Forced Dues Make Ohio Education Association a Powerful Obama Ally

The Ohio Education Association (OEA) has promoted Barack Obama’s campaign with cover features in every issue of its “Ohio Schools” magazine since the start of the school year, and did the same in 2008. OEA claims to represent the interests of all Ohio teachers, but many educators who disagree with OEA’s politics are required by state law to pay hundreds of dollars in dues even if they opt out of the union.

Inside the front cover of the August 2012 Ohio Schools was a note that the magazine’s annual publication costs are $6.51 per member. With 124,000 members, this means OEA spends more than $800,000 each year producing a magazine designed to preserve the union’s power.

Click any of the images below to see a larger version of the corresponding Ohio Schools cover.

Ohio Schools October 2012 cover
October 2012
Ohio Schools September 2012 cover
September 2012
Ohio Schools August 2012 cover
August 2012

Pages 17-19 of the October 2012 issue were devoted to the cover story, “OEA Educators for Obama understand the stakes for public education in 2012.”

A table comparing the positions of President Obama and Governor Romney credited Obama with making education “a budget priority,” though Obama’s budgets have been met with unanimous opposition in Congress as the national debt has skyrocketed.

OEA also cheered Obama for his opposition to school choice and his spending on college subsidies, while attacking school vouchers and spending cuts proposed by Romney.

Five of the eleven topics discussed – “The U.S. Auto Industry,” “Healthcare Reform,” “Medicare,” “Social Security,” “Tax Code Reform” – were not even related to education. On every topic OEA presented increased federal bureaucracy as ideal, taking cues from the National Education Association (NEA).

Media Trackers reported OEA’s embrace of the NEA “Educators for Obama” campaign in July. NEA, a reliable advocate for higher taxes and bigger government, endorsed Obama’s reelection in 2011.

October’s presidential campaign feature was followed by a full-page interview with Democrat Sherrod Brown which began, “U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown has always stood up for students and has been a strong ally of school employees and public education.”

Including three pages about the union “Voters First Ohio” campaign and three pages about OEA-endorsed candidates to the Ohio Board of Education, fully a third of the October 2012 issue of Ohio Schools was spent boosting liberal candidates and ballot issues while bashing their opponents.

The latest issue of Ohio Schools was in no way an anomaly. Voters First was the cover story for September 2012, with “Yes on 2!” graphics prominently displayed on the front and back of the magazine.

A feature story titled “Education at Stake in 2012 Campaign” also received cover treatment in September. Subtitled, “A Romney-Ryan budget jeopardizes student programs and President Obama’s investments in pre-K to college education,” the feature was given two full pages.

“Romney moves even farther to the right with the choice of Ryan,” OEA wrote. “A fervent conservative, Ryan also has earned a reputation as an ardent budget-cutter, known for slashing vital resources and services for working families.”

The September 2012 story quoted OEA President Frost-Brooks, who said, “The Romney-Ryan team has proposed trillions of dollars in new tax cuts for millionaires paid for by eliminating unspecified tax breaks for middle-class workers, as well as deep cuts in education and other investments we need to grow.”

Frost-Brooks was paid $148,211 in member dues in 2011, and was named “Democrat of the Year” by the Ohio Democratic Party this July.

The Ohio Schools cover for August 2012 featured a group of OEA activists with Educators for Obama shirts and signs. The photo was captioned, “OEA members show their support for President Obama while protesting at an event for Mitt Romney in New Albany.”

Pages 8-11 of the August issue were dedicated to Obama, Brown, and Voters First. OEA listed six Obama talking points with check marks, next to four criticisms of Romney marked with Xs. A table comparing Brown to his Republican opponent Josh Mandel was formatted the same.

Of Obama, OEA wrote, “As president, Barack Obama stood up for educators, public education, our schools and our students. President Obama has had our backs.”

Of Romney, OEA wrote, “As Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney consistently cut important investments in public education. Time and again, he sided against educators and students.”

“To stand up this year, OEA’s campaign plan has set challenging goals,” the union wrote above a liberal wish list including “Re-elect both Barack Obama as President and Sherrod Brown to the U.S. Senate to provide strong support for public education, our students and our jobs.”

The back cover of the August 2012 Ohio Schools implored OEA members to “make a difference” by pledging to volunteer for Obama, Brown, and Voters First.

Using large swaths of the Ohio Schools magazine to promote liberal politics and politicians has been OEA’s standard practice for years. In 2008, Obama was the cover story in the October issue and was promoted in cover features in both the August and September issues.

Ohio Schools October 2008 cover
October 2008
Ohio Schools September 2008 cover
September 2008
Ohio Schools August 2008 cover
August 2008

Despite claiming to speak for all Ohio’s teachers, OEA has spent member dues supporting Obama’s reelection and Romney’s defeat. In schools where OEA contracts require “fair share” fees, moderate or conservative teachers may opt out of the union – but cannot choose to stop funding an organization whose business model requires bigger government and higher taxes.

Cross-posted from Media Trackers Ohio.