Twitter blocks Locke’s exposure of teachers’ union agenda

Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation's Center for Effective Education deals with "Twitter jail." (Carolina Journal photo by Donna King)

Listen to this story (5 minutes)

  • Twitter punished a John Locke Foundation expert for his tweets about the National Education Association's agenda.
  • The tweets highlighted NEA discussions about social justice, gender identity, teacher autonomy, abortion access, and publicizing the “struggle of the Palestinians.”

The head of the John Locke Foundation’s Center for Effective Education found himself in “Twitter jail” Wednesday. Terry Stoops faced that penalty after exposing discussion topics at a national teachers’ union’s annual meeting.

Thousands of teachers and activists are wrapping up a week of meetings in Chicago for the National Education Association annual meeting.

While parents of students in public schools are focused on students suffering learning loss after school shutdowns, campus safety, or that U.S. student math scores rank 30th of the 79 most industrialized nations, the NEA agenda this week includes multiple proposals that focus on social justice, gender identity, teacher autonomy, abortion access, and publicizing the “struggle of the Palestinians.”

Stoops, director of the Center for Effective Education, was blocked from his account after tweeting out some of the discussion topics listed on the NEA conference website. Twitter removed four of his tweets and prevented him from accessing his page.

“I obtained the source document from a publicly accessible website, so I would not consider any tweet containing information from that document to be private,” said Stoops. “The truth is that NEA bosses wanted to keep its conference agenda private because it laid bare their obsession with social justice and appalling disregard for the needs of public school children and educators.”’

The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) is an affiliate member of the NEA.

One of the most notable items on the agenda is the NEA proposal to distribute “fact sheets” discrediting 25 organizations that are promoting policies they say are intended to “dismantle public education.” Likely targets would be groups that promote policies like school choice and a Parents’ Bill of Rights.

“These fact sheets should include, but not be limited to, information about these organizations’ funding sources, their leaders within the organizations, connections to known entities that are seeking to dismantle public education, organization headquarters and chapter locations, characteristics of employed campaign strategies used by these organizations, and connections to known entities that are seeking to dismantle public education,” the NEA conference agenda read. The 50 delegates who submitted the proposal, led by New Jersey teacher Melissa Tomlinson,  estimated that the effort would cost the teachers’ union more than $140,000.

“They seem incapable of talking about what really matters: student learning,” added Stoops, “I am comforted knowing that the union continues to lose members, dues, and influence, particularly in North Carolina,” Stoops added.

The NEA is putting boots on the ground in North Carolina to demonstrate and promote its agenda, tapping the political weight of NCAE and its protest arm, Organize2020. NCAE and Organize2020 recently launched a coalition called H.E.A.L. – Honest Education Action and Leadership, designed to push back on parent protests against Critical Race Theory and mandatory masking.

Masking and vaccines have been a point of discussion in the NEA conference this week, as some members filed a proposal to endorse nationwide mandatory school masking and COVID vaccinations as an official part of the union platform.

“The NEA will work with state affiliates to support a national policy of mandatory masking and COVID vaccines in schools, as well as high-quality virtual education for immuno-compromised students and all families who want it,” the new business item reads.

During the COVID pandemic, N.C. public schools were shut down for a year of in-person learning by an executive order from Gov. Roy Cooper, issued with vocal support from the NCAE.

“News of my stint in Twitter purgatory has extended the life of my original tweets, so it’s been a net positive,” said Stoops. “However, if Twitter does not resolve my appeal soon, I will take the next logical step and reach out to Elon Musk.”