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National Education Association Ethical Issues

National Education Association Ethical Issues

For the Final Project for this course, select any government or nonprofit organization for which there is
sufficient information to allow a thorough analysis of ethical or social justice issues. You may select your
own organization if it is a government or nonprofit organization, but be aware of the need for scholarly
objectivity and the need to protect confidentiality. Ethical researchers never begin any project with a
hidden agenda or predetermined conclusion. If you do choose your own organization, do not identify it by

name or precise location.
Your Final Project should include the following:

1) An introduction that describes the government or nonprofit organization, the setting, and any other
information about the organization or related background that readers need in order to understand the
organization and its ethical and social justice issues; a description of the ethical issues facing the

organization and public administrators within the organization

2) An explanation of the ethical issues related to two or more of the philosophical theories that this course


3) A summary of the major ethical challenges and conflicts of responsibility presented to individuals in the

organization and to the organization as a whole

4) A summary of the strategies that the organization uses to maintain responsible conduct
5) An explanation of your recommendations for addressing the issues, including a rationale for your
recommendations and an explanation of why they might be effective in addressing the issues, with
consideration given to the possible involvement of guerrilla government employees
6) An analysis of the factors that would affect the implementation of the recommendations by using the

ethical decision-making model

7) A description of the outcomes you would expect if the organization implemented your


8) An explanation of how the issues you raised are related to at least two of the four social justice themes

(human rights, equality, liberty, and justice)


The National Education Association is the largest professional organization, and as well
as labor union within the United States. It represents the public school teachers as well as many
other support staff working in colleges and universities, including students who are studying to
become teachers and the retired individuals. It is a volunteer based organization established in
1857, and was previously known as the National Teachers Association. It has undergone
significant changes over the years such as including women as members, changing the name and
generally improving its function. Unfortunately, there have also been negative changes, with the

organization loosing focus of what is supposed to be its main function or reason for existence.
This paper analyses the various ethical issues facing this volunteer organization which include
oppressing the philosophical theories of republican and negative liberty, it is not for the good of
all in terms of “equality”, and violating the rights of Libertarians.


Within the United States, the National Education Association is the largest professional
organization, as well as labor union, as it represents public school teachers alongside other
support personnel, the faculty and staff from colleges and universities, students who are studying
to become teachers, as well as the already retired members. This volunteer based organization
was established back in 1857, during which it was known as National Teachers Association.
However, in 1870, the name was reformed to National Education Association. Initially, women
were not members, however before the change in name, the rule was changed and they were now

allowed to also become members. The organization mainly relies on its members to finance the
Association’s work. After this incorporation, the NEA has played a major role in ensuring many
positive changes for teachers and students. The purpose of the union supporting these changes
was so they could grant people human and civil rights. For example, they advocated against
American Indians’ forced assimilation and child labor. They were able to stop these by using
research to prove to the states’ legislatures that such institutions were negatively impacting
children’s education (NEA, 2011). At this era, the NEA was indeed a true advocate for children.
In the 1920s, the United States experienced a period of teacher shortage, and since this
was part of the organization’s role, NEA researched on the possible reasons for such an outcome.
The results of their research showed that being overloaded with work, poor wages, and having
many students of different ages, some of whom could not speak English, were the main reasons
for many abandoning the teaching sector. Therefore, NEA recommended to the government that
the situation may be salvaged when a Department of Education is put in place. This department
would have a role of regulating school curriculum, training teachers, and hence improving the
quality of education offered to the students. For almost ten years after this situation, This
organization tried to increase the salaries of teachers so as to ensure they were comfortable with
their work. Soon, the Depression came into full force, and the organization signed for
membership into the Federal Advisory Committee on the Emergency in Education section. The
main purpose of this committee was to ensure that schools received assistance since it routed
federal aid towards them (NEA, 2011).
Later, in 1926, NEA formed yet another committee with the American Teachers
Association (ATA), previously known as National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools
(NATCS). This Joint Committee was aimed towards justice. Its primary goal was to improve the

