Last July, the National Education Association's retiring top lawyer, Bob Chanin, speaking at the NEA's annual meeting in July, made the union's true interests transparent:
"Despite what some among us would like to believe it is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power.
"And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year, because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees. ...
"This is not to say that the concern of NEA and its affiliates with closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality and the like are unimportant or inappropriate. To the contrary. These are the goals that guide the work we do. But they need not and must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights and collective bargaining. That simply is too high a price to pay."
Left-wing radical Saul Alinsky taught his education acolytes well. Teacher organizers, he counseled, must commit to a "singleness of purpose." No, not serving children's needs, but serving the "ability to build a power base." If that isn't the dictionary definition of "special interest," what is?