Tag Archives: NEA

“I’m Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) and Now, the Fake News.”

by Larry Sand of California Teachers Empowerment Network

Teachers union makes news with meaningless words and a misleading poll.

Norm MacDonald is famous for opening the comedic news segment on Saturday Night Live by introducing himself and telling the audience that it’s time for the “fake news.” I thought of this when, at the recent American Federation of Teachers convention, President Randi Weingarten essentially said that bad teachers should find new jobs. Her words were dutifully reported by a compliant press, but it didn’t take much to see that the comment was devoid of any conviction whatsoever.

Responding to Weingarten’s comment that “…if someone can’t teach after they’ve been prepared and supported, they shouldn’t be in our profession,” EAG’s Ben Velderman pointed out,

Notice the huge caveat in Weingarten’s comment: “after they’ve been prepared and supported.”

Weingarten is actually saying that incompetent and ineffective teachers should have lots of time and assistance to improve their classroom performance.

In fact, “lots of time” would be an eternity or so, with the teacher in question going through a battery of master teachers, on-site administrators, coaches, peer assistance review teams, and then various administrative panels, lawyers, endless appeals, all with a tree-killer paper trail. Hence, there is nothing but empty rhetoric here.

Mike Antonucci gives Weingarten’s comment an historical perspective, enumerating high- sounding teacher union leader’s past proclamations which did nothing to change the moribund status quo. He links Weingarten’s merit pay speech in 2008 in which she says she is “willing to discuss new approaches to issues like teacher tenure and merit pay.” Yet when the rubber hit the road in 2010, Weingarten fought DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee tooth and nail on these very issues. It was as if the union boss had forgotten that she made any noise about tenure and merit pay.

Antonucci goes back to 1997 when National Education Association president Bob Chase made a feel-good speech in which he acknowledged the existence of the “vast majority of Americans who support public education, but are clearly dissatisfied. They want higher quality public schools, and they want them now.”

Since his speech a full generation of children has passed through the entire pre-K to 12 public school system. What changes we have seen during that time have come with the teachers’ unions trailing behind, yelling “stop!” I have seen the future, and it is more of the same.

Just as fraudulent as Weingarten’s tough talk on bad teachers is a new AFT “poll,” the results of which were reported on solemnly by union cheerleaders like The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss. This push poll’s intentionally skewed results were used by Weingarten and the true believers in the press to hammer home the idea that parents are against education reform.

But the Cato Institute’s Jason Bedrick wasn’t buying it, and wrote that the “Teachers Union Poll Is Not Credible.” One example of how the AFT phrased their questions:

With which approach for improving education do you agree more?

APPROACH A) We should focus on ensuring that every child has access to a good public school in their community. We need to make the investments needed to ensure all schools provide safe conditions, an enriching curriculum, support for students’ social and emotional development, and effective teachers.

APPROACH B) We should open more public charter schools and provide more vouchers that allow parents to send their children to private schools at public expense. Children will receive the best education if we give families the financial freedom to attend schools that meet their needs.

It’s no surprise that 77 percent agreed with the first approach and only 20 percent agreed with the second. Either “invest” in “good” public schools in your “community” and receive all sort of wonderful goodies (“enriching curriculum!” “effective teachers!”) or forgo all that so that some parents can send their kids to private school “at public expense.” Aside from the fact that this is a false choice (competition can actually improve public school performance and school choice programs can save money), the wording is blatantly designed to push respondents toward Approach A.

Bedrick then writes about a 2012 Harvard poll that was worded fairly. Its findings:

  • 54% of parents favor giving all families a “wider choice” to “enroll their children in private schools instead, with government helping to pay the tuition” compared with 21% opposed.
  • 46% of parents favor giving low-income families a “wider choice” to “enroll their children in private schools instead, with government helping to pay the tuition” compared with 21% opposed.
  • When not given a neutral option, 50% of parents favor giving low-income families a “wider choice” to “enroll their children in private schools instead, with government helping to pay the tuition” compared with 50% opposed.
  • When the question omits the words “a wider choice” and only asks about using “government funds to pay the tuition of low-income students who choose to attend private schools,” 44% of parents are in favor with 32% opposed.

Education Week’s Stephen Sawchuk also had problems with the AFT poll, reminding us to take it “with a grain of salt and examine the questions’ phraseology carefully.” (I would suggest adding an ample amount of Maalox to the salt.)

Take, for instance, a bunch of paired statements asking parents to select the one they most agree with. Unsurprisingly, they tend to favor the idea that it’s better to “treat teachers like professionals” than to “regularly remove poorly performing teachers.”

