1) EIA Exclusive: District Hiring Practices Keep NEA Growing.
In 2004, the National Education Association took some unprecedented
"belt-tightening" budgetary measures in response to a
"no-growth" membership projection. This seemed to signal the onset of
lean years for the union, particularly in light of no-raid agreements with
AFT, and flattening enrollment growth.
The signs had appeared even earlier. In his keynote speech at the 2003 NEA
Representative Assembly in New Orleans, NEA President Reg Weaver told
delegates, "Team NEA, we are back in the business of membership!" The union
devoted more resources to recruiting and organizing over the past two to
three years, and was able to restore a modest growth.
Though the efforts of NEA's organizers must be acknowledged, there is an
important external factor that is adding significantly to NEA's membership
growth: school district hiring practices.
EIA has obtained NEA's current membership figures – and when I say current,
I mean current as of last week – that show a growth of 30,500 active
members, and an additional 7,500 members in other categories. Next week, EIA
will publish a table with the May 2006 numbers for all of NEA's state
affiliates in all categories. But this week EIA features a different table,
because for the first time I have the disaggregated state-by-state
membership numbers for working teachers. EIA can now compare the growth of
NEA membership with the growth of the teacher workforce in each state.
We don't yet have definitive numbers for the size of the teacher force for
the current school year. But we do have NEA's own teacher workforce numbers
for 2004-05. By comparing the change in workforce from 2003-04 to 2004-05
with the change in NEA teacher membership for the same time period, we can
get a sense of whether NEA is increasing its market share.
EIA has posted a table on its web site (Adobe Acrobat required) that
lists the May 2006 NEA active teacher membership numbers for all 50 states
and the change in those numbers since May 2005. Separately, the table also
addresses the market share issue. It contains the change in student
enrollment from 2004 to 2005, the change in the number of teachers from 2004
to 2005, and the change in NEA active teacher members from 2004 to 2005. The
numbers paint a fascinating picture.
During that period, K-12 student enrollment in the United States grew by
0.68 percent, but the number of K-12 classroom teachers grew by 2.03
percent. NEA teacher membership grew by 0.59 percent.
All other things being equal, we would expect those three percentages to be
very close to each other – two percent more students would require two
percent more teachers which would grow the NEA teacher member numbers by two
percent (allowing, of course, for the fact that some will join AFT). But
that isn't what happened.
In 39 states, the growth of the teacher workforce exceeded the growth in
enrollment. In only 17 states did NEA teacher membership growth exceed the
growth of the teacher workforce. So even though NEA's slice of the pie got
smaller, the pie grew larger, keeping new members and revenues flowing into
A single state illustrates the phenomenon. K-12 enrollment in Florida grew
by 1.44 percent from 2004 to 2005. But Florida implemented a statewide class
size reduction initiative that increased teacher hiring by 7.04 percent. The
Florida Education Association saw a membership increase of 5.85 percent
during that time, reducing its market share, but the sheer number of new
members made Florida one of NEA's major success stories.
The web address of the table is
http://www.eiaonline.com/neamembership.pdf. EIA will publish the
detailed May 2006 numbers in next Tuesday's communiqué.
2) "Great Public Schools Are a Basic Right."
A usually reliable EIA source says this is the
chosen slogan of NEA's "external message platform" that required two years
of research, 22 focus groups and two national polls. Even by NEA standards,
I find that incredibly hard to believe, but I publish it here on the
off-chance you hear it from a teacher sometime after the July NEA
3) Reading CTA's Tea Leaves.
Let me begin this
item by stating that I have no special secret information about what the
California Teachers Association (CTA) plans to do for the rest of this year
or the next, and that the following analysis is based solely what appears to
make sense from the union's point of view, and the signals it appears to be
sending. So here we go.
After CTA defeated Gov. Schwarzenegger's initiatives
last November, there was concern in some circles that the union would take
advantage of its improved position to push a major new initiative. I advised
(and even made a little money on the advice!) that, while far from depleted,
the union simply could not muster another $40-$60 million campaign so
quickly. CTA would concentrate on getting a substantial increase in the
education budget, which would aid in more quickly restoring its financial
position. It accomplished this.
The union can contribute up to $2 million to the Reiner
preschool initiative, and its debt does not affect its PAC or its
independent expenditures for its chosen gubernatorial candidate Phil
Angelides (for the scoop on those machinations, read
New West Notes). But what is the union's own plan?
The May issue of the
California Educator contains a large number of articles about the
union's Educational Change Workgroup, established to study and report on
what education "reform" efforts CTA should sponsor. Unsurprisingly, the
cornerstone of the effort would be increased funding.
