You believe every lie your union tells you, don’t you?

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

I’ve been talking about the new right to work law in Michigan and the fall out from it in these two posts:

Teachers Union puts up smoke screen while they deny workers their rights

MEA attempts to ruin credit of 8,000 teachers

I just can’t believe the lies every time I read an article on this issue.

With the teachers given a 31-day window in August to decide, representatives for the state’s largest public-sector union are imploring them to stay or risk losing their clout in how schools are operated.

“If I don’t stand up and stay in my union, then we don’t have a voice,” said Chandra Madafferi, a high school health teacher and president of a 400-member local in the Detroit suburb of Novi.

Hmmm, OK. Lets read these two posts again:

WHY TEACHERS HAVE NO VOICE

Unions do what they want, without majority of teacher input

And, how about this one?

MEA attempts to ruin credit of 8,000 teachers

And tell me again what “voice” teachers are giving up by cancelling their union membership and keeping an extra $1,000 for themselves? They didn’t even have a voice to begin with, so how can they give it up?

A significant number of dropouts would deliver a financial blow to labor in a state where it has been historically dominant. Previously, employees in union-covered jobs were required to pay fees for bargaining and other services even if they didn’t want to belong.

“There is a lot at stake,” said Lee Adler, a lawyer who teaches labor issues at Cornell University and represents firefighters’ unions in New York. Public-sector unions, he said, “don’t have a history of being able to do massive recruitment of members who will voluntarily pay dues.”

Ah yes. It’s not actually about giving teachers a voice, it’s about….union dues! What I love the most about the this law is that it doesn’t allow the “collective bargaining fee” that non union members were required to pay previously, which was suspiciously similar to the actual amount of dues for a member.

Bingo – the reason I want teachers to pay the dues independently. If recruitment is much harder with voluntary dues, then maybe the union will actually have to change in ways that will attract teachers for the right reasons. Unions have been spending taxpayer dollars at will for too long!

With contracts covering roughly three-quarters of the 1,100 school workers’ bargaining units expiring, the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity bought a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press with a form that teachers could send to their union to drop out. A free-market think tank has mailed reminder postcards about the Aug. 31 deadline.

“We are making sure that every eligible member who wants out of the union has the ability to do so,” said Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy for the Mackinac Center, which has worked in the Legislature to limit collective bargaining and promote charter schools.

Union officials charge that the group’s “desperate” campaign is aimed at union busting, not worker freedom.

“This is an organization bent on the destruction of not just this union but frankly of the public education system we all believe in,” said Doug Pratt, the state education association’s director of member and political engagement.

So while some groups are helping to provide information to help union members make their own decision (because remember the union was not educating their members adequately about the 31 day exit period) which actually does equate to worker freedom – MEA says the group is destroying public education as we see it.

I’m sorry first of all, they are simply informing teachers of their rights (something the union fails to do, but claims to protect teachers) which has nothing to do with destroying public education.

You know what is destroying public education? The MEA disenfranchising 8,000 teachers for forcing them to pay dues that the state already decided aren’t required. What has MEA done lately to improve public education. Alot of Nothing!

In Novi, Madafferi, 40, said she’s worried that some younger teachers won’t see the value of union membership. She said she has worked to explain the problem with “freeloading,” or benefiting from union negotiations without paying dues. Members pay up to $640 annually to the state union and $182 to the National Education Association, along with local dues.

As I said in this post, “A free-rider problem? Because workers benefit from the union’s contract negotiations and don’t have to pay. Someone PLEASE enlighten me about how the “collective bargaining fee” is calculated. If you are negotiating on behalf of 100 or 10,000 teachers do you really do more work? Free-rider problem, what a bunch of absolute baloney!”

Novi special education teacher Susan Bank, 60, said she plans to save the money, having gone several years without a raise.

“What am I getting for the over $1,000 in union dues I’m paying?” Bank said. “Now that we have the new law, the rules of the game have changed.”