…  A few results appear contradictory. Nearly half surveyed had a negative impression of using test scores in teacher evaluation, but 68 percent approved of paying teachers more if their students show gains in academic achievement.

In another refutation of the biased AFT poll, The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke writes that “Unions Can’t Ignore Support for Choice in Education.”

PDK/Gallup poll released last summer found that, when asked nearly the same question—whether they supported allowing students to choose private schools at public expense—44 percent of Americans said yes. Gallup has asked respondents the same question for the past decade and found that support for school choice has jumped 10 percentage points in just the last year alone.

Something that may be of interest to Ms. Weingarten is the result of a Rasmussen poll in which we learn that “only 26% of Likely U.S. Voters rate the performance of public schools in America today as good or excellent.  Thirty-four percent (34%) rate public education as poor.” Unlike the AFT poll, Rasmussen used straightforward language:

Overall, how would you rate the performance of public schools in America today?

No deception here, unlike the AFT pedaled “fake news.” But then again, when you have nothing legitimate to sell, snake oil will do the trick.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

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The Media and Teachers Unions: Creepy Crass Actors

by Larry Sand

Joining a racially charged situation, largely inflamed by the media, the nation’s teachers unions hypocritically play the civil rights card.

To acknowledge the obvious, the February 26, 2012 events in Sanford, FL were tragic. Trayvon Martin is dead and George Zimmerman will be haunted – and very possibly hunted – for the rest of his life. While there are gray areas of the incident where good people can disagree, there is one overarching truth that cannot be denied: Much of the nation’s mainstream media behaved in a downright despicable way. They have done everything possible to stoke racial tensions with exaggeration, misrepresentation, pandering, deceit and lies. Just a few examples:

  • March 21, 2012 – CNN accused Zimmerman of using a racial slur, which two weeks later it later retracted.
  • March 22, 2012 – Zimmerman, of mixed race, was dubbed by the New York Times a “white Hispanic.”
  • March 27, 2012 – NBC edited a tape to make Zimmerman appear to be a racist.
  • March 28, 2012 – ABC News falsely claims Zimmerman wasn’t injured the night of shooting. 

The whole narrative of Zimmerman as a rabid Klansman also disintegrates when you look at what the vast majority of the media didn’t report:

  • He is of white and Afro-Peruvian descent.
  • He and a black friend partnered in opening an insurance office in a Florida.
  • He’d engaged in notably un-racist behavior, such as taking a black girl to his high-school prom.
  • He tutored underprivileged black kids.
  • He launched a campaign to help a homeless black man who was beaten up by the son of a white cop.

Now here’s where we go from contemptible to perverse. The heads of the two national teachers unions – Dennis Van Roekel (National Education Association) and Randi Weingarten (American Federation of Teachers) – are leading the charge to put Zimmerman behind bars by any means necessary. The two bosses urged their members to sign petitions to the Justice Department, saying that “Zimmerman must face the consequences of his actions.”

All of a sudden the teachers unions are worried about civil rights??!! What a brazen and sleazy attempt to divert attention from their day-to-day “we-really-don’t-give-a-crap-about-the-kids-but-can’t-come-out-and-directly-say-it” modus operandi. To wit:

  • In 2009, desperate to kill Washington, D.C.’s popular and successful opportunity scholarship program, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel wrote a threatening letter to every Democratic member of Congress. The union boss clearly declared that NEA strongly opposes the continuation of the DC private school voucher program. He went on to say that he expected that any member of Congress whom the union has supported will vote against extending the program and warned that, “Actions associated with these issues WILL be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 111th Congress … Vouchers are not real education reform. . . . Opposition to vouchers is a top priority for NEA.”

The sad fact is that DC public schools have the lowest NAEP scores and the highest dropout rate in the country, whereas just about every student in the voucher program graduates from high school, almost all of them going on to college. The fact that thousands of children, a great majority of whom are African-American, would be forced to remain in their failing schools, thus closing the door on their future, didn’t seem to faze Mr. Van Roekel one bit.

  • In 2011, AFT’s state affiliate in Connecticut neutered a Parent Trigger law and bragged about how it managed to snooker the mostly-minority parents. The union went so far as to post the step-by-step process on its website. Fortunately, writer RiShawn Biddle managed to save the document before AFT pulled the webpage, having realized that their gloating might not be in sync with its pro-minority persona. Parent leader Gwen Samuel, an African-American mother of two, saw through the union’s malfeasance, however. “When will parents matter?” she asks.
  • In 2011, the ACLU filed a lawsuit that would have exempted 45 of the worst schools in Los Angeles – predominantly black and Hispanic – from teacher union-mandated seniority rules, enabling those schools to keep good teachers instead of being subjected to constant turnover. In an Orwellian statement, United Teachers of Los Angeles elementary vice-president Julie Washington fumed,

This settlement will do nothing to address the inequities suffered by our most at-risk students. It is a travesty that this settlement, by avoiding real solutions and exacerbating the problem, actually undermines the civil and constitutional rights of our students.

