by Matt Lacy –
While some were portraying the recall election in Wisconsin as a referendum on unions, the National Education Association has far bigger problems facing them.
Over the past two years the organization has lost over 150,000 members and is predicting the loss of another 200,000 in the next two years, forcing the organization to tighten its belt.
Lindsey Burke, an education analyst with The Heritage Foundation says the trend could ultimately result in education policies more favorable to students and teachers.
“I think that ultimately a decline in membership means a decline in that political clout,” she says. “Hopefully, that translates down the road into policies being implemented that are in fact in the best interest of students and teachers.”
Following Gov. Scott Walkers elimination of collective bargaining rights for public sector unions including teachers, labor leaders organized a recall election. Despite unions spending millions of dollars on get out the vote efforts, Walker achieved victory in a landslide, becoming the first governor in history to survive a recall challenge.
Many have said Walker’s victory could empower state leaders needing to enact similar measures to balance their state budgets.
“At issue is when you have public sector unions, you basically have the government becoming a special-interest group in and of itself,” Burke explains. “So I think we are going to see more states move away from that, move toward being right-to-work states and away from forcing teachers into joining unions.”
In Chicago, the teachers union is indicating it is planning on going on the offensive, despite what happened in Wisconsin.
Over 90 percent of the group’s members voted to authorize a strike that would take place around the opening day of school despite negotiations being in the early stages.
While the NEA has long been considered a reliable Democratic Party ally it recently shed all pretense of objectivity.
Last year at the organization’s annual convention the group voted to endorse Barack Obama, despite the Republicans not having chosen a nominee yet. In announcing the endorsement the group acknowledged doing so was unusual but it did so in order to provide additional assistance to the president.
“The Association’s presidential recommendation process typically takes place the summer before the general election. NEA initiated this timetable in order to provide early and strong support to help ensure the election of a candidate who is on the side of students and working families.”
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