Tag Archives: liberal

Workers of the World, Your Rights!

By Larry Sand (follow on Twitter)
UnionWatch

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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Reaching Young Minds Through Literature: Yes We Can!

by Andrew Palmer

Conservatives often wonder how they can make an impact on the youth of America. When it comes to the youth and political ideology conservatives tend to believe that it is inappropriate to force political viewpoints onto children and teens. As educators, we acknowledge it is both unethical and unprofessional to push a political agenda in the classroom (of course, this never stopped many of our college professors and teachers growing up).

Admittedly, all educators have political biases. At a fundamental level, some of these ideas are tied to who we are as people. It is impossible for biases to not bleed through at one point or another in our classrooms, that is human nature. I don’t expect perfection of any teacher, liberal or conservative. I do expect them to operate out of a character ethic that respects the development of the students in their classroom.

The question becomes, how do you expose teens to ideas that we would classify as conservative while still being ethical and professional? I have always believed that if you truly teach a child to think critically, to question with boldness, and to use logic and reason instead of emotion they will arrive at some point on the right side of the American political spectrum. The reality is that many educators in our schools do not teach children to think critically, to question with boldness, and to use logic and reason instead of emotion.

So, we are left with a bit of a quandary.

I have a solution, and one I think we, as conservative teachers, can play a large role in. It is an area I would like to see this website focus on. And it is an area that I am going to need your help with.

I think our solution lies in young-adult literature.

The left is successful in this country often because they prey on both the illiterate and alliterate. If you are wondering, alliteracy is the concept that people can read, they just chose not to. I believe that alliterate people are just as dangerous as illiterate people. At least illiterate people know they aren’t educated. Alliterate people often are arrogant know-it-alls that think they have all the solutions for life although they do not have one piece of evidence to back it up.

If you have ever truly examined a liberal argument, on most issues you will find that it is based upon emotion and feeling. Rarely, are their arguments based on statistics and deep study of an issue.

I have read voraciously my entire life. I probably consume somewhere between fifty and seventy-five books a year. I tend to read a wide range of books. As a middle school English teacher, I require myself to read at least thirty books during the school year and many of these books are the same books my middle school readers read.

It is my hope to turn Conservative Teachers of America into a site for some of the best book reviews for young adult literature in the country. Who are the conservative authors for young adults? What books promote the principles of freedom? What are the young-adult books that tell the American story, both good and bad? What are the books that challenge young adults to think? What are the books that encourage students to develop moral principles? I know they are out there because I have read some of them myself. Once we start to identify these books, we can do our part in our local communities to get these books into young-adult hands.

I need your help to do this. Please consider sending me an email at conservativeteachersofamerica@gmail.com with the subject line “YA Book Reviews” if you are interested in helping out with this project. It is my hope to get as many conservatives (teachers, homeschoolers, parents, high school students, etc.) out there to join in on this. The more reviews the better. You will start to see some of my reviews come up here over the next couple of weeks to get an idea of what I am looking for.

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An interview with young adult author Andrew Klavan

by Andrew Palmer

Popular, young-adult author, Andrew Klavan, took time out of his busy schedule Monday night to answer a few questions. Conservatives must understand that we can no longer ignore popular culture. We can not continue to sit around and talk about just policy and expect people to “get it”. I have read Mr. Klavan’s The Last Thing I RememberIt is an outstanding book! Pro-American, pro-freedom values packaged in a fun, easy-to-read fictional book. If you still have some shopping to do this Christmas consider buying a copy or two of this book for the teens in your life.

Tell me a little bit about the new book that just came out If We Survive?

The book is about four kids who go down to a Central American country on a mercy mission to rebuild a school. Just as they are about to leave there is a violent Communist revolution. Suddenly the whole country is overrun by guys looking to kill Americans. Now faced with danger, these four kids have to find their way back to the border.

I noticed on Amazon.com that the book is listed as part of the Homelanders series. Is this right?

No,  If We Survive is a complete stand alone book. For some reason Amazon has it listed that way. I have tried to get them to fix it, but I have not had any luck.

I saw on your website that there is a chance of a Homelanders movie in the works, any update?

I went back and visited the producers that are doing the movie and they have a draft of the script. The script has been sent into the studio. This project is taking a longer time because there has been some unexpected delays. The writer that is working on this project has been called away to work on another movie that is currently in production. There is no idea on a release date for the film as of yet.

