NEA Convention 2011: A New Reality

posted at 2:00 pm on July 3, 2011 by Mike Antonucci

I’m blogging all weekend long live from the National Education Association Representative Assembly in Chicago.

That’s what National Education Association Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle called the situation in which the union finds itself this year. It won’t come as a surprise to readers of this blog that NEA has a $14 million budget shortfall, or that it has lost more than 39,000 active members. Pringle stated that the deficit is closer to $17 million due to increased costs to the union’s legal services program, which subsidizes each state affiliate’s attorney referral program and other litigation-based actions for individual members.

Plus, Pringle said, “We have to assume we haven’t hit bottom yet.”

What might surprise you, given NEA’s aversion to staff reductions in the public schools (to the point where California just passed a law under cover of darkness to save teachers’ jobs even without the money to pay them – a move pioneered in Detroit and Los Angeles), is that the union plans to partially cut the deficit with $4.8 million in staff reductions.

Asked how many staffers would be lost, Pringle replied, “about 20.” If anyone in the audience did the math, that’s $240,000 saved per staffer, which tells you all you need to know.

Who knew Ms. Pringle could be such a fiscal hawk? She described to the delegates present how difficult it was to make budget cuts, since each program had a constituency arguing to protect it. She declared, “I will not support an increase in dues” to close the budget gap because “our members are hurting.” And she detailed the budget committee’s work on staff costs, saying, “We’ve worked to reduce benefits.”

Indeed, Pringle’s words are coming out of the mouths of school board presidents across the country.

There were also indications that while there may be red states and blue states, the only color that matters is green.

NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen spoke excitedly of receiving funding for NEA’s English Language Learners program from Western Union.

Pringle defended NEA’s business relationship with Bank of America, saying the union has been able to exert influence over the bank in the area of credit card rate hikes for members, and saving the union money on electronic fund transfers for dues.

Then there is this ad for Target, on the back of the NEA Representative Assembly program book:

It’s reasonable to argue that these corporate relationships don’t affect the union’s mission – except that’s a difficult argument to make in light of what NEA director Dawn Shephard Pope said in response to a question about why the union contributes so much money each year to advocacy groups.

She said those grants are made “in order to advance our mission.”

If it’s a good enough reason for NEA, why wouldn’t it be good enough for Western Union, Bank of America, Target and AT&T?

Update (Ed): Mike Antonucci’s other NEA convention posts are found in our Green Room:

Keep an eye on the Green Room for more of his dispatches from the NEA convention.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

New Reality? Okay. The schools suck.

Blake on July 3, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Listening to the arguments for their budget cuts is just surreal. Nobody at the NEA sees the irony in their discussion of refusing to raise dues, yet needing to make cuts to balance the budget? Buehler?

WitchDoctor on July 3, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Who knew Ms. Pringle could be such a fiscal hawk? She described to the delegates present how difficult it was to make budget cuts, since each program had a constituency arguing to protect it. She declared, “I will not support an increase in dues” to close the budget gap because “our members are hurting.” And she detailed the budget committee’s work on staff costs, saying, “We’ve worked to reduce benefits.”

-
OMG… She should attend a town hall and argue against raising taxes…
-

RalphyBoy on July 3, 2011 at 2:11 PM

STIMULUS to “help save” millions of teacher jobs in 5…..4….3……

The NEA leadership is full of ugly and mean Marxist thugs. Do the rank-and-file even care?

PappyD61 on July 3, 2011 at 2:13 PM

The NEA leadership is full of ugly and mean Marxist thugs. Do the rank-and-file even care?

PappyD61 on July 3, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Nope. They just keep voting for the dem, no questions asked. We need to defund and destroy the NEA and a whole lot of other organizations.

VegasRick on July 3, 2011 at 2:16 PM

When will the drones realize that this has nothing to do with education or the children; rather, its all about power and money for union thugs.

skanter on July 3, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Yet the NEA has the funds to be a premier sponsor for Netroots Nations.

MayBee on July 3, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Perhaps retired teachers could volunteer to be staffers (and officers of the NEA for that matter) for free since they feel union work is such a noble calling. Then the NEA could reduce dues for working teachers that we hear are suffering so grievously./s

KW64 on July 3, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Deficit? Don’t they listen to Dear Leader? Clearly, they need to increase spending immediately.

trubble on July 3, 2011 at 2:39 PM

Why doesn’t she just raise the dues of the wealthiest ten percent? Lead by example!

JohnJ on July 3, 2011 at 2:54 PM

if tradition follows — those 20 office-folks don’t have union protection.
Imagine.

/.

CaveatEmpty on July 3, 2011 at 3:07 PM

I recently went to a townhall meeting for my local House Representative. A number of teachers showed up and essentially said, raise our taxes (without identifying themselves as teachers.)

I overheard them talking in the parking lot. Expect to see more of this “we aren’t taxed enough” or “I make plenty of money and don’t need my taxes cut” rhetoric coming from teacher “plants”.

