As the latest figures show, the National Education Association (NEA) total membership has crept down to well under 3.1 million, writes Mike Antonucci at Hot Air.
Over the last three years, the NEA has shed around 169,000 members, and while an increasing number of its ranks are retiring, the union is facing something of a numbers crisis among working education employees.
Since the 2009-10 school year the NEA has lost 100,000 active members. "Active members" are defined as working teachers, certified staff and education support employees – and it's important to note that students or retirees don't count.
Officially released numbers from 2009-10 showed total active membership at more than 2,866,000. The union's active membership at the start of the 2011-12 school year stands at just over 2,766,000 – a decrease of about 3.5 percent.
And, as Antonucci points out, fewer members means fewer dollars. A recent $10 per member increase approved at NEA's convention last July is sad to insure that the national union's ballot initiative/legislative crises and media funds will contain more money than ever before.
The NEA has been toying with instituting extraordinary measures to bring its budget in line with reduced revenues. These membership losses will require an additional $9.5 million in cuts at the national office.
NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle called the situation "a new reality". Pringle stated that the deficit is around $17 million due to legal services program costs. The law program subsidizes each state affiliate's attorney referral program and other litigation-based actions for individual members.
Pringle said, "We have to assume we haven't hit bottom yet."
Nick Gillespie at Reason.com believes that the K-12 education monopoly is crumbling and he cites the NEA's numbers as evidence.
"Clearly, the NEA is still the 800-lb. gorilla when it comes to calling shots regarding teachers and education policy in most local, state, and federal legislatures around the country. But smaller numbers is a good sign in this case. Maybe rank-and-file teachers are starting to recognize that unions have largely failed to capture much of the huge increase in money streaming into schools; since 1991, per-pupil, inflation-adjusted dollars have increased by 25 percent while teacher salaries have basically kept pace with inflation. What are union dues for if not wage increases?"