As this is being written, we’re into Day 7 of Oklahoma public education being held hostage by a walkout engineered by the Oklahoma Education Association, and Day 8 is now confirmed.
But what is the Oklahoma Education Association and what are its objectives? Or better yet, why should your tax dollars be supporting causes that are far outside of the mainstream?
There is little need to rehash the causes of the work stoppage other than to note teachers continue to march upset they were voted a 16 percent (on average) pay raise. The average worker would be quite thrilled with such a pay hike, but that’s not enough to appease the OEA, which has steadfastly managed to move the goalposts (first it was all about pay then it was about textbooks, then it was about classroom overcrowding), making it impossible to reach any resolution.
If it appears the OEA’s objective all along is the Capitol chaos we are witnessing, it’s because that’s exactly what it’s all about. The OEA has been itching for this fight, damn any reasonable discussions.
However, while the teachers have been underpaid (and there is no argument about that) in Oklahoma, OEA’s top officers have been living quite comfortably off union dues, which come from public school teachers’ pay, which is, of course, derived from taxes.
According to the most recently available filing of IRS form 990, an annual filing requirement for tax exempt organizations, in 2016 OEA President Alicia Priest was pulling down a cool $92,349 (or about three times the average teacher salary). Its executive director, David Duvall, was really living the life, raking in $152,091, above most school superintendents’ pay.
OEA listed just under $6 million in revenue and total assets of nearly $7.6 million.
Infused with hubris and funding, the OEA has shown itself to be completely inflexible, with Priest recently stating that teachers can only declare victory when the Legislature passes what she considers to be an amount that is “an appropriate manner” to fund education. Not surprisingly, she could not state how much funding that would involve. One would think somebody pulling down three times the amount of their members would be able to give at least some kind of figure.
However, to truly understand OEA, go to its website — okea.org — and check out its links as another person advised me to do.
There, you will get a full-on look at the far-left agenda of the OEA and its parent organization, the National Education Association.
For example, OEA members are urged to contact Congress to support “800,000 Dreamers” by pressing for passage of the so-called Dream Act to prevent the potential deportation of illegal immigrants by sending a digital postcard. They also can sign a pledge to support DACA. Members can also click on a link to United We Dream, an advocacy group, described at ballotpedia.org as advocating “for access to higher education and for legal status for those residing in the country without legal permission.” (Emphasis added.)
OEA’s link to United We Dream includes a “Deportation Defense Card” so that teachers will “know how to respond during an immigration raid.” (How about this as a possible response: Act in a responsible and legally appropriate manner.) United We Dream also offers various other “toolkits” such as how to “create sanctuary” for illegal immigrants.
OEA also provides resource links to the Center For American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank founded by John Podesta, former White House Chief of Staff under Bill Clinton, to push its DACA agenda. According to leftexposed.org, CAP also received significant funding from George Soros.
For a dizzying journey down the left-wing rabbit hole, go to the NEA website, where it advocates, among other things, restricting Second Amendment rights and support for the politically hijacked “March for Our Lives.” It even incredibly brags: “In the recently-passed 2018 Omnibus spending bill, we were successful in getting language from the STOP School Violence Act, which prohibits funding for purchasing firearms or firearms training for educators, included in the legislation.”
Better to have gun-free zones than to train educators to defend students apparently.
OEA’s agenda goes far beyond wages and takes a hard left turn into advocacy of policies that are anathema to common-sense Oklahomans, who, through their taxes — which are going through a significant hike — are helping to fund and being told it’s not enough.
However, each day the walkout continues, the OEA overplays its hand, and the growing sentiment becomes enough is enough, more so when OEA’s full agenda is exposed.