Alabama GOP to consider ban on school board candidates accepting AEA donations

Most AEA donations go to state races

By: - August 1, 2023 3:48 pm
The Alabama Education Association headquarters, showing a brass rendering of the name of the group on a concrete wall.

A sign outside the headquarters of the Alabama Education Association, as seen on January 24, 2023. (Brian Lyman/Alabama Reflector)

The Alabama Republican Party will consider a rule change at a Saturday meeting to ban Republican candidates for state school board, county school board and county superintendent from taking money from the National Education Association and its affiliates, like the Alabama Education Association (AEA).

In a statement, chairman John Wahl said “transgender ideology and woke policies have no place in our schools” and that they wanted to protect children from “indoctrination in the classroom by left wing groups like the NEA and its affiliated organizations.”

“How can we expect our superintendents and school board members to stand up against teaching these woke concepts if they are afraid of the money and financial power coming from liberal unions responsible for pushing this type of curriculum?” the statement said. “It’s a blatant conflict of interest, and something that needs to be addressed.”


ALGOP spokeswoman Jeannie Faherty said Tuesday the rule change will not include city school board races, which are nonpartisan. 

The AEA chiefly represents teachers. Alabama Education Association Executive Director Amy Marlowe said in a statement Tuesday that 72% of their membership was Republican and called the statements “irresponsible.”

“Our focus is on education with no partisan perspective or fringe ideologies,” the statement said. “We do not feed into the narrative of the baseless culture wars expressed in Wahl’s press release – and we ask that he or other party leaders bring forth any person who has said they have been lobbied by AEA advocating for the concepts referenced in his release.”

According to state campaign finance reports, the AEA predominantly donates to state-level races, including the state school board races. The state school board is predominantly Republican.  

In 2022, the AEA gave money to Montgomery County school board races in the Democratic primary.

Under former Executive Secretary Paul Hubbert, who ran the organization from 1969 to 2011, AEA tended to give the bulk of its donations to Democrats, who controlled the Alabama Legislature until 2010. But in last year’s elections, AEA donated to candidates in both parties.

In July, some news outlets mistakenly reported that the NEA had recommended the book “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” by Maia Kobobe, to children. The book appeared on a list called “Great Summer Reads for Educators!”

An NEA spokesperson confirmed to PolitiFact at Poynter that the book was recommended to educators, not students.

At the Saturday meeting, the Alabama Republican party will also look at the 2024 Presidential Primary Resolution, which will determine how delegates will be apportioned for the state’s presidential primary on March 5.


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Jemma Stephenson
Jemma Stephenson

Jemma Stephenson covers education as a reporter for the Alabama Reflector. She previously worked at the Montgomery Advertiser and graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.