Category Archives: NEA

WHEN #EDUCATION #UNIONS BETRAY MEMBERS

This is a guest post by Karen Schroeder of Advocates for Academic Freedom.

Embracing corporate influence and policies of greed, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers betray teachers and their students. Unions and their affiliates overcharged teachers for health insurance and accepted corporate money to wield political influence. Now they accept money to support the unpopular Common Core Standards.

Governor Walker’s ACT 10 exposed the Wisconsin Education Association Council for negotiating contracts which made Wisconsin Education Association Trust the sole provider of health care for many Wisconsin school districts.

Once given protected access to health care premiums, WEA Trust gained tax dollars by overcharging for those health benefits. Those districts which enacted ACT 10 could reinstate free-market principles to balance their budgets, hire additional teachers, and decrease class sizes while providing quality health insurance for teachers.

Unions once had value when they improved working conditions for teachers and set professional standards. When their focus changed, making them complicit in the destruction of America’s educational system, it was time to leave the union.

Teachers of the Kenosha Education Association did just that. They voted against re-certifying the union as a bargaining entity. Yet, 37% of the Kenosha teachers voted to remain with the union. Did pressure from the Gates Foundation influence these teachers?

AFT President Randi Weingarten admits to the Huffington Post that pressure from having accepted Gates’ dollars may soon force rejection of additional dollars.

NEA and AFT’s acceptance of millions of dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support implementation of Common Core Standards and to support the controversial teacher assessment programs is proving detrimental to the integrity of the profession.

NEA members indicate that many had NOT been surveyed, that many did NOT like Common Core Standards, and that many believe their union is NOT representing teachers or the best practices for their profession. Yet, an NEA Today article titled “10 Things You Should Know about the Common Core claimed that 75% of NEA members supported Common Core.   Gates sure bought a lot of influence for his seven-million-dollar donation while creating a chasm between union leaders and their members.

A National Public Radio article quotes AFT President Weingarten as supporting Common Core but calling for a pause in using the results of the testing because “teachers have not had enough time or help understanding the new standards and how to change how they teach.” Could this tacit support occur because AFT received more than eleven million dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?

As a teacher, I am appalled that a union leader would blame teachers for the shortcomings of Common Core Standards. What retraining is needed? My teacher-preparation education made me competent in my subject(s). The substance of math, science, and the English language has not changed significantly for centuries.

Basically, teaching methods available today were used by Plato and Socrates. Yes, technology has made those methods easier and often more fun, but little additional training should be necessary.

Apparently, teachers can no longer rely on their unions to place the best interests of children, teachers, and the profession above an appetite for greed, power, and influence. Preserving the integrity of the educational profession rests with teachers who must continue resisting obligations to those unions which fail to serve their members.

http://www.eauclairejournal.com/news/story.phtml/5B88F64C/news/walker_exposes_misuse_of_education_funds/archive/

http://www.weac.org/member_benefits/WEA_Trust.aspx

https://www.nationalreview.com/sites/default/files/nrdpdf/20131014%20_0.pdf

http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20110216/GPG0101/110216041/

http://www.wiseye.org/videoplayer/vp.html?sid=10781 hearing testimony at 29:48-30:44

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/03/this_week_aft_president_randi.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mercedes-schneider/nea-aft-common-core-and-v_b_4252679.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database#q/k=NEA grant amounts

http://stateimpact.npr.org/ohio/2013/05/13/aft-president-randi-weingarten-explains-how-she-would-teach-the-common-core/

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database#q/k=AFT AFT grant amounts

http://schools.nyc.gov/documents/d75/math/Workshop%20model.pdf

http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/

Karen Schroeder is President of Advocates for Academic Freedom, a member of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, an experienced public school teacher, and an educational consultant. Karen can be reached at kpfschroeder@centurylink.net or by calling715-234-5072.

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Filed under AFT, Guest Post, NEA, Teacher Unions

Republican teacher-turned-lawmaker sues Missouri school district after being fired over unpaid leave dispute

We reported on this story back in January. It appears there has been an update. This is cross-posted from EAGNews.

By Ben Velderman
EAGnews.org

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – High school teacher-turned-lawmaker Bryan Spencer was officially fired by Missouri’s Francis Howell School District earlier this week.

But that doesn’t mean the long-running dispute between Spencer and his former employer over his unpaid leave rights is settled.

Spencer spent 22 years with the district as a high school teacher, before getting elected to the Missouri House of Representatives the last November.

