Liberty News

-By Larry Sand

In addition to online learning, Democrat’s abandonment of their traditional union allies could put an end to the educational status quo and decimate the teachers unions

In my October 18th post, I wrote about Terry Moe’s book Special Interest: Teachers Unions and America’s Public Schools. I specifically addressed that part of the book in which he builds a scenario for the eventual undoing of the teachers unions. One of the two ways he claims this will happen is via technology, in the form of online learning. The other route to marginalization is the realization by Democrats that education is really a civil rights issue and that they are morally bound to get on board with reform and choice. By adopting this position, they will be abandoning their longtime political allies – the teachers unions.

As with the rapid ascent of online learning, Moe’s second nail in the unions’ coffin is picking up speed. In a recent Huffington Post entry, Joy Resmovits addresses the “new education lobby.”

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-By Larry Sand

A new study claims that public school teachers are overpaid. Are they? Depends.

An ongoing whine from teachers unions and their fellow travelers is that public school teachers don’t earn enough money. But according to Andrew Biggs, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute scholar and Jason Richwine, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, it is just not true. In fact, in a recently released study, they find that teachers are overpaid. Typically teachers have many perks like excellent healthcare and pension packages which aren’t counted as “income.” Armed with facts, charts and a bevy of footnotes, the authors make a very good case for their thesis. For example, they claim,

“Workers who switch from non-teaching jobs to teaching jobs receive a wage increase of roughly 9 percent, while teachers who change to non-teaching jobs see their wages decrease by approximately 3 percent.
“When retiree health coverage for teachers is included, it is worth roughly an additional 10 percent of wages, whereas private sector employees often do not receive this benefit at all.
“Teachers benefit strongly from job security benefits, which are worth about an extra 1 percent of wages, rising to 8.6 percent when considering that extra job security protects a premium paid in terms of salaries and benefits.
“Taking all of this into account, teachers actually receive salary and benefits that are 52 percent greater than fair market levels.”

Needless to say, the usual suspects are none too pleased with the report. A teacher-blogger going by New York City Educator calls his piece, “‘That’s Just Mean’: Bullies at the Heritage Foundation.” Okay, whatever.

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-By Larry Sand

Cindy Sheehan, Code Pink and a band of fringe groups have joined the California Teachers Association protest in Sacramento

We are now in the midst of California Teachers Association’s desperation week or as they are calling it “state of emergency.” At the crux of the issue is that Governor Jerry Brown will unveil his revised budget on May 16, and deep cuts to the K-12 education budget could mean widespread teacher layoffs as early as next month. Californians are getting heavy doses of union demagoguery this week, as Brown works to forge a deal with Republicans who oppose any tax hikes.

As I wrote recently, there are many other ways to solve educational budgetary problems without raising taxes. However, none of my proposed solutions are acceptable to CTA because the union insists on maintaining the status quo lest its power be threatened in any way.

As CTA was making final plans for their week long protest, someone crashed their party — none other than Cindy I-am-sorry-but-if-you-believe-the-newest-death-of-OBL-you’re-stupid Sheehan decided to cash in on CTA’s event, figuring she could tag on to a group of sympathetic fellow travelers. (Ms. Sheehan, lest you forget, is a peace activist best known for her for obsessive hatred of George Bush, who set up camp near the former president’s Texas home to protest our involvement in the Iraq War.) Then, the radical Code Pink group and a few other fringe groups joined Ms. Sheehan.

While there were some arrests in the Capitol rotunda on Monday, it was a mostly uneventful day– marching, placards, etc. The fringies and CTA factions mingled briefly before splitting apart.

However, by Tuesday there was much more commingling of the tribes. While much of the CTA crowd tried to dissociate from the Code Pinkers et al, not all did (as you can see by the photos courtesy of Sacramento reporter Amanda Morello.) The teachers, mostly wearing “We are one” t-shirts, carried signs with predictable slogans like “Tax the Rich.” The fringies were a bit more strident, with one of their signs bleating “Outlaw the rich.” (Seems as if the two signs cancel each other out. How can you tax a group you want to outlaw? But I digress.)

