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Education Reporter
NEA’s Grassroots Lobbying Program

The NEA boasts in its convention materials that the NEA "launched a historic grassroots effort and legislative crisis campaign, designed to rally member and public support for the cause of education and the nation's children. The campaign, which included television advertisements, editorial coverage, radio actualities, and member telephone contact, delivered the necessary public support to safeguard public education and prevent proposed education cuts."

The NEA attributes its impressive legislative successes to "the effectiveness of the Association's grassroots network." The NEA states that, "over the coming months, NEA and state affiliates will be working collaboratively to identify grassroots coordinators and member activists." NEA members are encouraged "to volunteer to serve as grassroots activists."

The wealthy NEA provides plenty of organizational back up for this grassroots activity. The NEA maintains Government Relations field teams in Washington, D.C. and in Denver, Colorado to work directly with state affiliates and NEA members "to enhance their effectiveness in political activities and legislative advocacy."

NEA-financed Field Teams engage in "training, strategic planning, and consultation with state and local affiliates to increase their effective participation in federal and state elections, ballot initiatives affecting public education, and lobbying Congress and state legislatures." During the past year, NEA staff have worked on state legislative and ballot initiative issues, as well as on training and organizing members to elect NEA candidates in school board elections.

The NEA's "Information Resources and Advocacy" program provides "a diverse range of information services - including political polling, message development, policy development, and professional writing - to help advance the legislative and political advocacy objectives of the Association." This Information Resources program also works to advance NEA's legislative agenda and resolutions "with elected and appointed public officials."

The NEA's Political Affairs program wages what it calls "effective, unified campaigns to elect leaders, from the school board to the White House, who are committed to public education," i.e., the NEA political agenda. The NEA-PAC brags that, in the 1996 campaign cycle, 60% of the candidates it supported were victorious, and that NEA-PAC is preparing to elect record numbers of pro-education candidates to state and federal office in 1998. The NEA-PAC ranks among the top 10 of the more than 4,000 political action committees.

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