Will there be multiple movies that match up to each book in the series?

There may be multiple movies of the Homelanders. The plan right now appears to be to merge the first three books into one script and leave the fourth book in the series open for a sequel.

Where did your first spark or interest in writing come from?  How were you encouraged and what helped you develop as a writer?  Was it a particular class, teacher, author, parents?

My spark in writing came from the fact that I was a real daydreamer as a kid. I had a strange habit, probably a little different from most kids, I wanted my daydreams to actually make sense. As a result I ended up working on them very hard. Writing was always something I wanted to do. To be honest, I didn’t get a lot of encouragement at home. It was really just a burning passion within myself that kept me at it. When I look back on it I feel like I must have been out of my mind because this is such a tough business to break into.

Tell me some books and authors, other than yourself and your books, that you would recommend for today’s youth.

I wouldn’t want to say the top three books because I think there are is an excellent variety of good books to read. A book that really meant a lot to me when I was a kid was the western Shane by Jack Schaefer. That book was just a really good story about being a boy and the rules of manhood that you look for as you grow up. I was very impressed with the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling. She really did an excellent job with those. I think she has an excellent imagination which I think is very rare among today’s writers. There are also a lot of great adventure novels that are great reads that many people have forgotten about. Books like The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope that have absolutely outstanding stories. Modern books have gotten a little soft in some respects. Another modern series that I think kids would enjoy is the Rick Riordan series. Oh, and one other book that comes to mind is Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.

In your opinion what does it mean to “be a conservative”?

Interestingly enough, I think in America it has a unique meaning because what we are trying to conserve is a revolutionary spirit which is kind of a contradiction in terms. In England when you are a conservative you are really trying to preserve ancient rites of nobleman and an elite class of people. You know, that’s just not true in America. In America, you are trying to preserve this spark of this revolutionary moment. It sort of declared that people have the right to decide their lives for themselves. This is the thing that is so hard to argue especially when you have a media that is on the other side.

Government can do a lot of good things for people, but it can’t do anything for people without compromising their freedom and their property. What you want is a world where nobody falls through the cracks, but you want to make sure that ultimately you can keep the sweat of your brow and you can make your own decisions. So when government starts to tell people what is good for them, they may be doing them a favor, but they are taking away more than they give. So for me, being a conservative in America means to preserve the right of the guy who disagrees with me. I think this is very difficult thing because humans have this instinct to tell one another what to do. A conservatives goal in America should be to “judge not, lest you be judged.”

Have you always been a conservative? If not, what caused the conversion?

No! I grew up in a very liberal household. My brother still doesn’t know what happened to me. The thing that really caused me to change was when the Berlin Wall came down. Only Ronald Reagan said that it would and had predicted that it would. His policies turned the economy around when everybody said they would not. He was constantly derided as a stupid man and a war mongerer. When it turned out that so much of what he said came true I started to reevaluate my positions. I was always a disgruntled liberal, but I didn’t really realize that the people I was taught were evil could actually have a point of view that made sense.

Why do you think conservatives struggle so much with popular culture?

Part of it may be built into our nature. Art tends to be wild and can go off into dark places that offends. Conservatives tend to draw back from that. I think the real truth is that conservatives have been kept out of the arts, almost blacklisted. When you go to the movies and find that your point of view has been derided and denigrated it tends to put you off. You start to think that the movies are not for me, and the books are not to me. So instead you would rather play a videogame or watch a football game.

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My radical view of the just-released SAT data and the perpetual correlation of test scores with SES (via Granted, but…)

This is a must read article on educational assessment by backwards design guru Grant Wiggins! Mr. Wiggins concludes the post “The issue is not ‘great’ teachers or schools, just solid ones in which best practice is the norm not the exception, and where the first instinct is not to blame the kid but to blame our practices. By contrast, as long as we allow teachers to do whatever they feel most comfortable doing, in isolation, schools will in general be ineffective and SES will thus be the determining factor of achievement results in all schools. Shouldn’t we at least try this idea on for size?” Well said, sir!

It is a longstanding ugly fact in education: the child’s socio-economic status is tightly correlated with test scores. The just-released SAT data from the College Board are right there for all to see and contemplate with the telling pattern visible for the umpteenth year: for every additional 20,000 dollars in parental income, scores rise in an almost perfect linear relationship by approximately 15 points. Liberal policy-makers use such data to r … Read More

via Granted, but…

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