The suit was successful, but subsequently the ruling was overturned on a technicality. Having no concern about the rights of the minority children disparately affected by the archaic last-in, first out statute, UTLA was thrilled.

  • If successful, the Students Matter  (Vergara v. California) lawsuit in California will remove the tenure, seniority and arcane dismissal statutes from the state education code, thus making it easier to get rid of incompetent and criminal teachers. While this lawsuit will help all students in the state, inner-city kids would benefit the most.

Collectively, the laws Vergara v. California challenges deprive those students arbitrarily assigned to the classrooms of ineffective teachers of their fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed right to equal opportunity to access quality education.

Though not named in the suit, the teachers unions just couldn’t sit idly by and accept a change in the rules that would benefit kids at their expense.

Two state teachers unions – the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers – released a joint press release … announcing that they had filed a motion “to intervene in litigation.” This means that CTA and CFT would like to be become involved in the case because they feel that the current defendants – the state and the school districts – are not adequately representing the interests of their teachers, whose rights they maintain could be adversely affected by the case.

There are countless other examples which exemplify the fact that the teachers unions’ raison d’être is preserving their influence, and doing so by any means necessary. That minority children are the ones who suffer the most from the unions’ ongoing power-lust is of no concern to them. That these raving hypocrites are now grandstanding and calling for the scalp of George Zimmerman boggles the mind.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that you will be reading about this latest outrage in the mainstream media. Like the teachers unions, these bad actors are doing their best to push their agenda and con the public.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

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Missouri Teacher Turned Republican State Representative Locked in Battle With His School District

Bryan Spencer was elected to represent the people of West St. Charles County and Eastern Warren County last November.  Instead of being able to focus on legislative priorities in Jefferson City, the Missouri state capitol, he has to fight a battle with the Francis Howell School District.

Spencer decided to run for office after redistricting from the 2010 census due to request from parents, former student, colleagues, and members of community service/political/religious organizations encouraged him to run.  Before filing, he filled out a personal day form to take a day away from school to file for office.  He then consulted with his principal at Francis Howell North High School.  The principal explained that there had been other teachers that have filed for political offices and were not successful.  Spencer was wished the best of luck and told that it would be a great learning experience for him.

After winning the primary election, Spencer thought it would be good to ask for an unpaid leave of absence in case he won the general election. The Francis Howell School Board denied the request simply stating that they had reviewed the request and the request was denied.  There was no specific reasoning given for their denial. Spencer went on to win the November general election. Once again, he went to his school board and asked for an unpaid leave of absence.  This time Spencer listed precedent when other teachers have been granted leaves of absences for a variety of reasons.  The school board once again denied his request.

One might ask why should the district accommodate Spencer? The school district has granted numerous unpaid leaves for various reasons in the past. Most interestingly, the Missouri State NEA President is Chris Guinther. According to her biography on the MNEA website, Guinther is from the Francis Howell School District, and according to Spencer, she is currently on an unpaid leave of absence.  She has been on a leave of absence since 2001.  Spencer also claims that the current NEA President of the district’s local chapter, Anita Miller, is on an unpaid leave of absence. One would assume what is fair for the NEA is surely fair for an elected representative of the people.  There have been many teachers on leave for a variety of reasons.

On January 17 the Francis Howell School District had a closed door meeting to discuss the future of Spencer’s employment with the school district. Shortly after the meeting, Spencer received a letter from the district stating that he was in breach of his contract for excessive absenteeism. The district is currently pursuing a due process hearing for tenured termination. There is also a risk that the school district may pursue filing charges against Spencer with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Depending on DESE’s response, Spencer risks losing his teaching certification with the state of Missouri.

To further complicate matters, Spencer could be in violation of the law. Missouri law states that a person cannot collect two paychecks from the government. Because he is fighting for the unpaid leave, Spencer has not voluntarily terminated his contract with the district. He has stopped any direct deposit of his salary, and he is not collecting his paycheck in any form.

Probably the saddest part of all of this is that Spencer was inducted into the Francis Howell Hall of Fame in the spring of 2011. Spencer has taught for twenty two years, all of which have been spent with the Francis Howell School District.

