Tag Archives: NEA

Conservative Teachers, Help Shine a Light on the Educational “Experts”

Karen professional photoThis is a guest post by Karen Schroeder, President of Advocates for Academic Freedom.

My Dear Fellow Conservative Teacher:

Thank you for all you do to assure that your students receive a quality education in spite of the encumbrances imposed by many unwelcome federal policies. The risks you take and the consequences you often endure are known and understood. Those of us who have been there and are now free of professional consequences are there for you. There are things we can and will do to help, if you wish.

My fellow teachers who value truth above social policy represent both political parties and reflect an incredibly generous spirit.

It is that spirit that I am relying upon as I offer unsolicited advice and ask that you add another task to your already overburdened schedule.

I ask that you do for each other what you do so well for students: provide knowledge and information. Provide your fellow teachers with information about the educational experts who have shaped the federal policies that create unnecessary struggles within the teaching profession. As your fellow teachers gain facts about those experts and ideologies, their support for the policies will wane. The opportunity for administrators to adopt practices that will limit actual academic success of your students will diminish. Your opinions and your support for new policies may even become a pre-requisite before adoption of any policy!

Your creativity is boundless. To get your innovative juices flowing, consider placing materials in the faculty lounge.

A copy of the Aspen Institute’s document A New Civic Literacy: American Education and Global Interdependence exposes the purpose behind educational policies. It is eleven pages of simply written, direct language which defines how educational experts view teachers from all political parties. It reveals how experts want to use students and their parents to accomplish ideological agendas. It suggests the federalization of education to free educational policy from interactions from “conservative” school boards, teachers, and parents. Underline some key phrases so those who deeply trust the experts need to see only a few lines to encourage the questioning to begin.

A single page flier with the picture of an educational expert, a key quote from him, and a short bio may stimulate thought and discussion.

For example: When Shirley McCune spoke at the Governor’s Conference on Education in 1989, she stated: “We no longer see the teaching of facts and information as the primary function of education… Building a new kind of people must be a part of the curriculum… More and more schools are the center of all human resource development… The earlier we can intervene in the lives of people the more effective we can be.”

At that time, McCune was the Senior Director of Mid Continental Regional Educational Laboratory (McRel) — one of ten regional laboratories under contract to the U.S. Department of Education.  Her resume included work with the National Education Association (NEA), the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the Kansas State Department of Education in developing strategic direction for Kansas schools in the Schools for the 21st Century program.  She also owned a company called Learning Trends, based in Aurora, Colorado, and later in Washington, DC.

Providing only the picture of the experts and their comments elicits few objections from opponents. However, those threatened by the truth will typically confront those who provide truth. By excluding all personal comments from the flier, the retort to those objecting can be, “What about this upsets you? This flier simply provides a quote from [name of expert]. Isn’t that what teachers are expected to do, provide unbiased facts?”

Please share with me what wonderful ways you found to alert your fellow teachers to the truth behind the federal policies that too often plague our profession. Feel free to post your findings on the Advocates for Academic Freedom FB page.  We look forward to meeting the experts that you identify. There are so many who need to be introduced to the public and you are in the best position to provide those facts.

Since teachers usually refer to their students as “my kids” or “my children”, I want to say, “God Bless you all for your dedication to your children and to the teaching profession.”

 

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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

82 Teachers Talk Back to NEA, Debunk Common Core

Here are 82 comments written by teachers who commented after this week’s National Education Association (NEA) promo article about Common Core. The article is here.

The teachers call the Common Core, and the NEA’s phony poll (that said that teachers love it) and the NEA’s shameless promotion of it, rubbish.

Read the comments over at Common Core: Education Without Representation

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)

“I’m Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) and Now, the Fake News.”

by Larry Sand of California Teachers Empowerment Network

Teachers union makes news with meaningless words and a misleading poll.

Norm MacDonald is famous for opening the comedic news segment on Saturday Night Live by introducing himself and telling the audience that it’s time for the “fake news.” I thought of this when, at the recent American Federation of Teachers convention, President Randi Weingarten essentially said that bad teachers should find new jobs. Her words were dutifully reported by a compliant press, but it didn’t take much to see that the comment was devoid of any conviction whatsoever.

Responding to Weingarten’s comment that “…if someone can’t teach after they’ve been prepared and supported, they shouldn’t be in our profession,” EAG’s Ben Velderman pointed out,

Notice the huge caveat in Weingarten’s comment: “after they’ve been prepared and supported.”

Weingarten is actually saying that incompetent and ineffective teachers should have lots of time and assistance to improve their classroom performance.

In fact, “lots of time” would be an eternity or so, with the teacher in question going through a battery of master teachers, on-site administrators, coaches, peer assistance review teams, and then various administrative panels, lawyers, endless appeals, all with a tree-killer paper trail. Hence, there is nothing but empty rhetoric here.

