Education Next has an eye-opening article on the growing influence of teachers unions, especially in political campaigns. How powerful are the unions? According to the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics:
In the 2007-08 election cycle, total spending on state and federal campaigns, political parties, and ballot measures exceeded $5.8 billion. The first-place NEA spent more than $56.3 million, $12.5 million ahead of the second place group. That’s not all. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the smaller of the two national professional education unions, ranked 25th in campaign spending, with almost $12 million, while the NEA/AFT collaborative campaigns spent an additional $3.4 million, enough to earn the rank of 123rd. All told the two national teachers unions distributed $71.7 million on candidate and issue campaigns from California to Florida to Massachusetts to South Dakota. Millions more went to policy research to support the unions’ agenda.
The teachers unions outspent their union peers by a large margin. The next highest-spending public sector union is ranked number 5: the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) contributed some $35 million. The AFL-CIO’s largest member union, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), at less than half the size of NEA, spent about $21 million and ranked eleventh.
NEA continues to exercise its influence in North Carolina elections. The N&O estimated NEA contributed about $1.9 million to state election campaigns in 2008, more than any other union. And, that estimate did not include money given by unions to individual groups or money spent in the US Senate race. The left is constantly asking the government to protect us from Big Oil and Big Tobacco. Isn’t it time to add Big Education to that list?