By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director
To teach is to touch the future.
So true. My former students are now coding software, engineering structures, managing businesses, and dispensing prescriptions. They are mothers, fathers, consumers, and citizens active in my community and in many others. Occasional chance meetings allow me to learn where some of my middle schoolers of the 90’s have landed. Sometimes I am quite surprised.
For several years I got to play a small role in the development of today’s younger adults. Like other educators, it was a desire to nurture the hidden potential within each child that prompted me to become a teacher.
And it was precisely because of that desire that I quit the teachers’ union.
When I learned that the National Education Association, the largest union in the nation with almost 3 million members, supported “reproductive rights”, I could no longer pay the required dues. How could I support an educational organization that was complicit in eliminating our very clientele? If teachers were called to see the potential in every child, how could we ignore the potential of the pre-born and advocate for their termination? The irony shocked me, the hypocrisy plagued me, and I ultimately quit the union, hoping that one day things would change.
Sadly, the NEA has since doubled-down on their support for abortion. While identifying themselves as the nation’s leading advocate for children, they recently added Business Item 56 to their agenda, which states that the union “vigorously opposes all attacks on the right to choose and stands on the fundamental right to abortion under Roe v. Wade.”
I continue to be mystified. Why does an educational organization whose mission of improving public schools take a position on this issue? How about sticking to negotiating fair salaries and lobbying for lower student-teacher ratios in the classroom? How about promoting strategies for greater parental involvement and supporting successful inclusion practices for all children? There are a plethora of issues to address but abortion shouldn’t be one of them.
When I refused to join the union at my second teaching job, I was paid a visit by the president of the local affiliate. She said I could be sued by a student and would not have union advocacy and legal protection. It’s interesting that fear, which is almost always at the root of abortion, was being used to persuade me to join the union.
When that didn’t work, she told me I was ruining the 100% union membership of which the school had boasted for several years. I was able to direct her attention to a poster I had just hung in my classroom. “Stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone.” That poster wasn’t there for just my students, it was a much-needed reminder to me as well.
Exasperated, she left my classroom with the promise to send another teacher and union member who was pro-life to speak to me. I nervously awaited his visit.
When he stopped by the next day, we sat and had a good, honest, and lengthy talk. In the end, he decided he could no longer support a union that supported abortion. I was grateful for his courageous change of heart. If the two of us refused membership on the basis of abortion, would others join us? Could we at least get people thinking and talking about this issue rather than simply accepting the NEA’s misguided position?
No teacher should have to pay several hundred dollars annually to an organization that lobbies for the abortion of future students. There is nothing pro-child, pro-teacher, or pro-education about that. Teaching should be about touching the future, not killing it.