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Education Reporter


NEA Pursues Political Advocacy

NEA's Political Advocacy Program was designed in recognition of the importance of political action -- and elected leaders -- to the long-term goals of public education employees. To promote the Association's Legislative Program, NEA works with Democratic, Republican, and Independent candidates, elected officials, political parties, and other organizations in support of a pro-education agenda. The Association also conducts a number of activities to promote members' awareness of the issues and involvement in the political process.

To assure that public education employees have a strong voice in Washington, the Association established NEA-PAC -- its national political action committee -- in 1972. NEA-PAC, supported by the contribution of NEA members, works to ensure that public education issues take a position of prominence in congressional and presidential elections. NEA-PAC contributes to the campaigns of candidates for federal races who support the Association's legislative agenda. And through NEA-PAC, the Association also provides financial assistance to allied organizations as well as NEA members who participate in the national Democratic or Republican party meetings.

Since it was first established in the 1970s, NEA-PAC has been instrumental in bringing education issues to the forefront of American politics and pro-education leaders to positions of power. NEA-PAC's success can be demonstrated by its record of achievement in past elections. Eighty-four percent of incumbent candidates endorsed by NEA-PAC retained U.S. House and U.S. Senate seats.

Among the more than 4,000 political action committees nationwide, NEA-PAC ranks among the top 10, in terms of total receipts and expenditures in support of the Association's issue-driven legislative and political agenda. Ironically, the success of NEA-PAC activity in past elections has left a new challenge for NEA.

Government Relations Field Teams
NEA maintains field teams in Washington, D.C., and Denver, Colorado, to work directly with Association members to enhance their effectiveness in the political process. Field team programs include training, strategic planning, and consultation with state and local affiliates to increase their effective participation in federal and state elections, ballot initiatives affecting public education, and lobbying Congress and state legislatures. Over the past year, NEA field staff have worked closely with state and local affiliates on a number of state legislative and ballot initiative issues ranging from vouchers to limits on collective bargaining rights. In addition, field staff worked to help train and organize members to enhance their effectiveness in school board elections.

Information and Advocacy
The NEA Information Resources and Advocacy program provides a diverse range of information services -- including politicalpolling,messagedevelopment, and professional writing -- to help advance the legislative and political advocacy objectives of the Association. Over the past year, Information Resources designed, coordinated, and analyzed a wide range of polls and focus groups relating to legislative and political issues facing states, including private school tuition vouchers, public attitudes toward public education, and public support for affiliate-endorsed candidates. In addition, NEA helps state and local affiliates with information needs that enhance voter registration and participation. The Information Resources' writing staff develops testimony, articles, talking points, pamphlets, and background papers articulating NEA's position on a variety of topics to help Association members effectively advocate those positions on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. In addition, Information Resources provides information to help advance the Legislative Program and NEA Resolutions with elected and appointed public officials and the general public.

Department of Education
The NEA is engaged in a battle to protect the Department of Education, which has come under attack by both freshmen and senior lawmakers in the majority party. NEA was instrumental in the establishment of the Education Department and will continue to fight for the continuation of a Cabinet-level Department and a strong federal commitment to public education.

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