Mike Antonucci gives Weingarten’s comment an historical perspective, enumerating high- sounding teacher union leader’s past proclamations which did nothing to change the moribund status quo. He links Weingarten’s merit pay speech in 2008 in which she says she is “willing to discuss new approaches to issues like teacher tenure and merit pay.” Yet when the rubber hit the road in 2010, Weingarten fought DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee tooth and nail on these very issues. It was as if the union boss had forgotten that she made any noise about tenure and merit pay.

Antonucci goes back to 1997 when National Education Association president Bob Chase made a feel-good speech in which he acknowledged the existence of the “vast majority of Americans who support public education, but are clearly dissatisfied. They want higher quality public schools, and they want them now.”

Since his speech a full generation of children has passed through the entire pre-K to 12 public school system. What changes we have seen during that time have come with the teachers’ unions trailing behind, yelling “stop!” I have seen the future, and it is more of the same.

Just as fraudulent as Weingarten’s tough talk on bad teachers is a new AFT “poll,” the results of which were reported on solemnly by union cheerleaders like The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss. This push poll’s intentionally skewed results were used by Weingarten and the true believers in the press to hammer home the idea that parents are against education reform.

But the Cato Institute’s Jason Bedrick wasn’t buying it, and wrote that the “Teachers Union Poll Is Not Credible.” One example of how the AFT phrased their questions:

With which approach for improving education do you agree more?

APPROACH A) We should focus on ensuring that every child has access to a good public school in their community. We need to make the investments needed to ensure all schools provide safe conditions, an enriching curriculum, support for students’ social and emotional development, and effective teachers.

APPROACH B) We should open more public charter schools and provide more vouchers that allow parents to send their children to private schools at public expense. Children will receive the best education if we give families the financial freedom to attend schools that meet their needs.

It’s no surprise that 77 percent agreed with the first approach and only 20 percent agreed with the second. Either “invest” in “good” public schools in your “community” and receive all sort of wonderful goodies (“enriching curriculum!” “effective teachers!”) or forgo all that so that some parents can send their kids to private school “at public expense.” Aside from the fact that this is a false choice (competition can actually improve public school performance and school choice programs can save money), the wording is blatantly designed to push respondents toward Approach A.

Bedrick then writes about a 2012 Harvard poll that was worded fairly. Its findings:

  • 54% of parents favor giving all families a “wider choice” to “enroll their children in private schools instead, with government helping to pay the tuition” compared with 21% opposed.
  • 46% of parents favor giving low-income families a “wider choice” to “enroll their children in private schools instead, with government helping to pay the tuition” compared with 21% opposed.
  • When not given a neutral option, 50% of parents favor giving low-income families a “wider choice” to “enroll their children in private schools instead, with government helping to pay the tuition” compared with 50% opposed.
  • When the question omits the words “a wider choice” and only asks about using “government funds to pay the tuition of low-income students who choose to attend private schools,” 44% of parents are in favor with 32% opposed.

Education Week’s Stephen Sawchuk also had problems with the AFT poll, reminding us to take it “with a grain of salt and examine the questions’ phraseology carefully.” (I would suggest adding an ample amount of Maalox to the salt.)

Take, for instance, a bunch of paired statements asking parents to select the one they most agree with. Unsurprisingly, they tend to favor the idea that it’s better to “treat teachers like professionals” than to “regularly remove poorly performing teachers.”

…  A few results appear contradictory. Nearly half surveyed had a negative impression of using test scores in teacher evaluation, but 68 percent approved of paying teachers more if their students show gains in academic achievement.

In another refutation of the biased AFT poll, The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke writes that “Unions Can’t Ignore Support for Choice in Education.”

PDK/Gallup poll released last summer found that, when asked nearly the same question—whether they supported allowing students to choose private schools at public expense—44 percent of Americans said yes. Gallup has asked respondents the same question for the past decade and found that support for school choice has jumped 10 percentage points in just the last year alone.

Something that may be of interest to Ms. Weingarten is the result of a Rasmussen poll in which we learn that “only 26% of Likely U.S. Voters rate the performance of public schools in America today as good or excellent.  Thirty-four percent (34%) rate public education as poor.” Unlike the AFT poll, Rasmussen used straightforward language:

Overall, how would you rate the performance of public schools in America today?

No deception here, unlike the AFT pedaled “fake news.” But then again, when you have nothing legitimate to sell, snake oil will do the trick.

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 Teacher Unions

The Media and Teachers Unions: Creepy Crass Actors

by Larry Sand

Joining a racially charged situation, largely inflamed by the media, the nation’s teachers unions hypocritically play the civil rights card.

