By Bill Korach
Last week, The Report Card interviewed Finn Laursen Executive Director of the Christian Educators Association International (CEAI), an organization founded in 1953 whose mission is to encourage, equip and empower educators according to Biblical Principles. Mr. Laursen was a former Firelands Local School District Superintendent in Loraine County Ohio, earning his MA in education at Ohio State University. Most of CEAI’s membership are public school teachers and subscribe to principles that include promoting educational excellence as an expression of Christian commitment, preserving our Judeo-Christian heritage and values through education, promoting the legal rights of Christians in public schools and providing resources and benefits for educators including professional liability insurance.
Mr. Laursen says: “Although CEAI is not a union, we offer Christian teachers in the public school system an alternative to teacher’s unions whose values are in many ways in opposition to the values of Christian teachers. CEAI members get $1 Million in legal liability coverage in the event that they are sued for any cause related to their profession.” One has only to read The Report Card or follow the news to know of the all-to-frequent attacks by the ACLU against America’s Judeo Christian Heritage.
The dominant teacher’s union in America, The National Educational Association (NEA) claims membership of 3,200,000 members and has an annual budget of over $300 Million. The NEA’s top priority is member benefits and political power, not educational quality. Steven Jobs, Apple Founder said: for “unless the unions were broken, there is no hope for educational reform.” The NEA has opposed any and all reforms like school vouchers and tax credits that would weaken their monopoly grip on public schools. The NEA’s unholy alliance with the Department of Education have driven spending on education to over $650 Billion annually according to the CATO institute, while America’s educational performance continues to drop. American students score in the bottom third for math and science among developed nations according to a recent McKinsey study. In many urban school districts, high school drop out rates are 40% or higher. At the same time, the NEA has fully embraced a worldview that denigrates America’s Judeo-Christian heritage. History and social studies courses frequently depict Americans as racist oppressors, greedy capitalists, and homophobes. The NEA supports the abortion lobby, the gay agenda, Radical Islam, and Agenda 21 a global, socialist world view that tend to be in conflict with the views of Christian teachers.
Mr. Laursen says: “CEAI became the first national organization of professional Christian educators serving in public, private and charter schools. In the 1990’s many Christian public school teachers felt that the NEA no longer spoke for them and wanted out. CEAI is a leader in promoting the rights of religious persons in public education and in providing benefits for educators including $1 million in legal liability coverage in the event of a lawsuit.” Mr. Laursen points out that teachers can be sued personally. He points to the case of John Freshwater, a Mt. Vernon, Ohio teacher sued over a science experiment but only found guilty of teaching evolution critically and refusing to take a Bible off his desk. Mr. Freshwater, whose case was covered in these pages last week, was terminated by the Mt. Vernon School Board. The CEAI helped Mr. Freshwater connect with the Rutherford Institute that has filed his case with the Ohio Supreme Court.
Mr. Laursen says that his members regard teaching as a calling and to encourage them CEAI offers a daily devotional, and the magazine Teachers of Vision. CEAI counsels teachers on their First Amendment rights in the classroom; a valuable tool teachers can use to defend their rights as Christians and educators. Mr. Laursen says: “There are a great many misconceptions about the rights of Christian teachers, student led prayer and other matters. We have a relationship with the Liberty Council, a law firm that defends teaching of Judeo-Christian values in the classroom and they say ‘if you teach what’s right, we’ll defend you.’”
Mr. Laursen says: “Although CEAI is not a union and does not engage in collective bargaining for teacher contracts, teachers fed up with the NEA can join CEAI and we will get them out of the union without loss of contract protection.” Mr. Laursen says that some states are “closed shop” requiring teachers to join the union, but CEAI can still help.
The CEAI is well known in the secular world and Mr. Laursen is often an invited speaker at educational events around the country. Mr. Laursen believes that there are about 600,000 Christian teachers in the public school system, but only 7500 belong to the CEAI. He believes that small number is because many teachers are unaware of CEAI, but he is aware that many Christian teachers are fearful of the rapid slide in public school morality and the concomitant moral confusion. Mr. Laursen welcomes anyone in the Christian community to take advantage of the CEAI website www.ceai.org/ He encourages teachers to contact CEAI with any questions regarding membership and draws attention to the Daniel project for Christian teacher leadership in public schools: http://www.tentm.org/public-schools.html