Smoky Mountains Sunrise
Showing posts with label Teacher Unions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teacher Unions. Show all posts

Friday, October 28, 2011

Unions: The Enemy Within Bankrupting America, Destroying Prosperity, and Subverting Our Future

For those who may wonder why Democrats support unions that have eliminated American industries, are bankrupting states and municipalities, and threaten the very existence of our nation due to the massive failure of public schools and an alien social agenda at war with Christian beliefs and values, here's the answer.

Leading Union Political Campaign Contributors


American Fed. of State, County, & Municipal Employees

Intel Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

National Education Association

Service Employees International Union

Communication Workers of America

Service Employees International Union

Laborers Union

American Federation of Teachers

United Auto Workers

Teamsters Union

Carpenters and Joiners Union

Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union

United Food and Commercial Workers Union


Sheet Metal Workers Union

Plumbers & Pipefitters Union

Operating Engineers Union

Airline Pilots Association

International Association of Firefighters

United Transportation Workers

Ironworkers Union

American Postal Workers Union

Nat'l Active & Retired Fed. Employees Association

Seafarers International Union
Source: Center for Responsive Politics, Washington , D.C.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Videos Expose Corrupt New Jersey Teachers' Union Thugs

By Terry Hurlbut

James O'Keefe, head of Project Veritas, yesterday released two videos in a series that he titled Teachers' Unions Gone Wild, a take-off on a popular TV show titled Girls Gone Wild. It contains candid footage taken by "citizen journalists" (meaning volunteer temporary stringers) interviewing several persons purporting to be teachers attending the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) leadership conference at the East Brunswick Hilton (August 7-13, 2010). Jason Method of the Asbury Park Press filed the first report yesterday evening.

The two videos are uploaded to YouTube and embedded at O'Keefe's Project Veritas site. The first of these videos follows:

WARNING: This video features candid interviews with persons or groups using profane and even obscene language. Parental judgment and discretion are advised.

The first video is taken at the conference, and shows several teachers describing hypothetical situations in which teachers (especially those with tenure) could utter racial slurs at their pupils in class and not be subject to termination, and also making crude references to Governor Chris Christie and describing the sort of violent assaults that some members would like to perpetrate upon him. Equally embarrassing are the shots of teachers playing video arcade games and boasting about doing so "on their dime", meaning at an event that they attended at parent/taxpayer expense.

One teacher, identified on the video as Alissa Ploshnick, a "special educator" in the Passaic Public Schools, appears telling an interviewer that "it is very, very hard to fire a tenured teacher." She said that even inappropriate sexual conduct would not be sufficient, and said that a teacher would have to be caught literally in flagrante delicto in the hallway for an immediate termination to occur. (The preceding is the Bowdlerized version of Ms. Ploshnick's remarks.) She then described the case of another teacher, whom she would not identify, who actually uttered a racial slur at a student and suffered no worse sanction than demotion.

The video goes on to capture several chants intended to demean Governor Christie, with shots of stories told of certain episodes of unprofessional conduct by school officials (like the Bergen County official who cut and pasted an e-mail wishing Christie dead and sent this memo out to the teachers who answered to him). It also mentioned an unidentified teacher describing the NJEA's role in altering the application for the Race to the Top federal grant without informing Christie or then-Education Commissioner Bret Schundler of the alterations. (New Jersey ultimately placed eleventh in the RTTT race and lost out on the grant.)

The video ends with the posting of a telephone number (609-599-4561) as if it were an advertisement for ordering a full-length video, and makes references to the rigging of elections. The telephone number turns out to belong to the NJEA. A viewer might interpret its presence in the video as either a take-off on lengthy TV ads for consumer goods "not available in stores," or an invitation to call the NJEA to ask, or complain, about the behavior depicted in the video.