quality of education offered for blacks. This would be achieved through various objectives such
as accrediting and acknowledging black schools. This was not all, the NEA also made a brave
step by taking a stance against the Japanese/ American internment camps. During this time,
soldiers were prohibited from leaving their camps in search of further education. However, after
the NEA greatly supported the G.I Bill of Rights, soldiers who wanted to further their education
were enabled to do so after the war. According to statistics, this Bill of rights paved room for
more individuals to attend college, a number that had never been witnessed before (NEA, 2011).
Higher education became for all, and not just for the wealthy people. As a result of the
organization’s continued advocacy for the minorities, a Bilingual Education Act of 1968 was
passed. In 1984, NEA also triggered the creation of a federal retirement equity law (NEA, 2011).
Ever since the inception of the NEA, ethical and social justices have been the major
drivers. This is still the case, as noted by how the organization supports Minority Community
Outreach, Priority Schools Campaign, and how they encourage the reform of Social Security
Offsets. However, it has recently been on the spotlight for various reasons. They are
discouraging merit pay, are against the No Child Left Behind Act, and are also opposing the
charter schools. The National Education Association seems to have changed from what was its
earlier stance regarding the educational excellence and advocacy. It is now turning into a
powerful political union.
The ethical and social justice issues facing this organization include educational reform
and access to education. Improving the quality of education is a major concern for most
individuals. However, for this to happen, an educational reform must take place. Ever since this
organization lost focus, its role in the education department has also become confusing. They are
no longer advocating for children to get education, or to improve the quality of education. As a

matter of fact, all the three Acts mentioned above, that NEA is against, are all reform ideas
supposed to improve the quality of education for all children. The NEA is a liberal organization;
however the same cannot be justified for its members. This is because they are being influenced
by the conservative thoughts. The NEA, therefore, is against education reform, and so are the
members. Unfortunately some of the members are not aware of what the organization’s views
are. They have not yet realized that the union leaders, who are mainly said to be liberal, are at the
fore front in making biased decisions.

Issues Related to Philosophical Theories

No Child Left Behind
The No Child Left Behind Act is one that will ensure schools become accountable. It is
relative to the Theory of Action, one which enhanced educational reform in Texas, while the
leader was Governor George W. Bush. This theory strictly requires accountability, transparency,
and choice. The No Child Left Behind Act involves a plan which expects any member within the
education field to be accountable. It also requires any data and information about schools, test
results, performance analysis and others, to be availed to anyone who needs it, including parents
(Bland, 2014). In this plan, parents should be given more choice in determining their child’s
education. By implementing this Act, the National Education Association became worried that
the government would get an opportunity to shame or embarrass them by harassing them.
Additionally, they disagreed with the government on empowering parents as they felt that it
would inhibit their roles as teachers. The Act is designed to decrease some of National Education
Association abilities of controlling education and politics, thus the organization’s aim was to
restrain accountability and parental involvement. Hence, propaganda to misinform the public

was developed. The organization sabotaged the supporters of the No Child Left Behind Act at
town hall meetings by planting their leaders amongst them to interrupt speakers with aggressive
comments and then denounce the idea (Smyth, 2008).
Merit Pay
A poll was prepared by the Democratic Leadership Council to take statistics on the
number of democrats, republicans, and independents who would support the merit pay for
teachers. The results were overwhelming with 60% democrats, 65% republicans, and 73%
independents (Hoff, 2008). This is proof that the country indeed has a great desire to make the
change However; this is a threat to unions because membership enrollments will be affected if
teachers quit the sector as the union will lose money. An issue to be noted is how most of the
teachers who are members of the union are actually being forced to pay up the union dues, and
more of them do not even want to be member’s anymore. The union subjects teachers from
different states to unfair conditions. For instance, they are all expected to pay a uniform amount,
despite the fact that their payments may differ from one state to the other. The performances of
teachers also differ, and thus they cannot all be subjected to the same payments. Some are way
better and more experienced than others. Therefore, having a uniform payment will hinder
teachers from wanting to aim for higher levels since there will be no distinction (Wright, 2003).
In this field, there are many excellent teachers who are working alongside the ineffective and
those who do not care. This, however, does not affect their payments as it is still the same for all
of them.
Charter Schools

