Tag Archives: democrats

Workers of the World, Your Rights!

By Larry Sand (follow on Twitter)

LOS ANGELES – Unknown to many employees throughout the country – especially in non-right-to-work states – they have a right to not belong to a union.

This year, June 23rd – 29th is being dedicated to informing America’s wage earners of their union membership options. This project, National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW), is spearheaded by the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) and the Association of American Educators (AAE).

The idea for this undertaking came about in the summer of 2012 when NPRI, a non-partisan think tank based in Las Vegas, launched a small-scale campaign to let local teachers know that they could opt out of their union, the Clark County Education Association, by submitting written notice from July 1st to July 15th.

The reaction was stunning. Teachers thanked NPRI for sharing that information. Hundreds of teachers wanted to leave CCEA, each for their own unique reasons, but didn’t know it was possible or forgot because of the narrow and inconvenient drop window. Empowered by the information NPRI shared, over 400 teachers opted out by submitting written notice and over 400 more left CCEA and weren’t replaced by a union member.

The U.S. is comprised of 24 “right-to-work” states which grant workers a choice whether or not to belong to a union. In the other 26 and Washington, D.C., they don’t have to belong but must still pay the portion of union dues that goes toward collective bargaining and other non-political union-related activities. The dissenters who select this “agency fee” option typically do so because they don’t like that about one-third of their dues goes for political spending. Even though over 40 percent of union households vote Republican, over 90 percent of union largess goes to Democrats and liberal causes. (There is an exemption for religious objectors; if an employee is successful in attaining that status, they don’t have to pay any money to the union, but must donate a full dues share to an approved charity.)

As president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, I am well aware of teachers’ frustrations. We have been providing information to educators about their rights since 2006, and thousands have exercised their right to resign from their teachers union in the Golden State. It is important to note that different unions in different states have specific opt-out periods during which a worker can exercise their right to leave. In many states, one not only has to resign, but also must ask for a rebate of the political portion of their dues every year during a specified – and frequently very narrow – window of time.

To be clear, NEFW is not about denying anyone the right to belong to a union, but rather about letting employees know their options and providing them with facts that they can use to make an informed decision. Unions are threatened when workers choose to opt out, and typically accuse dissidents of being “free riders” or freeloaders. But, if employees don’t want the services that the union has to offer, they have no choice but to accept them because the union demands exclusivity. As I wrote recently, quoting Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk,

Unions object that right-to-work is actually “right-to-freeload.” The AFL-CIO argues “unions are forced by law to protect all workers, even those who don’t contribute financially toward the expenses incurred by providing those protections.” They contend they should not have to represent workers who do not pay their “fair share.”

It is a compelling argument, but untrue. The National Labor Relations Act does not mandate unions exclusively represent all employees, but permits them to electively do so. (Emphasis added.) Under the Act, unions can also negotiate “members-only” contracts that only cover dues-paying members. They do not have to represent other employees.

The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly on this point. As Justice William Brennan wrote in Retail Clerks v. Lion Dry Goods, the Act’s coverage “is not limited to labor organizations which are entitled to recognition as exclusive bargaining agents of employees … ‘Members only’ contracts have long been recognized.”

As Sherk says, while unions don’t have to represent all employees, they do so voluntarily to eliminate any competition. So instead of “free rider,” a better term would be “forced rider.” Teacher union watchdog Mike Antonucci explains,

The very first thing any new union wants is exclusivity. No other unions are allowed to negotiate on behalf of people in the bargaining unit. Unit members cannot hire their own agent, nor can they represent themselves. Making people pay for services they neither asked for nor want is a “privilege” we reserve for government, not for private organizations. Unions are freeloading on those additional dues.

One final thought: If unions are so beneficial for workers – as they keep telling us – why must they force people to pay for their service?

I never have received a response to that question. Maybe because there is no good answer. Something for all of us to ponder during National Employee Freedom Week.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, 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.

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Filed under Association of American Educators, Teacher Unions

Video: Chicago History Teacher Paul Horton on Common Core and Corporate Collusion

We are cross-posting this piece from Christel Swasey of Common Core: Education Without Representation. Common Core is a perfect example of crony-capitalism. Common Core is the final marriage between education companies and our government. 

