Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency reports on the National Education Association’s recent admission that their days of dominating the political education landscape are behind them.
“Unlike in the past, our shrinking membership is not the sole product of a down economy from which we could expect to eventually recover. The forces impacting us are so strong that they have indelibly changed our industry, the educational system, and society at large. Things will never go back to the way they were. Attacks on collective bargaining and the role of the union, the nation’s changing demographics, education reform efforts, and an explosion in the use of education technology and online learning have radically changed the role of educators and the system of educating our nation’s students.”
As EIA reports the projected NEA membership for 2013-14 is the lowest since 1999-2000 and would mark a 15% drop from the high point of three years ago. The only budget category with anticipated increases is that of aid to state and local affiliates. EIA questions the wisdom of propping up such affiliates which might disappear entirely without the aid of such subsidies.
EIA notes that the failed recall wasn’t so much the cause of the former titan’s collapse as indicative of the rot that had already set in:
The National Education Association took a body blow when it failed to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, but even before the results were known, the union’s national leadership recognized that the serious troubles it faced extended far beyond a single state.
EIA claims that the future for the NEA looks bleak; in the absence of being able to rely on exclusivity provisions to boost and maintain member numbers they face the same decline in member numbers that has plagued private sector union for years. The number of NEA employees is also falling as reduced membership means reduced funding and reduced ability to spend. 56 employees accepted early retirement this year to bring the staffing figure down to 439.
The NEA are reorganizing with the aim to establish a better public image and stem the hemorrhaging of members and related funding.
“This Core Function was developed to address a challenge that has been building for years but that was exacerbated and highlighted by the political hostility being faced by public sector unions. That challenge revolves around membership.”