The second video is largely a follow-up by one of the volunteer stringers on the Alissa Ploshnick interview. First he conducts an "ambush interview" with Ploshnick, an interview that turns out to be unproductive. Then he calls the assistant superintendent of the Passaic Public Schools, posing as the father of the boy who allegedly had suffered the racial insult.

NJEA spokesman Steve Baker denounced the two videos as inauthentic, saying, "It's James O’Keefe and that’s all you need to know."

However, in a later story carried by The Star-Ledger (Newark), Project Veritas spokesman Shane Corey defended the videos and insisted on their authenticity. He specifically says that no person posed as a teacher to be recorded making an embarrassing statement.

O'Keefe is famous for appearing at several housing-assistance offices of the old Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and posing as a procurer, with a young woman in tow posing as a prostitute, and asking for, and most of the time getting, housing assistance. The resulting scandal led to the official defunding of ACORN and ultimately to the spectacle of the national organization shuttering and its chapters changing their names.

Today O'Keefe released yet another embarrassing video for the NJEA, alleging a possible role for them in election fraud surrounding the Jersey City mayor's race in 1997, when Bret Schundler ran for a second term of office.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Teachers Fight Release of Data

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is also president of NY State's largest local affiliate, the United Federation of Teachers in New York City.

From The Wall Street Journal
By Barbara Martinez

The New York City teachers union is fighting the release of data that tries to gauge the effectiveness of 12,000 of its members, saying the measuring system is too flawed to make teachers' names public.

The city Department of Education was set to release the data Wednesday, spurred by public-records requests from news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal. But the United Federation of Teachers threatened a lawsuit, and the DOE delayed its plans. A DOE spokeswoman said that unless a court interferes, the city intends to make them public Friday.

The reports attempt to measure the progress that students in fourth through eighth grades make under a teacher by comparing their state test scores in math and English in a given year with the previous year.

The "value-added" data is a source of deep controversy in New York and in other districts nationwide. In New York City, the value-added scores of teachers are determined using a complex formula that attempts to take into account various factors outside of the teacher's control, such as poverty, class size and student disabilities. The reports compare the teachers to other teachers with similar students.

Proponents of disclosing the data say that parents have a right to know whether their children's teachers consistently move students forward. But critics argue that the science for figuring out how much a teacher affects a student—despite attempts to account for outside factors—is still too new to trust with wide-scale dissemination.

"There isn't a reliable value-add system anywhere on this planet," said union President Michael Mulgrew. He said he isn't opposed to developing such a system, but the current one produces scores that aren't ready to be publicized with teachers' names. He said of 20 value-added reports teachers have sent him, 13 had errors, such as listing pupils not in the class.

The DOE said there has only been a smattering of complaints, and they have been quickly resolved.

Mr. Mulgrew also found fault with basing the data on test scores, which the state this year acknowledged were flawed. In addition, the union provided a 2008 letter from a DOE official that promised that in the event a public-records request was made for the data, "we will work with the UFT to craft the best legal arguments available to the effect that such documents fall within an exemption from disclosure."

Natalie Ravitz, DOE's spokeswoman, said the agency does "not believe that any of the exemptions" under the records law "apply in this matter, which is what we told the UFT. But that will be for a judge to decide."

Mr. Mulgrew said the UFT will likely seek an injunction Thursday to prevent the disclosure.

The DOE used value-added data this year for the first time to help determine whether to give a teacher tenure. For some teachers, the DOE has up to four years of annual student test data on which to build a value-added score. Only 12,000 of the city's nearly 80,000 public-school teachers have such scores because they teach math or English to fourth through eighth graders. Testing begins in third grade, which provides a baseline score.

"Nobody is saying that value-added estimates tell the full story," said Timothy Daly, president of the New Teacher Project, a Brooklyn group that helps districts nationwide, including New York, recruit teachers. But it is "far more useful" than the current practice of "using one or two brief classroom visits by an administrator marking a checklist as an evaluation system."