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The NEA Donates $15 Million to Partisan Politics

The Association of American Educators,  the national non-union professional educators organization recommended by Conservative Teachers of America, recently published a list of the donations of the NEA to partisan political organizations. How many of your colleagues that join the NEA because they “need insurance” do not know this? Take a minute and share this list with them. Oh, and by the way, the AAE does not donate any money to partisan groups. It’s probably one of the reasons they are able to offer twice the liability insurance the NEA offers.

AFL-CIO – $1.15 million

Alliance for Justice – $5,000

America Votes – $376,100

America Works – $250,000

American Bridge 21st Century – $200,000

American Constitution Society – $10,000

American Sustainable Business Council Action Fund – $15,000

Asian American Justice Center – $10,000

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance – $5,000

Be the Change – $100,000

Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs – $10,000

California Community Foundation – $6,000

Campaign for America’s Future – $20,000

Center for American Progress – $35,000

Center for Economic Organizing – $12,800

Center for Teacher Leadership – $63,178

Center for Teaching Quality – $120,767

Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association – $50,000

Citizens Helping Heroes – $10,000

Citizens for Tax Justice – $15,000

Committee for Charlotte 2012 – $250,000

Committee for Education Funding – $17,713

Committee on States – $25,000

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. – $70,000

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute – $55,000

Council of State Governments – $6,000

Daily Kos – $30,000

Democracy Alliance – $235,000

Democratic GAIN – $10,000

Economic Policy Institute – $250,000

Educating Maryland Kids – $200,000

Education Writers Association – $10,500

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate – $200,000

Excelencia in Education – $10,000

Fair Districts Now – $478,000

Fair Elections Legal Network – $50,000

Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network – $7,500

Good Jobs First – $15,000

Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice – $250,000

Health Care for America Now! – $125,000

HEROS, Inc. – $100,000

Hip Hop Caucus Education Fund – $25,000

Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform – $1,042,000

Initiative for Responsible Investment – $5,000

Japanese American Citizens League – $5,000

Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy – $9,300

Kansas Values Institute – $49,950

Keep It Local North Dakota – $135,000

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – $25,000

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights – $5,000

Learning First Alliance – $91,200

Learning Forward – $25,000

Marylanders for Marriage Equality – $50,000

MediaMatters – $100,000

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund – $10,000

Montanans for Fiscal Accountability – $25,555

Moving South Dakota Forward – $225,000

NAACP – $11,000

National Action Network – $25,000

National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund – $5,000

National Black Justice Coalition – $20,000

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation – $5,000

National Conference of State Legislatures – $31,385

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education – $202,646

National Hispanic Leadership Institute – $25,000

National Public Pension Coalition – $135,000

National Women’s Law Center – $10,000

Netroots Nation – $15,000

New Hampshire Unity Table Fund – $50,000

Ohio Democratic Party – $150,000

Organizations Concerned About Rural Education – $5,000

Opportunity to Learn Action Fund – $300,000

Parent Teacher Home Visit Project – $58,353

Partnership for 21st Century Skills – $35,000

Patriot Majority PAC – $100,000

People for the American Way – $135,000

Progressive Majority – $50,284

Project Love Remember the Children Foundation – $250,000

Project New West – $140,000

Protect Maine Votes – $81,500

Public Education Defense Fund – $1 million

Quality Education and Jobs – $50,000

Republican Main Street Partnership – $25,000

Ripon Society – $10,000

Robert Russa Moton Museum – $50,000

SEIU – $15,333

Taxpayers in Support of Public Education – $30,000

TIDES Foundation – $100,000

University of Colorado Boulder Sponsored Project – $250,000

U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute – $100,000

Voces de la Frontera – $23,515

Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation – $166,666

We Are Ohio – $4,568,000

Wellstone Action – $30,586

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We need your help to make Conservative Teachers of America better!

Interested in helping Conservative Teachers of America grow? We would love to have your help. Below is the Why? and Areas of Focus for Conservative Teachers of America. Please let us know if there is any area that you would like to help with.

Why?

Education takes on many forms in America; private, home school, and public education. Conservatives exist in every form of education delivery. Conservative teachers often feel marginalized in the profession. Believing that they are in the minority or that they do not have a voice, they often remain silent and do not speak out. Conservative Teachers of America is a place for conservatives, both teachers and concerned citizens, to speak out on education related issues.

