Education , Family & Community

Brandon Dutcher | February 28, 2020

Lawmakers prop up OEA/NEA despite radicalism

Brandon Dutcher

For several years in a row, Oklahoma Republican lawmakers have done the bidding of the National Education Association (NEA) and its state affiliate (OEA) by refusing to enact a common-sense, pro-teacher, union reform bill.

This week, the NEA urged teachers to have transgender storytime in public schools.

There’s a direct link between those two things.

Under Oklahoma law, you don’t have to join a teachers’ union, but if you do join one your choice is limited to whatever entity has been certified at your local school. The certification vote was often taken decades ago. Should teachers want to decertify a union and seek new representation, the process is onerous and—most significantly—requires a teacher to publicly identify as a union critic and open herself up to retaliation.

Legislation this year (as in years past) would have given teachers greater leverage by requiring a “secret ballot election” on union recertification every four years. This would force unions to pay greater attention to member needs and also allow teachers to change representation if they believe a union is not serving them or is too involved in unrelated political lobbying—including things like transgender reading days in class.

Not only is this good policy but it is supported by a whopping 67 percent of Oklahoma voters (while only 13 percent oppose).

The OEA/NEA strongly opposed this year’s legislation, SB 1716. Six Republican senators sided with the OEA and voted to kill the bill in committee: Sens. Chris Kidd, R-Waurika; Tom Dugger, R-Stillwater; Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee; Paul Scott, R-Duncan; Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City; and Joe Newhouse, R-Broken Arrow.

There is similar legislation in the Oklahoma House of Representatives this year, but it too has gone nowhere—even though Republicans control all the levers of power.

And this week, the OEA/NEA urged schools to hold a Jazz & Friends National Day of School & Community Readings. As part of that event, the union recommends that teachers read three books, including one about a child who “knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body” and a book on pronoun use that breaks down “assumptions of who is ‘she’ or ‘he’ and expand beyond the binary to include ‘they’ and more.”

In years past, teachers who have read the book in class included none other than an OEA award winner who the union says represents “all that’s great” in Oklahoma public schools. 

Left-wing teacher unions are firmly allied with liberal billionaires in an explicit effort to normalize transgender children. But how does this child abuse relate to Oklahoma Republicans spiking common-sense union reforms year after year? Because of the $466 in dues paid by an Oklahoma teacher to the OEA in 2017-18, $189 went to Washington, D.C. to the NEA. That money helps directly and indirectly fund NEA programs and events like transgender reading day and a host of other left-wing causes

No doubt, many teachers don’t support a transgender reading day, and neither do many Oklahomans who send their children to public school. Yet those teachers are limited in their ability to decertify their union and stop funding such extreme political activism.

If transgender reading day occurs at your child’s school, don’t just blame the OEA/NEA. Ask the Oklahoma Republicans who control the state legislature why they continue to preserve the union’s grip on local schools.

Brandon Dutcher Senior Vice President

Brandon Dutcher

Senior Vice President

Brandon Dutcher is OCPA’s senior vice president. Originally an OCPA board member, he joined the staff in 1995. Dutcher received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma. He received a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public policy from Regent University. Dutcher is listed in the Heritage Foundation Guide to Public Policy Experts, and is editor of the book Oklahoma Policy Blueprint, which was praised by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman as “thorough, well-informed, and highly sophisticated.” His award-winning articles have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, WORLD magazine, Forbes.com, Mises.org, The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and 200 newspapers throughout Oklahoma and the U.S. He and his wife, Susie, have six children and live in Edmond.

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