Association of American Educators
The Association of American Educators (AAE) is a right-wing 501(c)6 "trade association" organization. AAE describes itself as a "a national, non-union, professional educators' organization". While presenting itself as a quasi-union, their website states, "AAE does not engage in collective bargaining." According to documents obtained from the Bradley Foundation, AAE considers itself, "well-positioned to help further weaken the unions and their political goals."
AAE is affiliated with the Association of American Educators Foundation (AAEF), a 501(c)3 charity, and Association of American Educators Affiliates (AAEA), a 501(c)6 "trade association" organization. It is also an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN).
As of 2017, AAE is suing the California Teachers Association in a bid to defund unions by overturning California’s fair share fee laws. Fair share fees ensure that employees who opt-out of union contracts share the cost of negotiations for benefits that all employees receive as a result of collective bargaining. This lawsuit was filed on behalf of AAE by The Center for Individual Rights.
AAE Funded by the Bradley Foundation to Weaken Teacher Unions
Documents examined by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, show how AAE is funded in part by by the Bradley Foundation as part of an effort to “defund teachers unions and achieve real education reform.” Mary Bottari reports, "Bradley is so anxious to silence the organized voice of public school teachers it has pumped $1.77 million into a substitute, the Association of American Educators Foundation. 'The NEA and AFT have already been substantially weakened by Wisconsin Act 10. AAE thinks it is well-positioned to help further weaken the unions and their political goals,' say the documents (AAEF, Grant Proposal Record, 8/19/2014)."
It is described as “the largest non-union educators’ organization in the country. It has a national membership base of approximately 20,000” with affiliates in Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon, and Washington. Bradley puts the membership at 512, but even one teacher is helpful to its agenda, as the Bradley Foundation's internal documents note:
Three years ago, AAE became quite visible in Wisconsin in the middle of the blustery public discourse about Act 10, during which (Kristi) Lacroix herself and the group’s small number of members were helpful. AAE and Lacroix have admirably struggled, in the face of severe challenges, to increase that number and decrease the unions’ hold on teachers’ money, and thus their power. Therefore, staff recommends a $200,000 investment in AAEF for the Wisconsin activities” (AAEF, Grant Proposal Record, 8/19/2014,).
Kristi Lacroix was one of a handful of Wisconsin teachers that supported Gov. Scott Walker’s massive cuts to education and evisceration of collective bargaining in the state. She was featured in Walker campaign ads, on Fox News and in Bradley-funded media. Once again, Bradley makes clear its interest in defunding unions, per the documents:
For every individual member AAE gains, the NEA and AFT lose some $600... with continuing uncertainty surrounding the legal status of Wisconsin’s Act 10, Lacroix and AAE currently have only a disappointingly low 512 members in the state, though they say they are on track to meet a goal of 1,000 by the end of the year. With the final legality of Act 10 contemplated later this year, AAE hopes its 2014-15 recruiting season could be a tipping point for its growth in Wisconsin. The NEA and AFT have already been substantially weakened in Wisconsin by Act 10, (See “NEA and AFT in post-Act 10 Wisconsin” to the left) AAE thinks it’s well-positioned to help further weaken the unions, and their political goals...” (AAEF, Grant Proposal Record, 8/19/2014).
In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.
- Total Revenue: $2,247,068
- Total Expenses: $2,104,680
- Net Assets: $219,593
- Total Revenue: $1,930,547
- Total Expenses: $1,529,229
- Net Assets: $77,205
- Total Revenue: $1,651,318
- Total Expenses: $1,318,996
- Net Assets: $996,530
- Total Revenue: $1,472,283
- Total Expenses: $1,246,049
- Net Assets: $664,208
The Association of American Educators is not required to disclose its funders but major foundation supporters can be found through their IRS filings. Here are some known contributors:
- Snider Foundation: $130,000 (2015-2018)
Board of Directors
The Association of American Educators Foundation lists its Board of Directors as:
- Polly Broussard
- Guy Rice Doud
- Becky Norton Dunlop
- Alan P. Dye
- Dr. Williams H. Hughes
- Dr. Kevin Ryan
- DeLaina Tonks
- Tracy Valentine
- Gary Beckner
According to AAE's website:
- Gary Beckner, Chairman and President
- Angela Ashton, Finance Support Staff
- Piete Beckner, Director of Membership Services
- Debbie Brown, Membership Services Specialist
- Julie Evans, Legal Services Liaison
- Alicia Huntsman, Executive Assistant/Office Manager
- Iris Lacey, Membership Payment Processor
- Sharon Nelson, Director of Legal Services
- Cari Vedder, Membership Services Specialist
- Ruth Anne Vigil, Membership Support Staff
- Catherine Villani, Membership Services Specialist
Washington, D.C. Office
- Colin Sharkey, Executive Vice President
- Cecile Middleton, Regional Membership Director
- Shanna Morgason, Membership Team Director
- Melissa Pratt, Professional Programs Manager
- Garry Sigle, Regional Membership Director
- Dana Williams, Regional Membership Director
- Rena Youngblood, Director of Charter School Services
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 33-0583148
27405 Puerta Real, Suite 230
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
Tel: (800).704.7799, (949).595.7979
Washington, D.C. Office
300 North Washington Street, Suite 304
Alexandria, VA 22314
Tel: (877).385.6264, (703).739.2100
- Association of American Educators, About Us, organizational website, accessed June, 2017.
- Mary Bottari, "Weaponized Philanthropy: Document Trove Details Bradley Foundation’s Efforts to Build Right-Wing “Infrastructure” Nationwide, Center for Media and Democracy, May 5th, 2017.
- Association of American Educators Foundation, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, accessed June, 2017.
- Howard Blume, Lawsuit targets key funding source for teachers unions, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 7, 2017
- Mary Bottari, Bradley Foundation Bankrolls Attacks on Unions, Exposed by CMD, May 8, 2017.
- Association of American Educators, [on file with CMD, 2016 IRS Form 990], Internal Revenue Service, August, 8, 2016.
- Association of American Educators, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August, 8, 2016.
- Association of American Educators, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August 13, 2015.
- Association of American Educators, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August 13, 2014.
- Association of American Educators Foundation, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed June, 2017.
- Association of American Educators, Contact Us, organizational website, accessed June, 2017.