Teacher-funded NSEA financially backs groups pushing controversial social agenda

Chantal Lovell

Nevada teachers’ hard-earned money is funding a lot more than the Nevada State Education Association.

With each paycheck, teachers across the state contribute to the state teacher union through their individual membership dues, which amount to hundreds of dollars per year, per teacher— more than $770 per year for teachers in Clark County.

What many teachers may not know is that their dues are going to support much more than the union’s operating costs.

Teachers’ monetary contributions are regularly used to further political and social agendas that may conflict with the personal views and convictions of individual members.

For example, pro-life teachers and those who support traditional marriage may be interested in knowing that, with each payment of dues to the NSEA, they are indirectly funding organizations that support abortion and same-sex marriage. From January 1 to May 16, 2014, the Nevada State Education Association gave a combined $100,000 to these liberal causes through payments to ProgressNow Nevada and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN).

The union gave the money to PLAN and Progress Now via The Education Initiative Political Action Committee, an organization formed to advocate on behalf of the margin tax, which will go before voters this November. In the first four-and-a-half months of this year, The National Education Association and the Nevada State Education Association were the only contributors to the PAC, donating a combined $235,000. Since 2012, the unions have donated over $1.9 million to the passage of the margin tax.

Using the teacher unions’ contributions, The Education Initiative Political Action Committee paid $50,000 each to ProgressNow Nevada and PLAN, according to contribution and expense reports filed with the Secretary of State. The payments were filed under the “Expenses related to consultants” category.

ProgressNow Nevada lists its support for same-sex marriage on its website, where it invites people to sign a petition to establish same-sex marriage in Nevada. The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada boasts on its website of its role in helping to further pro-LGBT policies. Among PLAN’s member organizations are the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network of Southern Nevada and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada.

While liberal and libertarian teachers may not object to helping fund those initiatives, Christian and socially conservative teachers very well may.

PLAN’s member organizations include some with pro-abortion agendas, including but not limited to the Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates; Planned Parenthood, Mar Monte; and Planned Parenthood, Rocky Mountain.

Progress Now Nevada — headed by the former public affairs manager of Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada — is also a PLAN member organization. Both organizations earlier this year co-hosted a movie screening with Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood.

The NSEA teacher union’s financial support for controversial, divisive issues may rightly cause members who hold opposing positions to pause before retaining membership in the organization. Members who fundamentally oppose the NSEA’s social agenda — or its other unpopular political positions — or wish to drop membership for any reason, may do so by notifying the union (and sometimes their school district) in writing between July 1 and July 15 of their decision to leave.

Despite billing itself as “the voice for education in the Silver State,” the Nevada State Education Association makes hefty political contributions that reveal its bosses sees their mission as much broader.

They boast about the union’s political activity, but that activity clearly stretches far beyond matters of education.

Chantal Lovell is the deputy communications director at the Nevada Policy Research Institute. For more, visit http://npri.org.