NEA Spends $1.9 Million in Teacher Dues Attacking Colorado U.S. Senate Candidate

How many days left ’till we all can stop talking about these political campaigns? Every time one of those ads comes on the TV or radio, I swear my mom is going to go berserk. My dad? Well, even worse. That’s why it’s so disturbing to learn that nearly $2 million worth of Colorado’s latest negative political ads have been paid for by the National Education Association using automatically-collected teacher dues money:

The National Education Association (NEA) has reported spending nearly $1.9 million in independent expenditures to purchase ads to attack U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck. The money is drawn from general dues funds collected from education employee members in Colorado and nationwide.

The NEA’s new $547,000 radio ad purchase follows a $1.35 million anti-Buck television campaign rated by the Denver Post as “leans deceptive.”

“Many teachers don’t like their money used this way,” said Independence Institute education policy analyst Ben DeGrow. “Besides leaving the union, there really isn’t anything they can do about it.”

The way this works is different than the money collected from teachers and spent on politics at the local or state level. As I have pointed out before, there are political refunds available for those expenditures. But for teachers who might like or support Ken Buck, or who just don’t approve of their money funding negative political ads, there aren’t many options out there within the NEA. All of this year’s $166 share of dues sent to the national union headquarters — including any funds used on the political ad campaigns? Consider it gone.

While that $2 million seems like a lot of cash to me, the Wall Street Journal reports that the National Education Association ranks number 5 among groups in contributions to the 2010 campaign at $40 million. Wow! That kind of money could buy a ton of Legos!!

Anyway, all this election stuff soon will be over. And if the big pundits are right, it could mean some changes to education policies here in Colorado and in Washington, D.C. As Rick Hess notes, it probably spells the end to funding for the current Race to the Top program (which ironically, the NEA and many of the candidates they are attacking with teachers’ money likely happen to agree on).

Go figure. Maybe I’ll understand all this politics when I’m a grown-up.