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Government & Politics        < Previous        Next >



Union Political Spending


Q. People say that the teachers' unions have destroyed teaching as a profession because they have made it so political. It's true, you never hear about doctors, lawyers, engineers and other professionals throwing their weight around on so many political hot potatoes. But is this fair to say about the teachers' unions?


It sure looks to be. Consider these excerpts from a well-documented report on non-education spending by the 2.7-million member National Education Association for the 2004-05 school year.


Take a look at how the NEA puts its money into contributions, grants and political expenditures.


This compilation is by Mike Antonucci, the celebrated education reporter who writes the Education Intelligence Agency website, Antonucci is the "I" in the items listed below:



The U.S. Department of Labor now requires unions to itemize expenditures in the following categories:


* Representational activities - NEA spent $47 million.

* Political activities and lobbying - NEA spent $25 million.

* Contributions, gifts and grants - NEA spent $65.5 million.

* General overhead - NEA spent $64 million.

* Union administration - NEA spent $56.8 million.


. . .


Below I have listed a sampling of NEA expenditures in each category, along with information about, or a web link to, the recipients.


Representational activities


JBL Associates, Bethesda MD: $129,269

Bredhoff & Kaiser, the law firm of NEA General Counsel Robert Chanin, received funds in a number of different categories, totaling $1,143,316

Consortium for Educational Change, Lombard IL: $40,000

B-Line Express of Columbia MD ($10,000 for software) and the Source Group of Richmond VA ($21,291 for consulting) received funds for "opposition and anti-privatization" projects.

National Coalition on Health Care: $25,000

Generations United: $10,000

NB Yacht Charters: $11,797


Political activities and lobbying


First, I list the money that went to NEA state affiliates last year for various ballot and legislative initiatives, as well as other grants with a political aim. Remember, these are all expenditures from NEA's national budget from September 2004-August 2005, and do not include whatever expenditures were made by the state affiliate itself, or by NEA after August 2005.


Alabama Education Association: $150,806

Arizona Education Association: $273,015

Arkansas Education Association: $24,750

California Teachers Association: $2,562,778

Colorado Education Association: $233,477

Connecticut Education Association: $76,500

Delaware State Education Association: $27,000

Education Minnesota: $27,201

Florida Education Association: $206,125

Georgia Association of Educators: $295,273

Hawaii State Teachers Association: $13,203

Idaho Education Association: $192,930

Indiana State Teachers Association: $25,000

Iowa State Education Association: $57,950

Kentucky Education Association: $250,690

Louisiana Association of Educators: $165,719

Maryland State Teachers Association: $47,900

Massachusetts Teachers Association: $255,000

MEA-MFT: $151,564

Michigan Education Association: $660,287

Mississippi Association of Educators: $21,260

Missouri NEA: $38,434

NEA New Hampshire: $21,684

NEA New Mexico: $24,544

NEA New York: $51,400

Nebraska State Education Association: $178,086

Nevada State Education Association: $29,837

New Jersey Education Association: $791,715

North Carolina Association of Educators: $130,000

North Dakota Education Association: $107,000

Ohio Education Association: $877,962

Oklahoma Education Association: $65,600

Oregon Education Association: $47,230

Pennsylvania State Education Association: $50,000

NEA Rhode Island: $173,000

South Carolina Education Association: $125,600

South Dakota Education Association: $176,000

Tennessee Education Association: $30,794

Texas State Teachers Association: $250,915

Washington Education Association: $12,324

West Virginia Education Association: $164,594

Wisconsin Education Association Council: $180,439


The sum of the above is almost $9.25 million. However, NEA also gave money in this category directly to various groups or campaigns, rather than through state affiliates.


Education Commission of the States: $10,000

National Association of Legislative Political Specialists: $12,459. I had never heard of this group, even though it is located nearby. Their office, however, happens to be in the same room as the California Teachers Association Region II office.

National Conference of Black Mayors: $5,000

NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures: $8,200

Greenberg Quinlan Research: $302,670. A big outlay for polling services.