In the present environment, the National Education Association and the American
Federation of Teachers (AFT), do not pay great attention to the underperforming traditional
schools. This is because by doing so, they will not be getting any benefits and they also do not
want the public to see what is happening. However, if the underperforming institution is a charter
school, all focus will be on it (Prothero, 2014). This is a very unfortunate situation because the
country needs diverse schools to ensure that the needs of diverse students are also met fully. As a
matter of fact, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data pointed that the
learning of minorities has increased far more in private and religious schools, compared to the
situation in traditional schools (Shober, Manna & Witte, 2006). This is because there are more
minority enrollments in charter schools than in traditional schools. There is also proof that
charter schools thrive because they are not controlled by unions, while traditional schools
controlled by unions do not last. It has also been noted that charter schools empower teachers
and principals, while unions are against such an action. To effectively hinder the action of
charter schools in the states, the union tagged on some political strings so they could get funding
for the high priced smear campaigns meant to undermine charter schools (Antonucci, 2010).
Ethical or Social Justice Issues in Terms of Philosophical Theories
By resisting the No Child Left Behind Act, the NEA is also oppressing the philosophical
theories of republican and negative liberty. There is a violation of the republican liberty of the
institution of schools since there is a greater chance that the NEA will keep on interfering and
taking steps to mitigate the progress of the NCLB. The negative liberty will always be in
jeopardy since the institution of education will never be free to make any choices without being
influenced by the NEA in the name of “equality” (Wright, 2003).

This union formed by teachers is supposed to benefit all the people involved, including
the children. The idea of teachers being given an equal pay can be related to the positive theory
of value and action, therefore it can also be given a utilitarian thought. However, since it does not
consider children, it is not for the good of all in terms of “equality”.
The Union’s opposition to charter schools may be viewed by Libertarians as a violation
to their rights. Parents must always have the freedom of choice, especially when it comes to
deciding what may be best for their children, including deciding which schools to take their
children (Wright, 2003). Therefore, the NEA has a moral obligation of ensuring this right is
upheld, especially since it is basically an education association. Hence, parents literally own the
schools and should choose according to their preference in what is known as “libertarianism”.

Major Ethical Challenges and Conflicts of Responsibility

Ethical behavior, within an organization culture can only be instilled through internal and
external controls. Internal controls are achieved by promoting ethical conduct through
encouraging professional development within the members. It is important for all members of an
organization to be informed of the new ways of being ethic, and also teaching them to identify
what is right from wrong. Professional development is one way of achieving this outcome since
members of the organization will improve their skills as well the general knowledge of ethics.
External control focuses on policies and laws. These formed policies and laws show the
members of an organization what is right and expected of them, and what is wrong that they
should avoid at all costs. If an organization can achieve a balance of these two controls, then a
positive outcome should be expected. It is important to first look at the individuals involved as
well as the organization as a whole. This consideration defines the policies formed within an

organization. Policies are basically a definition of what one can do and cannot do. Hence, the
leaders of the organization should be elected to create and uphold these policies (Prothero, 2014).
This means that they should be individuals who can model the appropriate behaviors in
members. The organizational culture affects the policy making process, and at times it can be
more effective than the internal and external controls, as well as the organization’s accountability
structure. Hence, the leader is the most influential individual and has the capability of impacting
the culture, which is very powerful on its own and can instill ethical behavior amongst members
(Shober, Manna & Witte, 2006).
Therefore, this organization is greatly challenged by the fact that its leaders are not
actually the most appropriate individuals for the position. They are confused about what their
true responsibility to the organization is all about. This is why the union can presently be
misinterpreted for a political organization. The leaders are misdirecting the members, forcefully
expecting money from them, but still the actions are not for the benefits of all involved. Another
major ethical challenge is that the organization has lost focus of what is ethical and unethical.
Instead of advocating for things that will benefit the children, avoid their discrimination, and
ensure teachers are providing quality education; the union is focused on prohibiting anything that
will not benefit teachers positively. As a matter of fact, they are against acts that are supposed to
promote education for children and improve quality. Since the union is supposed to promote
such acts, it is clear that they are being unethical in their actions.

