Teachers unions spent big money during this election season: an estimated $40 million by the NEA (National Education Association) and $20 million by the AFT (American Federation of Teachers).
The NEA’s super-PAC spent $12.5 million through September, almost $3.5 million more than in 2012. The spending comes at a time when parents and taxpayers across the country are calling for change in the education system. Jonathan Butcher, education director at the Goldwater Institute think tank, said to just “look at the ballots.” In Washington, voters will decide on a $4.7 billion funding increase proposal—the second in just 12 years. “With education funding on the ballot, unions will come out in force to support them,” Butcher said.
At the Second International Summit on the Teaching Profession, hosted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), AFT President Randi Weingarten spoke with The Nation, describing the ATF’s efforts as pivotal in this year’s race. She said that gubernatorial, state, and local races “need a lot more of our focus.” The political-funding organization of the AFT, the Solidarity Fund, spent $9.7 million through September for this election cycle, whereas in 2012 it had spent only $1.1 million at the same point in the election cycle.
In a statement to Education Week, NEA political director Karen White said the union had long planned for the increased spending for this election year. “Since the 2010 election, we have been building back against the right-wing and tea party governors and officeholders that got elected at the local and state level.”
Alexander Anton ([email protected]) writes from Palatine, Illinois.
Image by Miran Rijavec.