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NEA Trojan Horses

A report released yesterday by the Education Sector revealed that over $8 million had been given by the National Education Association to opponents of the No Child Left Behind Act. The organization has stated before that it would help “directly or indirectly, jointly or independently” other organizations that share their same agenda.

The Education Sector, in turn, is largely made of policy analysts who worked in the Clinton Administration.

The report found though that “the NEA does not disclose many of the financial relationships with organizations that share its opposition to NCLB in ways that make the relationships clear to policymakers, the public, or even the press. Nor have many of the recipients of the NEA’s largesse publicized their financial ties to the union. As a result, many observers don’t know the relationships exist. A parent reading a newspaper story or glancing at a billboard on the way home from work can’t be expected to track down minutiae in legal documents kept on file in a government office to learn that organizations and their research and rhetoric are sponsored by NCLB’s most powerful critic and are not the independent, third-party voices that they are often portrayed as being in the media and by the NEA.”

“It is no less important for policymakers and the public to know that the NEA is funding many of the organizations that it claims are demanding changes in NCLB than it is for the public and policymakers to know that the National Rifle Association is bankrolling pro-gun groups—in both instances, transparency helps ensure the integrity of the policymaking process,” the report argued.

What is one of the most amazing facts of the entire story is that less than two years ago the NEA decried the Department of Education for giving commentator Armstrong Williams money to publicly support No Child Left Behind, while they were paying advocacy groups to do the opposite.

The Education Sector report examined many of the advocacy groups with ties to the NEA. An example is that of Communities for Quality Education. During the 2004 election, “Communities for Quality Education advertised on three billboards in downtown Cleveland. All three publicly dared moderator Gwen Ifill to ask the candidates about the shortcomings of the federal No Child Left Behind law,” the report explained. Later, the report revealed that, “What most Ohioans ¬didn’t know, however, was that the ‘education advocacy group’ was essentially a nonprofit subsidiary of the National Education Association.” The organization had many NEA members on its board.

There are many other “non-profit” organizations that are being funded by the NEA. There is also research that is being funded by the union itself.

“In February 2006, for example, the Harvard Civil Rights Proj¬ect—a well-known and prolific education policy center run by Professor Gary Orfield—released four separate studies that were critical of NCLB. The NEA funded all of them, and that fact was disclosed in each paper, but coverage of the reports by major news organizations such as Reuters and the Chicago Sun-Times made no mention of the NEA funding. Nor did the Civil Rights Proj¬ect’s press release on the research or an NEA press release praising the reports.”

The report also uncovered the Economic Policy Institute which “has been vocally opposed to NCLB and receives significant funding from teacher unions,” also had financial support from the NEA. “EPI’s Richard Rothstein, a former New York Times columnist, argued in a 2004 essay in The American Prospect that NCLB and its testing requirements were ‘doing great and needless damage’ to students. The NEA paid EPI $70,000 in 2005, a fact not disclosed in the essay,” the report stated.

The money from the NEA to groups that would speak out against the No Child Left Behind Act continued to flow. Groups that reaped financial rewards included the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Indian Education Association, the National Conference of Black Mayors, National Conference of State Legislatures and the Keystone Research Center.

Matthew Murphy is an intern at Accuracy In Academia.