August 5, 2008
Teachers' unions are expert at presenting the interests of their members and of public school students as one and the same. Which is why it's always illuminating to see how the nation's largest teachers' union, the National Education Association, spends its political money, says the Wall Street Journal.
Each year, NEA members pay into a "Ballot Measure/Legislative Crises Fund" that allows the union to spend tens of millions of dollars on all manner of state and national political issues. Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency, a longtime union watchdog, has tracked this fund's spending. In the 2007-08 fiscal year, not surprisingly, the NEA spent $2.3 million -- on top of $1 million spent the previous fiscal year -- fighting a school voucher referendum in Utah.
But other expenditures reveal this national NEA cash -- which is separate from PAC contributions that must adhere to federal campaign-finance laws -- as a fund for various and sundry left-wing political causes:
- Antonucci reports that during the current fiscal year the NEA sent the Hawaii State Teachers Association $20,000 to conduct polling on a state constitutional convention.
- It sent the Massachusetts Teachers Association $60,000 to oppose a state income-tax repeal.
- And it sent the Florida Education Association $200,000 to oppose property-tax cuts in the Sunshine State.
Expect more of the same going forward in a state near you. "Unlike most previous years," writes Antonucci, "NEA finished 2007-08 with a surplus of nearly $5.9 million, which means the union will enter the 2008-09 school year with almost $20 million available to spend."
It's a shame the NEA doesn't spend as much money and effort trying to improve lousy schools as it does trying to keep taxes high, says the Journal.
Source: Editorial, "Extracurricular Politics," Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2008.
Browse more articles on Education Issues