The Power of the Dark Side

Patrick Gibbons

Who spends more on political campaigns?

A) Microsoft
B) ExxonMobil
C) Wal-Mart
D) American Bankers Association
E) National Association of Realtors
G) National Education Association

If you said G) National Education Association, give yourself a gold star. In fact, according to Mike Antonucci, author of the recent Education Next article “The Long Reach of the Teacher’s Union,” the NEA spent $56.3 million in the 2007-08 election cycle, more than all of the above combined!

Between the NEA and AFT (the other major teacher union), the unions spent $71.7 million on political campaigns during the 2007-08 election cycle. The NEA almost always fronts money for politicians and voter initiatives to raise taxes or to fight tax cuts and tax-limitation measures. Naturally, the unions also fight against parental choice and charter schools, both of which limit their influence by decentralizing control over education.

During the 2007-08 election cycle, the teachers unions spent $812,000 in Nevada. Teacher union spending in Nevada amounts to $34.68 per teacher, ranking 11th highest in the nation.

The NEA also funds many left-wing organizations like America Votes, the Economic Policy Institute, People for the American Way, the Center for American Progress, and Media Matters. The NEA also funds dubious academic research centers like Arizona State’s Education Policy Research Unit, which is highly critical of charter schools and conservative/libertarian organizations, and the left-wing Great Lakes Center for Education Research, which pretends it’s not an NEA front group even though the bulk of its funds come directly from the NEA.