Summary of Strategies Used by NEA to Maintain Responsible Conduct
This organization uses many strategies to maintain responsible conduct, despite the fact
that it has many ethical and social justice issues. First, it has leaders to take control of the various

activities involved within the organization. Without leaders, members of an organization would
not be capable of staying together especially since they would be disagreeing, there would be no
one to have the final say and so on (NEA, 2011). Thus, the organization has appointed different
leaders for all sections to ensure that everything runs smoothly. These leaders are also supposed
to lead others in the right way. Second, this organization has for long depended on research
projects to support its advocacy. If it needs to oppose or support a certain act, it conducts
research and uses the results as presentation to the government, showing why they should or
should not implement the change given (NEA, 2011). This makes their argument to be stronger
as it proves that they are using the right path by being ethical and thus doing the right thing for
all involved.

Recommendations for Addressing the Issue

The National Education Association is opposing educational reform, a factor that is
greatly affecting many children in many ways. First, exposure to high quality schools is being
limited since their action is advocating for the continued mediocre schools. Therefore, children
will never get the opportunity of enjoying high quality education in case their opposition
succeeds. Their opposition also discourages more children to get enrolled in schools, therefore it
also impacts the education of many more. The reason for this negative action by the NEA is that
most of its members are unaware of what is going on and they also do not really know the truth
behind the existence of this organization. Therefore, my first recommendation is that the
Department of Education should make great effort in designing programs that will enlighten the
members of the National Education Association (Wong, Wong & Ngo, 2012). This effort should
be designed in a similar way to the No Child Left Behind, by applying the Theory of Action
(Bland, 2014). This recommendation is very important as everything will change about the

organization once the members have a clear idea of what they are supporting. Currently, only a
few members know what the organization leaders have been trying to do. The second
recommendation is that NEA should finally own up and start being transparent with its data. By
hiding things from the people, the organization is not helping the trust situation that it has with
the public. This will be a step towards curbing the claims that members are being misled.
Transparency is the first step towards accepting mistakes and fixing the situation. This is because
the organization’s leaders will not be tempted to act unethically as they will know that eventually
they will have to answer for their mistakes.
Third, the NEA leaders should start being accountable for the organizations actions, and
ensuring that teachers have a choice of whether they want to become members or not. By being
accountable, leaders will know that any negative impressions given by the organization will be
linked to them. Therefore, they will be more careful in preparing their activities, and will not
only focus on selfish topics that are aimed towards benefiting them solely. Every individual has a
freedom of choice, including teachers. Hence, it is immoral to force teachers to join the union
just for the sake of getting finances from them. Fourth, school board members and parents should
also get involved with the National Education Association. Without them, schools would be
nowhere today, thus it shows they have power over the NEA. Teachers may always be tempted
to favor their section only, which is why it is always important to have another group who will
be representing the children.
If teachers had a clear view of the benefits they could receive as a result of merit pay, the
importance of the data that encouraged the development of the NCLB, the many possibilities of
charter schools, and also the reasons why NEA is opposing these changes, then the educational
reform would start internally (Hoff, 2008). The recommendations above are all targeting the

improvement of knowledge that many people have about the NEA. Therefore, once
implemented, they are all expected to be effective in handling the ethical and social justice issues
experienced by the National Education Association.
Factors Affecting the Implementation of the Recommendations mentioned
Just as with many business proposals, these recommendations will also require a lot of
financing. This is why it may be difficult for the implementation of the first recommendation by
the Department of Education. Currently, the organization is already supporting many people
financially and politically, therefore it will be very complicated for it to still be able to find
leaders who can develop a similar effort (NEA, 2011). As a result of a poor economy, the
department may be forced to focus on issues that are more urgent and give this recommendation
lesser priority. Another factor is how the NEA is already a powerhouse; hence, it means that the
implementation of these recommendations may be hindered at various points, especially since
they are supposed to create changes. Therefore, it will be very important for these reformers to
be courageous; otherwise they will not make it. Parental attitudes may also threaten the
implementation of the recommendation unless they are encouraged to meaningfully take part in
the education of their children.


