(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — In the three months since U.S. Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (WI-05) introduced the Stopping Teachers Unions from Damaging Education Needs Today (STUDENT) Act, a growing coalition of 31 conservative policy organizations from around the country have endorsed the groundbreaking proposal to overhaul the National Education Association’s (NEA) federal charter.
“The growing outpouring of support for the STUDENT Act is a testament to the importance of reining in corrupt, out-of-control teachers unions like the NEA,” said Maxford Nelsen, the Freedom Foundation’s director of research and government affairs.
In addition to being the country’s largest teachers union, the NEA has the distinction of being the only labor union to hold a federal charter. Issued by Congress in 1906, the charter designates the NEA as one of 95 “patriotic and national organizations” recognized by the U.S. government.
However, as the union’s focus has shifted from educational quality to partisan politics, it has become increasingly out-of-step with many Americans’ views and values.
To address this unwelcome evolution, the STUDENT Act would overhaul the NEA charter from top to bottom. Among other things, the legislation would:
- prohibit the NEA from engaging in electoral politics and lobbying, a restriction already included in 60 percent of federal charters;
- require the NEA to submit an annual report to Congress;
- fully repeal the NEA’s D.C. property tax exemption;
- prohibit the NEA from collecting dues from a public employee unless the employee has been notified of his or her right to refuse — and affirmatively consented — and require the NEA to collect dues without the use of government payroll systems;
- prohibit taxpayer-funded release time for NEA officers;
- bar the NEA from incorporating the core tenets of Critical Race Theory into its governance, operations and advocacy;
- subject the NEA and its affiliates to the financial transparency requirements and union democracy protections of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act; and,
- require the NEA to refrain from initiating, and to actively intervene to prevent, any strikes or work stoppages by its affiliates.
The diverse list of organizations backing the STUDENT Act includes national organizations, state-based groups, public interest litigation nonprofits, grassroots organizations, groups focused on economic policy, parent’s rights advocates and others.
The complete list of organizations endorsing the STUDENT Act includes:
- Alabama Policy Institute
- Alaska Policy Forum
- Americans for Fair Treatment
- Beacon Impact
- California Policy Center
- Center of the American Experiment
- Commonwealth Foundation
- Consumer Action for a Strong Economy
- Defense of Freedom Institute
- Freedom Foundation
- Goldwater Institute
- Heartland Impact
- Heartland Institute
- Heritage Action
- Idaho Freedom Foundation
- Independent Women’s Voice
- Institute for Reforming Government Action
- Institute for the American Worker
- John Locke Foundation
- Mackinac Center for Public Policy
- Maine Policy Institute
- Nevada Policy
- Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs
- Palmetto Promise Institute
- Parents Defending Education Action
- Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity
- Rio Grande Foundation
- Upper Midwest Law Center
- Washington Policy Center
- Young America’s Foundation
At least one other organization, the Mountain States Policy Center, has written favorably about the proposal.
Fitzgerald’s legislation, H.R.4705, currently has 18 congressional co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal charters.
“As the House emerges from the difficult process of selecting a new speaker, one thing that should unite conservatives is the importance of addressing the NEA’s toxic influence on our schools, students, political system, and even the educators it claims to represent,” said Nelsen.
“From coast-to-coast, conservative organizations are calling on Congress, beginning with the House Judiciary Committee, to take decisive action and give Rep. Fitzgerald’s STUDENT Act the serious consideration it deserves.”
For more information on the STUDENT Act, see the Freedom Foundation’s report, “Rethinking the National Education Association’s Federal Charter” and our joint op-ed with Rep. Fitzgerald in the Wall Street Journal.
Director of Research and Government Affairs