Labor experts say Michigan unions will have to find other ways to demonstrate their value even though they still have collective bargaining power. In neighboring Wisconsin, more than one-third of teachers dropped their union membership after a 2011 law effectively ended collective bargaining for most public employees. But in right-to-work Alabama, nearly 80 percent of teachers voluntarily belong to the union and pay dues, said Adler.

Exactly. Unions in Michigan will have to demonstrate their value, just like any other benefit. The article notes that in right-to-work state Alabama, nearly 80% of teachers voluntarily pay their dues. Maybe MI needs to visit AL. I would say union presence is better in right-to-work states where the organizers actually have to work to get members voluntarily, instead of tax payers handing over cash directly to the union for doing very little work.

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MEA attempts to ruin credit of 8,000 teachers

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

In my last post, I discussed the new Michigan right to work law.

By March of 2014, a year after the law went into effect, we have some news. Remember the teachers who filed lawsuits over the timing of their request to leave the union?

As a result, the Mackinac Center, a free market think tank in Michigan, filed a lawsuit against the MEA for attempting to force teachers to stay in the union and to continue to pay dues against their will.

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed the union informed the teachers named in the lawsuit that they were no longer members and back dues were no longer being sought.

Those suits were settled in the plaintiff’s favor, but in the words of the article:

“There is nothing unique about the situations of Ms. Chanski and Mr. Arthur, yet the MEA insists on treating some 8,000 other teachers differently by threatening to ruin their credit by turning them over to a collections agency,” Wright said. “We think the MEA should comply fully with Michigan law and realize that teachers are able to make up their own minds about whether or not they see a benefit to being in the union.”

The MEA admitted last Wednesday during a hearing at MERC that it has created a policy to go after about 8,000 teachers who so far have refused to pay dues in cash or give the union credit card or bank account information as part of its “e-dues” scheme. A federal appeals court rejected the MEA’s attempts last year to block a state law prohibiting school districts from deducting union dues as a payroll function.

“What public school employees who are still under a union contract have to ask themselves is what is different here,” Wright said. “They should ask themselves why the MEA was willing to let these two people go, but appear perfectly willing to stick it to anyone else who attempts to exercise their worker freedom rights.”

MEA admitted that 1,500 teachers correctly followed the process of declining union membership and dues in the 31 day window in August. However, another 8,000 have refused to pay cash or give over credit or debit card info to have the union enforce dues payment that was just made legal to refuse to pay. They have devised a plan to to “go after” 8,000 teachers – I’m sorry, this is supposed to be a teachers union, that protects teachers? And they are attempting to impact 8,000 credit scores for what? To forcibly collect dues that the state has declared teachers don’t have to pay?

Do you see what I mean now when I tell you that unions say one thing and mean yet another? This proves yet again that unions are only in this business to collect dues (they have to pay their national talking heads 500K a year after all) and not about protecting teachers and definitely not about kids.

My public school was not a quality education

My public school was not a quality education

RI Mayoral AcadmiesI no longer live in the community that I went to K-12 school in but I am still connected to many folks through FB. This morning a Warwick, RI city councilor posted an article I did not agree with, making a comment about how she was against the Mayoral Academies. I thanked her for the post, but told her I disagreed with her position. My experience at my high school was not quality and here are some of the various reasons why:

