National Education Association Bailing Out State Affiliates
posted by: Alix | June 19, 2012, 04:26 PM   

As recently reported on the AAE blog, teacher union public approval and membership are hitting record lows. Following a decline of 150,000 members in the past two years and a projection of an additional 200,000 member loss by 2014, the National Education Association and its state affiliates are in extreme financial distress. According to a report by union-watchdog Mike Antonucci and the Education Intelligence Agency (EIA), as the NEA national budgets are being slashed, aid to state affiliates has risen to keep certain state affiliate operations afloat.

In two weeks, the NEA Representative Assembly will open to a heavily disenfranchised crowd of struggling state organizations. In a climate of declining membership and costly legislative and legal battles nearly nationwide, the NEA morale is clearly at an all time low. While budgets and staff may be cut in the national office, a greater percentage of the national union's revenues will filter back down to the state affiliates, where many are struggling to even keep their doors open.

According to a report, the NEA will increase total aid for state and local affiliates by $5.6 million in 2013. Designed to combat corresponding budget cuts in the states, the larger question will be whether these increased numbers will keep states budgets solvent for years to come. Further, insiders are questioning whether the NEA itself can withstand the demand for more state dollars while maintaining a strong national political spending presence.

The EIA reports that membership in forced union states, like New Jersey and New York, were once able to compensate for membership losses in right-to-work states where teachers have options. The stability of forced dues enabled the NEA to bail out states in the event of a state crisis. Now the NEA faces a new reality where increased demand from weak affiliates cannot be compensated for with surplus revenue from strong affiliates.

While each state is facing their own unique funding challenges, some states are on the verge of total ruin. In Arizona, for example, the NEA affiliate has seen active membership drop significantly. With a budget of $7.5 million just a few years ago, the Arizona group is now only expecting to collect a little over $5 million. Similarly in Wisconsin, the NEA affiliate has had to cancel conferences, lay off staff, and incur national help to remain solvent.

If the current climate continues, experts speculate that local NEA affiliates might consider mergers with the American Federation of Teachers, or form regional unions. Either way, the National Education Association is on thin ice both nationally and in states where teachers have a choice in association membership.

What do you think about the NEA and its state affiliate budget issues?
Comment below.

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