January 27, 2006

National Education Indoctrination Association: Follow-up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:15 am

The Wall Street Journal followed up today (requires subscription) on the reaction to its January 3 OpinionJournal.com editorial (free registration required; blogged here), and specifically addresses a complaint from NEA President Reg Weaver:

….. Under the new regulations, which Big Labor fought, unions itemize expenditures under categories like “general overhead,” “political activities and lobbying” and “contributions, gifts and grants.” In his letter, Mr. Weaver suggests that only a very small percentage of union dues money is steered toward politics, while the vast majority goes “straight to our local and state affiliates for education programs and member services.” Nice try.

What Mr. Weaver didn’t reveal is that the NEA also works though these same state affiliates to further its political goals by bankrolling ballot and legislative initiatives. To that end, the Kentucky Education Association received $250,000 from the NEA last year; the Michigan Education Association received $660,000; and the California Teachers Association received $2.5 million. We doubt this cash goes into buying more laptops for poor students.

And then there’s the money that the NEA sends directly to sympathetic interest groups working at the state level, such as the $500,000 that went to Protect Our Public Schools, an anti-charter outfit in Washington State (never mind that charters are “public schools,” albeit ones allowed to operate outside the teachers’ union education monopoly).

Often, the recipients of these outlays have at best a tangential education mission. The Floridians For All Committee, a political action committee created by pro-labor Acorn to push for a minimum-wage hike, received $250,000 from the NEA last year. And the Fund to Protect Social Security received $400,000. In total, the NEA reports spending $25 million on “political activities and lobbying.” But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

The NEA spent another $65.5 million on “contributions, gifts and grants,” and many of the recipients listed under this category are also overtly politicized organizations: the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation ($40,000), the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute ($35,000), the Democratic Leadership Council ($25,000). The next time the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank that received $45,000 from the NEA last year, issues a report slamming school choice, we’ll have to wonder whether it was bought and paid for by the teachers unions.

None of this is to suggest that the NEA or Mr. Weaver is engaging in any illicit behavior. Our point was to alert both the public, and especially the 2.7 million NEA members, that their forced dues payments are being spent on an agenda that could have been compiled by the most liberal members of the Democratic National Committee. And thanks to these new disclosure rules, this agenda is now out in the open, where it belongs.

This money is being spent on things a large plurality, if not the majority, of the teaching rank and file, as liberal as many of them are, do not support. Teachers who don’t buy part or all of the agenda should be asking for pro rata dues refunds, and are entitled by law to receive them.

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