  • There was no direction. We took classes but it didn’t mean anything. There were some outside the box classes, I was part of a marine program once a week that I left the building for, there was a business/finance class I took, we had some history electives I liked where we actually read novels of people in history. Those made sense, whereas “history class” did not. I made no connection between my classes and my life.
  • There are no guidance. In fact my guidance counselor was the worst. and guess what? She was also the head of the RI Guidance Counselors Association for a period of time. What a union waste of time. Never mind that there was no guidance in terms of what you might want to do with your life, but guidance was basically just college applications. My counselor was obnoxious and rude and did not actually help me. I had a healthy list of 7 or so schools, with at least one reach school, one safety school and several match schools. My reach school was GWU. She told me I’d never get in.
    • First – that’s a terrible thing to tell a student.
    • Second, if you are going say something that abrasive to a student you MUST offer some alternatives. I had two schools in Wash. DC on my list. She “nixed” one of them. She NEVER suggested any other DC schools. Could I have done more research, sure. But at the college fair I went to, I only saw those two schools in DC (GWU and Trinity U.) She should have asked me if I knew of others schools in DC besides GWU that I may want to apply to. Because maybe I could have gotten into UMD, or American, or Marymount or something else
    • Third, She never talked with me about what I was interested in or help me find any other schools that might have fit my needs.
  • I graduated with a B+/A- grades and had no idea what I wanted to do. As I ended up in more a social service field – why couldn’t more of the classes fill those topics?
  • The best teachers were the newest ones, which a few exceptions. One of my worst teachers was a senior teacher and he just talked all day. I don’t even remember doing any work. Years later when I returned to get involved in the community, turns out this teacher is the President of the Warwick Teachers Union. What a croc! You want to know why I don’t like teachers unions, because they have leadership that I know was a terrible teacher! What kind of representation is that?
  • I never really learned how to write. I was baffled in senior year English why I couldn’t get a higher grade. I just didn’t learn to write in the way the teacher had expected. All I could do was write in a research based manner. Look something up, and regurgitate it onto the paper. I never learned any analysis or persuasion. I didn’t figure this out until college, where I quickly figured it out and managed to learn how to write in other styles.
  • I could go on but it actually is making me sad how much high school didn’t help me. If you really want to know more, ask.

Parents rally at Alabama Capitol for school choice

Hundreds of people participate in a National School Choice Week rally as they make their way up the sidewalk along Dexter avenue to the Alabama State Capitol, Wednesday Jan. 28, 2015, in Montgomery, Ala. Parents and students rallied on the lawn of the Alabama Capitol Wednesday, urging state politicians to provide more publicly funded education options.(AP Photo/Hal Yeager)

Hundreds of people participate in a National School Choice Week rally as they make their way up the sidewalk along Dexter avenue to the Alabama State Capitol, Wednesday Jan. 28, 2015, in Montgomery, Ala. Parents and students rallied on the lawn of the Alabama Capitol Wednesday, urging state politicians to provide more publicly funded education options.(AP Photo/Hal Yeager)

 In this last post, Alabama Educators Association helping or hurting students? it was noted that only 54% of African American boys are graduating in Alabama.  A  recent study reported:

WalletHub study recently ranked the state’s school systems the third-worst in the nation. Only Mississippi and the District of Columbia were worse.

WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of this year’s best and worst school systems, using a dozen key metrics, including dropout rates, test scores and bullying incident rates to assess the quality of education in each state. It ranked Alabama 49th overall.

In this post, AEA spews lies in response to “School Choice” March, it is clear that the union thinks more money will fix the problem and they support the status quo – 49th in education and 54% graduation rate for African American boys. 

Parents want change, legislators want change, but union leaders don’t. Remember, union leaders represent teachers – not kids, or parents, or communities. And they buy legislators to keep their pockets full. 

Last Wednesday, chanting and carrying signs saying, “School Choice Now,” parents and students rallied on the lawn of the Alabama Capitol on Wednesday urging state politicians to provide more publicly funded education options.

The school choice rally came as Republicans prepare to make a push for charter schools in the upcoming legislative session. House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, speaking during the event, promised to pass the legislation in the session that begins in March.

Hubbard said too many parents are forced each morning to send their children to schools that aren’t the best fit for their children.

“They deserve access to good quality education, whether public or private, no matter where they live, no matter their zip code … no matter their income,” Hubbard said.

Dalphne Wilson of Montgomery said the Accountability Act scholarship lets her send her daughter to a private Catholic school that her son already attended.

Wilson said she thought the teachers at her daughter’s previous public school were doing the best they could, but they were dealing with myriad challenges every day, including unmotivated students.

“Now, she’s surrounded by high expectations,” Wilson said.