Areas of Focus:

  • Give conservative teachers a voice.
    • Publish articles from conservatives in education
    • Encourage dialogue, think American Thinker for conservatives about education, not all conservatives are going to agree, but they can disagree respectfully. We are not the left.
  • Encourage teachers to leave the NEA and AFT and join professional teacher organizations.
  • Advocate for local control of schools
  • Encourage opposition to Common Core State Standards
  • Promote quality professional development in the classroom.
  • Encourage conservatives to be informed on and involved with public education.
  • Promote history education that demonstrates the truth about America, both good and bad.
  • Review and promote good young adult literature.
  • Promote freedom of conscience inside of our schools

You can join our discussion group over on Facebook. We would love for you to click Like as well on the side of the page.

We are on Twitter, @ConservTeachers. If you are a conservative teacher on Twitter, tweet with and add the hashtage #TCTOT to your profile page. TCTOT=Top Conservative Teachers on Twitter.

Please follow our editor, Andrew Palmer, on Twitter (@MOConservTchr).

Please contact us through email at conservativeteachersofamerica@gmail.com

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The Controversy Behind Teacher Unions and Tenure

We were emailed this graphic a little over a week ago from the people over at BestCollegesOnline.com. What are your thoughts about teacher tenure? Should it be completely removed? Should states still grant tenure, but make it far harder to obtain?

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2012 NEA Convention: Membership Declines & Hyper-Partisanship

We wanted to cross-post this piece from the Association of American Educator’s (AAE) blog. For those that are not familiar with the AAE, they are a non-partisan, non-union alternative to the National Education Association. It is our opinion that the AAE is the organization for education professionals. The AAE offers dues that are $15 a month, no donations to any political cause, and liability insurance that surpasses that provided by the NEA.

While most Americans were enjoying a festive Independence Day last week, the National Education Association was holding their annual conference in Washington, D.C. Beaten down after another solid year of negative press, declining membership, and legislative and legal battles, the NEA convention took on a somber and partisan tone in 2012.

The convention was meant to be a rallying cry for union members as the NEA tried to create an atmosphere resembling a political party convention complete with theme music and intense cheering. Despite best efforts, the conference was noticeably lacking delegates and talk immediately turned to harsh budget realities.

NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle predicted an even more challenging time in the years ahead calling budget numbers “devastating.” Projected losses total 287,000 active teachers and 21,000 additional personnel over the 2010-14 school years. The numbers amount to a $65 million budget reduction over that same time period, undoubtedly leading to staff reductions and declining political power.

In light of the upcoming election and the union-crippling legislation in states across the country, the speeches at the convention were meant to rally the members in attendance to stay strong despite the obvious setbacks. One of the more partisan speeches came from NEA Executive Director John Stocks who called NEA members “Social Justice Patriots,” according to the union-watchdog Education Intelligence Agency. Stocks said union members’ roles should be to fight “opponents of the DREAM Act and voter ID laws, CEOs who make too much, and big corporations.”

The NEA’s most high-profile guest was Vice President Joe Biden, who was sent in place of President Obama. Vice President Biden mainly stuck to the union staples, including expressing support for their collective bargaining plight and accusing Governor Mitt Romney of not supporting public education. After some grumblings from delegates about his no-show status, President Obama did call in to thunderous applause stating, “The folks on the other side, they want to take us back to the policies that didn’t work in the last decade, they want us to go back to a policy that just does big tax cuts for the wealthiest, [to] cut education spending, cut investments in all the things that help us grow.”

Following the President’s call, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel promised that the union would put its full support behind the president’s re-election: “We believe in you, Mr. President, and we’re behind you all the way.”

Despite the mass applause for candidates and partisan speakers, news broke that Republican and independent teachers among the delegation were expressing frustration with the hyper-partisan tone of the convention. In interviews with The Associated Press, dozens of teachers said they felt pressure from union leaders to support Obama’s re-election — and felt marginalized when they wouldn’t. Some teachers said they were so worried about retribution from their colleagues that they wouldn’t provide their names for publication in newspapers.

Delegate teacher Maureen van Wagner expressed her concern to the media. “What I don’t like is the harassment going on for people to be an ‘EFO’ — an educator for Obama.” Other teachers were offended that NEA leaders had been urging members to hold house parties to educate their friends about why President Obama deserves a second term.

In conjunction with their commitment to another Obama endorsement, the NEA approved a series of controversial measures. Among their many policy recommendations, NEA delegates considered resolutions opposing any policy of U.S. military action against Iran, an initiative to gather information on groups that “discourage NEA membership,” and a failed effort to recommend the ousting of reform-minded Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Information from the convention continues to surface following an eventful week. Be sure to read the AAE blog this week for the latest developments. As NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen stated, “Times have been bad before, but they’ve never been this bad.”

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The Declining Popularity of Teacher Labor Unions #TCTOT

We wanted to share this post from the Association of American Educators. “AAE is America’s fastest growing national, nonprofit, nonunion teachers’ association with members in all 50 states.”

