Our culture is so used to the adversarial conditions in education that most people don’t know that before the 1960s there was a deep and respectful relationship between parents and teachers. Then a disturbing trend in education started. Educators started to blame parents for the problems in the classroom. The students aren’t responsible for poor test scores and dismal graduation rates. The teachers certainly aren’t. Of course not! Parents are to blame.
Parents are the ones who refuse to vote for tax increases to fund schools and pay teachers the salaries they deserve. Parents often don’t check homework, don’t attend parent-teacher conferences, and don’t provide healthy food and a positive home study experience for their children. When their precious little Johnny or Sue gets bad grades, parents erupt in outrage and blame the teacher. Parents used to be co-educators with teachers, united in a common front to teach children, but now they are villians.
How did this happen? How did parents suddenly turn into the enemy in the classroom?
The answer is clearly the National Education Association. In 1959 Wisconsin passed a collective bargaining law for public employees. The National Education Association, with only 766,000 members in 1961, is now a labor union with more than 3.2 million members today. The NEA’s purpose is not to educate students. Their purpose, as in all labor unions, is to increase membership and to keep their members employed. In order to keep the money coming in, they need an enemy to keep their members frightened of what will happen to them without the protection of their union.