The Association of American Educators (AEE) are words with meaning and hope. While maneuvering among different educational venues in cyberspace a September 17 story in Insight Magazine by writer John Berlau caught my eye. Reading the story brought me hope for the educational future of our nation.
The AAE is an alternative professional organization for teaching professionals who can no longer abide the tyranny and philosophies of the National Education Association (NEA). It has apparently been around since the mid 1990s although its existence is welcome news to many. Take a cyberspace look for yourself at: www.aaeteachers.org.
Not being a professional educator, I have long been baffled by the strangle hold which the NEA seems to have had over its membership. When I would ask teachers about the influence and manipulation of the NEA they would usually shake their heads and say theres nothing we can do about it. Theres no other professional organization to watch out for teachers, so we settle for what we have.
Thank goodness some educators could not continue to live under that scenario. Although harassment and intimidation by the NEA has and is still attempting to quell the influence of AEE, it appears to be a losing battle.
There are over 250,000 current members. This is only 10 percent of the NEAs membership, but AEEs numbers are growing. Many things are attracting educators to the professional atmosphere of AEE.
They include such things as AEEs position supporting much higher standards for students and teachers; its position that schools should integrate academic, character and citizenship; the avoidance of both political correctness and political coercion by the organization taking public stands on issues far outside the educational realm.
These are just some of the things which have upset and frustrated numerous NEA members, i.e., the fact that the organization takes over their identity and opinion via group think. Many NEA members have long objected to the organization forcing them to pay dues, and then taking positions well outside of the educational realm, and far a-field from their own personal opinions.
The NEA seems to have gone the way of many well-intended unions. Greed has gotten in the way of goals for the betterment of many. Washington States organization is facing embezzlement charges to the tune of $2 million. The FBI has already confiscated fur coats and designer clothes, as well as a $57,000 tea set from the Washington folks.
Political involvement with the Democratic Party has also gotten the NEA into serious trouble. Investigations by the Landmark Legal Foundation uncovered documents which refer to the NEA as part of a party coordinated campaign in 1996 to turn out democratic votes on behalf of the entire Democratic ticket. That would be hard to misinterpret in any ethical court.
It is heartening to know that more than a fledging organization is alive and well within the public educational ranks. AEE needs to become as familiar an acronym as the NEA. People need to hear the good news that in fact there are educators that still hold to high standards, are sophisticated and mature enough to know that abstract concepts must be integrated into a childs education and that discipline and diligence are not four letter words.
There are many reasons to get discouraged when it comes to public education. Well, the Association of American Educators is certainly not one of them. These folks pass the publics test of concern for education with flying colors.
~ Powell Tribune - September 2003
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