To follow is an open letter to NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia written by teacher and parent Kevin Ohlandt and originally posted on Exceptional Delaware.
Dear Lily Eskelsen Garcia,
As President of the National Education Association, I am very curious why the NEA Foundation accepts money from the Gates Foundation. While that foundation does have some very noble projects going on with health issues in Africa, they also have some very disturbing things that have caused serious disruption in public education. I can’t remotely fathom how anything even associated with the largest teachers union in the country would want anything to do with the Gates Foundation.
Gates and all the other foundations that support corporate education reform want to bust the teachers unions. They want to privatize education and make schools 21st Century community learning centers. Everything the NEA stands for will eventually crumble to dust. Gone will be a teacher instructing a class. Instead, they will get training on how to guide students on their 1:1 devices.
I am not a teacher. I’m a parent. I understand NEA is about teachers. But lately, at least in terms of leadership, it seems like those leaders are all about themselves and their personal quest for power. It isn’t even about the teachers anymore. If I were a teacher, I would consider it a slap in the face knowing NEA actually collaborates with these entities.
I can only assume you are well-connected with these organizations and know exactly what they are planning. As an education blogger, I’ve written about it as have many others. The writing is on the wall but you seem to be worried about that one tiny corner in the room with a tiny cobweb. At least that’s what you tell your membership. I find it abhorrent you would sell out those who elected you.
But what I find even more bizarre is the buzzwords coming out of NEA and all these education organizations pretending they know what is best for children. If you are following the corporate mantras then you lost touch with what is best for kids a long time ago. This makes you, NEA leadership, and the NEA Foundation a part of the problem, not a hope for a solution.
When I first began blogging over two years ago, I soon find myself rooting for teachers. I joined the Badass Teachers Facebook page and began to see how all of this affected teachers. But I find myself wondering why the supposed leadership of teachers is getting in bed with companies that want to destroy you and your membership.
I would like you to explain this. Not for me, but for the hundreds of thousands of teachers who elected you as President of the NEA. Also for the students who are under the care of teachers for 1/3rd of their life until they graduate high school.
I understand many will take offense to this very open and public letter to you. But I also know what is coming up in the very near future, based on the seeds planted by the privatizers of education. You keep watering those plants and they will weed out what is left of public education. I warned you and AFT about jumping on the Every Student Succeeds Act and begging your membership to support it before the final legislation came out. That law will destroy NEA and the American Federation of Teachers.
You seem more concerned with Donald Trump lately than the very real danger facing teachers as every state in the country submits their ESSA state plans. It doesn’t matter who the next President of this country is. Our national government sold their souls to corporations and foundations a long time ago. This is all just distraction so they can get their final pieces in play. I suppose that is why the NEA Foundation is actually helping to fund all these ed tech conferences and global future forums. It is complete nonsense and they are taking teachers money and investing it in what will replace them. Doesn’t that bother you in the slightest?
In my viewpoint, this is like the snake giving you the apple. But you don’t just take a bite out of it, you start taking tons of apples, begin making apple pies, and sell them for the snake. It is just wrong. If you can’t look out for teachers and their future, please step down. And for those who are also subscribed to these viewpoints in NEA and AFT, you should step down as well. The price for teachers and students is too big to have power brokers dancing with the devil. I’m sure the viewpoint of parents is the last thing on your mind, but we are sick and tired of those who think they know what is best for our children but are selling them out behind the scenes. You seem to forget that today’s students are tomorrow’s teachers. What you do to them now will make sure NEA will become an archived post on Wikipedia that gets less readers by the year.
If you want our schools to become personalized learning competency-based career tracking community schools of the future, where students have no privacy and everything is catalogued while they earn to learn, then please, go work for a cyber charter school. If not, then please detach from any corporation that wants to destroy what you lead. Only then will I truly believe you have teachers best interests in mind. Your job should be leading teachers away from this madness, not embracing it.