1) Now We Have Proof: NEA Is the
Largest Political Spender in America. And it's not
Since the rise of the Internet, we have
been able to more easily track political spending. The Center for Responsive
Politics has led the way in documenting and accounting for all the different
ways money is spent on federal campaigns. Alas, tracking similar spending at
the state level has been more of a hit-or-miss proposition. Disclosure laws
vary from state to state, and electronic reporting of results has been
Until now. CRP joined forces with the
National Institute on Money in State Politics to produce the
first comprehensive report of political spending at both the state and
national levels. The organizations combined spending on candidates,
parties and ballot initiatives to come up with a total for each of the
nation's special interest groups. The results should give pause to those who
think the biggest political spenders must be Big Oil, Wal-Mart and the
pharmaceutical, banking and tobacco industries.
By far the largest political spender for
the 2007-08 election cycle was the National Education Association, with
more than $56.3 million in contributions. The teachers' union
outdistanced the second-place group by more than $12 million.
Believe it or not, the report
understates NEA's spending, since it places political expenditures made in
concert with the American Federation of Teachers in a separate category. "NEA
AFT' ranked 123rd in the nation, contributing more than $3.3 million to
campaigns in Colorado, Florida and Oregon. (AFT ranked 25th with almost
$13.8 million in contributions.)
Just to put this in perspective,
America's two teachers' unions outspent AT&T, Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart,
Microsoft, General Electric, Chevron, Pfizer, Morgan Stanley, Lockheed
Martin, FedEx, Boeing, Merrill Lynch, Exxon Mobil, Lehman Brothers, and the
Walt Disney Corporation, combined.
The report is
The media coverage was less so. It's well past time for coverage of the
teachers' unions to be freed from its current position as an afterthought in
the education beat ghetto, and assume its place alongside national economic
and political reporting. It's mind-blowing that one organization can spend
more than $56.3 million in an election cycle and still fly under the radar.
2) More from New Jersey Education
Association 2009 Campaign Strategy Presentation.
Last week, EIA reported on the
New Jersey Education Association's campaign strategy for the re-election of
Gov. Jon Corzine and posted PowerPoint slides from a presentation by
NJEA's government relations director, Ginger Gold Schnitzer. This week, EIA
has Schnitzer's elaborations of the details on many of the slides, which you
can read alone, or in accompaniment with the visuals on the slides:
I want to
talk with you about a serious condition. An epidemic affecting the general
public - and which ran rampant among NJEA members last summer. I would not
be surprised if it has already plagued your membership. Perhaps even a few
of you in this room are silently suffering from it.
It is called…
Dysfunction is the inability to become aroused over any of the choices for
Governor in your state this year. If you are feeling this way… or have "a
friend" who does… Allow me to offer my support by sharing the details about
NJEA's fight against E.D. Please know….there is hope.
At the onset
of the disease you may notice that your members show a disinterest in
Or in more
severe cases even an unhealthy disdain for your endorsed candidate… in other
words…. Your members will show "No Love for the Gov." And this will be true…
No matter how much or little he may have done for them.
Jersey… 69% (more than 2/3) of our members had not yet committed to Corzine
when we polled them last April. In that April Poll Governor Corzine led
Chris Christie by 9% points.
another poll in August (after Christie won the R nomination and after our
Corzine's lead among our members shrunk to only 5 points. 40-35 with 25
This is in
spite of the fact that… (ed. note: slides of Corzine's accomplishments)
ALL THIS AND
OUR POLL SHOWED CORZINE ONLY LED BY 5 POINTS (VINCE STORY)
(ed. note: assume this refers to NJEA Executive Director
So there you
have it. Full blown Electile Dysfunction. Now let's talk about the cure.
Well VIVA VIAGRA… We
engaged in a two part strategy:
* A member to
member campaign far different than any other we had done before… AND
independent communications strategy aimed at moving a targeted segment of
the general public. The independent communications campaign had both issue
advocacy and express advocacy components
There were so
many new things we did in this campaign but if I have to pick the three most
July 13 - all staff meeting on July 14
Gov was lunch
Exec said -
this is all hands on deck.
groups by division - listened.
conversations with leaders.
campaign around their ideas.
Data Driven -
tried to ID every member's voting preference, kept a better volunteer data
base. Reported progress on IDs and Vol recruitment to everyone (staff,
leaders, key members) every week. Used polling to shape messages, use
modeling to focus our message like a laser on those who were most
staff, governance, member groups in every county and gave them the tools to
create face to face contact with every member.
of our April Poll was to evaluate baseline support for Corzine. We conducted
a second poll in August to find the messages that would work best with our
members. It revealed that our primary messaging should revolve around six
And when I
saw the results one word came to my mind … DUH…. We just paid $41,000 for
that??? I could have had a V-8.
But glad we
did - kept us focused (not distracted by economy, corruption, the issue de
jour) - able to hold it up to members, staff, leaders all with own ideas
about what we should be saying. Base line to track these issues in future.
So we had a message but now we needed to think to whom and how we were going
to deliver it. We needed to jump start the campaign.
We hired a
vendor to make live ID calls to our members the week of August 22-30.
Purpose was to find supporters to base a campaign around and mine for
volunteers. They reached 104,619 members which is 57.8% of contactable
membership. Asked who they were going to support in the Governor's race. If
they said Corzine they were asked if they would like to volunteer to help
NJEA - we found 2,791 potential volunteers.
the campaign with 24,175 Corzine supporters and 16,739 Christie supporters.