We need to work on helping to motivate our students better through school counseling and practices that engage our students at high levels. But until that time comes, parents need options today, right now, to send their children to school that work for them. Every single day a student doesn’t receive the education he/she deserves and needs is a wasted day of education that these kids will never regain. 

The crowd was made up of primarily African-American families. Duncan Kirkwood, director at Alabama Black Alliance for Educational Options, said too often minority students are zoned for schools that have historically underperformed.

“Every child has a different need and parents, even if they don’t have access to money, should have access to options,” said Kirkwood said.

In perhaps a preview of the legislative fights past and future, marchers passed by the Alabama Education Association building where a group waved signs in counter protest. The state teachers’ organization has been at odds for the past four years with the education policies pushed by the new GOP-supermajority. AEA officials said public school funds are too limited in Alabama to be drained off to private schools or new charter schools.

“Parents can choose to send their children to faith-based schools. They can choose to send their children to private schools. We don’t ask the taxpayers to fund that choice,” AEA President Anita Gipson said.

Diverting money from public schools to private hands…you what really strikes me about that? Parents who send their kids to a non public school are still paying their fare share of the taxes to support public schools their kids are not attending. That’s like saying, “Oh, I gave you a defective car? Oh I’m sorry, but you need to finish paying for that car and buy a new one, there is just nothing else I can do if you want to have a car to drive.” While not all charter schools are successful, plenty of them are. Parents clearly want choices. Alabama is about to give it to them. 

A school that isn’t teaching you what you need to know, or a college where you can’t do the work?

Prior posts:

This sounds like pontificating on your part…

You know what is on its last legs? Status quo education

Here is the next in my series of refuting this post of Anthony Cody’s:

He writes:

New and Improved Standards and Tests: Since 2010 we have heard that the answer to the terrible impact of No Child Left Behind was to create better tests, aligned with the new Common Core standards. Modern technology would allow the tests to be taken on computers, which would cleverly adjust themselves to students’ ability levels. These would be tests worth teaching to. Now the tests have arrived, and there are three huge problems. First, the tests themselves are confusing and unworkable, leading a growing number of states to reject them. Second, the tests require a huge investment in technology, since they must be taken online on computers. Third, when students take these tests, proficiency rates are plummeting, leading many to question their legitimacy. How can a test that labels upwards of 80% of students of color below proficient be considered a tool for advancing their civil rights? And when these tests are used to determine who receives a high school diploma, the results could be devastating. When a fourth grader can deliver a devastating statement like this, the Common Core tests cannot long survive.

If the tests and the class room material is mismatched then work on fixing it. Whats the alternative, no tests? I agree there is some sort of bizarre conspiracy among test makers and publishers but we need some kind of test. Why? Same reason we need some kind of standards. Because we are graduating students all over the country with varying levels of actual education. Case in point:

One of my coworkers in Massachusetts (yes I know the “education state”) said that where she grew up in MA, she was in the top of her class. But when she graduated and went to college, she couldn’t do the work and had to take remedial classes. Why would any student who was in the top of her class in high school expect to be in remedial classes in college? That would have to mean that the educational standards in her school district were awfully low. Is that what she deserves?

Maybe that’s why students don’t finish college, because perhaps they went to a school where they thought they were doing their best, where they thought they were getting the “American Dream” education and they did not. Worst of all, you won’t even notice that you are not getting a top quality education until it’s way past too late.

Huge investment in technology. I get that it is expensive and alot of smaller rural districts have trouble funding it. Even normal sized districts with the money still have to decide between big lease contracts or purchasing and software is expensive….but it has to be done and we just have to figure out how to do it. Students need access to computers and the internet to stay on par with the generational changes and to continue to engage students in ways that they expect to. School without computers is boring and kids know it.

Proficiency rates are plummeting because the tests are new and there may need to be some adjustments. But maybe, the kids WEREN’T learning as much as they should have the the tests are point that out. Blame the school district, the curriculum department for that problem. Classic defensive move to deflect from taking responsibility for poor educational standards – is to say that the tests are bad, our kids aren’t underperforming by that much! Maybe, they are. Best to get them on track NOW, ASAP. We’ve already wasted too much of their education.

