Tag: AFT

AFT’s Bleak Future

As this morning’s Teachers Union Money Report shows, the American Federation of Teachers knows how to spend well. Especially on its leaders and staff. Whether or not it will be…

As this morning’s Teachers Union Money Report shows, the American Federation of Teachers knows how to spend well. Especially on its leaders and staff.

Whether or not it will be able to do so is a different story.

Some 236 staffers were paid six-figure sums in 2016-2017, according to the union’s latest disclosure to the U.S. Department of Labor. That is 14 more than in the previous fiscal year. That well-paid group includes Michelle Ringuette, the former Service Employees International Union staffer who is chief political aide to President Rhonda (Randi) Weingarten; she was paid $240,437 last fiscal year. Michael Powell, who is Weingarten’s mouthpiece, picked up $252,702 from the union.

Kombiz Lavasany, an AFT operative who oversees Weingarten’s money manager enemies’ list, earned $177,872 in 2016-2017. Kristor Cowan, who handles the union’s lobbying, collected $189,808 last fiscal year. Then there is Leo Casey, the vile propagandist who currently runs the union’s Albert Shanker Institute; he was paid $232,813 in 2016-2017 for doing, well, whatever Leo does these days that doesn’t include accusing reformers of committing “blood libel“.

Of course, the leaders are well-paid. Weingarten was paid $492,563 in 2016-2017, just a slight decrease over the previous year. She still remains among the nation’s top five percent of wage earners, and thus, an elite. Her number two, Mary Cathryn Ricker, was paid $337,434 last fiscal year (an 8.3 percent increase over the previous period), while Secretary-Treasurer Loretta Jonson was paid $392,530 in 2016-2017, a 9.6 percent increase over the past period. Altogether, AFT’s top three took home $1.2 million last fiscal year, virtually unchanged from the same time in 2015-2016.

The current occupant of the White House’s appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court dooms the financial and political future of AFT — and even has risks for some players in the school reform movement.

The additional salaries and bodies explain why AFT’s union administration costs increased by 17.8 percent (to $10.2 million) over 2015-2016, while general overhead costs increased by 14 percent (to $42 million). The union still managed to keep benefits costs from increasing. It spent just $10.4 million in 2016-2017, barely unchanged from the previous period; that can be credited in part to the fact that, unlike the districts its rank-and-file work in, AFT doesn’t provide defined-benefit pensions and only gives its workers defined-contribution plans that the union can avoid contributing to during times of financial stress.

It takes a lot of money to keep Weingarten and her team on board. Of course, they can thank compulsory dues laws that force even teachers who don’t want to be part of AFT. But those dollars are on the decline.

The union collected just $177 million in dues and agency fees in 2016-2017, a 7.9 percent decline from the previous year. This is despite the fact that the union’s full-time rank-and-file increased by 5.2 percent (to 710,865 from 675,902) over the previous period, reversing a three-year decline. One reason for the decline: A 12 percent decline in the number of one-quarter rank-and-file (to 81,191 from 93,047), a group that includes nurses and government employees represented by the AFT’s non-teachers’ union affiliates, and a 29.2 percent decrease in one-eighth rank-and-filers (to 24,180 from 34,104).

Another factor lies in the move last year by United Teachers Los Angeles to jointly affiliate with the National Education Association. That move contributed to a 23 percent increase in the number of AFT rank-and-filers in affiliates also tied to NEA and other rival national unions (to 158,225 from 128,221). With more states attempting to end compulsory dues laws, a possible U.S. Supreme Court law striking them down altogether, and a desire by state and local affiliates to wield more influence in education policy at all levels, expect more AFT affiliates (and even some NEA affiliates) to also align themselves with other national unions.

Overall, AFT generated revenue (including debt borrowings) of $332 million in 2016-2017, a 1.2 percent increase over the previous year. This included $88.2 million it borrowed during the year to shore up operations (of which $68 million was repaid by the end of the fiscal period); that’s 59 percent more than the amount the union borrowed in 2015-2016. Excluding the borrowing, AFT’s revenue for 2016-2017 was $244 million, virtually unchanged from the previous year.

