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February 27, 2006

Contact: Heather Reams
703.739.2100/ cell 202.276.7579

NEA Partnership with AFL-CIO Tarnishes Teaching Profession

Alexandria, VA – In an effort to bolster stagnant membership and regain lost political influence, the National Education Association agreed today at the AFL-CIO winter conference in San Diego to allow its local NEA affiliates to sign up with the AFL-CIO, potentially rolling millions of professional teachers into the same union alliance as steel workers, plumbers and bricklayers.

“This is clearly a step backwards for teachers,” said Tracey Bailey, 1993 National Teacher of the Year and Director of National Projects for the Association of American Educators. “An outdated labor union approach does not at all serve America’s teachers, students, or parents well. Industrial-style unionism simply is not consistent with professionalism.”

Both the NEA and the AFL-CIO have been losing members every year, showing that labor unions are a failed model, especially for teachers.

“The NEA apparently feels it has more in common with a union coalition that was too ineffective and too extreme for even Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters,” said Mr. Bailey. “Now, more than ever, teachers will be looking for professional alternatives to the teacher unions.”

There is already a groundswell of frustration among America’s teachers, who are leaving labor unions in record numbers to join non-union professional associations. Nearly 300,000 teachers have forgone the teacher unions in favor of joining independent, non-union professional associations.

In the last eight years alone, the number of state-based non-union associations has more than doubled from 10 to 22 states nationwide. In some cases – such as Georgia, Texas, and Missouri – the non-union associations have grown much larger than the teacher union affiliates in those states.

“The unions have essentially left teachers in order to pursue their own political agendas. Fortunately, teachers have the choice to join a non-union professional association that better meets their needs and better respects their values as teachers,” said Mr. Bailey.

The Association of American Educators is the largest national, non-union, professional educators’ association. AAE seeks to increase the respect and professionalism of teachers, to improve public education through increased accountability and higher student achievement, and to provide educators with a professional alternative to teacher labor unions. AAE believes that teacher labor unions no longer meet the needs of today’s educators.