State of the Teachers' Unions: Money and Membership

As the NEA and AFT hold their national conventions this month, Education Week offers a look at their financial assets, political spending, membership trends, and governance structures.

State of the Teachers' Unions: Money and Membership

By Stephen Sawchuk

July is convention time for the two national teachers’ unions. Visit the Teacher Beat blog for on-the-ground coverage of the NEA Representative Assembly in Denver, running from July 2 to 5, and the AFT convention, which runs from July 11 to 14.

The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers remain powerful players in the K-12 policy arena. With nearly 4 million members in total, they are deeply engaged in elections and in policy. (Five of the unions’ state affiliates have merged.)

Though often lumped together, the two unions differ in the individuals they represent, their governance, and even their internal workings. In the NEA, state affiliates hold much power and often form coalitions to support or oppose initiatives. The AFT’s direction is a function of internal parties or “caucuses.” It is dominated by its New York City affiliate and its strongest caucus, but challengers are growing more vocal.

Sources: U.S. Department of Labor; Center for Responsive Politics; National Institute on Money in State Politics | Design: Linda Jurkowitz

A version of this article appeared in the July 10, 2014 edition of Education Week