman Fellow in Education and author of the just-published “Splintered: Critical Race Theory and the Progressive War on Truth,” an analysis of the damaging influence of the theory on U.S. education.

Mark Mix, president of the NRTW, told The Epoch Times his organization supports the repeal measure because “the fact that they can say they are chartered by the government is just absolutely an injustice. I mean this is a political organization; they spend more money on politics than they spend on representing their workers.”

Mix also noted that the NEA “gives more money in gifts to radical social groups than they spend on protecting their workers’ rights, and for an organization that relies on compulsion and statutes that take away workers’ rights to associate for themselves, they have no business being chartered by anybody, let alone the federal government.”

The NRTW has gained passage of laws guaranteeing the right of an individual worker to keep a job without having to join a union in 27 of the nation’s 50 states.

Mark Tapscott
Congressional Correspondent
Congressional Correspondent for The Epoch Times.