Today, Alisa and I spoke with Chicago History teacher Paul Horton about Common Core and his group, Citizens Against Corporate Collusion.  A few highlights:

1.  What’s wrong with high stakes testing?

2.  How does Common Core turn teacher artisans into teacher widgets?

3.  Dept. of Ed Secretary Arne Duncan graduated from the high school where Horton teaches; what does Horton say about Sec. Duncan?

4.  Why does Pearson Company stand to face legal trouble?

5.  What does Horton see Bill Gates doing Common Core pushing for?

6.  Why are Democrats and Republicans increasingly seeing eye to eye on the need to stop common core?

Here’s the segment.


Filed under National Standards (Common Core)

Rethinking Release Time of Union Teachers

This is an op-ed from J. C. Bowman that was originally posted on TheChttanoogan.com. J. C. is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee.

The Tennessee General Assembly is considering legislation relative to teachers acting as representatives of a professional employees’ organization (Senate Bill 867/House Bill 847). In my role as Executive Director of a professional employees’ organization, we welcome the debate and the chance to reallocate tax dollars to the classroom for instruction or into teacher salaries.  We applaud Senator Delores Gresham, Representative John Ragan and others for their willingness to discuss an issue that has sparked national debate.

Recently, the Office of Personnel Management calculated the time and costs of “release time” or “official time” by the federal government and the numbers were astounding: 3,395,187 total hours and an estimated cost of $155,573,739.25. OPM says that the cost comes to about one-tenth of one percent of the total payroll.

According to Ben DeGrow, senior policy analyst of the Independence Institute’s Education Policy Center in Denver, Co., the practice of paid time for these activities “is very common in every unionized school district.” DeGrow points out that districts provide paid union leave either through specified employee salaries or through a pool of hours made available to the union to assign and use as it chooses. The school district then must pay a substitute teacher to fill the opening caused by a unionized teacher being absent from work to do union business. DeGrow stated his organization documented teachers on paid leave lobbying the legislature. This practice undoubtedly occurs in Tennessee.

Many school districts give an allotment of general release days for professional employees’ organization activities. The number of days tends to vary with the size of the district and the number of teachers. Local professional employees’ organization officials and representatives may use these days to attend business meetings or workshops, which may include political advocacy.

While our organization does engage in advocacy on behalf of our members, we do not endorse or contribute to political parties or candidates with our member dues.  In regards to political contributions, the Tennessee Education Association was the second largest donor to political campaigns in 2012, according to the Follow the Money website. In fact, they spent $262,500 in reported political contributions in 2012.

In 2012, the Tennessee Education Association gave $234,000 to Democratic Candidates and $20,500 to Republican Candidates, as well as $8,000 to Independent Candidates.  To further illustrate, these political contributions meant that 89.14 percent went to Democrats, 7.81 percent to Republicans and 3.05 percent went to Independents.  They only won 56.2 percent of the political races they funded, but lost 43.2 percent of the races.   It is hard to make a convincing case that these political donations benefit Tennessee educators or improve student achievement.  The question legislators must ask themselves, “were any of the individuals who were granted release time conducting political activities on the taxpayer dime?”

Our organization clearly understands that we must operate in a transparent manner when using taxpayer dollars.  We would have no problem with legislation that requires a professional employees’ organization to pay the full cost of teachers who use release time to conduct organization business, or to require the teacher using release time to deduct it from their personal leave.

However, we do disagree with school districts that permit release time to representatives and then turn right around and grant them teaching experience for their time in service to the professional employees’ organization. These individuals then continue advancing on the salary schedule as though they have accrued actual classroom teaching experience. This is not fair to the hardworking classroom teachers who are engaged in the actual teaching of students across Tennessee.  Why should a professional employees’ organization representative advance on the salary schedule for conducting organization business?   We know of several cases where the professional employees’ organization representatives have not been in the classroom for years.

There are still several school districts that have provisions in collective bargaining agreements, giving a certain number of paid leave days to a teacher who has been elected to serve as a national, state or local director for the teachers’ professional employees’ organization.  Legislation should not impact these districts until these contracts expire in 2014.  Our organization also supports the concept that time spent during normal working hours by a teacher representative of a professional employees’ organization participating in a grievance procedural meeting, or a disciplinary or employment rights meeting at the request of another teacher be considered as engaging in school duties.

In an era that demands accountability, our organization is committed to work with legislators to ensure taxpayer money is wisely spent in Tennessee. We welcome a civil discussion on this subject by policymakers and taxpayers.


