As a high school business teacher, Virginia’s David Palanzi spends a lot of time helping students understand the stories that lie within numbers.
And Palanzi says that when it comes to the 2016 presidential election, “3 million”—the number of teachers and educators who are members of NEA—carries a powerful message.
Put another way, one out of every 100 Americans is an NEA member. “We have the numbers to steer the discussion to what really matters in schools and in our communities,” Palanzi says.
As states across the nation prepare to conduct caucuses and primaries—the first step in electing a president who will stand up for public education—it is more important than ever that the voices of NEA members, parents, and voting-age students are heard early, and often.
Participate in your state’s primary or caucus. Attend campaign events. Work the phones. Knock on doors. And encourage your friends and family to also take part in election-related activities with public schools and working families in mind.
“Having conversations in our local communities about what our students really need and what is not written in the media is a powerful thing,” says Palanzi.
“Teachers and [education] support professionals who work every day on behalf of our students have an immense amount of respect in the community. When you remind people what an impact politicians at all levels have on their schools and their children, it’s a game changer,” he says. “It’s that light bulb moment when they hear you talking about politics and elections in real-world terms,” Palanzi adds.
There’s no question that the outcome of Election 2016 will have a tremendous impact on students and hard-working Americans. Now is the time to use campaign events and social media to demand that candidates be specific on issues that matter to educators and students.
Ask yourself: Are you tired of the culture of overtesting that has dominated the teaching and learning experience for more than a decade? Have you become exasperated that instead of investing in student programs, the federal government is providing tax breaks to the nation’s richest corporations?
Then it’s time for you and every NEA member to make sure every presidential candidate talks about public education and other concerns of working families.
A closer look at NEA’s numbers
As part of the nation’s largest labor union, NEA members are a powerful voting bloc—one that is unrivaled by any other union, organization, or Association.
NEA members live in every state, every congressional district, and every ZIP code.
- In most states—including the early primary states of New Hampshire and Iowa, and the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania—NEA is the largest labor union.
NEA members are educated, involved, and dependable voters, who consistently exercise their voting rights.
- In 2014, NEA members turned out at almost twice the rate of the general public.
- In the 2012 general presidential election, an NEA member cast one out of every 58 votes.
- In 2012, households with an NEA member cast one of every 32 votes, making NEA households 3 percent of the total votes cast.
Seventy percent of NEA’s members are women. Polls consistently show that in order to win, candidates must win this key constituency.
NEA members are primarily rural and suburban voters—key swing populations in statewide elections.
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