Judging by CTA's previous forays into this realm, the
reports of the workgroup, and the union's efforts to neutralize opposition
from the business community, EIA expects to eventually see a CTA initiative
that embraces the "adequacy and equity" funding message the union uses
recently in Oklahoma). Property taxes are CTA's favorite target for the
revenue stream necessary, but more sleight-of-hand may be required than the
union's previous efforts.
As in the past, CTA will want guarantees that the new
money is spent on teacher compensation, class size reduction, teacher
training, and supplies. There will also be a push to increase teacher input
in school governance (no doubt through the collective bargaining process).
The new element in this old message will be the presence of "alternative
compensation" for teachers.
CTA's workgroup consulted with the Denver Classroom
Teachers Association about its ProComp plan, and studied other alternative
compensation plans across the country. If this is serious, you will hear it
referred to only as "alternative compensation," regardless of its substance,
because the terms "merit pay" and "performance pay" are like garlic to the
union's vampire activists (former CTA President Wayne Johnson once called
the Denver plan "sinister").
However, EIA doesn't think it's serious. There is no
significant internal constituency in CTA for changing, amending, or even
supplementing the single salary schedule. The presence of alternative
compensation in any CTA initiative will be for external consumption, and to
CTA would prefer to achieve its agenda through the
state legislature, but access to the revenue it wants would likely require
the union to resort to the ballot. EIA guesses that a timeline for
introducing an initiative has not yet been established, but is probably in
the cards for 2008.
4) NEA to Send $2 Million to Oregon to Fight Ballot
Initiatives. Hundreds of ballot initiatives are in the process of
attempting to qualify for Oregon's November ballot. But the Oregon Education
Association (OEA) won't wait to see which ones make it. The union applied
for, and received, a grant from NEA's ballot initiative fund for $2 million.
OEA will use the money to oppose expected initiatives on a taxpayers' bill
of rights (TABOR), the 65 percent solution, and income tax reduction.
OEA is pushing its own initiative called the Corporate
Accountability Act, which would require Oregon companies to disclose how
much corporate income tax they paid. EIA hears there is behind-the-scenes
politicking going on between the union and some of the state's larger
corporations, but details are too sketchy.
5) Former NEA Alaska Employees Settle Discrimination Suit. NEA
Alaska and three female former employees
settled a landmark sex discrimination lawsuit. The three staffers had
accused assistant executive director (now executive director) Tom Harvey of
bullying and verbally abusing them. The case received national attention in
the legal community because the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled
that harassing conduct against female employees can violate the Civil Rights
even if it has nothing to do with sex.
NEA Alaska agreed to pay the former staffers a total of $750,000 without
admitting to any wrongdoing.
6) Last week's Intercepts. EIA's blog,
Intercepts, covered these topics from May 16-22:
Erica Lee - Teacher Activist! As a new teacher in Florida, Erica
Chevillar can hardly afford clothes.
Get Press Coverage of Your Next Dinner Party! What's the bottom limit
for something to be called a rally?
Field Trips and Guest Speakers. When you invite someone from the United
Farm Workers to speak at your school, you are not going to hear about
Anti-Union Conspiracy Now Includes McGovern. When a liberal icon tells
union leaders to face reality (and stop bashing Wal-Mart) maybe there really
is a chance for change.
7) Quote of the Week #1.
"I don't know a
business that would stay in business for very long if it lost a huge chunk
of its customers but increased its salaries." – Columbus (Ohio) Board of
Education member Stephanie Groce, suggesting district salaries should be
frozen until enrollment decline is stemmed. (May 17
Quote of the Week #2.
"How can we say a physics
teacher is more important than a kindergarten teacher or a teacher of
multi-handicapped high school students?" – North Carolina Association of
Educators President Eddie Davis, arguing against differential pay for
Here's a web site for Mr. Davis. It might help him with a few of the
concepts being discussed.
Quote of the Week #3.
"Instead of educating
future journalists on the nuts and bolts of journalism - because let's be
honest, it isn't rocket science or even carpentry – it would make more sense
simply to teach them things. Facts, it turns out, are useful. Most people
can write a nut graf after 30 minutes of practice, but comparatively few
people can explain, say, econometrics, or fluid dynamics, or the history of
the French Revolution. Aspiring journalists don't need tradecraft – they
need a liberal-arts education that gives them a base of mastery in actual
academic subjects." – Jonathan V. Last, online editor of the Weekly
Standard. (May 19
Wall Street Journal)