If these recommendations were implemented, the teachers will be given the power to
make reformations on their own. As a result of this power, they will feel encouraged to be better
professionals as they will hope for better payments and other benefits. This step, in turn, will also
influence the quality of education offered in schools and students will feel more comfortable in
the environment. Teachers will also gain relief after they understand that the NCLB is indeed a

positive act, and it is not the government’s way of going against them as they had been initially
made to believe. After their implementation, professional development will turn out to be a
positive event and not how it previously was a negative event. Student learning will also be
increased for the diverse students, as these implementations will encourage the development of
many more charter schools.
NEA’s Opposition to Education Reform Threatens Equality, Liberty, and Justice
Justice is related to the actions of an individual as well as their moral implications.
Hence, the decisive factor here is to even out the level of welfare to all individuals involved
(Wong, Wong & Ngo, 2012). Distributive justice refers to how even the outcomes are while
considering the organizational decisions and processes. Some individuals see that expectations
and perceptions of fairness are parallel to the outcomes. This justice can be noted in the No Child
Left Behind educational improvement act. It comes as a result of the actions of individual, that
are designed to equalize the learning field and hence lead to the wellbeing of students. This
action, however, is being threatened by the NEA.
Liberty is often considered to be a state of freedom, whereby one has the ability to act
and think independently, as well as the capability of coming and leaving at one’s pleasure. It can
also be considered as freedom to leave an unjust union, and be able to participate in more
privileged activities without being intruded. The NEA is also opposing this by forcefully
expecting teachers to become members of the organization.
Political liberalism is basically an idea that humans are indeed good and have the
capability of governing themselves, however they still pick a government to lead them. This
connection between liberty and political liberalism supports freedom of an individual, most

specifically the individual liberty, human rights and many others. Political liberals are usually
more focused on autonomy, equality, and neutrality. Therefore, all these should be used together
to end up with an effective union.


The National Education Association has indeed deferred from its main purpose of
existence. Its focus currently is very different from what it used to focus on many years ago. The
people’s reaction to it previously and currently is also very different. Today, many people have
lost hope in this organization as they now feel like it is a political organization and not the
voluntary organization aimed towards fighting for the human rights of the members of the
society. This organization has an opportunity of once again becoming what the people need. All
it needs to do is to change its course, and finally focus on its purpose for existence. This should
involve fighting for the rights of children to access education, fight for a high quality education
system, and also to fight for the teachers so they can receive better salaries in future.


Antonucci, M. (2010). The long reach of teachers unions, using money to win friends influence
policy. Education Next,10(4), Retrieved from  http://educationnext.org/the-  long-reach-
Bland, A. (2014). No Child Left Behind: Why Race based Achievement Goals Violate The
Equal Protection Clause. Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, 2459-80.

Hoff, D. J. (2008). Obama Slips Merit Pay Into Larger Plan on Schools. Education Week, 28(5),
NEA, Initials. (2011). Our history. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/
Prothero, A. (2014). In Calif. and Elsewhere, Unions Seek Inroads Into Charter Schools.
Education Week, 34(3), 6.
Shober, A. F., Manna, P., & Witte, J. F. (2006). Flexibility Meets Accountability: State Charter
School Laws and Their Influence on the Formation of Charter Schools in the United
States. Policy Studies Journal, 34(4), 563-587.
Smyth, T. (2008). Who Is No Child Left Behind Leaving Behind?. Clearing House, 81(3), 133-
Wong, Y., Wong, C., & Ngo, H. (2012). The effects of trust in organisation and perceived
organisational support on organisational citizenship behaviour: a test of three competing
models. International Journal Of Human Resource Management, 23(2), 278-293.
Wright, R. E. (2003). Difficulties in Marketing the Concept of Merit Pay for Primary and
Secondary Teachers. Research For Educational Reform, 8(3), 38-45.

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