Association of American Educators
|Motto||Educators by calling, professionals by choice|
|Headquarters||27405 Puerta Real, S-230|
Mission Viejo, California 92691
Association of American Educators (AAE) is a national, non-union, non-partisan professional educators association in the United States and is the fastest-growing association of its kind. Its stated mission is to “advance the profession through personal growth, professional development, teacher advocacy and protection.” AAE also seeks to “promote excellence in education so that [teachers] receive the respect, recognition and reward they deserve.” AAE is officially nonpartisan. AAE is not a union or a lobbying organization, but licensed as a 501(c)(6) professional trade association. AAE is funded by dues from thousands of members located in all fifty states and the District of Columbia and by contributions to the AAE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. AAE claims to “help lead a coalition of nearly 300,000 teachers across the country who have joined a non-union teacher association.”
According to its website, the AAE opposes collective bargaining, strikes, and engagement in policy issues not deemed "germane to education." The site also devotes a special section to denouncing "forced unionism" of public schoolteachers, including resources to help teachers resign union membership and nominal "Public Service Announcements" decrying teachers' unions for using "confrontational tactics" and union dues to pay for a "political agenda that has little to do with education." Based on this and other evidence, the National Education Association and other groups have criticized the organization for attempting to undermine public education (see Criticism below).
The Association of American Educators was founded in 1994 by Gary Beckner, his wife, and a group of nationally recognized educators, including three National Teachers of the Year, many of whom continue to serve on the AAE Advisory Board. Over 2,000 teachers joined AAE during their first year of operation, and membership doubled the following year.
While recruiting members directly through word-of-mouth, mailings, and at teacher conferences and new teacher orientations across the country, AAE has partnered with pre-existing state-based non-union educator associations in Louisiana and North Carolina. Additionally, AAE has established state-based non-union educator associations representing teachers in Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington. AAE also partners with county- and district-level associations in other states, including Nevada.
AAE has been highlighted in national newspapers The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and USA Today, among others. Op-eds and letters to the editor from AAE staff members are published regularly in local newspapers. AAE staff, state leaders, and members have been interviewed on CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, and many local news media outlets.
Professional membership in AAE is open to all employees who, in order to qualify for insurance benefits, must receive a W-2 from an educational entity, including public or private school, university, or college. Non-insurance membership is open to everyone.
According to the AAE website and membership brochures, membership includes “professional members”, "student teachers," "retired educators," and "AAE supporters."
AAE State Partners and Affiliates
AAE membership is available to educators in all fifty states and the District of Columbia; however, members who teach in a state with an AAE state partner (see below) join and receive benefits from the state partner.
|Arkansas State Teachers Association||ASTA||Arkansas||astapro.org|
|Kansas Association of American Educators||KANAAE||Kansas||kanaae.org|
|Northwest Professional Educators||NWPE||Idaho
|Professional Association of Colorado Educators||PACE||Colorado||coloradoteachers.org|
The National Education Association (NEA), the largest labor union in the United States, and its state affiliates, have accused AAE and its state affiliates of being "pro-voucher" "anti-public education" and "anti-union." The NEA cites as evidence that major contributors to AAE Foundation have also contributed to school choice initiatives, which the NEA labels as "anti-public education" and "anti-union." The NEA has distributed a "toolkit" advising local members on how to respond to the AAE, including talking points and action plans. The NEA has labeled AAE "the leading anti-NEA organization."
AAE and state affiliates have responded by highlighting that over 90% of their membership are public school teachers and the AAE has never taken a position supporting vouchers. AAE has supported school choice, although their activities for National School Choice Week primarily involve public charter school teachers, never vouchers. Also, the major funders cited by the NEA as proof of AAE's agenda, have also given grants, albeit of much smaller value, to public school districts and universities. For example, the Walton Family Foundation donates heavily to public charter schools and groups focused on influencing policy toward school choice, including vouchers, but also granted some money to a few public school districts as well as Teach for America and the United Negro College Fund.  Counter to these claims to neutrality, organizations such as SourceWatch, citing documents obtained from some of AAE's funders, continue to describe the association as a right-wing organization contributing to efforts to weaken unions and undermining their political objectives.
- "AAE Homepage". Archived from the original on 12 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- "About AAE". Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- "Join AAE". Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- "AAE Foundation". Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- "Forced Unionism". Retrieved 2018-12-14.
- Kirkpatrick, David W. (September 1997). "Alternative Teacher Organizations: Evolution of Professional Associations" (PDF). Reason Public Policy Foundation (Policy Study No. 231): 1–39. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- "AAE State Partners". Retrieved 2010-03-22.
- "Contact AAE". Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- Golden, Daniel (2004-07-28). "Nonunion Teacher Groups Cost NEA Membership and Clout". The Wall Street Journal. p. A1.
- Berlau, John (2003-09-30). "Teachers Discard The Union Label". Washington Times Insight Magazine. pp. 23–25.
- Henry, Tamara (1998-07-07). "Independent groups teach unions lessons on membership". USA Today. p. D4. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
- Letter to the editor (2008-08-27). "A calling, not a gravy train: Teachers lose with forced dues". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on 10 March 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2009.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- Letter to the editor (2002-07-07). "A professional alternative". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 17 March 2009.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- Letter to the editor (2008-11-07). "Another option for teachers". Concord Monitor. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2009.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- "YouTube: Cindy Omlin on Glenn Beck". 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- "AAE Insurance". Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- Beckner, Gary (July–August 2008). "A Professional Alternative" (PDF). Education Matters: 3–5. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- "What the NEA says about AAE". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- "AAE Member Benefits". Archived from the original on 8 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
- Utah Education Association (November 2006). "Follow the money: UTCE and the AAE connection" (PDF). UEA Action. 37 (1): 8–9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- National Education Association, "NEA’s Toolkit to Advance Public Education: So-called “Professional Educator” Organizations." (2006).
- "UTCE Myths and Facts". Archived from the original on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- "PACE Response to Deceptive Literature". Retrieved 2010-10-15.[permanent dead link]
- "AAE is in for school choice in 2011". Retrieved 2013-10-11.
- "The Walton Family Foundation K-12 Education Reform". Archived from the original on 10 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- "SourceWatch: Association of American Educators". Retrieved 2018-12-14.