Still, even proponents of value-added systems said publishing teacher names makes them nervous. "There are a lot of benefits to this approach, but the science of the methodology at this point isn't where it should be to attach teachers names to it," said Douglas Ready, a professor at Columbia University's Teachers College.

Write to Barbara Martinez at

Monday, October 11, 2010

Three Reasons Obama's Education Vision Fails

Nick Gillespie of the Reason Foundation provides 3 reasons why Obama's education vision fails:
President Barack Obama is making his bid to be "the education president." At the start of NBC's recent Education Nation summit in New York, Obama appeared on the Today Show and touted what he claimed were a wide-ranging set of reforms to improve America's K-12 schools.

Yet Obama's education vision deserves an F for at least three reasons:

1. Money Talks. Obama says that the educational system needs new ideas and more money. Despite a doubling in inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending since the early 1970s, student achievement is flat at best. But Obama is placing most of his bets on the money part. While he brags constantly about his Race to the Top initiative, in which states competed for $4 billion to fund innovative programs, he's spent more than $80 billion in no-strings-attached stimulus funds to maintain the educational status quo.

2. Choice Cuts. Candidate Obama said that he'd try any reform idea regardless of ideology. Yet one of his first education-related moves after taking office was to aid his Senate mentor, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), in killing a successful and popular D.C. voucher program that let low-income residents exercise the same choice Obama did in sending his daughters to private school.

3. The Unions Forever. The two largest teachers unions, The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, overwhelmingly supported Obama with their votes and their contributions. Some 95 percent of the groups' campaign contributions go to Democratic candidates and the NEA, spends more money on elections that Microsoft, ExxonMobil, Walmart, and the AFL-CIO combined. No wonder Obama's big talking point is that he wants to add 10,000 more teachers to public payrolls despite the fact that there are already more teachers per student than ever.

Reforming education may not be politically easy, but the solution is pretty simple: Give parents and students more ability to choose - and exit - schools. This works for every other sort of business and it works for higher education, too. There's no reason to think it wouldn't work for K-12 education.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

If Schools Were Like 'American Idol'...

Unless we measure success by how children perform, we'll have higher standards for pop stars than public schools.

From The Wall Street Journal
By Rupert Murdoch

Over the past few years, I have often complained about a hidebound culture that prevents many newspapers from responding to the challenges of new technology. There is, however, another hidebound American institution that is also finding it difficult to respond to new challenges: our big-city schools.

Today, for example, the United States is home to more than 2,000 dysfunctional high schools. They represent less than 15% of American high schools yet account for about half of our dropouts. When you break this down, you find that these institutions produce 81% of all Native American dropouts, 73% of all African-American dropouts, and 66% of all Hispanic dropouts.

At our grade schools, two-thirds of all eighth-graders score below proficient in math and reading. The average African-American or Latino 9-year-old is three grades behind in these subjects. Behind the grim statistics is the real story: lost opportunities, crushed dreams, and shattered lives. In plain English, we trap the children who need an education most in failure factories.

Last August, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that our students have "stagnated educationally." The College Board recently put this into global perspective when it reported that we've dropped from 1st to 12th place in the percentage of people between the ages of 25 to 34 who have a college degree. America is now in danger of producing a new generation that will be less educated than their parents.

Clearly it's not for any lack of money. Over the past three decades, we've nearly doubled spending on K-12 education in real terms. So President Obama was absolutely right to declare the other day that "we can't spend our way out of this problem." Which begs the question: How can we spend so much with so little to show for it?

The answer is that while the system is failing our children, it works very well for some adults. These adults include the leaders of the teachers unions. They include the politicians whom the unions reward with their cash and political support. They include the vast education bureaucracies. In business terms, we have a system that rewards the providers and punishes the customers.

Davis Guggenheim won an Academy Award for producing Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth." So you might think that the two of us don't have much in common. But his latest film on our public schools, "Waiting for 'Superman,'" brings home the way the status quo betrays our highest ideals and results in an almost criminal waste of human potential. On this issue, there is no light between us.

