Checking out of the Hotel California

A California teachers’ union leader thinks membership will become voluntary — and is OK with that — writes Larry Sand in Checking Out of the Hotel California.

Intercepts has posted “declassified” California Teachers Association strategy documents. Doug Tuthill, a former union leader, urges the CTA to prepare for the courts to invalidate “fair share,” mandatory dues for all teachers, in Not if, but when: Living in a world without Fair Share.

Tuthill suggests ways to persuade teachers that it’s in their interest to join the union, notes Sand. Teachers could adopt the model of the “two most effective unions” in the U.S.,  the National Rifle Association and the AARP.

Unlike today’s teachers unions, the NRA and AARP do not require their members to be part of a centralized bureaucracy. Their members are united by common values and interests, not by location. An NRA-AARP type teachers union would be able to advocate for teachers working in a variety of settings, including museums, libraries, district schools, virtual schools, art galleries, charter schools, homeschools, tutoring businesses, private schools, YWCAs, and Boys and Girls Clubs. The work setting would be irrelevant, just as where NRA and AARP members work — or where American Bar Association lawyers and American Medical Association doctors work — is irrelevant.

A former classroom teacher, Sand is president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network. 

NEA spent $133 million to lobby, aid allies

The National Education Association spent $133 million on lobbying and supporting allies, reports Dropout Nation.

Barnett Berry’s Center for Teaching Quality collected $318,848 from the union; the progressive Economic Policy Institute got $255,000 and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (“a leading advocate for the charter schools the NEA opposes so virulently,” notes DN) received $40,000.

The usual suspects are also on the list: Communities for Quality Education, which has long been subsidized by the NEA, collected $1 million in 2010-2011. Anti-testing group FairTest picked up $35,000 this time around. . . .  Meanwhile the NEA directly poured $43,000 into the Save Our Schools rally held this past July; this doesn’t include dollars poured in by state and local affiliates.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel made $460,060, a 16 percent increase over the previous year; Lily Eskelson, was paid $371,904, a 14 percent increase.

The NEA collected $399 million in dues and other revenues in 2010-2011, nearly the same as the previous year, despite a 4 percent decline in membership.

Teachers’ unions are likely to lose members and dues in states that have passed anti-union measures. In Tennessee, which limited the union’s bargaining power, teachers are leaving the union.  Wisconsin’s teachers’ union was forced to lay off 40 percent of its staff.