National Education Association leaders living large, despite dramatic decline in membership

Last summer, as the National Education Association was demanding that Congress pass a $10 billion taxpayer bailout to save teaching jobs across the nation, the union’s leadership was enjoying another banner year, with 35 individuals earning at least $200,000.

The poor economy has cost thousands of teachers their jobs, which is reflected in NEA’s membership, which decreased by 30,690 members during fiscal 2009-10, according to the unions annual financial statement filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. For teachers who remained in the classroom, many were asked to accept wage and benefit concessions.

But it’s a different story at NEA headquarters. During the 2009-10 fiscal year, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel raked in $397,721, while Vice President Lily Eskelsen earned $326,563 and Secretary/Treasurer Rebecca Pringle made $340,845. In additional, the union had 32 union other employees who made more than $200,000.

On top of all those heavy paydays, there well over 200 other NEA employees who earned six-figure salaries during the same period.

Overall, the union finished fiscal 2009-10 with net assets of $159,671,757, an increase of over $16 million. That means it was obviously another good year for the folks in the front office, but those strong numbers did little or nothing for rank-and-file members across the nation.

Adding to the NEAs healthy financial bottom line is the $10 billion bailout passed by Congress last summer.  Previously, EAG estimated the legislation would generate $37 million in dues paid to the union.

According to the unions LM2 report, the group frequented lavish hotels and resorts for NEA conferences and training sessions.  In April 2010, NEA members spent $59,503 at the Flamingo in Las Vegas.  In May 2010, they paid $19,554 to the Sonesta Bayfront Hotel for staff education sessions. In June 2010, the NEA dropped $46,322 at the Aria Resort & Casino. At the Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the NEA spent $31,125.

Of course, the NEA has a right to meet and strategize like any other special interest group, but it is troubling that the union is flourishing and doling out generous paydays while the teachers and school districts from which the NEA ultimately derives its money are struggling to stay afloat.

Essentially, the NEA is a parasitic organization. They have grown very fat and sleek by feeding off its members and the taxpayers.

The union plays no direct role in educating children, yet its leaders are making the most money of anyone involved in public education.  The NEA’s financial report should serve as a wakeup call to all Americans.  Public education is well-funded in this country, it’s just that the money is ending up in the pockets of the wrong people.

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