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Press Release


May 27, 2008
Contact: Heather Reams

AAE Questions Motives of Washington Education Association Over Loss of Charitable Grant for Math and Science

Alexandria, VA — The Association of American Educators (AAE), the largest national non-union professional teachers’ association, questions the motives of the Washington Education Association (WEA) for squelching a charitable grant to help students in math and science. Earlier in the month, Washington State lost out on a $13.2 million grant from the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), due in large part to complaints by the WEA.

“It is a terrible shame that schools, teachers and their students are losing out on such a generous grant,” said Gary Beckner, executive director of AAE. “The union in Washington has made its priorities crystal clear: union first, members second, and students a distant third.”

The grant would have gone to seven schools in Seattle, Spokane and Vancouver, several of which are high in both minority and low-income student population, for teachers to better be able to teach AP courses in math and science. Less than a quarter of the grant was specifically designated as direct incentive pay for teachers in the program. The WEA cried foul, citing the state’s collective bargaining laws, which prohibit any compensation be given to teachers that is not bargained for by the union. After failed attempts at compromise, NMSI pulled the grant.

“This is a story about union control and the union agenda. It’s all about controlling the money, and in this case, it’s a clear example that the union does not hold students’ interest or even their members’ interests as the highest priority,” remarked Cindy Omlin, executive director of AAE’s regional affiliate in Washington, Northwest Professional Educators.

NMSI, which was founded in 2007, selected six other states to receive similar grants: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts and Virginia. All of these grants are moving forward as scheduled.

The loss of the grant comes at a particularly inopportune time for the state of Washington, as the education budget fell short of expectations, leading the WEA to file a lawsuit against the state over a cut in pension benefits for teachers.

Dedicated to the academic and personal growth of every student, the Association of American Educators is the premier educators’ network that advances the teaching profession through teacher advocacy and protection, professional development and promoting excellence in education so that educators receive the respect, recognition and reward they deserve. AAE has members in all 50 states and welcomes professionals from all education entities.