Filed under Teacher Unions

Educators Can Turn Policy Change Into An Opportunity

We received this from Karen Schroeder, President of Advocates for Academic Freedom. We would love to hear your thoughts on her ideas below.


When powerful Democrats join President Obama in advocating school choice and accountability in education, educators must be prepared to turn this policy change into an opportunity. Most politicians and citizens do not understand that teachers are typically told which teaching methods to use in the classroom and are evaluated on how successfully they execute those teaching methods. Now that the academic success of students is becoming the focus, teachers have a chance to define their standing as professionals. Teachers must begin by demanding the right to choose the teaching methods used in their classrooms.

Administrators and legislators expect to deal with union leaders, so we must be well organized and prepared and ready to provide concrete examples of teaching methods that have impacted student academic success. While many examples exist, cooperative grouping of students is an example of a technique that has limited value although many college professors continue to prepare new teachers to use cooperative grouping as a main method of instruction.

If the public and legislators are going to get a true picture of the challenges facing the classroom, teachers must reveal that many teaching methods implemented in American classrooms discourage academic success. Cooperative grouping of students, for example, teaches children to surrender individual educational goals and support collectivism.  Sixty years of failure have not deterred college professors from encouraging teachers to use cooperative grouping in classrooms. The educational goals of those college professors are not academic. Their goals are political.

Cooperative grouping requires the teacher to organize students into small groups each representing a microcosm of society by including a student from every socio-economic group and every ability group. The teacher provides a task for each group to complete. Students receive a group grade because the success of each student is the responsibility of the group.

This method requires children who enjoy academics to relinquish personal educational goals and encourage, motivate, and educate less academically talented students. Students with high potential learn to devalue their skill and replace it with community service. When top students are not encouraged to develop their true potential, personal expectations of all students drop.

Cooperative grouping teaches children with little interest in academics that their success is dependent upon the level and quality of sacrifice made by more academically capable students. It promotes fear of failure rather than recognition of failure as a part of any learning process. No longer are children taught that success means overcoming challenges and developing skills to deal with failures. Instead, failure seems to occur because a fellow citizen does too little to bring success to others. That fellow citizen becomes anyone who accomplishes more than others. Political and social implications are obvious.

This teaching method has helped create a society that accepts pitting one group of citizens against another in the name of “social reciprocity” or equity. American children are being taught that some have the right to take from others.

Cooperative grouping of children demonstrates what history has repeatedly proven: collectivism is a policy of destruction. The method discourages creativity, ambition, productivity, independence, and happiness. Politically, anyone who does reach his potential is seen as a power-hungry oppressor who must be taxed into dependence, his creativity regulated into subservience, and his individuality forced into conformity.

Instructors must reclaim our professional responsibility as teachers of academics and refuse to spend classroom time shaping social or political policies.



Karen Schroeder is the President of Advocates for Academic Freedom (AAF) which is a proponent for a return to fact-based curricula, accountability, and academic excellent in public education. Karen was appointed to the Governor’s Educational Communications Board on May 1, 2012.  She provides seminars designed to inform and motivate citizens to reclaim their responsibility to become involved in the decisions made at the local and state levels of the educational system. Among other projects, AAF donates conservative current-events materials to libraries of public schools.

With a BA degree in education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education, Ms. Schroeder has taught in suburban public schools for thirty-six years. During her teaching career, she became a free-lance writer to provide citizens with information revealing the impact of social and political policies on the educational system. Her works are published in the Eau Claire Journal and numerous other newspapers across Wisconsin. As an education consultant, Ms. Schroeder provides seminars for the public and campaign training programs to political candidates.

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Filed under Instructional Strategies

Students Won’t Redistribute GPA?

The Democrats, the youth, and many educators in America are screaming about taxing the rich and redistributing the wealth. Because it’s those evil rich that are hurting us all! (A small caveat here, there are some super-rich folks like George Soros who are seriously causing harm to this country, but you won’t hear the left crow about them. It’s not their wealth that’s the problem, it’s their actions.) Here we see a bunch of college students that won’t redistribute their GPA? The principal is the same. 88% of American millionaires are first-generation, there’s no theft in American society from the lower class, it’s actually the other way around. Facts are stubborn things.

Enjoy and please share with a friend!


Filed under Contradictions of the Left