NEA Supports Leftist Candidates, Causes, Ignoring Conservative Members’ Concerns

Published September 28, 2015

The National Education Association (NEA) donates large sums of money to several left-leaning organizations even while a large proportion of its members identify themselves as conservative, according to NEA’s latest financial report.

NEA, the nation’s biggest teachers union, gave People For the American Way (PFAW) $112,500 in 2014, according to the latest financial report the union submitted to the United States Department of Labor.

PFAW is described on numerous websites as an organization that “Conducts research, legal, education, and advocacy for a wide variety of liberal causes.” PFAW’s website recently read:  “Sign The Pledge: Stop the Right Wing.”

Other Donations to Liberal Organizations

In addition to People for the American Way, NEA gave money to dozens of liberal organizations in 2014.

NEA gave $160,000 to an organization called Democracy Alliance. The website for the organization states it aims “to build progressive infrastructure that could help counter the well-funded and sophisticated conservative apparatus in the areas of civic engagement, leadership, media, and ideas.”

Democracy Alliance, started in 2005, is a group made of progressive donors who fundraise for groups working to enact progressive ideas.

NEA also gave $235,000 to the Progressive States Network, an organization that works to promote progressive state-level legislation, and it gave $25,000 to Netroots Nation, which describes itself as “this country’s largest progressive gathering.” Netroots Nations is a political convention for progressives.

According to Open Secrets, a website that tracks campaign donations, NEA has made nearly $93 million in campaign contributions from 1989 to 2015 to political candidates and parties, and 97 percent of the money went to “Dems and Liberals.” According to Open Secrets, NEA gave just $3.2 million to Republican and conservative candidates over the same 26-year period.

Many Conservatives Paying Dues

NEA, which has a total membership of nearly three million, has long acknowledged having many conservative members. A 2006 survey conducted by the NEA reported 45 percent of member teachers under 30 labeled themselves as conservative. The survey also reported 63 percent of teachers aged 40–49 considered themselves conservative.

Persistent Political Slant

The only alternative for conservative union members who object to the support of progressive organizations and do not work in a right-to-work state is to become a fee-payer. This means they would pay about 85 percent of their annual dues. The remaining 15 percent is assumed to be the amount goes toward supporting political causes.

Despite having a large number of conservative members, NEA’s leadership has not moderated its policies. At its annual meeting earlier in 2015, NEA passed several resolutions filled with leftist buzzwords, such as “social justice,” “climate disruption,” and “income inequality.”

“NEA internal polling shows that one-half of its members are right-leaning,” said Larry Sand, a former teacher and current president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network. “That 97 percent of the union’s political spending goes leftward clearly shows that it really has no interest in truly representing its dues-paying members.”

NEA did not respond to e-mails seeking comment for this story.

Tom Gantert ([email protected]) is senior capitol correspondent for Michigan Capitol Confidential, a daily news site of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Image by US Department of Labor.