This week’s recall election has thrust union special interests and teacher freedoms back into the national dialogue like never before. After a bitter campaign and an estimated $60 million spent on election efforts, the commanding win for Governor Walker illustrates an overwhelming shift in public opinion against teachers unions. As the dust settles on this historic election, it’s no coincidence that according to a new public opinion poll, teacher unions nationally are reaching all-time low approval levels.

In the latest national survey instituted by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and Education Next, scholars found that the share of the public with a positive view of union impact on local schools has dropped by a whopping 7% in the past year alone. Among teachers, union approval has reached an astonishing 16% decline. Whereas 58% of teachers took a positive view of unions in 2011 for example, just 43% feel the same in 2012.

These sentiments are further confirmed by a dramatic decline in union membership nationwide. According to Education Intelligence Agency’s Mike Antonucci, the National Education Association is reporting a decline of 150,000 members in the past two years and they further project that they will lose 200,000 more members by 2014.

According to researchers the survey’s most striking findings come from teachers themselves. Obviously teachers are frustrated by the unions’ controversial tactics, political spending, and outlandish dues. As the unions cope with the unilaterally negative press and legislative and legal battles across the country, members understandably do not want to be identified with a dying organization based on an outdated model of representation.

Based on the data, teachers are fleeing the unions and seeking alternative organizations in record numbers. It’s no coincidence that while the unions lose members, the Association of American Educators (AAE) and state chapters throughout the country are growing by leaps and bounds. Not only has our membership grown exponentially across the country, but AAE membership has particularly grown in states that are at the forefront of the education and labor debate, including the forced union battleground of Wisconsin.

The results of this poll also give further evidence of the need for a robust non-union educator movement nationally – a movement that embraces innovation and reform while focusing on professionalism, collaboration and excellence. It is this positive voice that teachers are demanding as a professional option. As respected professionals, teachers should distance themselves from the self-serving interest of labor unions and align themselves with an organization that respects their true priorities.

As the summer begins and teachers look to a new school year in the coming months, we encourage teachers across America to take these findings to heart and choose membership in an organization that best represents them and their profession. Those who don’t identify with the unprofessional, hyper-partisan tactics of the unions should join with the over 300,000 other teachers who have embraced truly professional organizations like the Association of American Educators.

If you are tired of the unions in your profession, consider joining the AAE.

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EIA Report: NEA Spends $18.8M on Advocacy Groups

We found this over on the AAE’s Blog. Ever wonder where the NEA spends its plundered treasure? Find out below! Fair warning, your eyes might bleed and your head might explode.

The Education Intelligence Agency, a popular education research blog run by union-watchdog Mike Antonucci, has analyzed the NEA’s 2010-11 financial disclosure report and discovered that the largest teachers union in the country has given nearly $19 million of teacher dues, some collected by force, to advocacy groups and primarily left-leaning causes. Up $5 million from the previous year, the NEA has increased their advocacy spending despite a climate of declining membership and harsh budget realities.

In examining these groups and figures, it is critical to distinguish the fact that this money is not from the separate NEA political action committee, rather directly comprised of NEA membership dues. Despite claims from the union that member dues stay local, the complete list speaks volumes about where member dues are going in a difficult economy.

Among the shocking contributions, financial support was given to groups that advocate for a national popular vote, socialized medicine, several gay rights firms, and an organization that advocates for easier paths to citizenship.

In addition to these advocacy groups, millions of dollars were given to campaigns to stop ballot initiatives that blocked policies such as school choice as well as emergency dollars to states like Wisconsin and Ohio, to preserve forced dues. In Florida alone, the NEA sent $800,000 to Fair Districts Florida, $500,000 to the Florida Education Association PAC, and another $851,000 in financial assistance to FEA, outside of its yearly subsidy.

Regardless of the fact that polls find NEA members have diverse political views, often leaning conservative politically, the astronomical amount of money the NEA spends on partisan political issues is shocking and offensive to millions. Others have no idea they are paying hundreds a year to fund these partisan causes that fuel a union agenda with tentacles reaching into nearly every hot button social issue. Political leanings aside, the NEA claims to have a mission that exclusively supports teachers. How does funding these causes and advocacy groups advance and support educators as professionals?

It is imperative that teachers everywhere understand where their hard earned money is going. NEA members across the country directly support these groups through their dues, despite what local union representatives tell unsuspecting teachers.

