NEA’s Diversity Events

July 21, 2010

by Tammy Drennan

On its web site, the National Education Association has a nifty list of what it calls “Diversity Events” for the entire year.

All manner of religious holidays show up on the list, as well as things like Independence Day and Ghandi’s birthday. Then there are things you might expect, like International Literacy Day; some cutesy celebrations that may or may not do any good, like No Name Calling Week; and a few truly odd things, like “Completion of Transcontinental Railroad in 1869” (though what these have to do with diversity is a mystery).

But maybe the oddest item of all on the list is the one celebrated on October 1st — “Communist China Established.”

Here’s the little paragraph that accompanies it:

In Tiananmen Square in 1949, Mao Zedong, chairman of the Communist Party of China, proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, saying that the “Chinese people have stood up!”

The Chinese people stood up another time in Tiananmen Square, and got plowed down, but that event is not on the list.

Overall, it’s a fairly benign list, but this one item says a lot.

In spite of any set-backs the NEA has experienced in its battle against charter schools and vouchers and tenure-attacks, it is still largely the voice of public education today — the place to see where public schools are headed. It’s a big, well-funded and powerful voice at every political level, and you can be sure that a lot of savvy people working for the organization are plotting effective ways to counter the attacks on its agendas.

In the meantime, schools get worse, society coarsens, children suffer, and reformers keep thinking they have some special power — people power — that will eventually bring the NEA to its senses or its knees.

It ain’t gonna happen. Maybe that’s why the NEA celebrates Mao’s triumph.

Of course, we don’t live in communist China, so we have a choice.

We can choose to take all the energy and enthusiasm and good ideas and money we’re now throwing at public schools and create a better way. A free way. A hopeful way that will truly serve the needs of all children.

It’s something the public schools have been claiming expertise at, while demonstrating the opposite, for 160 years. Isn’t it time to face the fact that they can’t or won’t do it? Isn’t it time to take things into our own hands?

No matter how much the NEA identifies with Chairman Mao, they can’t plow us down.