This post was co-authored by Evelyn B. Stacey, Education Studies Policy Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute in Sacramento, California.

The National Education Organization’s top legal eagle Bob Chanin is stepping down. “NEA and affiliates are such effective advocates,” Chanin explained during his farewell address (the good part starts about 15 minutes in). “Despite what some believe, it is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because we care about children. It is not because we have a vision a great public school for every child.” Okay, Bob. So why are the NEA and its affiliates such effective advocates? “[B]ecause we have power. We have power because more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars each year because we are the union that can most effectively represent.” Willing? Consider the NEA’s largest affiliate, the California Teachers Association. It just raised union dues $26-on top of the $1,000 already taken out of teachers’ paychecks. Surely the CTA will use those funds to offset education funding cuts and teacher layoffs. Or maybe the CTA could use those funds to improve teachers’ working conditions, right? Wrong. The NEA and its affiliates like the CTA have started spending $ millions on political activities that have little if anything to do with education (see here and here). Thankfully, there are new and emerging options for teachers (see here and here) and parents, who together far outnumber the NEA’s conscripts.