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OPINION

Only 4 Percent of NEA Dues Dollars Dedicated to Improve Teaching

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

It looks like the National Education Association is not putting its money where its mouth is.

In its mission statement, the nation’s largest teachers union asserts that “we will focus the energy and resources of our 3.2 million members on improving the quality of teaching, increasing student achievement and making schools safer, better places to learn.”

But a secret union document reveals that the NEA’s commitment to “improv(ing) teaching and learning” works out to a paltry $7.44 per member every year. This is according to a document obtained from an internal source of the Indiana State Teachers Association, one of the NEA’s state affiliates. All dollar amounts refer to the NEA’s 2010-11 budget, and are the most recent numbers available.

While the majority of a teacher’s dues dollars stay with the state union, $166 is sent to the NEA every year, which is the parent union. As already stated, the NEA only spent $7.44 of that amount on efforts to improve teaching and learning.

To put that into perspective, the NEA spent four times as much ($31.05 of the $166) on “legislative and ballot initiatives” and “partnerships and public relations.” The union spent $68.69 of the $166 on administrative support, governance, legal support, and leadership development and constituency support.

That explains why the NEA could afford to pay its top three leaders more than $1 million in salary in 2009, the most recent year those figures were available.

The NEA is clearly more concerned about taking care of its leadership team than it is about improving student learning.

The reason the NEA gives anything at all toward improving teaching and learning practices is so the union can claim to care about students. That piddly amount is only meant to give the union a thin veneer of respectability.

We’ve got a lot of great public school teachers. But it’s a shame that they are being represented by such a self-serving, hyperpartisan group of activists.

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