At AAE, we are proud to stand in stark contrast to the teacher unions. As a non-union, non-partisan organization, we operate on a lean budget designed to exclusively spend membership dues on liability insurance, legal protection and other professional benefits. We do not support partisan politics and do not take positions on issues unrelated to education. Know where your money is going; let your colleagues know they have a choice. Join AAE today.

The full list of contributions directly from teacher dues is as follows:

400% Is Too High – $50,000

AFL-CIO – $2.2 million ($1.2 million member communication research and strategy, $1 million legislative policy development)

AFSCME – $20,000

American Rights at Work – $10,000

America Votes – $1,721,000

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education – $74,000

American Constitution Society – $10,000

Americans United for Change – $30,000

America’s Families First – $3,150,000

Center for American Progress – $25,000

Center for Economic Organizing – $25,300

Center for Law and Education – $25,000

Center for Tax and Budget Accountability – $20,000

Center for Teaching Quality – $318,848

Center for U.S. Global Leadership – $10,000

Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association – $50,000

Class Size Matters – $25,000

Clergy Strategic Alliances – $21,000

Coalition for Our Communities – $700,000

Coalition to Save Our Constitution – $25,000

Committee for Children – $10,000

Committee for Education Funding – $19,913

Committee on States – $60,000

Communities for Quality Education – $1 million

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. – $170,000

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute – $55,000

Council of Chief State School Officers – $50,417

Council of State Governments – $19,750

Democracy Alliance – $85,000

Economic Policy Institute – $255,000

Education Commission of the States – $60,000

Education Writers Association – $11,500

Educator Compensation Institute – $25,000

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate – $200,000

Employee Benefit Research Institute – $7,500

Everybody Wins DC – $8,000

Excelencia in Education – $15,000

Fair Districts Florida – $800,000

FairTest – $35,000

Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network – $7,500

Global Institute for Language and Literacy Development – $18,000

Good Jobs First – $15,000

Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice – $250,000

Health Care for America Now! – $125,000

Hip Hop Caucus Education Fund – $10,000

Hispanic Institute – $50,000

HOPE (Yes on SQ 744) – $1,500,000 ($1,758,000 last year)

Human Rights Campaign – $5,000

Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform – $157,000

Initiative for Responsible Investment – $5,000

Institute for Educational Leadership – $5,000

Jobs with Justice – $10,000

Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy – $11,700

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – $40,000

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights – $10,000

League of United Latin American Citizens – $70,000

Learning First Alliance – $22,800

Lincoln Center Institute – $75,000

MediaMatters – $100,000

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund – $10,000

Midwest Academy – $5,000

NAACP – $25,000

National Action Network – $60,000

National Association for Asian and Pacific American Education – $5,000

National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education – $17,500

National Association for Multicultural Education – $5,000

National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund – $12,500

National Black Caucus of State Legislators – $5,500

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards – $10,000

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation – $22,500

National Conference of State Legislatures – $40,946

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education – $400,373

National Immigration Law Center – $5,000

National Indian Education Association – $19,900

National Jewish Democratic Council – $5,000

National Labor College – $17,881

National Pan-Hellenic Council – $50,000

National Parent Teachers Association – $6,250

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa – $10,000

National Public Pension Coalition – $135,000

National Women’s Law Center – $10,000

Netroots Nation – $24,999

New Democratic Network – $15,000

New Organizing Institute – $10,000

New Teacher Center – $333,834

North Carolina Citizens for Protecting Our Schools– $200,000

One Nation/TIDES – $250,000

Parent Teacher Home Visit Project – $10,000

Partnership for 21st Century Skills – $45,000

Patriot Majority PAC – $200,000

People for the American Way – $128,050

Pew Charitable Trusts – $5,000

Phi Delta Kappa International – $50,000

Progress Michigan – $10,000

Progress Now – $125,000

Progressive Future – $100,000

Progressive Majority – $46,625

Project New West – $333,498

Rainbow PUSH Coalition – $5,000

Rebuild America’s Schools – $60,000

University of Colorado Boulder Sponsored Project – $250,000

Republican Main Street Partnership – $20,000

Ripon Society – $10,000

Robert Russa Moton Museum – $50,000

Rock the Vote – $80,000

Saving First Things First – $50,000

United for a Fair Economy – $12,000

United for Missouri Priorities – $250,000

University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability – $25,000

U.S. Action – $80,000

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition – $15,000

U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute – $31,004

Voter Activation Network – $71,900

VoteVets.org – $270,000

WAND Education Fund – $15,000

Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation – $167,336

Washingtonians for Education, Health & Tax Relief – $750,000

Will Steger Foundation – $10,276

Win Minnesota Political Action Fund – $50,000

Women’s Voices, Women Vote – $50,000

Youth Service America – $20,000

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Close Encounters of the Union Kind

We received this from one of our members, he would prefer to keep his identity and school district confidential, so we are going to post it for him.

