Helping Out the AP

Reporter Gary D. Robertson of the Associated Press wrote a piece over the weekend about the struggles of the North Carolina Association of Educators. But he ran into a stone wall trying to put a number on them.

NCAE spokesman Tim Crowley declined to provide membership trends in the past five years, saying the group didn’t release membership information. The NCAE website, however, lists its total membership as 70,000.

If you never update your web site, that means membership losses never happened, right?

Fortunately you don’t have to rely on NEA’s state affiliates to release membership information. NCAE’s total membership has never been as high as 70,000. It peaked at 64,342 in 2001.

The trend over the last five years has been disastrous. NCAE lost more than one-third of its total membership, and even worse, almost 46 percent of its active members. Its total membership fell below 40,000 in 2014. Fewer than 26,000 of that number are actually working in North Carolina public schools. Unofficial numbers for 2015 indicate total membership continued to fall, descending below the 38,000 mark.

Membership numbers are like test scores. They don’t paint a complete picture, but you can’t get away with bragging about them when they’re up, and clamming up when they’re down.