1) EIA Exclusive: How the New
Jersey Education Association Made Gov. Corzine's Re-Election "An
Organizational Imperative." The New Jersey
Education Association (NJEA) didn't let member apathy about Gov. Jon Corzine
interfere with its efforts to get him re-elected, according to a
presentation made by a high-ranking union staffer last week.
Ginger Gold Schnitzer, NJEA's director
of government relations, addressed the annual conference of the National
Association of Legislative and Political Specialists for Education. Her
presentation was titled, "Campaign 2009: An Organizational Victory" -
despite the fact that Corzine was defeated by Republican challenger Chris
Christie. The details she provided suggest she wasn't merely being clever.
The union's unprecedented effort on Corzine's behalf ramped up support for
the incumbent, and drove up Christie's negatives. But the presentation also
raised troubling questions on just how "member-driven" NJEA really is.
I've posted Schnitzer's PowerPoint
presentation as an Adobe Acrobat file on the
EIA Declassified page. It reveals that in August, NJEA polled its
members and learned they preferred Corzine to Christie by only five points.
Christie's public statements both during and after the election show he was
hardly an acceptable candidate for NJEA. It was also unlikely that NJEA
members would have embraced him in any case. But the poll results galvanized
the union to embark on an internal campaign - one designed to persuade its
own members that they needed to cast aside their doubts and back Corzine.
One slide states that the campaign "was
made an organizational imperative," which raises the question: If the
members were apathetic about Corzine, who made his re-election "an
wouldn't be the first time an NEA state affiliate used member dues and
resources to persuade members their opinions were faulty, but the extent of
NJEA's effort was extraordinary. The union live-phoned nearly 105,000
members, established campaign teams in every county, and organized school
building visits to lobby members to vote for Corzine. This was nothing
compared to what was going on at NJEA headquarters.
According to Schnitzer's presentation,
NJEA "opened a full time campaign office in a conference room," which was
"open from 8 am-8 pm for staff to phone bank, enter data, get training, and
learn of other volunteer opportunities." The NJEA staff also assisted local
operations from state headquarters.
The results were dramatic, at least as
far as NJEA members were concerned. Corzine's favorability rating went up 18
points before election day, while Christie's unfavorable ratings ballooned
21 points. Corzine's five-point lead among members grew to an astonishing 35
Christie won the state by a comfortable
margin, as NJEA's influence over the general public was not as dramatic, and
would not have been decisive in any case. The public's agenda is much
broader than that of the teachers' union, and so the union's influence is
diffused. But its influence over its own members cannot be overstated,
regardless of the members' preferences.
2) Bono Wins NEA Celebrity
Substitute Teacher Poll. And
he beat out Katie Couric, Nelson Mandela, Sonia
Sotomayor and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
- probably because
those who voted have never heard of any of those other people.
could successfully sub. A few of his songs sound relevant to a sub's day:
* Stuck in a
Moment You Can't Get Out Of
* I Still
Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
* 11 O'Clock
You Can't Make It on Your Own.
3) You Can't Make This Stuff Up:
National Teacher Hall of Fame Overspent Its Budget.
Associated Press reports:
in Kansas shows that the National Teachers Hall of Fame lost nearly $251,000
from 2006 through 2008.
released Thursday by the Kansas Board of Regents, says the hall owes Emporia
State University about $200,000 for salaries and expenses the university has
regents oversee the state's higher education system, and the hall is housed
on the Emporia State campus. It moved there in 2006 because of budget
How many other organizations can say its
accounting books encapsulate the state of public education?
From the audit:
"Total revenues for calendar years 2006,
2007 and 2008 were $160,420, $98,194, and $27,666, respectively. Total
expenses for calendar years 2006, 2007 and 2008 were $241,935, $159,236, and
Those are Hall of Fame numbers, all
4) New Mexico Schools Introduce Kids
to World of Work. A state legislative audit of
five New Mexico school districts turned up some
questionable spending - including staff t-shirts and lunches with
federal Title I funds - but my favorite item was the Bernalillo Public
Schools' paying $3,000 to school athletes and cheerleaders to pull weeds on
school grounds. The superintendent said the money went into an activity
"It sounds like a way to move money
between accounts literally on the backs of students doing manual labor,"
said Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque. "This smells terrible."
Clearly, Bernalillo needs an SEIU local.
Nick Balzano is available!
5) Contract Hits.
Wherein we highlight a contract provision from the current agreement between
the National Education Association and its largest staff union. This is
Article 38, Part A, Section 3, concerning the NEA staff retirement plan:
"Average Final Compensation shall be
based upon the employee's salary during the 12 consecutive months out of the
last ten years of credited service which afford the highest such average."
6) Last Week's Intercepts.
Intercepts, covered these topics from November 16-23:
Threatens to Organize Charter School Teachers? and
SEIU Protest Lays an Egg. It isn't Glenn Beck fans who are harassing
It's a Teacher Glut Glut. Replacing "What will we do?!" with "What will
Teacher Union Boss Calls Charter Schools a "Fad." Heard about 'em on the
District to Join Lawsuit Against Indiana Teachers Union. And it won't be
Quote of the Week.
members agree that a final bill must stop insurance company abuses and
provide the choice of a public health insurance option. But middle class
Americans, including a majority of our members, know that as a result of
this proposed excise tax, working families will lose many important benefits."
- National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel, expressing
"concerns" about the U.S. Senate health care bill. (November 20
NEA press release)