By Mitch Kokai
A statewide campaign launched by the John Locke Foundation — publisher of The Carolina Journal — urges public school teachers to save $500 in dues each year by leaving the partisan N.C. Association of Educators.
The billboards are present in high-population areas of the state, including the two largest school districts of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Wake County Public Schools. The campaign includes a digital component at LeaveNCAE.com, in which teachers receive instructions on how to cut ties with the self-described teachers union.
“It’s great that this campaign is letting public school teachers know they have options other than the NCAE,” said Amy Marshall, founder of the recently formed Carolina Teachers Alliance, a professional organization that has positioned itself as an alternative to the NCAE. “I’ve heard from so many teachers that the NCAE does not represent their values.”
Membership dues in the NCAE vary by school district and role but, for the 2021-22 school year, the organization was charging $586 a year for a full-time teacher in Wake County. Professional membership in Carolina Teachers Alliance is about half as much at $299.88 a year.
Marshall said membership in the Carolina Teachers Alliance has been steadily building since its official launch statewide in April. In addition to differentiating itself from the NCAE on price, the organization also parts ways on major policy issues: It supports school choice while prioritizing public school improvement, supports law enforcement, and advocates to keep public schools open and accessible during the pandemic.
The NCAE has been hemorrhaging membership for the past decade. Since the 2010-11 school year, the organization’s active membership dropped nearly 59%, and its revenue was cut in half — from $11 million to $5.8 million.
“The John Locke Foundation embraces diversity of thought,” Locke president Donald Bryson says in a statement. “We are pro-teacher. We believe educators should have the freedom to affiliate as they see fit, and we believe that the NCAE stopped representing the best interests of teachers and students long ago, in exchange for partisan gains.”