-By Larry Sand
National Education Association declares war, but finding allies could be difficult
Itâ€™s hardly a secret that the National Education Association is an organization that has had its political way for the past 35 or so years. However, voters are fed up with the unionâ€™s attempts to keep a failing public education system from being reformed and having massive debt foisted on them in the form of public employee pensions. In November, the populace voted flinty governors and no-nonsense legislators into state houses all over the country.
Clearly NEA, to maintain its hegemony, must now combat the reform fires that are spreading wildly from sea to shining sea. But according to teacher union watchdog Mike Antonucci, the megaunion is indeed going to war with not as much money as they once had. â€œâ€¦ after some 27 years of increases, NEA membership is down in 43 states. The union faces a $14 million budget shortfall, and the demand for funds from its Ballot Measure/Legislative Crises Fund is certain to exceed its supply. Even the national UniServ grants, which help pay for NEA state affiliate employees, will be reduced this year.â€
So, what will the war look like?
With whatever funds it can muster, NEA strategy is to stop legislation before it begins. Barring that, it will try get judges to overturn any legislation unfriendly to NEA. If they canâ€™t get judges to do their bidding, they will then try to elect friendlier judges, as is happening in Wisconsin today.
But can they stop the tidal wave? As we see in two other Antonucci posts, threat maps and under-reported stories, the scope and intensity may indeed overwhelm NEA.
NEAs latest gambit is to rouse the troops and regain public support by taking to the streets and trying to tie their plight to the Civil Rights movement. They have set up a new website where they proclaim that We are one. We are everywhere. And yesterday, unions held rallies across the country in an attempt to channel Martin Luther King who died 43 years ago in Memphis while supporting striking sanitation workers.
But the rallies were very tame and not well attended â€“ only 200 in Louisville and 300 in Cleveland, according to the AP. Even in Kingâ€™s home town of Atlanta, only about a thousand demonstrators showed up.
Is it possible that private sector union members are waking up to the fact that maybe â€œWe are not all oneâ€? Maybe they realize that those in the NEA and other public employee unions are better paid and have more perks than they do â€“ and that these extravagances are being paid for by taxpayers, which include those union members in the private sector.
Is it possible that many Americans realize that the NEA wouldnâ€™t hold anything for MLK? This is the union that by being virulently anti-school choice is doing everything within its mighty power to keep African-American children stuck in failing schools across America. Even the unionâ€™s former allies in the mainstream media are now in increasing numbers coming down on the side of choice.
Is it possible that the NEA and other public employee unions have exposed themselves as bullies who are detrimental to the country at large?
Is it possible that fewer people are being fooled by their hollow and abusive rhetoric?
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 â€“ a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues â€“ 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 teachersâ€™ unions, and the effect of unionism on teacher pay, comes to teachers from entities that have a specific agenda. Sandâ€™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 teachersâ€™ 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 â€“ Terry Moe of the Hoover Institution and former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, opposed the proposition – Donâ€™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 Whereâ€™s the Outrage? Conference in San Francisco, where he spoke about how charter school operators can best deal with teachersâ€™ 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 teachersâ€™ 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.
-By Warner Todd Huston
Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi has gone back to her order to stop Gov. Scott Walker’s union bill and rewritten it in an effort to assist unions and Democrats (including her Democratic Operative son) continue to ride the gravy train at the expense of the taxpayers.
Sumi, whose entire family seems to be up to their necks in union business and Democrat Party politics, issued an order to stop Walker’s efforts to curb the ability of government unions to demand outsized benefits immediately after the bill passed the Wisconsin state legislature.
The state, however, published the bill on schedule and the legislature began to implement it this week.
In response the compromised judge has amended her original order to warn of “sanctions” against anyone that would implement this bill in the interests of the people of the Badger State.
Naturally Wisconsin Democrats are pleased with this partisan act. Republicans are not as happy.
Sen. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Once again, one Dane County judge is doing everything she can to stand in the way of our efforts to improve the economy and create jobs. The fact that the prosecution didn’t even request an amended TRO makes it clear: this is judicial activism at its worst.”
“There are 17 branches of the Dane County Circuit Court. To say that any one of them has more authority to make laws in Wisconsin than the elected Legislature is ridiculous,” Sen. Fitzgerald said.
Last week we learned that Judge Sumi’s son is a union operative and runs a small consulting firm for Democrats in Wisconsin. We also learned that the judge’s husband is a big donor to Wisconsin’s Democrats.
It is clear that this compromised judge is desperate to help the far left continue its raiding of Wisconsin’s treasury.
Pursuant to Governor Scott Walker’s new rules, as of Monday the State of Wisconsin is no longer taking union dues out of the paychecks of government workers. The state is also charging more for these employee’s healthcare and pensions.
Even though there is still a question open of a compromised judge’s ruling to set aside the new law, the state is surging forward and implementing it anyway. Because of the legal confusion, some cities are not implementing the law.
The cessation of the state removing union dues will be a great blow to the government unions and will save the state millions of dollars in administrative costs.
Like many states, until this ruling Wisconsin automatically deducted union dues from the checks of state employees and deposited that money straight into the union’s bank accounts. This saved the unions millions of dollars because the union did not have to pay for the administration and accounting costs of taking dues. It also made sure that the unions automatically had their dues money given to them without having to rely on the union members to write a check for dues on their own.
This was all a great boon to the unions and to the Democrats that the unions constantly gave campaign contributions to.
Now, unions will be forced to rely on the members to write checks of their own to the unions and this always results in a large drop off in union dues collected by the unions as members find themselves reluctant to pay their dues. This is, of course, why the unions got their bought and paid for Democrat politicians to make laws that forced the state to remove dues from worker’s pay checks in the first place.
But no matter that the cessation of this dues removal practice will hurt the unions — which itself is a good thing — it is a good thing that this practice has stopped for it is ultimately a very un-American practice to force the state to remove dues for the benefit of unions. It is un-American to force the taxpayers to help unions get rich and to foot the administrative costs of the policy.
So, kudos to Scott Walker. Let the unions collect their own dues.