Follow AAE on:

Setting the Record Straight

True or False? What the NEA says about AAE

NEA state affiliates (and a number of AFT affiliates) have been disseminating false information about AAE in an obvious attempt to discourage teachers from exercising their right to choose.

If you come across this type of misinformation in your district, please share these facts with your colleagues:

The NEA says… AAE “is anti-union and out to destroy public education.”

False! When did unionism become synonymous with public education? If one objects to a labor union’s militant tactics or partisan politics, does that mean one is out to destroy public schools? The AAE believes our organization will help save public education, not destroy it, which is evidenced by the fact that over 90% of our members are public school teachers.

The NEA says… AAE “has a hidden – and very political – agenda!”

False! We are incorporated as a professional trade association, not a lobbying organization. We do not become overly involved in politics, and couldn’t afford to, even if we wanted to, with such an economical dues structure. Ironically, it is the NEA that won’t accept the fact that many of their own members would like their leaders to concentrate on educational issues and stay out of partisan politics.

The NEA says… AAE provides only cheap liability insurance and no legal assistance.

False! AAE provides both legal assistance and liability insurance. AAE members have free access to AAE’s attorney referral network or they may prefer to seek out legal representation of their own choosing instead of having to accept a predetermined legal advisor. AAE’s attorneys bill our insurance provider—not you, the individual teacher—for services covered under AAE’s plan. In instances when you choose to use your own attorney, he or she will be reimbursed for services rendered up to the limits specified in the policy. And our liability insurance is not cheap either! AAE’s in-dues policy costs us $35 per member. NEA’s policy costs the NEA about $2 per member (according to an on the record comment by NEA president, Reg Weaver). Yet AAE’s dues are $16.50 per month, compared to NEA’s combined local, state, and national dues which average close to $60 per month. If teachers are sticking with the NEA just because the NEA offers liability insurance, they are paying hundreds of dollars more per year than they need to. This eye-opening report shows just how NEA spends teacher dues.

Unlike the NEA that is infamous for being over-staffed with highly paid employees, AAE is able to maintain a lean operation that is sensitive to our members’ desires and needs. Our dues structure allows us to provide exactly what our members tell us they want and need most—and that does not include contributions to political parties or 527’s to help elect so called “education-friendly” candidates (which more literally means labor union-friendly candidates).

The NEA says… AAE “has just a few employees who can’t possibly represent you from California.”

False! We have an appropriate number of paid employees in California, and in our Washington, D. C. office servicing our members in all fifty states. In addition, we have a growing number of state-based branches staffed with either full-time or part-time representatives. This is more than adequate for an organization that is over fifteen years old and services tens of thousands of members. We will increase staff according to our growth.

The NEA says… AAE “is funded by at least one organization that opposes the rights of public school employees,” and the AAE is “anti-bargaining.”

False! We have received no funding from any such organizations. As a professional educators’ association, we do support the rights of teachers, but our members are more concerned about our children’s right to a good education than they are with just their own benefits. We do not oppose bargaining; we simply are not a bargaining agent. This country doesn’t need another organized labor union for teachers. The fact that we do not support strikes is offsetting to the union leaders who believe the threat of strikes is a necessary component of bargaining. Yet, they ignore the fact that in right-to-work states where strikes are illegal, teacher groups have learned how to negotiate collegially rather than adversarially. We are, however, anti-exclusive representation, anti-forced dues, and anti-monopoly bargaining!

The NEA says… AAE “is anti-public education.”

False! Does the NEA really believe that the distinguished and respected public school educators on our board are a part of a “conspiracy” to destroy our public schools? The NEA legitimately represents the views of hundreds of thousands of educators in America. However, there are also hundreds of thousands of educators who disagree with many of the NEA’s views about what is best for America’s children and for America. AAE was formed to give those educators an opportunity to share differing views. Because we disagree with the NEA on some issues, does that mean we’re anti-public education? Of course not. In fact, we believe it is the monopolistic vise-grip of the NEA and AFT that is squeezing the life out of public education. Alternative ideas suggesting how to reform our schools and alternative organizations representing a broader spectrum of teachers views will, in our opinion, help save public education.

The NEA says… AAE “promises a lot but doesn’t deliver.”

False! We deliver exactly what we promise and what our members tell us they want—the opportunity to be associated with other professionals in the field, a chance to have their opinions heard, and the peace of mind that affordable group insurance provides. Frankly, with dues as reasonable as ours, we couldn’t promise much more. We certainly don’t provide all the bells and whistles the huge unions provide. However, if in the future our members tell us they want those things, we can always raise our dues and provide them. Ironically, teachers who have left the unions tell us that their dues were going for a lot of things they didn’t need or want. And there is one other promise we intend to keep—we will not use our members' dues to contribute to or campaign for political candidates or political parties!

The NEA says… “AAE advertises that they offer $2 million in liability insurance coverage. What they don’t tell you is that this is an aggregate amount, not the $1 million per member of NEA coverage.”

False! NEA leaders must not be able to actually read an insurance policy. If they could, they would know the AAE has no aggregate amount for the association. Each and every professional category member of AAE is insured for $2 million—per member, per occurrence, annually!

If NEA leaders can’t read an insurance policy, shame on them. If they can, shame on them for purposely spreading false information.

The NEA says… AAE “has lobbied for vouchers that will take money away from public schools.”

False! AAE has never lobbied for vouchers. We only take positions on issues when our surveys indicate a super majority (75 percent) of our membership is for or against something. At present, our membership is about evenly divided on the merits of vouchers. We have published articles about the voucher movement in our newsletter, sometimes reporting on positive results where vouchers have been used. Apparently to the NEA, it is sacrilegious to even report information that might undermine their predetermined positions on issues. One thing is certain, you will be able to get information in our publications that would never be published in the union publications. We believe in informed decision making.

The NEA says… AAE “calls for less federal involvement in education.”

False! Again, the NEA just assumes that all teachers think big government is a good thing. This is a basic philosophical difference between the NEA and AAE. Unlike the NEA and AFT, the AAE seeks more involvement and help from parents, local communities, and state departments rather than the federal government. We really do believe the schools and their administration, instructional services, and curriculum should be primarily accountable to the parents and taxpayers of the local communities they serve. This is also the fundamental difference between the NEA’s solutions to education problems and ours. There are those like the NEA, AFT, and many sincere liberals who believe more federal management and money can solve the problems of our society, a “big brother” in the most benevolent sense of the term. Others, like the majority of the AAE, are convinced that help from the federal government, although well meaning and sometimes welcomed, is not the solution to all our problems. Instead, it’s time to allow local communities to redesign and manage their own schools without all the onerous and constrictive strings attached with federal programs.

The NEA says… AAE “doesn’t fight for more money for teachers and schools at the national level like the NEA does.”

False! There is that implication again that more money is the final solution to all our educational problems. The NEA, AFT, and many politicians are trying to convince the public that more money (through taxes) is what the system needs. We agree that our government (at all levels) must anticipate having to put more money into the system to repair our eroding school buildings, buy more books, and attract and keep the best teachers. However, until the public school system is turned upside down, most of the money will never get to where we really need it—the school site and the classroom. Teachers need more resources at hand rather than more direction from on high. Ironically, indiscriminate spending at this time could exacerbate our problems. To underscore this sad fact, we are reminded of an irrefutable rule of economics—if you subsidize something, you just get more of it. That’s the general point of many of the true reform ideas being suggested today—systemic changes must occur in public education before more money will really help. If and when we see an education funding plan at either the federal or state levels that ensures the majority of the new money actually makes it to the classroom for teachers and kids, AAE will fight tooth and nail for it!

The NEA says… AAE "does not represent the views of educators."

False! We survey our membership! - View our latest member survey!

Frankly, it surprises us that the NEA prints anything about us. What could they possibly fear? A little competition? We don’t want to become anything like the NEA, or as ponderous and resistant to change as the NEA or AFT. That is why we have formed a professional alternative to unions rather than an alternative union.

The bottom line: Teachers will never receive the pay they seek as long as they are inextricably linked with labor unions. The NEA’s own surveys have shown that many of their members are aware of that fact. That is why the NEA has tried hard to shed its industrial labor union image. Recent past NEA President, Bob Chase, promised to lead the NEA in a new direction toward a more professional association. We applauded his vision and hoped that he would have been able to persuade the old guard to abandon their use of intimidation, misinformation, and fear tactics. It appears he failed. In fact, the new NEA leadership has vowed to take the organization in just the opposite direction, toward a more militant union. That will not enhance the professional image of teachers!

NEA leaders will undoubtedly continue to spend extraordinary amounts of their members’ dues to try to influence politicians. They do, after all, represent the thinking of thousands of teachers in America. However, the NEA does not represent the opinions of all teachers! The dramatic growth of the independent teachers associations like AAE, our thirteen new state-based groups, and the eight other states that have seen the rise of independent professional groups is proof of that. Those quarter of a million teachers must also be heard from, or future education reform strategies will be out of balance and inevitably flawed. AAE will be there to give teachers with different opinions a chance to voice them. Teachers are indeed teachers by calling, but they can only be professionals by choice!