Accuracy in Media reviews this summer's NEA convention and titles their piece "Conflict of Interest".
In 2003, the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) ranked the United States 18 out of 24 competing developed countries in educational effectiveness. In the face of such negative results, one would—mistakenly—expect to hear American teachers passionately call for systematic reform of our public schools. After all, education is about the students, right? Apparently not.(snip)
Other organizations have similarly noted the possibility of an NEA conflict of interest, prompting the NEA to emphatically deny these claims. The NEA web article "Setting the Record Straight: Responding To Attacks On the Association" asserts that "NEA is a union and a professional organization. It exists to improve the quality of public schools and the salaries and working conditions of its members. The two purposes are closely related." (emphasis original). The NEA also accuses "ultra-conservative teacher organizations" of hypocritically opposing NEA unionism while being simultaneously quick to take advantage of union benefits.And from "Setting the Record Straight":
Granted, the 'purposes are closely related' but what many of us see is the union putting their goals as a union above the goals of a professional organization. Better working conditions does not necessarily result in a better education for the students. Happier teachers, perhaps, but smarter students...that's a connection I don't think can be made. Too often protecting employees trumps legitimate accountability or reform that would be better for the reputation of the profession as well as the education of the children. Somehow it's ok to sue the medical profession for malpractice but not the educational. Despite the fact that both are inexact sciences.
NEA is a union, not a professional organization. It cares about improving salaries and working conditions for its members; not about school quality and student achievement.
NEA is a union and a professional organization. It exists to improve the quality of public schools and the salaries and working conditions of its members. The two purposes are closely related. Better working conditions for teachers mean better learning conditions and higher educational quality for students. Higher salaries are important to help schools retain qualified teachers; and low teacher turnover is key to high school quality. And when teachers earn decent salaries, they don't have to take second jobs and can spend more time on classroom preparation.
And I'll put my usual disclaimer in here: there is a difference between union leadership and how the union is run and most classroom teachers.