But as today’s report notes, AFT faces trouble in the next year. If the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down compulsory dues laws as expected in Janus v. AFSCME, the union and its affiliates will lose big. The union has already seen its affiliate in Wisconsin attempt a merger with NEA’s Wisconsin Education Association Council after losing half of its rank-and-file since the state abolished its compulsory dues law six years ago. [The merger was aborted because of the difficulty of merging dues structures.]

While AFT’s presence in Democrat-dominated states could help it stem rank-and-file losses, the reality is that it will likely lose at least 25 percent of its membership. This means a likely loss of $44 million (based on 2016-2017’s dues collections), and less revenue that it can use for influence-buying, political campaign activities, and lobbying. Not even AFT’s stalled strategy of expanding its presence into nursing and healthcare would have offset those losses,  especially since the Supreme Court ruling will also apply to public employees working at hospitals and health centers.

Those possible revenue and influence losses is one reason why AFT, along with other NEA and other public-sector unions, spent so furiously last year to support Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. If she had one, it was likely that either she would get to appoint a Supreme Court justice more-amenable to their cause, or, given congressional Republican opposition to Obama’s efforts to select a replacement for Antonin Scalia, would have kept the court split equally between conservative and more-progressive justices.

But with Trump in the White House and his appointee to the high court, Neil Gorsuch, confirmed and in the job for life, AFT and its affiliates now needs a new strategy for actually attracting members. This will be difficult.

Because AFT hasn’t had to actually win bodies since the 1960s, it lacks the strong organizing infrastructure that has made SEIU a major force in both the public and private sectors. The fact that the union has seen a 15 percent year-to-year decline in associate members (who are members of the national union) means that there is also little appetite for its presence, especially since, unlike state and local affiliates, it doesn’t have the means to help associate members out when they have workplace disputes.

While the state affiliates are strong in lobbying legislatures, they, along with AFT National, play little role in addressing the day-to-day concerns of classroom teachers; that’s what locals such as UTLA, Chicago Teachers Union, and United Federation of Teachers in New York City do. That the big locals also tend to be major players at the state levels, dominate the operations of the affiliates, and, in the case, of UFT, virtually controls the virtually-insolvent state affiliate, means that they have little need for either the state operations or national. Even without a Supreme Court ruling, you can expect the local affiliates to develop new structures that bypass AFT and allow them to try new approaches to education policymaking and organizing.

Reformers can’t exactly celebrate, either. A dirty secret of centrist Democrat and civil rights-oriented reformers is that they are as dependent as AFT on compulsory dues. This is because AFT and other public sector unions are the biggest financiers of the Democratic National Committee operations (as well as those of state parties), and also give plenty to reform-minded groups for their activities outside of education. Center for American Progress, Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights, and UNIDOS are among the reform-minded outfits who will also take a hit if the Janus ruling goes against AFT and its fellow public-sector unions.

You can imagine Weingarten and her staffers shudder at the prospect of a future without compulsory dues. What they will do to preserve traditionalist influence (and keep their jobs) will be fascinating to watch.

Dropout Nation will provide additional analysis of the AFT’s financial filing later this week. You can check out the data yourself by checking out the HTML and PDF versions of the AFT’s latest financial report, or by visiting the Department of Labor’s Web site. Also check out Dropout Nation‘s Teachers Union Money Report, for this and previous reports on AFT and NEA spending.

Comments Off on AFT’s Bleak Future

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Watch: Michael Mulgrew on Technology in Education, Fixing Middle Schools and No Child Reauthorization


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Being Randi Weingarten’s successor as head of the American Federation of Teachers’ New York City local isn’t easy. But Michael Mulgrew has definitely earned the ire of charter school supporters,…

Being Randi Weingarten’s successor as head of the American Federation of Teachers’ New York City local isn’t easy. But Michael Mulgrew has definitely earned the ire of charter school supporters, school reformers and others for his strident opposition to lifting New York State’s restrictions on charter school growth. The role he and his counterpart at the state AFT affliate played in torpedoing the Empire State’s Race to the Top plans, in particular, came up during yesterday’s Alliance for Excellent Education pow-wow on New York City’s school reform efforts courtesy of a New York Post reporter; predictably, Mulgrew denied he had anything to do with it. Mulgrew also spent time dodging questions and comments about D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s efforts, which he politely pointed out, had nothing to do with him or New York City.

