NCAE: A Giant Chasm Between Rhetoric and Reality

NCAE: A Giant Chasm Between Rhetoric and Reality   

Last week the North Carolina General Assembly successfully overrode Gov. Perdue’s veto of SB 727- No Dues Checkoff for School Employees. The legislation ends the practice of the state collecting dues check off payments for members of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE).

The reaction from NCAE members was swift. On the day the legislation was approved, NCAE President Sheri Strickland issued a statement, “The Association believes the passage of this legislation – an override of Governor Perdue’s veto — to be a retaliatory action against NCAE for standing up for public school students and educators. The message from the legislature is clear – if you stand against cuts to public education, we will teach you a lesson.”

NCAE has constructed this theme of Republican retribution for NCAE’s criticism of the majority party’s education policies. That explanation ignores relevant facts:  

  • Dues check off was ended because the practice aided the radical policies of groups like the National Education Association (the parent group of NCAE) not the interests of children.


  • NCAE portrays itself as having members from both political parties and as supportive of both Republican and Democratic candidates. A look at NCAE’s contributions to political campaigns, however, reveals 99 percent of NCAE political contributions went to Democrats.


  • If NCAE is truly concerned about teacher salaries and securing more classroom funding, why has NCAE executive compensation increased 24 percent from 2006-2009 while, over the same time period, the salary of the average teacher in North Carolina only increased 12 percent?


With the final passage of SB 727 courtesy of the veto override, now is an appropriate time to re-visit a May 2011 Civitas analysis of NCAE Executive Compensation.   

The following article was published on the Civitas Institute web site on May 4, 2011

For a link to this article’s press release, click here: New Civitas Analysis Highlights Growth in NCAE Executive Compensation

The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) portrays itself as concerned with the interests of students and public education.  Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric. NCAE represents the interests of approximately 50,000 teachers and public school employees who pay them. NCAE tax documents state the real purpose of its mission:

  • “[Tax] Exempt purpose is to advance the interests of educators and the promotion and protection of welfare of the association’s members”1
  • “To advance the interests of the teaching profession”2

While Schools Suffer, NCAE is Immune from Current Economic Hardship

Over the past several years, NCAE has bemoaned declining average teacher salaries, the loss of ABC Bonuses and rising insurance premiums. However, NCAE seems immune from these troubling trends.

  • In 2009, NCAE took in more than $11 million in total revenue,3 including $8.8 million in membership dues
  • Total NCAE revenue has increased from $10.1 million (2006) to $11 million (2009)
  • According to the NCAE web site, average dues for teachers for 2009-10 were about $370/year 4
  • Since 2006, the number of NCAE employees has increased from 86 to 135, an expansion of 56 percent
  • NCAE spent $7.9 million on salary and compensation in 2009. Divided among 135 employees, this generates an average salary and compensation: $58,719 5
  • Compensation as a percentage of total NCAE expenses has increased from 66 percent (2006) to 72 percent (2009)

NCAE Compensation: 2006-2009

Total compensation for the top four NCAE executives increased on average 24 percent between 2006 and 2009. Over the same time period, the average teacher salary and compensation in North Carolina increased about 12 percent.6


Highest Paid NCAE Employees 2009
Name Salary
+ Comp

John Ferguson
Memb. Mgr.
+ $50,409
= $169,530
Claudia Williams
Legal Serv. Mgr.
+ $49,020
= $161,450
Angela Farthing
Teach & Learn. Mgr.
+ $48,048
= $157,927
Sheri Strickland
NCAE President
+ $7,227
= $150,834
Avg. Total Compensation $176,796


Highest Paid NCAE Employees 2009
Name Salary
+ Comp
Scott Anderson
Exec. Director
+ $94,120
= $229,120
Kelvin Spragley
Assoc. Exec. Dir.
+ $55,813
= $190,360
Jacqueline Vaughan
Comm. Manager
+ $56,108
= $183,788
Rodney Ellis
Vice President
+ $59,666
= $171,362

NCAE and Your Money

NCAE is classified as a 501(c) 6 tax exempt organization. Among other things the designation  allows for lobbying and contributions to political campaigns. NCAE joins hands with its parent organization National Education Association (NEA) to influence political campaigns. The NCAE Constitution requires NCAE members to be members of NEA, the largest teachers union in the nation.8 Membership in NEA requires even more membership dues. This fall teachers will pay an average of $237 to NCAE and $178 to NEA for annual dues.9

NCAE frequently criticizes the influence of powerful corporate interests in American politics. However the fact is NEA and its local affiliates like NCAE represent the largest political influence on American politics. Let’s look at the numbers:

  • In 2008, NEA spent $56.3 million on political campaign contributions.
  • NEA is largest political campaign spender in American politics. NEA’s contributions are larger than Wal-Mart, Microsoft, and Exxon combined10.
  • In 2009 NCAE made $710,716 in nondeductible lobbying and political expenditures11

2010 Contributions:

  • NCAE contributed $172,950 to candidates. Democrats received $170,650 in contributions (98.6 percent); Republicans received $2,300 in contributions (1.3 percent).

