NEA’s 2018 Ballot Measure and Legislative Crises Grants

Each active member of the National Education Association contributes $20 to the union’s Ballot Measure and Legislative Crises Fund. Here are the groups that received grants from that fund in the 2018 fiscal year:

Citizens Who Support Maine’s Public Schools – $170,000
Clean Missouri – $500,000
Coalition for Redistricting Reform (Ohio)) – $10,000
IAM27J (Colorado) – $40,000
Invest in Education LLC (Arizona) – $1,428,000
Maryland Promise Committee – $250,000
MEA-MFT (Montana) -$500,000
North Carolina Citizens for Protecting Our Schools – $100,000
Public Education Defense Fund (Florida) – $350,000

An additional $3 million was transferred to the NEA Advocacy Fund.

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California Teachers Association Pledges Support for Prop. 13 Overhaul

2020 will be a profitable year for political operatives and media strategists in California. By backing a proposed split-roll property tax initiative, the California Teachers Association mobilizes for a campaign that could cost the two sides an amount in the nine-figure range.

Read the details in LA School Report.

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Denver’s Invisible Teachers

The Denver teacher strike entered its second day today. There is an aspect to it that didn’t arise during the LA teacher strike: participation rates.

I’ve read dozens of stories. Only a few mention the disparity between the district’s count and the union’s count. The district claims 2,631 classroom teachers walked out, which would be about 56 percent, by its reckoning.

The union counted from a pool of all professional employees of the district and claimed 3,769 walked out, which would be more than 70 percent.

You would expect the two sides to differ in this regard, but either way you have somewhere around one-third of district teachers still at work. But out of all the news outlets covering the strike, only Chalkbeat Colorado thought it worth quoting one of those teachers.

In fact, Chalkbeat Colorado was the only outlet to point out that the Denver Classroom Teachers Association has “about 3,800” members. The union seems to be claiming that every single one of its members is participating in the strike.

A couple of other facts that only Chalkbeat reported:

* The district said a majority of teachers at 30 “highest-priority” schools reported to work.

* DCTA said 93 percent voted to authorize the strike, but won’t reveal how many votes were cast.

The preliminary numbers for today indicate a similar percentage of teachers showed up for work.

The strike is a big story. We need the updates on negotiations. We want interviews with union and district leaders. We expect video of picket lines and signs. We presume commentators will tie it to strikes in other places. But this divide is a significant difference from the other walkouts. We should know more about it.

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Declassified

I haven’t added documents to my Declassified page in a long time, so here are a few:

*     California Teachers Association Local Affiliate Membership Numbers, August 31, 2018. Active membership numbers for every one of the union’s 988 local affiliates.

*     Illinois Education Association Board Policies. Duties, responsibilities and benefits for members of the union’s board of directors.

*     Maine Education Association Governance Documents. Includes the union’s strategic budget for the 2018-19 school year.

*     Michigan Education Association Financial Audit. Reveals the union’s accounting practices understate its liabilities by a cumulative $29 million.

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#MeToo Accusation Gets Angry Response from Idaho Education Association

Last November we noted the “abrupt departure” of Sue Wigdorski as executive director of the Idaho Education Association. These are prized positions within the union and it’s unusual for someone to leave — or to be asked to leave — after a short tenure.

Thanks to reporting from Idaho Public Television, we now know what led to the parting of ways. Someone leaked a January 25, 2019 letter from Wigdorski to the IEA board of directors in which she claims a formal sexual harassment complaint was lodged by a union employee in November 2017 against Kari Overall, the current IEA president.

Wigdorski asserts she and the union’s general counsel conducted an investigation that resulted in a settlement in which Overall agreed to modify her behavior and attend sexual harassment training. Subsequently, Wigdorski claims, Overall continued to conduct “inappropriate communications” not only with the staff but with an employee of the Idaho State Department of Education.

Wigdorksi states that she confronted Overall about her behavior and implies that it ultimately led to the non-renewal of her contract as executive director.

IEA responded with a statement claiming the letter “written and improperly distributed by a former Idaho Education Association employee contains false information and inaccurate, unsubstantiated claims.”

The union also claims, “No employee has filed a formal complaint of any kind against IEA President Kari Overall.”

Both Wigdorski and the union are unequivocal on this point, which means one or the other is lying. We aren’t likely to learn which unless a third party comes forward with a paper trail.

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