It’s the calm before the storm.
Tomorrow, about 7,000 delegates from the across the National Education Association’s state-level affiliates will be filling all of these chairs as the union’s representative assembly begins. (Only the strong will survive! Just kidding.)
Plenty of delegates are mulling around today, though, attending state caucus meetings, special interest caucus meetings (like those for paraprofessionals and teachers of color), and, of course, the open hearing on the union’s strategic plan and budget.
Today’s hearing was fairly subdued. The association expects to see $365 million in revenue in 2016-17. Its core functions (organizing, etc.) are largely the same as last year’s. As for strategic goals, the NEA plans to put more attention on “supporting the development of educators across their professional continuums.” It plans to return 38 percent of revenue to its affiliates.
I did manage to pick up a few interesting tidbits in looking through the delegate materials, many of which are now online, thanks to NEA’s push to go green and do away with paper. (Now, if only it could get rid of all those idling hotel shuttle buses...)
- After a few lean years, delegates passed “new business” items costing more than $800,000 in 2014, and $1.4 million of new business in 2015. Now there’s a proposed amendment to the standing rules to cap the amount the RA can spend on new business. Interesting.
- In 2015-16, NEA spent some $25 million on ballot initiatives and “legislative crises” out of a special pot that’s earmarked from member dues. That pot has more than $50 million in it left, though the NEA likes to keep it flush for emergencies.
- Remember the NEA’s $3 dues surcharge to support local affiliate projects? In 2015-16, this Great Public Schools Grant gave out 22 awards totaling some $4 million. Since this program began, in 2013-14, it’s disbursed 79 grants worth $20 million. More on that here.
- And, I know you’re wondering about membership numbers. Strangely, the NEA’s 2016 financial report lists a loss of members in 2014-15, not the gain that NEA execs presented at the budget hearing last year. I missed the PowerPoint with the union’s latest membership tally, from 2015-16, but am hoping to track it down in short order to clear this up. So stay tuned.
Photo: The Washington Convention Center awaits the arrival of thousands of NEA delegates. —Stephen Sawchuk
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.