He writes:

How can a test that labels upwards of 80% of students of color below proficient be considered a tool for advancing their civil rights?

Well, Anthony, I’m not going to speak for the folks whom you’ve taken this reference, but in my opinion, it demonstrates in concrete evidence that we are teaching those students curriculum that is NOT rigorous enough to expect them to compete with every other child. It proves we need to be doing more to properly educate those children. They have not been afforded their civil right to an excellent education.

And when these tests are used to determine who receives a high school diploma, the results could be devastating

This is true, but the heart of the argument doesn’t have anything to do with the tests themselves. It has to do with whether or not tests should be used to determine a diploma. However, if these students may not fare well in college because of their subpar education in their district, maybe one more year will help them achieve that. Or maybe not, maybe their best bet is to….I don’t even know – go back to a school that isn’t teaching you what you need to know, or a college where you can’t do the work? What would you choose?

That’s great that the child was brave enough to speak to the Board of Ed. More students should do it. But her case simply states that the curriculum and tests need to be better aligned, they don’t say anything about the basic use of tests in general.

It’s interesting Anthony, that you offer no solutions, simply hand picked situations that you think are going to sway some of your readers, who hopefully can do their own research after reading your work. However, you seem to strive to keep the “status quo” of course the educational establishment is doing just fine as it is.

 

This sounds like pontificating on your part…

I started refuting Anthony Cody’s post in this blog: You know what is on its last legs? Status quo education , Now I continue with his next claim…

Charter schools: We were told that charter schools were where innovation was happening. Freed from the dual constraints of district management and union contracts, these schools were going to show the laggards in public schools how it should be done. Some even claimed to have “figured out” how to overcome the effects of poverty on student achievement. So the billionaire geniuses of corporate reform insisted that all barriers and regulations on charters be removed or minimized. This requirement was written into Race to the Top and NCLB waivers. Want federal money? Better open the door for charter schools. Want special grants from the Gates Foundation? Open the doors to charters in your district.

But now charter proponents admit they have no secret sauce beyond excluding students who are difficult or expensive to educate. Their plan is to “serve the strivers,” and let the rest flounder in an ever-more-burdened public system. The states where regulations are weakest, like Ohio, have charters that perform worse than the public schools, and even the self-described fan of free-markets, Margaret Raymond, lead researcher at CREDO, recently concluded that using market choice to improve schools has failed. In the state of Washington, where Bill Gates and other reform titans spent millions to pass a law allowing charter schools there, the first charter school to open is struggling to stay afloat, having suffered massive staff turnover in its first year. How ironic that 13 years after the corporate reformers labeled their flagship of reform “No Child Left Behind,” that now their leaders are left defending leaving behind the very children they claimed their project would save.

This sounds like pontificating on your part….Can you source this exact language? “But now charter proponents admit they have no secret sauce beyond excluding students who are difficult or expensive to educate.” I’d like to see it. Just because you say it or wrote it does not make it so. (Thought wouldn’t you love it if you could be right for once?)

Yes, there are charters that don’t perform as well as their traditional public schools. Apparently, though I have not seen the evidence or proof myself, some charters expel or exclude some students. But that is NOT a characteristic nationwide. In fact they traditionally operate themselves in areas to serve low income underserved children. You want to talk about expulsions? Why don’t you check on the school discipline policies (or lack thereof) in all of your traditionally public schools and then come back and talk to be about charters expelling.  Take a look at the movement happening in state legislatures nation-wide because of the school suspension issues in ALL schools. Instead of addressing the fact that status quo education policies, including the ineffective school discipline procedures, that are going on in traditional public schools you’re just trying to draw attention elsewhere. Why don’t you clean up your own house?

