The National Education Association (NEA) is bleeding membership, they predict an overall loss of 308,000 members and a lost of $65 million in dues by the end of their 2013-2014 fiscal year. Yet it would seem that its membership doesn’t quite understand why they are losing membership as evidenced by a former executive director who spoke with EdWeek:
“The public-sector unions are in panic mode; all the attacks have made politics a high priority,” said John I. Wilson, a former executive director, who writes an opinion blog for edweek.org. “In a way, they’re focusing where they need to be, but at the same time, they need to be readying for how they are going to utilize friendlier politicians, and quite frankly, make new friends to move an education agenda that is of service to the country.
“If you don’t couple politics hand and hand with professional issues,” Mr. Wilson concluded, “then your members lose.”
Attack? Because we have to reign in state and federal spending? Because public school teachers’ pensions have become untenable? Because most public school teachers have benefits that are far better than what you see in the private sector?
Can I suggest something that may see pretty radical to most of the NEA leadership. It is their coupling of politics with professional issues that is likely the cause of its membership decline. When their national convention has turned into nothing but a re-election rally for President Barack Obama, when their state affiliates react like what we saw in Wisconsin to needed changes to get state spending out of control they seem unreasonable to most bystanders.
The fact is the NEA has been out-of-touch and irrelevant to many teachers who don’t agree with its left-ward march. My two-cents anyway, but unless that changes they’ll probably continue to bleed out.