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Education Reporter

Delegates Vote to Double Political Dues
The NEA lost more than 39,000 active members during the 2009-2010 school year and projects they will lose another 21,000 in the coming year, but they are determined to maintain maximum political capital. In his keynote address, President Dennis Van Roekel tried to rally his troops with assurances that the NEA is "standing strong" against "all of those union-busting, greedy CEOs and their political pals."

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With all the righteous indignation he could muster, Van Roekel intoned, "Our country is not for sale to the highest political donor or the wealthiest corporations." Perhaps someone should let him know that the NEA and its state affiliates were ranked number one for spending on state and federal campaigns, political parties, and ballot measure committees for the 2007 and 2008 election cycles (the most recent data available). See the August 2010 issue of Education Reporter for more on NEA political spending.

To make sure they maximize their political purchasing power, NEA Assembly Representatives passed a measure doubling each active member's annual political and media fund assessment from $10 to $20. About 60% of these special dues will support the Ballot Initiative/ Legislative Crisis fund, and the remaining 40% will pay for state and national media buys to support messaging and calls for action against things like anti-collective bargaining legislation.

The union is already the nation's top political contributor, and this measure will raise an additional $40 million per election cycle, according to Mike Antonucci, director of the Education Intelligence Agency. Antonucci noted that the increase alone is more than all but two other groups spent during the entire 2007-2008 election cycle.

Of course, the Legislative and Media funds figures constitute only a portion of NEA political spending. Members voluntarily contributed over $1 million in PAC money during the convention to add to the $3.1 million raised earlier in the year. State and local affiliates spend additional monies on elections and legislative issues that aren't included in these figures.

Convention delegates also sent 18,500 messages to Congress during the convention, reminding legislators of the union's ability to pressure them through its 3.2 million members. Clearly, the NEA is preparing for a bruising electoral season, amassing ammunition and mustering the troops for political war.

(eiaonline.com, 2-22-11; followthemoney.org database; blogs.edweek.org, 7-4-11)

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