FEBRUARY 26, 2011
BY MIKE ANTONUCCI
Amid substantial membership losses and a $14 million shortfall in its general operating budget, the National Education Association plans to double each active member’s annual contribution to the national union’s political and media funds.
Currently, $10 of each active member’s NEA dues is allocated to these special accounts. The more than $20 million collected each year is then disbursed to state affiliates and political issue campaigns – such as last year’s SQ 744 in Oklahoma. A portion of the money also pays for state and national media buys to support the union’s agenda.
But the most recent numbers show NEA lost more than 54,000 active K-12 members since this time last year. Coupled with less-than-expected increases in the average teacher salary – upon which NEA dues are based – the union will find itself with $14 million less revenue than it had planned. This includes about $500,000 less in the political and media funds.
Faced with unfriendly legislatures and governors seeking to roll back the union’s influence, the NEA Executive Committee decided to double down – literally. It proposed raising each active member’s assessment to $20, effective in September 2011. The union’s board of directors ratified the decision, and it will go before the NEA Representative Assembly for a vote this July in Chicago. If passed, NEA’s national dues for teachers will total $178.
The increase in the assessment has a five-year sunset clause, but this is just eyewash, since the last time the contribution was doubled – from $5 to $10 in 2004 – it also had a five-year sunset clause. The 2007 NEA Representative Assembly made the $10 contribution permanent.
NEA is already the top political campaign spender in the nation. This increase will give the national union an additional $40 million per election cycle. The increase alone is larger than all but two other groups spent during the entire 2007-08 cycle.