With this info we could begin communicating with members according to their
voting preference -
We used these
IDs as the backbone of the member to member campaign being carried out in
every school building of every local. We also used this info to get started
on our direct mail program.
staff and governance from each county - GR staff, U/S staff, Cnty Pres,
Exec, GR, CCC, NJREA, others. Allows each county, within set parameters, to
develop an action plan suitable for their region - given a budget. Plan own
calendar of events. Creates buy-in. Plan activities like phone banks, voter
registration, ID of voter preferences, promotion of endorsed candidates,
volunteer recruitment and assignment, VBM etc.
Main fx was
phone banks - during persuasion period list cut for them was paid ID calls -
members reached but self ID'd as undecided.
Opened a full
time campaign office in a conference room. Members attending committee
meetings pop in for info.
Grub for the
Gov Fridays and other events keep the fun factor high
Open from 8
am – 8 pm for staff to phone bank, enter data, get training, and learn of
other volunteer opportunities.
assisted field operations around the state by doing VBM chase calls, voter
ID calls, scheduling of volunteers, and data entry. (if we looked at
numbers and activity slow in a county we could bring the work in house and
get it done).
ALL OF THIS
PLANNED BY STAFF - GR represented but not in charge of staff involvement
committee - associate staff ran it.
competition and enthusiasm. Another way we maintained enthusiasm was by
Vote Notes 09
- weekly news letter to staff, Exec Comm, and County Presidents.
Additionally, staff sent several emails daily with latest polls, articles
about candidates, links to videos, copies of NJEA's mailers, articles
mentioning NJEA, etc. Staff involvement committee created own logo and put
out their own e-newsletter touting their accomplishments.
covers field operations. Now let's talk about the other ways we communicated
its pollster to compute a modeling score on the membership file twice during
the campaign. Using our paid ID call data, polling data, field program data,
and demographic information, the pollster was able to provide us with a
statistical scoring model to help us target our members more efficiently.
And it did not cost a lot - about $5,800 for both models. Benefit of
layering - could do it b/c of three polls, live IDs, building and phone bank
The remainder involves reading the results of the campaign, covered in last
Many of these
techniques will be familiar to those of you who have been involved in
political campaigns, but the NJEA presentation offers to the public (and,
dare I say, most union members) an unprecedented and detailed look at its
political operations - and why teachers' unions are worth covering and
3) Upcoming: Brookings Webcast on
Education Coverage. On Wednesday afternoon, the
Brookings Institution will webcast its panel, titled: "No
Reader Left Behind: Improving Media Coverage of Education." I don't know
if it will settle anything, but it features Richard Colvin of the Hechinger
Institute, Dale Mezzacappa of the Education Writers Association, and Andrew
Rotherham of Eduwonk fame - none of whom are working for newspapers right
now, which should give you some sense of why there is concern. They're all
good people and I'll be watching, if I'm not too busy covering education.
4) Irony Alert: Union Accused Rhee
of Hiring Too Many Teachers. A DC Superior Court
judge dismissed a lawsuit by the Washington Teachers Union that sought to
reverse teacher layoffs. It's not surprising that WTU filed suit, but one of
its arguments raised my eyebrows. The
Washington Post reported:
"Union attorney Lee Jackson argued that
Rhee, in essence, went on an illegal hiring spree over the spring and
summer, bringing more than 900 new teachers on board knowing that she would
need to make cuts later. The union claimed that Rhee sought to move out
older teachers in favor of younger ones that she wanted to hire."
Wow, that's nervy. If hiring too many
teachers is illegal, we're going to have to lock up several thousand
superintendents, and several thousand more union officers who encouraged
them to do it.
5) Janesville Education Association
Joins AFL-CIO. The
Janesville Education Association became the fourth NEA local affiliate
in Wisconsin to hook up with the AFL-CIO through the
Labor Solidarity Partnership. However, this is the first time (that I
know of) the local
increased dues specifically to pay the AFL-CIO affiliation fees,
eventually to reach $19 per member per year.
6) Nightmare Headline of the Week.
From the November 29 Tallmadge Express
Named 'Teacher of Year'"
7) 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 7:
"The Retirement Plan shall allow active
employees in the bargaining unit the opportunity to purchase up to three
years of previous experience with an employer not participating in the
8) Last Week's Intercepts.
Intercepts, covered these topics from November 23-30:
AFT Local President Applies for Concealed Weapon Permit, Compares Himself to
Gandhi, Martin Luther King. "No more Mr. Passive Resistance!"
America's Most Effective Education Program. Illustrating the role of
NEA's Dead Sea Scrolls. Or are they the Pentagon Papers?
Quote of the Week.
"Teachers need an opportunity to have a dialogue with each other. Some
schools are in corrective action. They have alternative providers who come
into the school to provide teaching strategies. When are they going to have
the opportunity to have that training? Clearly, by giving them up, it would
be a disservice to the students. This is about the quality of education.
It's not about money." - Wil Okabe, president of the Hawaii State Teachers
Association, explaining why he opposes giving up 15 teacher planning days.
Okabe didn't explain why giving up 17 instructional days is less of a
disservice to the students. (November 26