The country’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, continues to lose members. In fact, the latest figures from the 2014-15 school year indicate that membership is down some 37,000 members since last year. According to union watchdog Mike Antonucci:
Officers of the National Education Association expressed some optimism last July that the union’s falling membership numbers were finally reaching their nadir. Active membership losses totaling more than 9 percent since 2008-09 had slowed to a drop of about 17,000 by the end of the 2013-14 school year. While still a significant loss, surely the end of the lean years was in sight.
That is, until the first figures for the 2014-15 school year came in. NEA is down 37,000 active members from this time a year ago.
Total membership did not fall quite as badly, but the demographic trend cannot be comforting to the union. Student membership fell by 4,700, but was more than offset by an increase of 6,600 retired members. Of course, the idea is that student members are likely to become active members when they are hired to work in public schools. Retired members remain retired members, paying only $30 per year.
NEA’s total membership now stands at approximately 2,960,000 members – its lowest level since the merger of NEA New York with New York State United Teachers in 2006.
Antonucci also notes that while the economy is picking up, union membership continues to decline. This suggests that the rising generation of prospective NEA members aren’t buying what the union is selling. Aside from the innocuous-sounding promises of job and legal protection, the next generation of teachers don’t appear swayed by the NEA’s politics or strong-arming.
It appears many up-and-coming teachers want competitive salaries, enriching work environments, and most of all, they appear to want to leave all the politics at the schoolhouse door. What’s more, the NEA isn’t the only labor union struggling for members—and public approval, which is down according to a recent Gallup Poll. All these figures indicate that Americans want the freedom to work and spend their hard-earned salaries as they see fit.