N.D. Union Bans Teacher of the Year from Reception

From Jennifer Mesko citizenlink.org : North Dakota’s new Teacher of the Year was barred from a reception held to honor top teachers because she declined to join the North Dakota Education Association (NDEA), The Associated Press reported.

Beth Ekre, a sixth-grade teacher at Carl Ben Eielson Middle School in Fargo, showed up for the Oct. 23 “Celebration of Excellence” social at a Fargo hotel, hours after her selection as North Dakota’s Teacher of the Year was announced at an NDEA instructional conference.
The event was intended to honor award-winning teachers, officials said.

Ekre said Dakota Draper, the NDEA’s president, and Linda Harsche, a public relations staffer, met her at the door and told her she could not attend because it was limited to association members.

“It was a humiliating experience,” Ekre told the AP. “It’s one of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve ever been in.”

Ekre, who has been a teacher for 16 years, said she joined the association when she began teaching but dropped out because she regards the NDEA’s parent organization, the National Education Association, as too politically liberal.
NDEA members automatically are members of the NEA and provide support to the national organization.

“This is one of many actions the NEA and its affiliates have taken that clearly demonstrate the well-being of teachers and students is not its first priority,” said Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family Action. “The NEA affiliate in California recently donated more than $1 million in an unsuccessful effort to defeat a measure protecting traditional marriage.

“But the good news is there are more and more high-quality, courageous teachers like Ms. Ekre who are rising up and refusing to let their dollars support agendas they don’t support.”