NEA, AFT to Combine for $80 Million in Election Spending

The National Educational Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, is planning to spend between $40 and $60 million on the election cycle this year.

The American Federation of Teachers is planning on spending $20 million at the same time.  The money from both unions will cover all things election, from Senate races to local ballot measures.

The AFT is spending a record amount on the election this year in hopes of ousting six conservative governors who have cut public education spending and targeted labor unions.

In this election cycle, an AFT official told HuffPost, the union is on track to spend more than $20 million to “try to dial back some of the damage done by the cuts to public education and public services and elect people who will fight for kids, families and communities.”

Spending has increased each year from 2008, when the union spent $15.3 million on election efforts.

The union chose to focus on those six states due to the high membership in those areas.  The group will not be focusing on adding new supporters during the election.

“This election is about trying to make sure that political leadership does what they should do to create educational and economic opportunity and to promote democracy,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said.

While the AFT is spending far more than they have ever spent for an election effort, NEA statistics show the union’s spending is typical for non-presidential election years.

Over 70% of the NEA’s spending this year will go toward state-level elections.

NEA Political Director Karen White sent a memo to top leaders in the union reemphasizing that “education is emerging as a top issue” in this year’s election.

“While we often expect education — and by extension, educators — to impact elections, this year we are seeing a perfect storm of sorts that puts education front and center in many key federal, state and local races,” White wrote in the memo.

The memo takes a closer look at states that have cut educational funding, paying particular attention to Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania and Rick Scott of Florida.

The one issue not mentioned by the memo is Common Core testing, which has increasingly become a hotbed issue among educational activists and politicians.  The NEA has recently become critical of the national standards.

“Educators are trusted and credible messengers. They are reliable voters,” White wrote in the memo. “They live in every state, every city, every Congressional district, and every precinct. Their votes and voices matter. This will have a major impact on the coming elections.”

Teachers unions elsewhere are also showing increased spending this election.  The New York State United Teachers has spent more money on the State Senate races in Buffalo than on any other election this year.  The union put $2 million towards the two races.