Excitement always surrounds new beginnings. For the NEA, new teachers and the beginning of the school year is probably about as exciting as it comes. After all, the beginning of the school year presents fresh meat for the union pack.

I recently started at a fairly large school district in a middle sized city in the Midwest. I was certainly excited for the beginning of the year meetings, but I can’t say I was that excited about my inevitable encounter with the National Education Association. I figured why not turn this into a positive and go in as an undercover reporter, so to speak.

The NEA offered new teachers a breakfast and a lunch all on the same day. I decided that I would attend both of them, the ability to act like a liberal doesn’t present itself very often. Free food and the chance to waste NEA resources, what self-respecting conservative would turn that down?

For breakfast I had the option of some granola bars, juice, water, a fruit, and the ever important NEA membership form! You have to love the NEAs brutal honesty, it’s not about education, it’s about money. From a small flyer attached to the NEA membership form:

Research shows that over a ten-year period, school districts in [my state] with an NEA majority have experienced salary increases more than 30% higher than districts with an [other state teacher organization] majority. The higher the percentage of NEA members in a district, the higher the bargaining power for not only salary increases, but for benefits and working conditions as well.

Can we think about this a second? America is broke, but the NEA wants me to sign up so they can get me some more cash! Thanks for the breakfast (which really wasn’t much of a breakfast), but no thanks. The most irritating part of this form shoved in my face in the morning is they didn’t even tell me the cost of the membership. I guess it’s just assumed you don’t care and are going to join anyway. Hey, they were offering a free t-shirt on top of the promise of a higher salary down the road. What a deal!

I escaped the first meeting with no confrontation and headed off to my morning sessions. Lunch arrived, and it was time to head back into the lion’s den (snake pit?). While waiting in line for my sandwich, chips, and water I was given another folder with more exciting NEA information. It was apparent that time was waning for the NEA, and potential new members were escaping their grasp. Inside of this folder was another membership form and a little bright yellow piece of paper stapled to it.

Special New Member Incentive

Any new member who joins NEA between August 8 and August 12, 2011 will receive a crisp, new (or old, wrinkled) $10 bill!

Well, at least they have a sense of humor as they bribe you with money. It got better though, as I was eating my lunch our district’s NEA president marched in and told us that anybody that joined would be entered in a chance to win $100. At this point I was beginning to wonder if I could join, get the $10, have a shot at the $100, and then dump the membership in a couple days. As tempting as it was, I talked myself out of that. I did finally find out the monthly cost. I finished my lunch and headed on out. I actually had to come back down to the NEA area because there was some confusion on our meeting schedule. As was attempting to leave an NEA representative made some comment about filling out our forms. I can’t specifically remember what he said, but it was arrogant and presumptuous. At this point a somewhat heated discussion began.

Now the guy I was speaking to appeared to be a nice person, he seemed genuine anyway. Overall the conversation was semi-professional. As you would expect any NEA member to do he brought up the topic of Governor Scott Walker. I was a little annoyed with him and decided to tell him that I had a lot of respect for Governor Walker. He decided to share with me that he thought Governor Walker was “a douche bag.” Yeah, not kidding. Of course he attempted to bring up the Koch brothers, the left’s boogie men. I changed the topic quickly.

The thing that floored me as I continued to talk to him was just how little he knew about his own organization. I told him I was frustrated with the NEAs partnership with the AFL-CIO. He told me I had my facts wrong. I guess he ought to check their own website: NEA pledges to work with new AFL-CIO president. He told me that he was upset with WADC’s involvement in education. That’s been the result of decades of NEAs influence on education. He shared with me that he feels the country needs more personal responsibility. I mean, really, the NEA is an organization that supports the political left. I know of no other group in American society that celebrates and rewards personal irresponsibility more than individuals of this political perspective. After an hour I had about enough of Mr. NEA and decided to head on about my day. We shook hands, wished each other the best, and agreed to disagree.

At the end of the day I can honestly say my opinion has not changed of the NEA. I still think they are one of the biggest problems we have in education. This is why I am a member of the Association of American Educators.

Oh, one other beautiful piece of this story. I am working with another new teacher who is originally from Czechoslovakia. We are working in the same building so we were hanging out together. She was with me most of the day and saw the beginning of the discussion with the NEA representative. The next day we were talking and she said, “You know what that reminded me of? Communism.” Unprompted, unscripted, brutal honesty.

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Filed under NEA, Speaking Out, Teacher Unions