School leaders have consistently denied the veteran teacher’s request for unpaid leave from his job while he serves in the state legislature.

The school board took things a step further on Monday night and voted 5-2 to officially fire Spencer.

The board determined Spencer had violated his teaching contract with the district “by refusing to perform his duties” since early January, which is when his legislative term began, STLToday.com reports.

On Thursday, Spencer responded by filing a lawsuit against the school district in St. Charles County Circuit Court. In his complaint, Spencer describes the school board’s decision as “arbitrary and capricious,” and a violation of his constitutional rights to free speech and to seek and hold elective office, reports STLToday.com.

The crux of Spencer’s argument is that the district is discriminating against him because he is a Republican. Spencer notes that the district has routinely granted unpaid leave to officials of the local teachers union to tend to union business, which often benefits the Democratic Party.

“The board president has said the union officials are different because they work full time on education and interact often with the district,” the news site reports.

If the district had granted Spencer an unpaid leave of absence, he would not have received any of his salary, and he would have had to shoulder the costs for any job-related benefits he received.

An unpaid leave would have allowed Spencer to rejoin the district at a higher “step” on the salary schedule than when he left, the news site notes.

Mostly, the unpaid leave would have simply allowed Spencer to resume his teaching career with the district after his legislative career ends.

It was a minor issue that’s quickly becoming a major legal expense for the district, as the controversy is sorted out by the courts.

As one Facebook commentator notes, “Granting the leave would have cost the district nothing. Now, no matter which side prevails, this will cost the district a bunch of money. Being a resident and taxpayer in the Howell district, I believe that the board members who voted ‘no leave’ should pay the legal fees out of their own pocket. I pay taxes to help educate the kids, not to waste money.”

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Filed under NEA, Teacher Unions

Missouri Teacher Turned Republican State Representative Locked in Battle With His School District

Bryan Spencer was elected to represent the people of West St. Charles County and Eastern Warren County last November.  Instead of being able to focus on legislative priorities in Jefferson City, the Missouri state capitol, he has to fight a battle with the Francis Howell School District.

Spencer decided to run for office after redistricting from the 2010 census due to request from parents, former student, colleagues, and members of community service/political/religious organizations encouraged him to run.  Before filing, he filled out a personal day form to take a day away from school to file for office.  He then consulted with his principal at Francis Howell North High School.  The principal explained that there had been other teachers that have filed for political offices and were not successful.  Spencer was wished the best of luck and told that it would be a great learning experience for him.

After winning the primary election, Spencer thought it would be good to ask for an unpaid leave of absence in case he won the general election. The Francis Howell School Board denied the request simply stating that they had reviewed the request and the request was denied.  There was no specific reasoning given for their denial. Spencer went on to win the November general election. Once again, he went to his school board and asked for an unpaid leave of absence.  This time Spencer listed precedent when other teachers have been granted leaves of absences for a variety of reasons.  The school board once again denied his request.

One might ask why should the district accommodate Spencer? The school district has granted numerous unpaid leaves for various reasons in the past. Most interestingly, the Missouri State NEA President is Chris Guinther. According to her biography on the MNEA website, Guinther is from the Francis Howell School District, and according to Spencer, she is currently on an unpaid leave of absence.  She has been on a leave of absence since 2001.  Spencer also claims that the current NEA President of the district’s local chapter, Anita Miller, is on an unpaid leave of absence. One would assume what is fair for the NEA is surely fair for an elected representative of the people.  There have been many teachers on leave for a variety of reasons.

On January 17 the Francis Howell School District had a closed door meeting to discuss the future of Spencer’s employment with the school district. Shortly after the meeting, Spencer received a letter from the district stating that he was in breach of his contract for excessive absenteeism. The district is currently pursuing a due process hearing for tenured termination. There is also a risk that the school district may pursue filing charges against Spencer with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Depending on DESE’s response, Spencer risks losing his teaching certification with the state of Missouri.

To further complicate matters, Spencer could be in violation of the law. Missouri law states that a person cannot collect two paychecks from the government. Because he is fighting for the unpaid leave, Spencer has not voluntarily terminated his contract with the district. He has stopped any direct deposit of his salary, and he is not collecting his paycheck in any form.

Probably the saddest part of all of this is that Spencer was inducted into the Francis Howell Hall of Fame in the spring of 2011. Spencer has taught for twenty two years, all of which have been spent with the Francis Howell School District.

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Filed under NEA, Teacher Unions