Before the Republican takeover of state government, the leaders of the Wisconsin Education Association Council were very influential people who wielded a great deal of political power.
They were extremely well funded by a system that forced schools to deduct union dues from individual teachers, whether they wanted to be members or not. And they used a big chunk of that wealth to pressure state lawmakers into passing union-friendly policies.
Notice we didn't say "education friendly policies." Education has very little to do with the teachers union’s agenda. Its main function is to constantly angle for a bigger piece of the taxpayer pie, and WEAC did that very effectively prior to 2011.
All of that became clearer this week when the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board released a report showing that WEAC spent more than any other organization on lobbying state government in 2009-10.
The union spent a total of $2.5 million in those years to wine, dine and twist arms in Madison, according to the Associated Press. That amount was on top of the millions of dollars in campaign contributions WEAC hands out to friendly legislative candidates.
All of that money will buy a lot of influence, particularly when union-friendly Democrats are in power.
What did the union use its influence for? More money to spend on student books, computers and learning programs? Nope.
WEAC lobbyists fought successfully to eliminate the cap on the percentage of raises that teachers could bargain for during contract negotiations, despite the obvious harm that would do to pinched school budgets.
Union lobbyists also fought hard to clip their competition by demanding increased "accountability" for charter schools. That means the union wants to impose more bureaucratic red tape on charter schools, so they won't be as innovative and successful, and won't attract as many regular public school students.
Not surprisingly, WEAC lobbyists did more than a third of their work in 2009 during state budget deliberations. Lawmakers were figuring how to spend tax dollars, and the union wanted to make sure schools got enough to cover the cost of their raises, overpriced WEA Trust health insurance and benefits.
Overall, WEAC lobbyists spent 12,364 hours on the job in Madison in 2009-10, according to the newspaper. That averages out to 17 hours per day, every day, over a two-year period.
WEAC was never an education association, despite its deceptive name. It’s a political association designed to gain wealth and power.
Has the revenue stopped flowing?
Kyle is founder of Education Action Group and EAGnews.org, a news service dedicated to education reform and school spending research, reporting, analysis and commentary.
He is co-author of Glenn Beck’s “Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education,” available at Amazon.com.
Kyle is a contributor to Townhall.com.
He has made appearances on the Fox News Channel, The Blaze, Fox Business Network, NPR and MSNBC. Kyle has given scores of interviews on talk radio programs coast to coast.
Kyle likes talking about his family, as well as his favorite music. Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young and Johnny Cash are at the top of the list. He has attended 25 Bob Dylan shows.
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