2008 Contributions

  • NEA and NCAE contributed $1.8 million to help Bev Perdue win the 2008 Governor’s race.
  • NEA spent another $1.7 million on campaign ads for Bev Perdue.

Such giving patterns would lead one to conclude all teachers are liberal. Are they?

  • A 2005 survey of NEA member political attitudes found NEA members “are slightly more conservative (50%) than liberal (43%) in political philosophy.”12
  • 2009 Education Next –PEPG National Survey of public school teachers found 37 percent of public school teachers somewhat or completely support the formation of charter schools. When told President Obama supports charter schools, the figure increases to 43 percent
  • When told President Obama supports merit pay, 31 percent of public school teachers express support for such proposals
Top Donors to Federal and State Political Campaigns

2007-2008 Election Cycle

Contributor Combined State and Federal Contributions
National Education Association $56,349,269
Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians $43,960,451
Penn National Gaming $40,522,447
Morongo Band of Mission Indians $39,053,909
Service Employees International  Union $35,699,957
National Association of Realtors $28,591,134
Lakes Entertainment $25,694,898
Tribes for Fair Play No On 94,95,96 and 97 $24,754,413
ActBlue $23,183,948
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians $22,079,201
AFSCME $20,966,656
Community Financial Services Association $20,162,020
Clean Energy Fuels Corp. $18,851,800
PG&E Corp. $16,549,500
Edison International $15,133,561

Source: National Institute for the Study of Money in Politics. Data available from

NCAE Leadership Accomplishments?

  • The goal of NCAE and NEA is to protect and advance the interests of its members. These goals are achieved through higher pay and improved working conditions. Assuming teachers are not likely to receive a pay increase in the current state budget, teachers will not have received a pay increase for three consecutive budgets. What do stagnant teacher salaries and the threat of massive teacher layoffs say about the success of those efforts?
  • Not all teachers have the same political views. Yet NEA and NCAE political contributions are overwhelmingly to one party. Do you support union leadership ignoring views that differ from its far left agenda?
  • Between 2006-2009, NCAE executive salary and compensation packages have increased 24 percent. During the same time period, average salary and compensation for NCAE teachers in North Carolina increased only 12 percent. NCAE teachers have not received a salary increase in either of the last two budgets and most likely will not receive one this year. NCAE-backed candidates suffered numerous defeats last fall. Considering the lack of success, what justifies the high levels of compensation by NCAE executives?
NCAE Executive Compensation and Average Teacher Salary Compensation
2006 2009
Position Base Salary Compensation Total Base Salary Compensation Total. % Change Salary % Change Comp. % Change Total Compensation
President $105,738 $31,132 $136,870 $143,607 $7,227 $150,834 36% -77% 10%
Vice President $95,164 $34,577 $129,741 $111,696 $59,666 $171,362 17% 73% 33%
Executive Director $107,800 $57,650 $165,450 $135,000 $94,120 $229,120 25% 63% 38%
Associate Exec. Dir. $98,163 $30,439 $128,602 $99,794 $48,159 $147,953 2% 58% 15%
Avg. NCAE Executive $101,716 $38,449 $140,165 $122,524 $52,293 $174,817 20% 29.2% 24%
Ave Teacher Salary13 $43,913 $6,33314 $50,246 $48,648 $7,652 $56,300 10% 20% 12%

  1. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax,  IRS Form 990, 2006
  2. Ibid, 2008
  3. North Carolina Association of Educators, 2009 Form 990 p. 1
  4. Information from North Carolina Association of Educators web site. Information available at:
  5. North Carolina Association of Educators, 2009, Form 990, p.1
  6. Numbers from IRS 990 Forms for years 2006 and 2009. Top four positions are President, Vice President, Executive Director and Assistant Executive Director. Teacher salary figures are explained in footnotes on last page.
  7. Compensation includes retirement and other deferred compensation plus the value of nontaxable benefits. See Schedule J page 2, IRS Form 990.
  8. See NCAE Constitution. Available at:
  9. From NCAE phone conversation, May 2, 2011
  10. See: Teachers Unions Using Money to Win Friends and Influence Policy, Education Next, Fall 2010
  11. See: Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, IRS Form 990, 2009
  12. Data cited in Teachers Unions: Using Money to Win Friends and Influence Policy, Education Next, Fall 2010
  13. Average Teacher Salary figures are from Highlights of North Carolina State Budget for appropriate years. Figures also include base compensation supplements as noted
  14. Compensation figure for 2006 and 2009 includes Medical Benefits and Retirement as allotted per year.
    Note: All figures for NCAE Executives from 2006 and 2009 IRS Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, Form 990.


This article was posted in Education by Bob Luebke on January 9, 2012 at 7:38 PM.

© 2011 The Civitas Institute. Visit us on the web at
This article can be found at

Comments on this article

  • 1

    Kirk D. Smith
    Kirk D. Smith Jan 11, 2012 at 7:32

    How much does it cost the taxpayers to “automatically” transfer a teacher’s dues/membership to the NCAE / NEA? Multiply that by the number of teachers each and every pay period. . . Just curious.

