A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

NEA Sends $1.5 Million to Fight Opportunity District Initiative in Georgia

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 09•16

Click here to read.


Anatomy of an NEA Factoid

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 09•16

The Education Writers Association held its national seminar in Boston last week and as part of a panel on “growing pains in the charter sector” invited National Education Association staffer David Welker to speak.

I wasn’t present so I can’t address the overall context of Welker’s presentation or the panel itself, but I did notice what portion NEA’s communications department sought to highlight.

Welker helpfully had a slide depicting this “ed trend.”

You have to zoom in to see that he cites figures from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools report “A Closer Look at the Charter School Movement.” Yep, there are fewer charters opening than in previous years and more charters closing than in previous years. Unfortunately for Welker and NEA, there are several reasons why this isn’t indicative of the industry’s problems.

1) If 500 charter schools opened last year and 499 opened this year, and if 1 closed last year and 2 closed this year, the parameters of Welker’s comparison have been fulfilled. But you still opened 999 charters and closed 3.

2) If a single charter school is opened and enrolls 1,000 students, and 10 are closed with 50 students each, you still have a net gain of 500 students.

3) Teachers’ unions are firm advocates of either imposing or maintaining caps on the numbers of new charter schools all across the country. To then argue that fewer are opening is akin to kicking someone in the face and then using the bruises as evidence of his poor health.

4) I don’t know how many new members NEA recruited over the last five years and how many retired or quit, but I do know the union had a net loss of more than 278,000 members. Over the same period of time, charters had a net gain of 1.28 million students. Which industry has more problems?

The NAPCS report shows that nine states had fewer charter schools in 2015-16 than they had in 2014-15. But only one – Iowa – had lower charter school enrollment. Nationally, the number of charter school students grew by 9 percent over the previous year.

I like to think the reporters in the audience were skeptical of NEA’s presentation. The photo evidence suggests at least one panelist was unimpressed.



South Carolina Education Association’s Finances

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 06•16

By any objective measure, the South Carolina Education Association is NEA’s weakest state affiliate. The national union provides almost one-third of its annual budget and the establishment of an NEA trusteeship over the affiliate in 2010 did nothing to reverse its fortunes. SCEA has lost 49.3 percent of its membership in the last 20 years.

Total membership – 8,760, down 479 members

Total revenue – $2.1 million (69.6% came from member dues), down $85,000

Surplus – $69,000

Net assets – $1.1 million

Total staff – 23

Staff salaries and benefits – $1.3 million

Highest paid employee – Roger Smith, executive director  – $122,467 base salary

Highest paid contractor – None received more than $100,000


UTLA Aims to Become Dual NEA/AFT Affiliate

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 05•16

When the members of the United Teachers Los Angeles approved a huge dues increase last February, they also agreed to put an end to UTLA’s unique structure. Now it will require a vote of the delegates to the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly to approve UTLA’s status as a dual NEA/AFT affiliate.

Under the current practice, when teachers join UTLA they are given the individual choice of belonging to either NEA or the American Federation of Teachers. UTLA then passes the proportional amount of dues to each national organization. This year, of UTLA’s 31,000 members, about three-quarters belong to NEA and one-quarter to AFT.

That arrangement will end in September, when all UTLA members will be members of both NEA and AFT. There is a problem, however.

Under NEA bylaws, such dual affiliates have to send half of their national dues to NEA, and half to AFT. This would result in about $1.3 million being diverted from NEA to AFT. UTLA has introduced an NEA bylaw amendment that would allow it to continue sending three-quarters of its national dues to NEA.

NEA delegates are sure to approve it, since it saves money that would otherwise be lost to AFT. AFT might raise an eyebrow, but it is unlikely to object since merged NEA/AFT state affiliates disburse national dues in similar proportions. However, the union’s regulations dealing with dual-affiliated and merged affiliates are becoming complicated, and will lead increasingly to hard internal debates.


Union Members: Pivotal or Pivoting?

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 04•16

No press releases on the Indiana Democratic primary results from AFT or NEA, so we know Sanders won. It hardly matters anymore regarding the final outcome, but this is an extraordinary result, considering the state of the race and the sheer number of unions behind Hillary.


Still, the unions are fortunate this cycle. They won’t waste effort trying to sell Hillary to these Sanders supporters. They’ll simply emphasize the importance of an anti-Trump vote. Most of the union rank-and-file will get the point, and vote for Clinton. They won’t give her a honeymoon, but by then she won’t care.


NEA Rhode Island’s Finances

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 03•16

As with most northeastern affiliates, NEA Rhode Island took a minor membership hit during the recession and has since regained all that it lost.

Total membership – 11,444, up 228 members

Total revenue – $4.3 million (82.6% came from member dues), down $58,000

Deficit – $148,000

Net assets – $3.7 million

Total staff – 30

Staff salaries and benefits – $3.1 million

Highest paid employee – Robert Walsh, executive director – $172,633 base salary

Highest paid contractor – None received more than $100,000


Declassified Document Drop Day

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 02•16

Click here to read.