By Ben DeGrow | Special to Colorado Watchdog
Teachers union guru Mike Antonucci reports that the National Education Association is planning to send a token $50,000 to Colorado from its Media Fund “to assist in issue advertising.”
What did our fair state do to deserve the attention?
And why is the amount so modest?
As Antonucci notes, the money can be used not only for advocating for or against ballot measures but also for “general union promotion to aid in membership recruitment.”
Considering that Antonucci also reported a significant 4.1 percent decline in the Colorado Education Association’s 2011 membership, the latter option lies within the realm of possibility.
Except several states that have taken even bigger membership hits — including Montana, New Jersey, Arkansas and Louisiana — are getting zilch from the NEA’s Media Fund.
A fund, mind you, that as of last year was bolstered by doubling the dues assessment from NEA teachers.
While NEA is known for randomly attaching itself to a wide swath of liberal causes and sharing the wealth, it’s not clear what potential Colorado ballot measures could be drawing its attention. Marijuana legalization? The twice, heavily defeated Personhood Amendment? Water rights issues? Spending even $50,000 on these measures makes no sense even by NEA’s standards.
It’s not like 2008, when NEA spent more than $6 million in Colorado to defeat the Ethical Standards proposal, which would have stopped government payroll dues deductions for unions and other political entities, as well as a right-to-work measure. Interestingly, the state doesn’t force Colorado teachers to join or pay fees to any labor organization, but union leaders apparently couldn’t stand to see other workers with the same level of freedom.
Nor are there many clues from the reported spending by the CEA’s small donor committee. It may be a little early for one of the dominant players in state politics to open wide the spigots. In recent election cycles, CEA not surprisingly has spent more than a million dollars each to boost Democratic candidates and “progressive” causes.
While CEA has done little to tip its hand, the national teachers union office has left Colorado feeling a little under-appreciated. At least for 2012. The next slate of ballot initiatives here might do a bit more to catch their attention.