  • 2

    Philip Jan 11, 2012 at 8:02

    these people in these positions are fraudulent to say the least, this is a money laundering criminal operation for the democratic party and it’s re-election schemes. this entire scam needs to be shut down and the people whom are running it. As far as them donating 99% of thee cash to the democratic party is not surprising one bit. I am sick and tired of these frauds always using to poor and downtrodden as there banner children to get even more abusive. these people are abusers of children, not helpers.

  • 3

    David Prickett
    David Prickett Jan 11, 2012 at 8:12

    Thanks for the informative article. It provides many convincing reasons for the recent veto override. There simply is no legitimate reason for the State of North Carolina to act as the fund raising collection arm of a private organization, especially considering that the private organization in question is so politically biased.

    I am sure there are many organizations that depend on member contributions that would love to have their member fees collected via a payroll deduction. However, it very clearly would not be appropriate use of State resources. Leadership at the NCAE knows this and is being less than forthright in its feigned outrage.

  • 4

    Michael Mattson
    Michael Mattson Jan 11, 2012 at 9:36

    Thanks for the information about the salary increases for the NCAE’s staff. With all the Democrat harping, even from the President himself, about “greedy” businessmen earning excess compensation, it’s extremely enlightening to know that when the source of the income stream is confiscated public money, enough is never enough. As opposed to investing and growing a product that serves its customer base, these predatory parasites simply engorge themselves on the backs uninformed teachers. Directing 99% of the organization’s contributions to the Democrat Party further underscores the partisan nature of this group. If American Churches behaved in the same manner for Republicans, there would be a squeal to take away their tax exempt status. The same should be true for this fund raising tool of the Democrats.

  • 5

    John W. Lacava
    John W. Lacava Jan 11, 2012 at 15:28

    I spent 38 years in and around these types of people. They could hardly wait to get out of the classroom. It was too tough for them there.They were looking for a soft place to land. The money pyramid in education is upside down. The bulk of the money needs to be in the classroom with the teachers and the kids. Neither a cement block, a brick, an administrator or a unionista ever taught anyone anything. The core of education is in the mind of the teacher and not in some fancy building in Raleigh or D.C. We need to imbue teachers with the truth and shove the social engineers aside.

  • 6

    Bob Jan 12, 2012 at 0:28

    The state shouldn’t be providing checkage of anyone’s pay other than garnishment. The teacher’s can sign up for electronic transfer from their checking accounts if they want to pay dues to this bunch of hypocrites. What they’re afarid of is members will drop out when they are given a choice. It’s just another Democrat Party money laundering scheme.

  • 7

    Bob Jan 12, 2012 at 0:32

    I should have noted that thsi is the only organization that has a dues checkoff handled by the state. What makes them so special?

  • 8

    Ihatestupid Jan 12, 2012 at 15:57

    Bob is wrong above many, many associations in NC use paycheck deductions including state employees, nurses, teamsters etc.. and NCAE does not contribute a nickel to political candidates from dues collection. Keep it up – keep taking away our rights while the lemmings follow you off the cliff. As for me and mine – WE are Americans not facists and we believed in fighting for the freedoms we enjoy- so expect a fight and expect to lose!!

  • 9

    Ihatestupid Jan 12, 2012 at 16:00

    P.S. how about listing how much ART POPE pays the people on this site to spread their propaganda and misinfo? How big a raise did the Speaker give his aides– wasn’t it around 30k each to people with no experience -who only recently graduated from college. And probably the were a graduate one of those diploma mills like Regents U or Liberty U. – what a joke Republicans are turning my fine state into… geez

  • 10

    steve wilson
    steve wilson Jan 17, 2012 at 11:36

    The speaker has a total amount at his diposal to spend on staff. His total is 17 % less than former sp Hackney spent. FYI

  • 11

    Ihatestupid Jan 17, 2012 at 16:03

    Hey Stevie back at ya… FYI House Speaker Thom Tillis landed himself in a mess by picking the worst time on earth to pass out $30,000 a person pay raises to his staff.

    The whole thing, given the timing, looks just plain crazy. On one hand Tillis is telling voters the legislature’s so flat-on-its-back-broke it has to cut budgets to the bone but, on the other hand, he raises his legal counsel’s pay from $110,000 to $140,000 and his chief-of-staff’s salary from $120,000 to $150,000 and hands other staffers raises of $12,000 each.

    There’s also Speaker Tillis’ Joe Hackney problem. Hackney, the former Speaker, to Tillis and most Republicans was a wild-edged big spender, so when Tillis took office he announced – to applause and hurrahs – he was going to cut Hackney’s lavish spending on the Speaker’s staff 17%.

    Then three months later Tillis quietly handed out raises and, of course, got caught red-handed by the News and Observer and, then, to compound foolishness with duplicity he fumbled, again, and boasted he was “still spending at a lower clip rate” than Hackney.

  • 12

    Ihatestupid Jan 17, 2012 at 16:05

    promises made equal promises broken by Tillis… meet the new boss same as the old boss.

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