How in the world is the George Zimmerman murder trial connected with the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers?
That question immediately came to mind when we read a Washington Post article reporting that the two teachers’ unions were urging the Department of Justice to investigate Zimmerman.
The two groups are asking their membership to sign petitions to the Justice Department, saying that Zimmerman must face the consequences of his actions. The NEA is supporting an NAACP call for federal civil rights charges to be filed against Zimmerman.
To be sure, the death of Florida teen-ager Trayvon Martin was a tragic event that should never have happened. Not knowing all of the intricacies of the case, we can only hope that the six-woman jury who heard testimony in the case and acquitted Zimmerman of all charges made the right decision. Whatever the case, the jury system is a fundamental underpinning of our nation’s justice system — despite its flaws.
But what puzzles us is why the teachers’ unions want to become embroiled in the aftermath of the verdict.
According to the Post, the NEA told its members, in part: “As educators, it is our responsibility to our students to set the example by acting to seek justice, to teach fairness, and to provide comfort to students and families who grieve.”
While that is both noble and admirable, it begs the question how exactly the two unions will decide when to become involved in other court cases and societal issues that are not directly related to education and the public school system.
It will be interesting to see which other causes the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers will take up in the future — and which ones they will let slide.