Wednesday, June 27, 2018

National Public Education News

The biggest news today is the Supreme Court ruling that overturns the public unions' requirement that non-members pay a portion of fees for union services.  The issue was some public sector employees not wanting to support unions' political advocacy while the partial payment would ensure that they paid a little for the services they did access.  This affects teachers in Washington State, one of 22 states where "agency fees" are collected.
Here's a very good background piece from Education Next on what has happened in other states, including ones that are right-to-work states where there are no unions.
Many, if not most, of the analysts who follow education policy and organized labor believe that the ruling will result in decreased power for teachers unions. The logic behind this assumption is simple: teachers unions will lose dues revenue because membership will decrease and former agency-fee payers will cease paying fees for union services. With fewer resources, teachers unions will have less ability to exert their influence in local, state, and federal elections and at the bargaining table. Fewer members, less money, less power. Right?

Even so, a close look at Wisconsin and Michigan may provide important clues about the future of teachers unions in a post-Janus world.
As is fitting given this argument, we end by drawing on the voice of one teachers union leader in Michigan:

Right to work to me isn’t an issue, because I think people are still joining their unions. They believe in public education. They believe in democracy. They know it’s the right thing to do. Who else is our voice?
Who was behind the suit? The Waltons, the Koch Brothers, and the NRA's PAC.

Tweet from noted public ed blogger, Jersey Jazzman:

set the table for today, as did , , the charter industry, and a whole host of other “liberal” education “reformers.” Great job decimating the party you all claim to belong to, guys.

Speaking of bloggers, a prolific Japanese blogger was murdered minutes after he finished a lecture on internet trolls.   From the NY Times:
The killing highlighted the chilling possibility of digital threats spilling over into real life, in an era when internet users are increasingly concerned about the proliferation of misinformation, hate speech and even incitement to violence.

“The digital world is anonymous, and therefore it is easy for threats to get escalated there,” Yoh Mikami, a journalist who covers information technology, told Nishinihon Shimbun, a local newspaper. “Hatred toward people you wouldn’t meet in the real world heightens.”
I'm not worried about getting killed but that last point - about being able to say anything you want to someone you perceive you hate - is a problem.  It's one I try to curtail here because I want this to be about substance and not personality.  That said, I do track all the hate speech directed at me and I keep a file including who I think made the threat.  
From Ed Week on Congressional funding for public education:
The Senate bill funding the U.S. Department of Education for fiscal 2019 provides increases for disadvantaged students, special education programs, and a block grant supporting a diverse set of K-12 priorities.

It also maintains grants for educator development and after-school aid at current funding levels, and rejects a school choice initiative from the Trump administration. It's the second year in a row that both the Senate and House have nixed efforts by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to create new choice programs funded by the education department. 
More news on the Betsy DeVos front.
  •  This headline says it all: Betsy DeVos is in Switzerland instead of at her School Safety Commission’s public listening session.  
    According to a release from her department, DeVos is on a “multi-stop learning tour” to Zurich, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to learn about apprenticeship programs, among other things.  
“We don’t doubt the legitimacy of the trip to Europe,” said Bob Farrace, director of public affairs at the National Association of Secondary School Principals. “But it is odd, and perhaps a bit disrespectful, that the secretary would plan a public listening session on a day she knew she would be leaving the country. The absence of all four commissioners signals that this commission’s school safety work is simply not a priority for this administration.”
Keep in mind this "skills" tear that DeVos and others are on.  There seems to be a concerted push to get kids - as early as 3rd grade - to commit to a career and that career choice will guide their education.  Boo to that.
  • The Chalkbeat blog had an interview with her husband, Dick DeVos.   What sets the documentary from HBO’s VICE series apart is the combative interview it features with DeVos’ husband, Dick DeVos, on the effects that charter schools have had on education in Michigan. “My hope is that the effect has been positive,” said DeVos, a businessman and philanthropist who was the state’s Republican nominee for governor in 2006. “The effect has been that traditional schools, having been confronted with an alternative that they were never confronted with before … [will] take a look at themselves and say, ‘How can we be special, too?’”