By all news accounts, Wednesday was quieter. Perhaps the protesters are resting up for the big finale this Friday when teachers from all over the state will have local rallies where their strident demands will echo from the Mexican border to the Redwood Forests.

You might be wondering why teachers, who make up a sizable part of the CTA faction, are in Sacramento during the time that they are supposed to be teaching children. The answer is that many teachers are not as dedicated as they’d have you believe. As such, this week, thousands of children will have substitutes. And all this is happening the week many students are taking their yearly standardized tests.

But, from a financial standpoint, the taxpayers are covered. CTA has devoted over $1 million to pay for the subs.

In an unprecedented move, the Los Angeles Unified School District has buckled to union demand and will close all LA schools early on Friday, so that teachers can leave their classrooms and protest. Again, so much for children coming first.

And then yesterday, UTLA President A.J. Duffy released the following statement:

It has come to our attention, through recent actions and the rumor mill, that students in many of our high schools and possibly middle schools may plan walkouts for Friday, May 13, the day of our State of Emergency actions.

It is critical for all of our teachers to understand that we cannot encourage or condone such activity, as it could put our students in harm’s way.

Having said that, we in no way want to dampen the ardor of our students, their parents, or the community in their desire to step up and participate in actions and activities in pursuit of preserving public education and the jobs of their hard-working teachers and health and human services professionals.

Bottom line, do not encourage or agitate for walkouts, but if our students decide to do this, get out of the way and let them do their thing. Do not accompany them on these walk-outs, and trust that the authorities will protect them.

Talk about a mixed message. First we hear the union boss say we cannot encourage or condone but in the next breath we hear we in no way want to dampen the ardor of our students.

Can’t you just feel the nudge and see the wink as Duffy says this?

Children, you see, are the best weapon the teachers unions have. Trotted out at the right time, kids can make the unions appear as if they really care about them.

Oh please.
Larry Sand began his teaching career in New York in 1971. Since 1984, he has taught elementary school as well as English, math, history and ESL in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he also served as a Title 1 Coordinator. Retired in 2009, he is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues – information teachers will often not get from their school districts or unions.

CTEN was formed in 2006 because a wide range of information from the more global concerns of education policy, education leadership, and education reform, to information having a more personal application, such as professional liability insurance, options of relationships to teachers’ unions, and the effect of unionism on teacher pay, comes to teachers from entities that have a specific agenda. Sand’s comments and op-eds have appeared in City Journal, Associated Press, Newsweek, Townhall Magazine, Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union Tribune, Los Angeles Daily News, San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register and other publications. He has appeared on numerous broadcast news programs in Southern California and nationally.

Sand has participated in panel discussions and events focusing on education reform efforts and the impact of teachers’ unions on public education. In March 2010, Sand participated in a debate hosted by the non-profit Intelligence Squared, an organization that regularly hosts Oxford-style debates, which was nationally broadcast on Bloomberg TV and NPR, as well as covered by Newsweek. Sand and his teammates – Terry Moe of the Hoover Institution and former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, opposed the proposition – Don’t Blame Teachers Unions For Our Failing Schools. The pro-union team included Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. In August 2010, he was on a panel at the Where’s the Outrage? Conference in San Francisco, where he spoke about how charter school operators can best deal with teachers’ unions. This past January he was on panels in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Mateo in support of National School Choice week.

Sand has also worked with other organizations to present accurate information about the relationship between teachers and their unions, most recently assisting in the production of a video for the Center for Union Facts in which a group of teachers speak truthfully about the teachers’ unions.

CTEN maintains an active and strong new media presence, reaching out to teachers and those interested in education reform across the USA, and around the world, with its popular Facebook page, whose members include teachers, writers, think tankers, and political activists. Since 2006, CTEN has experienced dramatic growth.

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