The Wall Street Journal asks its readers to take a pop quiz:
Who’s donated the most money to an effort in California to defeat Proposition 8, an initiative on the November 4 ballot that would define marriage as between a man and a woman in the state?
A) Gay-advocacy organizations
B) Civil-rights groups
C) The California Teachers Association
If you guessed “C,” you understand the nature of modern liberal politics. And if you didn’t, perhaps you’re wondering what exactly gay marriage has to do with K-12 public education. The high school dropout rate is 1-in-4 in California and 1-in-3 in the Los Angeles public school system, odds that worsen considerably among black and Hispanic children. So you might think the CTA, the state’s largest teachers’ union, would have other priorities.
Yet last week the union donated $1 million to the “No on Proposition 8” campaign. Of the roughly $3 million raised by opponents of the measure so far, $1.25 million has come from the teachers’ union. “What does this cause have to do with education?” said Randy Peart, a public school teacher in San Juan who was contacted by a local television station. “Why not put that money into classrooms, into making a better place for these kids?”
In fact, the CTA and its parent organization, the National Education Association, have used tens of millions of dollars in mandatory teachers’ dues to advance all manner of left-wing political causes. And members like Ms. Peart are right to ask questions. In some years barely a third of the NEA’s budget has gone toward improving the lot of teachers themselves.
In addition to vigorously fighting school choice and other reforms that benefit underprivileged children but threaten the public education monopoly, the NEA has directly (or via state affiliates) bankrolled Acorn, the Democratic Leadership Council, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and, naturally, the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.”
Public school teachers of America, take note. This is your dues money at work.