True, skanter. This has nothing to do with educating our children. This is about continuing to line their pockets with taxpayers money…

Fallon on July 3, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Why doesn’t she just raise the dues of the wealthiest ten percent? Lead by example!

JohnJ on July 3, 2011 at 2:54 PM

A progressive dues schedule! What a great idea. I assume that means union management will pay the highest percentage of salary towards dues.

slickwillie2001 on July 3, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Why doesn’t the NEA start a “Flotilla of Freedom”?

It could head up the Potomac and all the ships could blare their horns and march in the streets until Speaker Boehner caves.

Great media attention, minimal cost, downtime for the Teachers during the Summer recess.

Come on ya NEA slags do it!!

PappyD61 on July 3, 2011 at 3:22 PM

“Flotilla of EDUCATIONAL Freedom”!

Needed to clarify.

PappyD61 on July 3, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Pringle stated that the deficit is closer to $17 million due to increased costs to the union’s legal services program

Since the NEA is subsidized by the Federal Government (you and me), I think it’s high time that someone issued a Freedom of Information Act on them. It would be very interesting to see exactly where all that money is going.

Tommy_G on July 3, 2011 at 3:24 PM

A progressive dues schedule! What a great idea. I assume that means union management will pay the highest percentage of salary towards dues.

slickwillie2001 on July 3, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Egggssssllleeennnttt idea!

VegasRick on July 3, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Whenever I feel whiny about going deep into debt to send my daughter to Catholic schools K through 12, I remember the sad state of public schools and the scum parasites who work in it and I know it was well worth it.

SKYFOX on July 3, 2011 at 3:28 PM

The NEA on Sunday will be honoring the 14 Wisconsin Senators who left town for three weeks to block a vote on the collective bargaining legislation. The union calls the 14 Democrats “heroes of the continuing struggle – not just in Wisconsin, but across America – to protect public employees and working families.”

http://www.wrn.com/2011/07/natl-teachers-union-honoring-wisconsin-14/

Logboy on July 3, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Mike, while you’re here, be sure to NOT
1) show you are carrying an iPhone in public;
2) show you are carrying an iPod in public;
3) be alone and white on or near the “Mag Mile”;
3) appear “affluent” (such as being able to afford non-Section 8 apartment rent) while riding public transportation;
4) go to North Avenue beach to cool off.

Welcome to Detroit v2.0

dm60462 on July 3, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Brown scrooms his citizens, like all the other lefties, and some righties too.

Schadenfreude on July 3, 2011 at 3:54 PM

No unions in the public sector. None.

petefrt on July 3, 2011 at 4:47 PM

No unions in the public sector. None.

petefrt on July 3, 2011 at 4:47 PM

We’ll let them have unions, but it will be reduced to a social function. Let them organize stuff like the annual Winter-festival party, nothing else.

slickwillie2001 on July 3, 2011 at 5:53 PM

No unions in the public sector. None.

petefrt on July 3, 2011 at 4:47 PM

This.

Then we can ban Democrats/Liberals from government service and holding public office, ban Liberals from universities (attending or teaching), and then maybe we can give them their own homeland somewhere-Madagascar sounds good. Somewhere along the line we have to conclusively prove that Liberals have sucked much of the wealth of this country and get it back by confiscating their property and assets. Also, getting a little crowded down here-perhaps we should seriously consider moving into Canada-besides, they have the oil resources we need and they seem like an inferior lot.

So glad we have so many in this country defining what a Citizen’s rights really are and aren’t.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 3, 2011 at 6:35 PM

Wow. I guess all of the soticlists and commie rallies teachers had in Texas were for nothing. Yes, socialists and commies sponsored rallies in Texas duping people into believing the rallies were ‘for the children’.

This same as the story of the scorpion and the frog. Remember? It’s in my nature.

madmonkphotog on July 3, 2011 at 8:23 PM

Why doesn’t she just raise the dues of the wealthiest ten percent? Lead by example!

JohnJ on July 3, 2011 at 2:54 PM
The “poorest” 50% of members should pay no dues, & the rest should pay more as they make more.
When they vote, there should be no ID requirement.
There should be no borders, i.e. closed doors to their functions.

itsnotaboutme on July 4, 2011 at 8:05 AM

Why doesn’t she just raise the dues of the wealthiest ten percent? Lead by example!

JohnJ on July 3, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Perfect

Wade on July 4, 2011 at 9:51 AM

There should be no borders, i.e. closed doors to their functions.

itsnotaboutme on July 4, 2011 at 8:05 AM

Yeah. See how tolerant they are?

And a lot of teachers I work with actually were in on scorning this woman. But there were a lot of us union members who made a big stink about it, including me.
They should call it Union Teacher of the Year if that’s how they’re going to act.
A-holes.

Badger40 on July 4, 2011 at 9:34 PM