New Jersey’s Teachers Union: A spider web of political power and influence

Mike Lilley, via a kind reader:

In total, from 2009 to 2016, the NJEA alone has spent over $33 million on the wide variety of non-profits and political action groups mentioned in this report, and in many cases is a major source of funding for these groups. When added to the funding provided by its fellow public sector unions, this massive amount of money is the animating force behind an unrivalled network of progressive and public sector union-backed organizations that reaches every corner of the state. These organizations include a wide variety of civic and political action groups – some directly connected to the NJEA and its fellow unions, some indirectly – but the one characteristic they have in common is that they all assist the NJEA and the public sector unions in their unceasing efforts to shape New Jersey’s political order. Importantly, they help the unions form coalitions that give the unions more political reach and weight. Ultimately, not only do they ensure the continued domination of state politics by deep-pocketed special interests but they help to disguise it as well.

Laura Waters:

The way NJEA funnels money to its allies is complex. You can read the report yourself for the details. But to give a sense of NJEA’s influence throughout the state, their allies (in addition to the others mentioned above) include Education Law Center, New Jersey Policy Perspective, the Abbott Leadership Institute, the Latino Action Network, Paterson Education Fund, BlueWave NJ, Statewide Parent Advocacy Network, the NJ arm of NAACP, Paterson Education Fund, Parents Unified for Local School Education, and NJ Communities United. And that’s not the full list.

How does the NJEA’s reach affect our public schools system? The power of its endorsements and cash woo legislators to pass NJEA-friendly bills, its power over the Governor (this didn’t work with Christie) gives NJEA influence on leadership appointments, and its power over its allies initiate lawsuits on issues important to NJEA. Here is an incomplete list: