Community Blog: The EDge

Teachers’ union confirms membership drop, nationally and in Idaho

The reports of declining teachers’ union membership — both nationally and in Idaho — have their origins in a financial report presented to union leaders this month.

NEAThe report “reflects accurate membership numbers,” National Education Association spokeswoman Celeste F. Busser said in an email to Idaho Education News.

Here’s a link to the financial report, presented to the NEA’s representative assembly in July.

Nationally, active NEA membership went from 2,807,332 in 2010-11 to 2,706,350 in 2011-12, a 3.6 percent drop.

In Idaho, the drop was more severe. Active membership went from 11,177 to 9,577 — a 14.3 percent drop, and one of steepest one-year declines in the nation.

The Education Intelligence Agency, an anti-union watchdog group, first reported the new numbers this week, using them to draw one- and three-year comparisons in union membership. In both instances, membership in the Idaho Education Association, the NEA’s affiliate in Idaho, has dropped significantly.

IEA officials would not confirm or deny the change in membership numbers, but said changes in membership may reflect downsizing in education. “Our membership trends tend to mirror the current environment of education in Idaho,” IEA President Penni Cyr said. “Teaching positions have been lost in many districts around the state, and the policies and funding decisions of elected officials have served to marginalize education professionals.”

Whether the changing numbers reflect cuts in education funding — or signal declining union influence, as union critics suggest — the NEA’s numbers show almost an across-the-board membership drop.

Here is a link to my original Idaho Education News story on the union membership numbers.

 

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger at Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org). Kevin is a former Statesman editorial page editor, with 27 year's experience in Idaho journalism.

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