1) NEA Will Spend Up to $3 Million on
Oklahoma School Funding Initiative. This November,
Oklahoma voters will decide the fate of State Question 744 (SQ 744), which
would require the legislature to raise school per-pupil spending to the
regional average. The measure does not designate a revenue source and will
cost state taxpayers an estimated $850 million annually.
As you may have guessed, SQ 744 was the
brainchild of the Oklahoma Education Association. OEA gathered signatures to
place the initiative on the ballot and its parent affiliate, NEA,
contributed more than $40,000 to fund opinion research on the idea.
OEA has only 23,451 active members,
making it difficult to extract substantial sums for media buys and
large-scale political advertising. The
latest financial report from the Yes on 744 campaign shows the committee
with less than $217,000 on hand, with only $1,162 in contributions in the
month of June against nearly $42,000 in expenditures.
That will all change very soon, however.
Earlier this month, the National Education Association's board of directors
approved a disbursement of up to $3 million to OEA for the SQ 744 campaign
from the national union's Ballot Measure/Legislative Crises Fund. This is a
large allocation to make to a single state, even for NEA, so the union will
divide the expenditure into two grants of $1.5 million, taken from this
year's and next year's NEA member contributions to the national fund.
It may be that the campaign will need
every last dime, because opposition to the measure goes beyond business
interests and taxpayer groups. The
Oklahoma Policy Institute released a report on the measure's impact and
concluded it "would create real and serious damage to the state of
Oklahoma." The Oklahoma City Federation of Teachers
opposed placing SQ 744 on the ballot in the first place. And the
Oklahoma Public Employees Association joined the fight against the
As I demonstrated in my
recent article for Education Next, in education there is no such
thing as a "weak union state." If there were only three OEA members, NEA
could still spend $3 million in Oklahoma. The SQ 744 campaign illustrates
better than anything why education labor issues in California, New Jersey
and elsewhere affect every state, because that's where the money for
Oklahoma's biggest political battle is coming from.
2) Unions Rank 13th of 16 in Public
Confidence. Gallup polled a sampling of Americans
how much confidence they had in various institutions. The public lost
confidence in nearly every entity when compared to last year's poll, but the
military still held the top position of the 16 institutions listed, with 76%
expressing high confidence.
Public schools ranked 8th with 34%
confidence. Organized labor held the 13th spot with 20% confidence, just
edging out big business and HMOs (19%). Congress brought up the rear with
3) Last Week's Intercepts.
Intercepts, covered these topics from July 20-26:
Is Overrated. Americans don't want collaboration, and for good reason.
A Metallic Vampire Stalking the Earth! Clocks don't get punched, but
Back to the Future in EduBlogging. Get your flux capacitor ready.
No Laughs from Randi. Why can't an elephant ride a tricycle? Because he
doesn't have a thumb to ring the little bell.
The Chicago Way. At least somebody is hiring.
4) Quote of the Week #1.
"There's national concern about more deficit spending, but now it's paid
for." - Chris Galgay, president of the Maine Education Association, while
lobbying U.S. Senators Snowe and Collins to pass the edujobs bill. (July 23
Quote of the Week #2.
"New estimates from the White House on Friday predict the budget deficit
will reach a record $1.47 trillion this year. The government is borrowing 41
cents of every dollar it spends." - July 23
Associated Press story.