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Education Reporter
NUMBER 175 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS AUGUST 2000

Pro-life Caucus Seeks Change in NEA

Christine Nowak addresses NEA delegates
A little-known group called the Educators for Life Caucus attends each NEA convention in support of "the inherent dignity of all human life." This caucus is the coordinating unit for all NEA state and local pro-lifers.

Caucus chair and 39-year NEA member Christine Nowak started the group in 1978 "when the words 'reproductive freedom' were added to the resolution package." Though the union's endorsement of abortion has never wavered, neither has opposition from Educators for Life.

"I started the caucus to change how dues are used for lobbying, amicus briefs and marches on behalf of issues that are morally repugnant to many members," Miss Nowak told one reporter at the July convention. She admitted that in the beginning, her group was "harassed," but that "a standing rule was soon passed allowing a group to disagree with NEA policy and still have a booth at the convention to express its views."

This year, the caucus sponsored "Bylaw Amendment 4," which would have allowed members to decide, after reviewing a series of options published annually in the union magazine NEA Today, where the "political activity" portion of their dues would be allocated.

According to the "Impact Statement" for the proposed amendment: "A definition of 'political activity,' a formula for its calculation, and a checklist of specific options would need to be developed." It defined the term "political activity" to include "NEA contributions to other organizations, lobbying activities, participation in coalitions, the filing of amicus briefs, supporting or opposing ballot initiatives, participating in demonstrations and marches, and staff time spent on these activities."

The Caucus also proposed removing the words "reproductive freedom" from the NEA's "Family Planning" Resolution I-12 and adding language to support a ban on partial birth abortion. (See text of Resolution I-12 on page 4.)

Though both attempts to change policy failed, caucus members plan to resubmit their amendments at next year's convention in Los Angeles. Call 716/875-4313 for more information.


 
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