 You20141105_193833‘ve mentioned Ohio and California. What about all the other charters? Were those the only ones you can find that were under performing? I wish I could point to only  2 states where traditional public schools were underperforming – unfortunately that’s not the case. What about KIPP school? Democracy Prep? Big Picture Learning  Schools? We have some stellar charters here in GA – Drew Charter and Ivy Prep.

 Also, I’ll have you know that I believed that charters were started to try new education strategies for public schools to learn from. Well, I was informed this fall by Howard  Fuller himself, a father of charter schools in MN that charters were not started to test out new ideas for traditional public schools (though I still believe this is a goal we  should strive for), but that they were created simply to offer parents and students an alternative to their only choice of a public school, which may not be meeting student  needs.

 But feel free to keep writing nonsense, because it gives me plenty of material to work with.

How do anti-reformers blatantly ignore success?

Joel Klein’s new book, “Lessons of Hope: How to Fix our Schools” is on my holiday gift request list so I have not read it yet. However, after reading two opposing book reviews I am more at a loss than ever.

How is it possible that two different people have these two views of the same book?

Here is a segment from

Upon Klein’s departure in 2010, scholars from Harvard, the University of Virginia, and Research Alliance for New York City Schools weighed in on Klein’s tenure. They concluded that his reforms had significantly improved teacher quality in high-poverty schools, and had significantly improved student academic performance compared with a control group of students elsewhere in the state.

The benefit of distance makes results under Klein look even more impressive. Within the past month, two rigorous, gold standard studies showed that Klein’s controversial decisions to close failing schools and experiment with new approaches delivered gains in poor kids’ college enrollment and compensation for individual teachers.

Here is a segment from John Thompson:

In perhaps the most inexplicable passage in his book, Klein cites Anthony Bryk’s finding that school improvement requires trusting relationships. Because each person or group involved in school improvement is dependent on the actions of the others, Bryk explained that teachers, principals, parents, students and administrators must work together and build trust in each other. How that principle is compatible with Klein’s brass-knuckled approach is beyond me.

… Inevitably, Klein’s accountability system would reward some schools merely because they did well with the lucky hand they were dealt. Others would be punished for low performance and further damaged because bureaucrats were incapable of recognizing the full set of challenges that they faced.

My question as a public citizen and a person looking to advance education to ensure every student has a quality education is – Did Klein’s strategy work? Dmitri gave specific examples as to where Klein’s practices worked and John performed a literal research report on Klein’s book but didn’t tell me anything about the results (or even lackthereof) of Klein’s approach.

John also seemed to glaze over these tidbits that were certainly impactful for me, as I saw absolutely no mention of the havoc that union-sponsored behavior takes on school, teachers, parents, students & the public.

From Dmitri’s post:

Klein experienced bureaucratic inertia early in his career, when he taught sixth grade mathematics in Queens. Klein asked for permission to work with the students’ parents after school to help them understand what their children were learning. The response back was: “If you do it, the parents will expect the other teachers to do it, and they won’t want to, so they will resent you.”

This same deadening impulse met Klein decades later when he became Chancellor in New York. As he recalls, “The guiding principle was that rules, rather than trust, were the best way to run a school.” On his first day, Klein asked about a light on his phone. A secretary from the previous administration answered: “Oh, ignore that. It’s just an angry parent. If we leave it on hold long enough she’ll go away.”

Schools in poor neighborhoods did poorly under this regime. They suffered thousands of violent crimes, atrocious dropout rates, and decrepit buildings with major plumbing problems.

More, unspeakable truth from Dmitri’s post:

Wealthy New Yorkers asked for specific student, teacher, and principal placements, and reacted with rage when Klein demurred. For example, Klein met early in his tenure with three principals from the East Side (where Fariña had served as a principal).

These principals told Klein that the worst thing he had done was “sent us excessed teachers from another school.” When Klein responded that the contract required him to give those teachers jobs, the principals said: “In the past, we never got the excessed teachers, because everyone knew our community wouldn’t tolerate them.” Klein asked whose kids deserved those teachers, and the principals answered: “That’s your problem. Just don’t send them to us.”