Certainly, much of what Mulgrew is doing is mere posturing. The reality is that New York City taxpayers, long-tired of woeful public schools, are satisfied that schools chieftain Joel Klein and his boss, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are on the right track. The growing pension burdens, along with the federal push for increasing charters and reforming the teaching profession, means that Mulgrew will eventually give in. If Klein can throw in another 43 percent increase in teachers salaries over time (as he did in the past decade), Mulgrew will cave in even more quickly.

At least one can say Mulgrew is thoughtful about the role of technology in education. In this clip, he says that testing and technology is as important in improving how teachers instruct their students as it is for holding schools (and teachers — though he won’t say this) accountable. He also briefly notes that middle schools must be as much a focus of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act as high school reform.


Comments Off on Watch: Michael Mulgrew on Technology in Education, Fixing Middle Schools and No Child Reauthorization

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

The Read


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Thinking — and writing — about the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day: Figuring out ways to keep them in school: Or at least that is the plan for school…

It shouldn't take a cop to bring a kid back into school. We must all do our part to keep the kids in their seats and ready to learn.

Thinking — and writing — about the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day:

    1. Figuring out ways to keep them in school: Or at least that is the plan for school districts in Montgomery, Ala., Skokie, Illinois, and California’s San Bernardino County. All the plans, however, seem like rehashes of earlier regimes of bringing in police officers to ticket students and charging parents with failure to send their children to school. Not to say it doesn’t have some value. But the plans really should address the lack of academic rigor, the achievement gap issues and the other underlying factors that result in chronic truancy and eventually, leaving school without a sheepskin.
    2. How about raising expectations for special ed students: That’s the argument made by Lance Izumi of the Pacific Research Institute in his San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, in which he criticizes the Golden Gate City’s school officials for opposing a state requirement — dictated by the No Child Left Behind Act — that those students must take the state’s high school exit exam. Given that the test only quizzes students on 8th-grade math and need only to get 55-to-60 percent of the answers correct, all but the most developmentally-disabled special ed students can pass it with some extra tutoring and help from their teachers and schools. Given that 28 percent of special ed students eventually dropped out during the 2004-05 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education, wouldn’t it make sense to figure out a way to keep those students in school?
    3. A GI Bill for K-12 students? That’s what David Kirkpatrick suggests in his latest column at EducationNews.org. And he notes that not only did the original GI Bill plan work, it didn’t bring additional federal regulations as opponents of the idea feared at the time. Perhaps it is time to create a federal voucher program and expand the level of federal funding to public charter schools.
    4. Are you kidding me? The College Board — the folks, along with Educational Testing Services, behind the Scholastic Aptitude Test — will roll out a version of the PSAT in 2010 designed to test 8th-graders and get them into college prep programs early. L.A. Unified may actually offer the new PSAT to all 8th-graders once it’s unveiled. That’s great news, especially for talented young black males and females, both nationwide and in the City of Angels, who often get shunted aside from such programs despite their high intelligence. But a few folks, according to the Los Angeles Times, think the tests should be given far earlier in 6th grade. They may be right, but 8th-grade testing is a start.
    5. Sometimes, Sol Stern needs to put down his pen: Kevin Carey gives the education policy legend the business for misusing the phrase “Lake Woebegon Effect” in his piece on New York’s math scores. My big issue with Stern on this one is more of the put-up-or-shut-up variety: He doesn’t offer any evidence of whether the students are progressing over time, simply comparing scores of whole grades of students — in this case, grade 3-through-8 — instead of, say doing a value-added time series in which he compares 5th grade student scores to their scores as 8th graders three years later. This method would likely give a better picture of how much of the test score improvement relates to the lowering of standards, natural cognitive growth as students or more effective instruction.
    6. Think before you speak?: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a state education department official to task for declaring in a deposition that a school curriculum without a science component is an “adequate education.”
    7. What do Cheech and Chong and Randi Weingarten and the American Federation of Teachers have in common: According to Matthew Ladner, both are, umm, up in smoke.