So how do we fix it? Clearly a big part of the answer is giving parents more choices for their kids. For choices to mean anything, however, parents also need transparency so they can make real comparisons.

The Los Angeles Times just gave us an excellent example of this kind of transparency when it published a database of about 6,000 third- through fifth-grade teachers ranked by their effectiveness in raising student test scores. If you are a mom with a son or daughter in one of these classrooms, you know this information is vital. Unfortunately, it's the kind of information that seldom sees the light of day.

The reason is that the adults who are doing well by this system don't want it out there. The local teachers union, for example, blasted the Times for what it called "the height of journalistic irresponsibility" for bringing this material to the public. My view is that American schoolchildren need more such irresponsibility.

Occasionally we hear the leaders of the teachers unions say they too support reform. But Michelle Rhee, the chancellor fighting to reform D.C. public schools, made a telling point recently during a televised exchange with the head of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten. Ms. Rhee was talking about the union's decision to slap her with a class-action grievance after she dismissed more than 200 bad teachers. "The bottom line," said Ms. Rhee, "is that if these people are ineffective, and if, as President Weingarten says, nobody wants ineffective teachers in the classroom, then you can't fight us every step of the way when we're moving in that direction."

We all know that good schools begin with good teachers. We also know there are many heroic teachers. Unfortunately, our system is set up to protect bad teachers rather than reward good teachers.

In the existing system, we have incentives for almost everything unrelated to performance (seniority, tenure, etc.) and zero incentive for adapting new technologies that could help learning inside and outside the classroom. On top of it all, we have chancellors, superintendents and principals who can't hire and fire based on performance.

We have tougher standards on "American Idol." And so long as we refuse to measure success by what our children are learning, we're going to have higher performance standards for pop stars than for public schools.

We all know the economic returns on a good education. That's true for societies as well as individuals. According to one study by McKinsey, if we had closed the gap in educational performance between ourselves and nations such as Finland and Korea, our GDP would have been as much as 16% higher in 2008. Imagine that kind of gain compounded over time, and you begin to appreciate why other nations are putting such a premium on their school systems.

The flip side is that there are also huge economic downsides for a society that consigns millions of its population to the margins of prosperity. When we allow the children of other people to fail or leave school without an education, they do not disappear. They become adults who cannot provide for themselves. And guess what? The costs will be borne by our children.

Many years ago, the great teacher and union leader Albert Shanker put it this way. "As long as there are no consequences if kids or adults don't perform, as long as the discussion is not about education and student outcomes, then we're playing a game as to who has the power."

It's time we stop playing power games—and begin ensuring that every boy and girl who enters a public school leaves with the same shot at the American Dream we insist on for our own sons and daughters.

Mr. Murdoch is chairman and CEO of News Corporation, which owns The Wall Street Journal. This article is adapted from his remarks this week to the Media Institute in Washington, D.C.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Unionized Rhode Island Teachers Refuse To Work 25 Minutes More Per Day, So Town Fires All Of Them

Go ahead and sleep. I make way more than your Dad.

A school superintendent in Rhode Island is trying to fix an abysmally bad school system.

Her plan calls for teachers at a local high school to work

25 minutes longer per day, each lunch with students once in a while, and help with tutoring. The teachers' union has refused to accept these apparently onerous demands.

The teachers at the high school make $70,000-$78,000, as compared to a median income in the town of $22,000. This exemplifies a nationwide trend in which public sector workers make far more than their private-sector counterparts (with better benefits).

The school superintendent has responded to the union's stubbornness by firing every teacher and administrator at the school.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Friday, July 24, 2009

Maintaining the Status Quo in Education

By David Kirkpatrick

Potential sources of reforming public education are the institutions of higher education. After all, virtually all of the professionals in the K-12 system are products of higher education, from at least four years for a bachelor's degree to qualify as a teacher to years more for advanced degrees and for the innumerable specialty degrees.

