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NEA's Delegates Approve Obama Endorsement, Dues Increase

Despite a lot of hand-wringing, delegates to the National Education Association's Representative Assembly approved an early endorsement for President Barack Obama, and by a good margin: 5,414 delegates, or 72 percent, voted in favor, according to results that were just released here.

It looks like I was right after all. (The measure required a 58 percent "yes" vote in order to pass.)

The approval triggers the flow of NEA PAC dollars toward Obama's re-election campaign.

And that's not all: 70 percent of the body, or 5,258 delegates, approved the amendment to the bylaws that authorize the $10-per-member annual assessment, 60 percent of which will be used primarily to support the Ballot Initiative/Legislative Crisis fund, and the other 40 percent for national and state media efforts. These funds can't support political campaigns but can support messaging and action against things like anti-collective bargaining legislation.

There was some real doubt about whether the Obama endorsement was going to go through this year or next; I spoke to a number of delegates who did not particularly want to go forward with an endorsement right now, figuring they'd have more leverage with the president if the endorsement was delayed until next year's RA.

And at least a few felt that the NEA should call for the removal of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as the price for an early Obama endorsement—the delegates earlier approved a measure listing 13 frustrations with the secretary—but the call for Duncan's ouster didn't come to pass.

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