    Because only charter schools are special?
  • The DeVos' have lost a lot of money in suspect ventures. 
    Theranos raised more than $600M from high profile investors, promising a new technology which would allow cheap and especially effective blood tests. But a Wall Street Journal investigation found the technology to be a fraud and the company is now in the process of shutting down.
    New court documents show that among the investors which lost their money are Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' family office, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, heirs of the Sam Walton Walmart fortune, and others. The DeVos family, which lost $100M in the investment, has told MarketWatch that "To say they’re highly disappointed in Theranos as a company and an investment is an understatement."

    As well there's this from the Washington Post:
I was checking out the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., branch of Neurocore, a “brain performance” company owned by the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. DeVos resigned her Neurocore board seat when she joined the Trump Cabinet, but she and her husband maintain a financial stake of between $5 million and $25 million, according to a financial disclosure statement filed with the Office of Government Ethics. The DeVoses’ private-equity firm, Windquest, identifies Neurocore as part of its “corporate family.” 

Her spokesman at the Department of Education did not respond to my requests for comment. But in January, Neurocore’s chief medical officer, Majid Fotuhi, asserted to the New York Times that “Betsy DeVos really believes in improving brain performance and helping children who have syndromes such as attention deficit disorder.”


Anonymous said...

Great news! This is an awesome first step in breaking the cycle of public sector unions financially backing politicians who then return the favor by awarding lavish contracts to them when they are in office.

Fed up

Melissa Westbrook said...

When did the WEA ever get a contract from a politician?

Anonymous said...

Gov. Inslee was negotiating contracts with and pay raises for SEIU members while he was campaigning for governor. SEIU was one of the governor's largest donors.

WEA made significant contributions to Gov. Inslee while he was pushing the legislature to significantly increase teacher compensation under the McCleary deal.

SEIU receives significant contracts from the City of Seattle under its organization Working Washington/Fair Work Center and SEIU has been a significant donor both directly and indirectly to several pro-labor candidates/members on the city council.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh Uncle Albert, making contributions is not making contracts. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Your reply doesn't make any sense.


dan dempsey said...

I wonder if WEA and locals will now begin to really represent and meet the needs of teaching professionals? Most Union officials have not been earning their keep.

Anonymous said...

There is only one thing worse than unions. And that is no unions.

Once again, Albert reveals himself to be a mouthpiece of union busters and a person who is anti-teacher.

How are those "right-to-work" states working out for teachers, Albert?

Those are the disgraceful places.

We can always count on you to be shameless.

Delete Me

Anonymous said...

As an educator who works in said "right to work" state I suggest you look at the States where the Teachers "walked out." Being clear with that language is essential as the legislators of same states have made it impossible for any municipal employee regardless of union representation to "strike."

Then you have the idea of what unions do on behalf of the Teachers and here as they collectively "negotiate" which means nothing. The current 3% anticipated raises here for Teachers and other Municipal employees (all again "represented") is naught. Budget shortfalls have enabled the passing of a budget that did not allow for said raises. Hence we here in TN are the lowest paid in the Country with the lowest achievement in regards to Education. The parallels between union membership with Teachers shows with the % of those in the community with higher education and graduation rates.

Come to the South, the Flyover country, see the illiteracy rates, the graduation rates and the overall attitude towards education and learning. It is shocking. I burned my license and speak of my profession in past terms.

This was about Government and Municipal jobs that in some towns and cities they are the largest if not sole employee and another strangulation to remove political activism. It is already here where I live and you are welcome.. it is coming your way.

- Good times

Anonymous said...

I find it curious (but not surprising) that you choose to attack me personally, Delete Me, when my comments were statements of fact and not judgment. Those facts as I stated them are not in dispute.

You chose, though, to attribute judgment to them and then attribute your own judgment as if it were mine.

Curious indeed.