NEA admits membership is down, and wants more money from those who remain

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ATLANTA, Ga. – The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, is shrinking fast, although not quite as fast as union officials anticipated.

downward-chartMeanwhile, the union is telling remaining members that it needs additional dues revenue over the next year to pay for special projects.

A membership decline of just over 200,000 since last year is significantly less than the 308,000 drop union leaders anticipated for 2013, but it’s clearly a sign that the union’s political clout and dues revenue have taken major hits.

The union’s total 2013-14 membership, measured in full-time equivalent teaching positions, is 1,685,000, down from 1,886,000 in 2010-11, according to NEA figures.

A presentation by NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle at the union’s 2013 Representative Assembly in Atlanta this week framed the loss as a less-than-expected scenario, Education Week reports.

“The NEA, its members, and its affiliates have had a very tough four years,” Pringle said in presenting the union’s 2013-14 budget.

She blamed the decline on a combination of political, economic and education reform forces, but credited members for working hard to minimize the damage.

“Last year, I said we must organize, we must organize, we must organize, because I don’t ever want to stand before a delegate assembly again and ask them to make the tough decisions they did last year,” she said, according to the news site. “And guess what? You did. All over this country, you beat back those bad pieces of legislation. You went out and got more members.”

While membership losses fell short of projections, the fact remains that teachers have been dropping out of the NEA by the droves, especially in states that passed right-to-work type legislation that finally gives educators a choice of whether to join a union or not.

Pringle reported that union revenue is $345 million, or about $6 million more than projected.  Despite that, she said the union needs more money.

She said the union wants to raise teachers’ contributions by $3 for a “Great Public Schools” fund to send grants to states and local affiliates to develop “teacher quality” and “parental engagement” ideas, Education Week reports.

“It’s not going to pay salaries, it’s not going to restore programs,” she said, according to the site. “It’s so we can step into this space and push out the crazy and the stupid (ideas) … We’re not using that $3 for the NEA in any way.”

We find that hard to believe, because history shows virtually everything the union does is to benefit itself.

Pringle said current revenues, “Quite honestly, it’s not enough to do the work we need to do.  We’re looking at locals and states partnering with the NEA to elevate this work and escalating it in a huge way.”

Not everyone at the representative assembly was convinced the special assessment is necessary.

The $3 proposal, “seems to be a somewhat controversial proposition among members, with several delegates at the budget hearing questioning the cost,” Education Week reports.

We suspect that’s because, like their colleagues that dropped out of the union, members are becoming increasingly aware of their union’s manipulative ways, and constant pleas for handouts.

By Victor Skinner at EAGnews.org

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