A group of Republican Senators called out the president of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest teacher’s union in the United States, this week over alleged plans to spend thousands of dollars to create a so-called “enemies list.”
Lawmakers James Lankford (R-Okla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) sent a letter NEA President Becky Pringle on July 13 demanding answers on the NEA’s alleged plan to spend $140,000 to research opposition groups, which may include concerned parents.
According to the lawmakers, the union’s list of “enemies” would consist of individuals who have been identified as “actively working to diminish a student’s right to honesty in education, freedom of sexual and gender identity, and teacher autonomy.”
The measure allowing the teachers union to create such a list was reportedly passed at the NEA 2022 Representative Assembly in Chicago last week, the senators said.
NEA, which has over 3 million members working in public education, approved the resolution for $140,625 and the fact sheets will be distributed to NEA state affiliates, according to Education Week.
Specifically, the NEA will research and create fact sheets on at least 25 organizations, according to a convention business item seen by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The lists will include “information about the organization’s funding sources, their leaders within the organizations and connections to known entities that are seeking to dismantle public education,” according to the business item cited by reports, while the fact sheets to be sent out will help affiliates “be armed with information.”
Advancing a ‘Social Justice Agenda’
In their letter to Pringle, the Senators noted how the COVID-19 pandemic had drastically impacted learning for millions of children, and that the need to focus on children and their education was now more “critical” than ever.
The GOP lawmakers said they were “disturbed” to know that the NEA “seems more concerned with advancing a ‘social justice’ agenda instead of meeting the needs of children and students who are experiencing catastrophic learning challenges.”
Lawmakers in their letter also noted that the so-called list, known as “business item 15,” cannot be viewed by the public on the NEA’s official website, unlike new business items that are typically published on the website every year by the union.
The Republicans said this appeared to be an effort designed to protect the union from public scrutiny.
“Accordingly, we are requesting a copy of the contents of New Business Item 15. Moreover, please identify what purposes the ‘enemies list’ will serve, and describe how it will be used,” lawmakers wrote.
The letter comes as a number of states across the country have opted not to renew their memberships with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) following the fallout over a letter sent to the Biden administration likening concerned parents at school board meetings to “domestic terrorists.”
A string of school boards have cut ties with the NSBA since 2021, including in North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, Nebraska, and Minnesota, due to its apparent political agenda.
‘Sowing More Division In Our Country’
Suzanne Bates, senior writer and researcher at Americans for Fair Treatment, told the Daily Caller that the NEA should be focusing on supporting teachers who are still struggling with the aftermath of COVID-19 when it comes to classroom teaching.
The researcher also said that the NEA, which has opposed bans on critical race theory, and states that combating “institutional and structural racism” is at the forefront of its vision, is becoming inherently more political as opposed to a membership organization.
According to an Americans for Fair Treatment report, NEA gave $66 million to political organizations in the 2021–2022 school year, up from $51 million the year prior. NEA members typically pay $200 a year in membership fees, excluding local and state charges, which the report says can often add up to a final cost of around $1,000 a year.
“Instead, they are spending their members’ dues on sowing more division in our country. The NEA already spends $2 on politics for every $1 they spend representing members. At some point, they either need to admit they are a political organization, not a membership organization, or they need to get back to the important work of supporting teachers.”
The Epoch Times has contacted NEA for comment.