At its nationwide annual meeting last week, the National Education Association (NEA) rejected mandatory vaccination of K-12 students and staff but supported a campaign to teach Critical Race Theory.
The decisions are relevant to Vermont public education because the Vermont NEA is the largest educators’ union in Vermont and has significant influence in the Legislature and other government policymaking bodies.
Delegates to the virtual meeting turned down Business Item #33 to “call for mandatory safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations and testing for all students and staff before returning to face-to-face instruction in the fall, subject to medical exceptions in accordance with existing law, and will widely publicize this position via social media. We will further call for and publicize that safety measures such as social distancing, masking, and proper ventilation be mandatory for all.”
The delegates approved measure #39: “The NEA will, with guidance on implementation from the NEA president and chairs of the Ethnic Minority Affairs Caucuses:
A. Share and publicize, through existing channels, information already available on critical race theory (CRT) — what it is and what it is not; have a team of staffers for members who want to learn more and fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric; and share information with other NEA members as well as their community members.
B. Provide an already-created, in-depth, study that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society, and that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.
C. Publicly (through existing media) convey its support for the accurate and honest teaching of social studies topics, including truthful and age-appropriate accountings of unpleasant aspects of American history, such as slavery, and the oppression and discrimination of Indigenous, Black, Brown, and other peoples of color, as well as the continued impact this history has on our current society. The Association will further convey that in teaching these topics, it is reasonable and appropriate for curriculum to be informed by academic frameworks for understanding and interpreting the impact of the past on current society, including critical race theory.
D. Join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project to call for a rally this year on October 14—George Floyd’s birthday—as a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression. Followed by one day of action that recognize and honor lives taken such as Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and others. The National Education Association shall publicize these National Days of Action to all its members, including in NEA Today.
E. Conduct a virtual listening tour that will educate members on the tools and resources needed to defend honesty in education including but not limited to tools like CRT.
F. Commit President Becky Pringle to make public statements across all lines of media that support racial honesty in education including but not limited to critical race theory.