Ray Carter | February 21, 2020
Teacher union gives ‘F’ grades to Oklahoma delegation
The National Education Association (NEA), whose state affiliate is the largest teachers’ union in Oklahoma, has given F grades to the majority of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation in its Legislative Report Card for the first session of the 116th Congress.
The NEA gave F grades to U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City. Among Oklahoma’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Reps. Kevin Hern, R-Tulsa; Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville; and Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, were all given F grades by the union. U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, received a C. Only U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Oklahoma City, received an A.
On its web page for Oklahoma, the NEA describes Horn, the state delegation’s lone Democrat, as the only member of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation to “support public education in your state.”
A wide range of votes and issues were used to calculate lawmakers’ scores on the NEA report card. Many of those issues are outside what many citizens typically think of as “education” issues. For example, lawmakers who supported a funding bill passed by the Democratic-controlled U.S. House that included “funding for gun violence research” were given higher grades on the NEA report card.
Similarly, lawmakers who supported the federal Equality Act, which would create new legal rights based on “gender identity,” were given higher grades.
The NEA also supported legislation to provide a path to citizenship to individuals who entered the United States illegally, often as children. The union said that proposal would benefit “an estimated 37,000 educators currently working in our nation’s public schools.”
The NEA also supported the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, a gun-control law that the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action has said is “unenforceable without a comprehensive national registry of firearms.”
Of the 243 U.S. representatives who received an A from the NEA, just nine were Republicans. Of the 48 U.S. senators to receive an A, only one was a Republican.
On the other hand, of the 153 U.S. representatives who received an F, 152 were Republicans, including one Republican who became an Independent during the session. All 46 U.S. senators who received an F were Republicans.
At the state level, the NEA, through its state affiliate Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), has supported slightly more Republicans, although the union’s support goes heavily to Democratic candidates. The NEA/OEA endorsed 10 Republicans currently serving in the Legislature during the 2018 election cycle.
Director, Center for Independent Journalism
Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.