Malchow, Schlackman, Hoppey & Cooper: $542,398

Ballot Initiative Strategy Center: $75,000

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC): $45,000

Terris & Barnes: $368,038

Wisconsin Citizen Action Fund for Nonpartisan GOTV Projects: $20,000
Winning Directions: $413,291

Protect Our Public Schools: $500,000. The anti-charter school campaign in Washington state.

North Carolina Democratic Party Building Fund: $25,000

Floridians Against Inequities in Rates: $25,000

The Fund to Protect Social Security: $400,000

Trust Lands for Education Committee (Arizona): $200,000

Rock the Vote Education Fund: $10,000

Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition: $14,000

Citizens United to Protect Public Safety (Maine): $300,000

Kids Count Coalition (Oklahoma): $100,000

Floridians for All Committee: $249,000

Alliance for Nevada's Working Families: $250,000


Communities for Quality Education received $600,000 from NEA out of this category, but a quick peek at the "union administration" expenditures shows CQE received an additional $1.9 million from NEA for "public relations costs." Again, this is in addition to whatever funds CQE raised from individual NEA state affiliates.


Contributions, gifts and grants


What hasn't been clear from previous disclosure reports is that NEA is active in the world of philanthropy. While the NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education has been issuing education grants for many years, the union itself also doles out contributions to nonprofits and advocacy groups that may or may not have a direct education mission. Listed here are those grants, plus payments to groups holding special events, and other outlays.


Valis Associates: $200,000. This lobbying firm was hired by NEA for the particular purpose of outreach to the Republican Party.

AFSCME: $5,000

Amnesty International: $5,000

Aspira Association: $5,000

Center for Women Policy Studies: $5,000

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation: $39,940

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute: $35,000

Economic Policy Institute: $45,000

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies: $10,000

MALDEF: $5,000

National Association for Bilingual Education: $5,000

National Council of La Raza: $7,900

National Women's Law Center: $5,000

National Alliance of Black School Educators: $30,000

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Awards: $5,000

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights: $13,000

Center for Law and Education: $45,000

AIDS Walk Washington: $5,000

Human Rights Campaign: $15,000

HEROS, Inc.: $20,000

Everybody Wins! DC: $7,903

Rainbow PUSH Coalition: $5,000

United South and Eastern Tribes: $5,000

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN): $5,000

Rebuild America's Schools: $20,000

The Ripon Society: $10,000

Learning First Alliance: $51,350

Food Research and Action Center: $5,000

LULAC: $5,000

The King Center: $10,000

Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute: $20,000

Gephardt Legacy Fund: $10,000

Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association: $30,000

Democratic Leadership Council: $25,750

Wellstone Memorial Fund: $5,000


General overhead


This category mostly contains the union's phone bills, UPS charges, etc. However, there are a few interesting entries:


Initial Tropical Plants, Inc.: $42,472

Joe Ragan's Coffee, Ltd.: $25,962

Morris Costumes: $5,421. A second payment of $54,225 appears in the "union administration" category.


Union administration


The expenditures from this category are not easily distinguished from the previous category, however, one assumes they are more directly related to union operations.


American Labor Education Center: $25,000

Children's Defense Fund: $10,648

Committee for Education Funding: $8,157

Home and School Institute: $36,942

NCATE: $311,722

People for the American Way: $51,200

Public Agenda Foundation: $7,132

NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures: $13,000

Consortium for Educational Change: $5,682

US Hispanic Leadership Institute: $10,000

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards: $6,363

NTL Institute: $170,188

Partnership for 21st Century Skills: $35,000

Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: $200,000. This is the nonprofit formed by the NEA state affiliates in the north central part of the U.S.

Harvard University: $25,000. Listed as pertaining to "research services and statistics," it is unclear whether this is a grant to The Civil Rights Project or for something else. NEA is, nevertheless, a contributor to the CRP.

Center for Teaching Quality: $122,696

U.S. Action: $6,000

Council on Foreign Relations: $6,000


Also in this category are payments to Media Strategies and Research of $2,966,123, The Mellman Group of $106,400, and Brazile and Associates of $40,148.


Homework: Check the full report on and regularly scan the author's well-reported news blog.


By Susan Darst Williams Government & Politics 13 2008


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