The nation’s two largest teachers unions shelled out millions of their members’ dues on lobbying and other political initiatives, according to an August report by Americans for Fair Treatment, obtained first by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) spent $35.7 million of members’ dues on politics, giving thousands to left-wing organizations such as Friends for Kathy Hochul, the Democratic New York governor’s campaign, and Media Matters for America, a media watchdog group, according to a report by Americans for Fair Treatment, a union watchdog. The National Education Association (NEA) spent $49.2 million of its members’ dues during the same time period on lobbying and political initiatives, donating thousands to Building Back Together, an organization that focuses on pushing Democratic President Joe Biden’s agenda, and March for Our Lives, a group that advocates for gun control.
“NEA and AFT are tasked with advocating for teachers across the country, but instead they choose to involve themselves in partisan politics that many teachers disagree with,” Elisabeth Messenger, CEO of Americans for Fair Treatment, told the DCNF. “This research shines a light on what’s really going on behind the scenes at large national unions: political and financial power grabs at the expense of government employees.”
About 17% of AFT’s spending was on lobbying and political initiatives, with $1 million being donated to Put Michigan First, an organization that purchased ads slamming Republican Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon ahead of the 2022 election, the report shows. The AFT gave $275,000 to Red Wine and Blue, a coalition of mothers who push for left-wing values, according to the report.
The NEA spent 7% of its members’ dues on political initiatives and lobbying, with $150,000 going to EMILY’s List, an organization dedicated to getting pro-abortion candidates elected, the report shows. Another $180,000 went to Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a group that works to push measures that benefit “people of color, queer [and] low-income” individuals, according to the report.
From the 2021-2022 reporting period, AFT President Randi Weingarten made $488,000, according to the report. During the same time period, the average teacher made $56,483, the report notes.
NEA President Becky Pringle raked in $449,537 during the 2021-2022 reporting period, the report states. Pringle’s salary is about eight times more than what the average schoolteacher earns, according to the report.
Both the AFT and the NEA have pushed gender ideology and racial initiatives into the classroom; in July, the NEA passeda measure that calls for the group and its members to promote sex-change procedures for LGBTQ youth. The AFT held a professional development conference in July that featured a session for teachers on how to create an “identity-affirming space” within the classroom.
The AFT and NEA did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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