To acknowledge the obvious, the February 26, 2012 events in Sanford, FL were tragic. Trayvon Martin is dead and George Zimmerman will be haunted – and very possibly hunted – for the rest of his life. While there are gray areas of the incident where good people can disagree, there is one overarching truth that cannot be denied: Much of the nation’s mainstream media behaved in a downright despicable way. They have done everything possible to stoke racial tensions with exaggeration, misrepresentation, pandering, deceit and lies. Just a few examples:

  • March 21, 2012 – CNN accused Zimmerman of using a racial slur, which two weeks later it later retracted.
  • March 22, 2012 – Zimmerman, of mixed race, was dubbed by the New York Times a “white Hispanic.”
  • March 27, 2012 – NBC edited a tape to make Zimmerman appear to be a racist.
  • March 28, 2012 – ABC News falsely claims Zimmerman wasn’t injured the night of shooting. 

The whole narrative of Zimmerman as a rabid Klansman also disintegrates when you look at what the vast majority of the media didn’t report:

  • He is of white and Afro-Peruvian descent.
  • He and a black friend partnered in opening an insurance office in a Florida.
  • He’d engaged in notably un-racist behavior, such as taking a black girl to his high-school prom.
  • He tutored underprivileged black kids.
  • He launched a campaign to help a homeless black man who was beaten up by the son of a white cop.

Now here’s where we go from contemptible to perverse. The heads of the two national teachers unions – Dennis Van Roekel (National Education Association) and Randi Weingarten (American Federation of Teachers) – are leading the charge to put Zimmerman behind bars by any means necessary. The two bosses urged their members to sign petitions to the Justice Department, saying that “Zimmerman must face the consequences of his actions.”

All of a sudden the teachers unions are worried about civil rights??!! What a brazen and sleazy attempt to divert attention from their day-to-day “we-really-don’t-give-a-crap-about-the-kids-but-can’t-come-out-and-directly-say-it” modus operandi. To wit:

  • In 2009, desperate to kill Washington, D.C.’s popular and successful opportunity scholarship program, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel wrote a threatening letter to every Democratic member of Congress. The union boss clearly declared that NEA strongly opposes the continuation of the DC private school voucher program. He went on to say that he expected that any member of Congress whom the union has supported will vote against extending the program and warned that, “Actions associated with these issues WILL be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 111th Congress … Vouchers are not real education reform. . . . Opposition to vouchers is a top priority for NEA.”

The sad fact is that DC public schools have the lowest NAEP scores and the highest dropout rate in the country, whereas just about every student in the voucher program graduates from high school, almost all of them going on to college. The fact that thousands of children, a great majority of whom are African-American, would be forced to remain in their failing schools, thus closing the door on their future, didn’t seem to faze Mr. Van Roekel one bit.

  • In 2011, AFT’s state affiliate in Connecticut neutered a Parent Trigger law and bragged about how it managed to snooker the mostly-minority parents. The union went so far as to post the step-by-step process on its website. Fortunately, writer RiShawn Biddle managed to save the document before AFT pulled the webpage, having realized that their gloating might not be in sync with its pro-minority persona. Parent leader Gwen Samuel, an African-American mother of two, saw through the union’s malfeasance, however. “When will parents matter?” she asks.
  • In 2011, the ACLU filed a lawsuit that would have exempted 45 of the worst schools in Los Angeles – predominantly black and Hispanic – from teacher union-mandated seniority rules, enabling those schools to keep good teachers instead of being subjected to constant turnover. In an Orwellian statement, United Teachers of Los Angeles elementary vice-president Julie Washington fumed,

This settlement will do nothing to address the inequities suffered by our most at-risk students. It is a travesty that this settlement, by avoiding real solutions and exacerbating the problem, actually undermines the civil and constitutional rights of our students.

The suit was successful, but subsequently the ruling was overturned on a technicality. Having no concern about the rights of the minority children disparately affected by the archaic last-in, first out statute, UTLA was thrilled.

  • If successful, the Students Matter  (Vergara v. California) lawsuit in California will remove the tenure, seniority and arcane dismissal statutes from the state education code, thus making it easier to get rid of incompetent and criminal teachers. While this lawsuit will help all students in the state, inner-city kids would benefit the most.

Collectively, the laws Vergara v. California challenges deprive those students arbitrarily assigned to the classrooms of ineffective teachers of their fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed right to equal opportunity to access quality education.

Though not named in the suit, the teachers unions just couldn’t sit idly by and accept a change in the rules that would benefit kids at their expense.

Two state teachers unions – the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers – released a joint press release … announcing that they had filed a motion “to intervene in litigation.” This means that CTA and CFT would like to be become involved in the case because they feel that the current defendants – the state and the school districts – are not adequately representing the interests of their teachers, whose rights they maintain could be adversely affected by the case.

There are countless other examples which exemplify the fact that the teachers unions’ raison d’être is preserving their influence, and doing so by any means necessary. That minority children are the ones who suffer the most from the unions’ ongoing power-lust is of no concern to them. That these raving hypocrites are now grandstanding and calling for the scalp of George Zimmerman boggles the mind.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that you will be reading about this latest outrage in the mainstream media. Like the teachers unions, these bad actors are doing their best to push their agenda and con the public.

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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