Yet higher education has not only not helped improve basic education, it has been a major roadblock.

More than a generation ago Martin Haberman in an article entitled "Twenty-Three Reasons Universities Can't Educate Teachers" wrote, "(T)here isn't a single example of school change university faculty have researched and advocated that is now accepted practice...Any status survey will reveal that the proverbial-third grade in Peoria grinds on pretty much as it did in 1910."

True then. True now. And it is probably safe to predict that it will be true tomorrow.

This has had at least the acquiescence of teacher unions, if not their outright approval, or they would try to change it.

Proof that unions are a major obstacle to reform, if proof is needed, came in Colorado when a series of reforms were introduced in the state legislature. These included alternative teacher certification, a pilot voucher program, privatization, special contracts and merit pay.

It would be unrealistic to expect a teacher union to endorse such a wide-ranging program. And the state education association did not do so. As might have been anticipated, it termed them "so-called" reforms and announced that it would oppose every one of them.

In Florida the teacher union opposed both master teacher and merit plans, showing its unanimity with other teacher unions across the nation to this day.

In California, teachers were pressured to not sign charter school petitions and to harass those who might circulate or try to sign such petitions. School districts willing to grant charters even faced lawsuits.

In New Jersey, home of one of the strongest state education associations in the nation, that union not only opposed any steps toward privatization but warned its members to look out for such dangerous moves as site-based management, allowing two teachers to work together in the same classroom, and even proposals to provide teachers with computers or telephones.

John I. Goodlad has written that "both the NEA and the strange notion that children need two adults at home but can stand only one at a time in a school."

It would be difficult to act much dumber than that. Teachers in their self-contaminated classrooms are the only professionals who consistently work in such isolation. Increasingly, here and there, some teachers have come to recognize that this is not necessarily "the way it's spozed to be,'as demonstrated by the fact that such classroom technology has not only gradually been introduced here and there since then but has often occurred not only with teacher acceptance but following their active encouragement.

Ironically, the more pressure is exerted on the system to change, and the more the unions are criticized, the more teachers take such criticism personally - a tendency the unions are happy to exploit."

As long as 35 years ago, In What's Best For the Children, Mario Fantini observed:

"(R)ank-and-file teachers, afraid of the external forces that are converging on them, turn increasingly to their professional organizations for protection. In return for this protection, the teachers give up their individually and their authority. This is delegated to a small group who will wage the protective war. All the rank and file need to do is to cooperate, to follow faithfully the suggestions of the central leadership group."

That is still true today, except fewer people speak of teacher groups as "professional organizations."

It can also be argued that the constant attacks on unions have actually strengthened them by frightening the teachers. The answer is to make unions unnecessary by implementing teacher independence and choice, which is why most charter schools and private schools are not organized, and why the unions oppose such teacher freedom...

Although, sadly, most schools of choice are not overly innovative either.

David W. Kirkpatrick is a champion of the school choice movement who also served as a senior officer of the National Education Assn (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the American Assn of University Professors (AAUP). He is a life member of the NEA, NEA-Retired, the PA State Education Assn (PSEA), PSEA-Retired, and the PA Assn of School Retirees (PASR). Co-founder, 1997, and first National Chairman, 1997-98, of Parents in Control (P-I-C), his current memberships include the Assn of Educators in Private Practice (AEPP), The American Assn of Educators (AAE), and the National Retired Teachers Assn Division of the American Assn of Retired Persons (NRTA-AARP).

A retired public educator, Kirkpatrick was an Easton (PA) Area School District high school history teacher and district social studies department chairman; and president of the Easton Area and Pennsylvania State Education Associations. He was a Distinguished Fellow with the Blum Center for Parental Freedom in Education, Marquette University, Milwaukee, from 1995 until the Center closed at the end of July 1999 and a Senior Fellow with the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, Pittsburgh, 1998-2000.