Wednesday, August 10, 2005

NEA focuses too much on political activism unrelated to education

(To put it mildly)

When one considers the local teachers union, one should remember that in many cases it is part of a statewide organization which is, in turn, part of the national organization. One such organization that should be fairly well known to most readers is the National Education Association, better known as the NEA. The NEA's Web site ( tells us: "The National Education Association (NEA) is the nation's largest professional employee organization and is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 2.7 million members work at every level of education, from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state, as well as in more than 14,000 local communities across the United States."

In all likelihood, your child's teachers pay dues to belong to this particular union. These dues come out of the teachers' paychecks, which are comprised of moneys that come from the taxpayers' checkbooks (you and me). So, what are we getting for "our" money that finds its way into the NEA's coffers? Just how does the NEA plan to "advance the cause of public education"? A good place to look for the answers is at the aforementioned Web site. Having just wrapped up its annual meeting, the NEA adopted several rather eye-opening resolutions that might surprise the average citizen.

Did you know that the NEA has joined leftists, anti-capitalists and various union groups in designating Wal-Mart as the latest whipping-boy? That's right. Regardless of the fact that Wal-Mart is consistently involved with the local community through its fundraising programs and donations - many education related, such as their "Teacher of the Year" award - the NEA now has them locked in the crosshairs. In a press release titled, Wal-Mart: Always High Costs. Always, the NEA reports, "The NEA Executive Committee has endorsed a national effort called 'Wake-Up Wal-Mart' that educates the public about the impact of Wal-Mart on its employees, their communities and our schools. As back to school approaches, there's a campaign to encourage shoppers to buy school supplies from other stores in their communities."

Can you believe this? How will your child's education improve with the act of boycotting Wal-Mart? Says the NEA: "Think you just got a bargain on those rolled back prices? Think again. You may have just helped break unions and dismantle public schools."

Meanwhile, kids get promoted from one grade to the next unable to read! Who do you think is more responsible for the state of public education today - Wal-Mart or the teachers? I'll bet you are as surprised as I was to learn that by shopping at Wal-Mart you were "dismantling" the government schools. Shame on you!

Among the other measures passed at the annual meeting under "new business items" (NBI's) was a measure "Committing NEA to develop a strategy to counter new attacks on curricula and practices that support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students and staff in public schools." If anybody knows how this "advances the cause of public education," please let me know.

What about NBI 61? This calls for President Bush and Congress to "support our troops by creating an exit strategy to end the U.S. military occupation of Iraq and bring our troops home." (Sounds to me like the same chanting one might hear at a local rally of balding/graying anti-war peaceniks.)

And finally, think how much smarter our children will be when the NEA is finished with NBI 32, calling for a study on "the feasibility of initiating a boycott of Gallo wine."

And you thought the government schools were failing simply because we weren't coughing up enough in higher taxes. Now you know that it's not as simple as that.



More parents are moving their boys into private schools earlier, leaving boys heavily outnumbered by girls in public and parish primary school classrooms. The increase in boys being enrolled in private schools is happening in kindergarten and years 3 and 5. Non-government primary school enrolments have increased steadily in the past decade, with more boys than girls, Australian Bureau of Statistics data show. St Mary's Primary School in North Sydney loses large numbers of boys in year 3 and particularly year 5 to Catholic private schools St Ignatius College, Riverview and St Aloysius College, Milsons Point.

St Mary's year 5 class has 19 girls and nine boys while the year 6 class has six boys to 13 girls. Principal Rosemary De Bono said boys who leave their primary class early miss out on leadership opportunities, such as being a peer support leader or school captain. Those who remain can benefit from their small numbers. "The boys that stay have a greater opportunity to take up leadership roles than if they go to a new school with a large population," she said.

The pressure from relatives or a long-standing tradition for males in a family to attend a particular school can force parents to pull their boys out even though they are happy where they are. "A number of parents say they don't want their child to go but there is uncertainty if their boy will get a place in year 7," Ms De Bono said. She said the boys did not seem to feel marginalised. "Working with girls as well as boys builds their development of relationships."

Brother Kelvin Canavan, from the Sydney Catholic Education Office, said the issue typically affected schools in the lower North Shore and eastern suburbs. He said congregational schools in these areas had offered boys primary education for many years. "The downside for the parish schools is their year 5 and 6 classes are predominantly girls," he said.

NSW Primary Principals Association president Roger Pryor said teachers should be able to adjust their teaching styles to cater for an imbalance of sexes in their classrooms. He said boys were unlikely to miss out on traditionally male team sports such as soccer and cricket because the Primary Schools Sports Association had many mixed teams playing in state-wide competitions.

Trinity Grammar School, in Sydney's inner west, set up an additional junior school for years 3 to 6 five years ago to cater for the growing demand from parents of boys for independent education in primary years. The school's spokesman, John Edwards, said children had a far better chance of securing a place in year 7 if they began in year 3. Entering the school earlier gave boys more time to settle into the school's culture, he said.

In 2004, 9.7 per cent of kindergarten to year 6 students went to independent schools, up from 6.2 per cent in 1993. Catholic school enrolments remained stable and government school numbers dropped over the same period.

Bill Daniels, executive director of the Independent Schools Council of Australia, said parents whose children were on a long waiting list for a secondary place would opt to enrol them in a primary grade if this guaranteed entry. He said schools were responding to this demand by expanding their junior levels. "Some independent schools that previously offered only secondary level schooling have established classes down to year 5 in response to this trend," he said. "Schools are also growing outwards, offering additional classes at each year level." Mr Daniels said more than half of independent schools combined primary and secondary levels, and some were introducing early learning childhood centres. Parents used to paying for child care were comfortable spending large sums on primary schools.

St Ignatius has phased in middle schooling for students in years 5 to 8 over the past six years. Students are gradually introduced to the structures of high schools, such as multiple teachers for different subjects. Father Robert Davoren, St Ignatius's director of middle schooling, said schools such as his could better cater for the needs of 10- to 15-year-olds. "It relates to them growing up . . . becoming more mature earlier," he said.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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