    Comments Off on The Read

    Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

    The Read


    Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

    What is going on inside — and outside — the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day: Surprise, surprise: Poor black and other minority students in Texas are less likely to…

    What is going on inside — and outside — the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day:

      1. Surprise, surprise: Poor black and other minority students in Texas are less likely to get highly-qualified teachers than students of all races in wealthier parts of the state, reports Gary Scharrar of the Houston Chronicle.
      2. Spend, spend, spend: The Wall Street Journal looks at spending by the national operations of the NEA and AFT. Given that teachers generally don’t have much choice but to join the unions — either on their own or agency fees that they pay even if they aren’t members — it is important to think about how the NEA and AFT spends the money of its rank-and-file. Especially — and more importantly — as the state and local affiliates lobby state legislators and policymakers for more favorable governance rules.
      3. Mike Antonucci has his own thoughts.
      4. Liam Julian on Affirmative Action: “Affirmative action hasn’t just somehow changed, somehow morphed, into a policy by which privileged whites can expiate past wrongs and rid themselves of guilt… These are what affirmative action has, in fact, always been about.” Credit Kevin Carey for this discussion.
      5. Is education devalued by rhetoric: So asks Mike Petrilli at Flypaper in a discussion about why education doesn’t always grab the attention of the average voter as other issues do. From where I sit, the problem lies in the reality that education is one of the few government goods everyone uses and therefore, each person thinks their experience is the norm. Suburban students who graduate from school, make it to college and succeed in the workforce, therefore, have difficulty understanding why their counterparts in urban schools don’t do so. Or why their parents keep them in those schools in the first place. Thus adding to the difficulty of selling the value of concepts such as vouchers and charters schools to suburbanites. And proving the point that people only know what they see and don’t care about what they don’t.
      6. Of course, it doesn’t help that some people think schools aren’t the problem: Just read the declaration of the Broader, Bolder Coalition, which proclaims that poor-performing schools aren’t the problem. Then read this polemic by Michael Holzman of the Schott Foundation for Public Education — who just oversaw the release of its latest annual report on low graduation rates for young black men — in which he declares that such schools are the problem. One of these folks knows better. The others, well, ignore most of the problem, thus weakening their argument altogether.
      7. Speaking of Schott: Joanne Jacobs offers some thoughts on the report, while commenters offer their own explanations for the academic woes of black males.
      8. In charts: Ken DeRosa explains the correlations between school spending and academic performance.
      9. Suburbia and School Reform, Part MMM: Chicago Public Radio takes a look at one effort to start a charter school in a suburban community — and why the effort is not taking hold. Until suburban parents recognize that their schools are often no better than some average-performing urban high schools, they will not embrace reform.
      10. Self-promotion, as always: The real reason why so many Americans aren’t reaping the benefits of free trade and globalization can be seen not in NAFTA, but in L.A.’s Hollywood High School and other schools in which academic failure has become the norm. Check it out today at The American Spectator.

        1 Comment on The Read

        Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

        The Morning Read


        Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

        What’s happening inside — and outside — the dropout nation: When civil rights groups get it wrong on education: Is access to a high-quality education a civil right? Depends on…

        What’s happening inside — and outside — the dropout nation:

        Image courtesy of C'Ville Weekly

        Image courtesy of C'Ville Weekly

          1. When civil rights groups get it wrong on education: Is access to a high-quality education a civil right? Depends on where you sit ideologically (personally, this libertarian thinks it isn’t necessarily so, but a public education system being funded with tax dollars should actually do the job and educate all students). But civil rights groups such as La Raza and the NAACP have long ago began bucking their ties to teachers’ unions and supporting the No Child Left Behind Act. Now, according to the New York Times, other groups are also doing the same, this time fighting with the NEA and AFT over a congressional bill aimed at weakening an accountability provision in the law.
          2. Diane Ravitch and James Heckmann should know better: Essentially, that’s what Ken DeRosa concludes in his latest sharp criticism of the Broader, Bolder Coalition, the strange bedfellows group of conservative and left-leaning education policy stars demanding that the the kind of standards-and-accountability embedded in the No Child Left Behind Act ought to be abandoned because it blames schools for academic failure. This isn’t the first time he has claimed that the group ignores data that may not support their position.
          3. Are teachers’ unions anti-teacher?: Larry Sands of the California Teachers Empowerment Network offers his own thoughts.
          4. Meanwhile in my birth-state: New York is once again reeling from unrestrained spending and prospects of a recession, notes the Economist. The chances for comprehensive education reform in the state — whose legislature and new governor overturned a successful effort to reform how new teachers attain tenure — is about as likely as the city handing over Liberty Island to New Jersey.

            Comments Off on The Morning Read

            Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search