With the start of the new school year, New Jersey teachers’ highest-in-the-nation dues just went 4% higher, from $999 for the 2022-23 school year to $1,038 this year. Perhaps because teachers’ dues were already so very high, the NJEA delegate assembly voted to freeze dues for last year, but no longer.
The dues for the NJEA’s national parent, the National Education Association, also increased from $204 to $208, or 1.7%. Adding in local and county association dues likely raises teachers’ overall dues burden closer to $1,500 a year. That’s a lot of money for inflation-pinched home budgets, especially for newer teachers who make substantially lower salaries than older teachers.
Why would the NJEA raise dues so much? The NJEA latest financial statement reveals that the NJEA had a very tough year in 2021-22: Total revenues (including dues and other revenues) fell from $143.4 million to $122.2 million, or a drop of -14.7%, much of it due to investment losses of -$10.2 million.
But the NJEA also saw its dues revenues decline for the first time since the Great Recession in 2010-11. Given that the NJEA actually raised dues from $991 in 2020-21 to $999 in 2021-22, this implies a membership loss of -1.4% (in full-time teachers equivalents). Because the NJEA no longer provides an accurate membership level, we are left to derive the impact on membership as shown in the table below.
|Full-time Teacher Dues||2020-21||2021-22||% Change|
|Amount of Annual Dues||$ 991||$ 999||0.8%|
|Dues Revenues (thousands)||$ 124,931||$ 124,192||-0.6%|
|Implied Membership Loss||-1.4%|
Since the 2018-19 school year (the year after the Supreme Court’s Janus decision), Sunlight estimates NJEA membership has fallen by -4.8%, as shown below.
|Full-time Teacher Dues||2018-19||2021-22||% Change|
|Amount of Annual Dues||$ 928||$ 999||7.7%|
|Dues Revenues (thousands)||$ 120,786||$ 124,192||2.8%|
|Implied Membership Loss||-4.8%|
This implies a membership loss of -9,832, from 203,520 in 2018-19 to 193,688 in 2021-22. NJEA President Spiller has acknowledged that NJEA is below the 200,000-level stated on the NJEA website, but Sunlight thinks 193,000 is a valid estimate.
Perhaps reinforcing this conclusion is the emergence of a new line-item for the NJEA’s proposed 2022-23 budget: $433,000 for “Membership Organizing,” with another allocation of $334,000 for the proposed 2023-24 budget.
Of course we can avoid all the estimating if some intrepid reporter would ask the NJEA what their actual membership level is. But we suspect that 193,000 is pretty close to the mark.