Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Dear Colleague,

As you all know by now, the California governor’s race will pit two candidates with divergent views on just about everything. On education, Gavin Newsom claims we need to think about education as a lifelong pursuit. “Our role begins when babies are still in the womb and it doesn’t end until we’ve done all we can to prepare them for a quality job and successful career,” he says. 

His opponent John Cox is in favor of school choice, stating, “We need to give parents and children the education they deserve, and that means more charters, giving parents more choice and encouraging home schooling.”

To read more about the candidates’ positions on various education issues, go here.

Also of concern to California’s educators is the Superintendent of Public Instruction position, and there the difference between the candidates is about as wide as the gubernatorial candidates. Marshall Tuck is running as a reformer who favors charter schools as an alternative. Also, “as CEO of the semi-autonomous Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, he helped instigate a lawsuit in 2010 that challenged teacher layoffs in Los Angeles Unified based on seniority, which led to massive layoffs in several Partnership schools. Tuck argues seniority should be one factor, not the sole factor, in teacher layoffs.”

Tuck’s opponent, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, is backed by CTA. His platform includes increasing school funding, investing in language immersion programs for English learners, and addressing the teacher shortage by making college cheaper and more accessible for aspiring teachers, streamlining the teacher credentialing process, and working with legislators to provide access to affordable housing to educators in communities where they teach.

To learn more about Tuck and Thurmond, go here. To learn what the job description is for the SPI position, go here.

On the school choice front, a bill proposed by Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN) directs the Department of Education to establish a program that would “provide children with parents on active duty in the uniformed services with funds for specified educational purposes.” The proposed law would allow military parents to establish Education Savings Accounts, which would enable them to use public funds for private school tuition, online learning programs, tutoring, etc. Proponents say that ESAs are especially important for military families, many of whom move around frequently and should not be subjected to our zip-code mandated education system. Upon introducing the bill in March, Banks penned a piece for The Wall Street Journal, in which he wrote, 

A 2017 survey of Military Times readers showed that educational opportunities play an important role in determining whether a military family accepts a particular assignment—or even remains in the service at all. Thirty-five percent of service members have considered leaving the military because of the limited education options available, and 40% have either declined or would decline a career-advancing opportunity at a different installation if it meant their child would have to leave a high-performing school.

To read the WSJ piece, go here. To dig into the proposed law, go here.

The Manhattan Institute’s Max Eden has written a riveting article about a discipline breakdown which resulted in “bullying, chaos and death” at a high school in New York City. The Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation was once a “safe and supportive school that fell into chaos as new administrators implemented a supposedly more positive approach to school discipline.”

This change was in line with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign promise of putting city schools at the vanguard of a nationwide movement to unwind traditional discipline in favor of a new progressive, or restorative, approach. At UA Wildlife, meaningful consequences for misbehavior were eliminated, alternative approaches failed, and administrators responded to a rising tide of disorder and violence by sweeping the evidence under the rug, students and teachers said. If they had prioritized student safety over statistics, McCree’s (a student who was murdered) teachers believe, he would still be alive. And they fear that the dynamics that destroyed UA Wildlife are playing out across New York City.

To read Eden’s provocative exposé, go here.

A decision in the Janus case is due any day now and CTEN will keep you abreast with information about the effect of the ruling on teachers, the unions’ reactions, etc. If the litigation is successful, CTA is projecting a loss of 23,000 members, according to Mike Antonucci. The union also figures to lose a great majority of its 28,000 fee payers, those who have quit the union but still are forced to pay the “agency fee.” But as a way to soften the financial hit, CTA has announced a per-teacher dues raise of $23 a year for the 2018-2019 school year, bringing the state component for teachers’ dues to $700 annually, which will help ease the pain of a membership decline.

NEA is also planning strategies pending an adverse Janus decision. While it is preparing for a 10 percent teacher quit-rate and has slashed its budget by $50 million, NEA has also raised its per teacher share of dues, from $189 to $192, and has a few tricks up its sleeve to help make up for the financial shortfall. It is pondering a new class of member called “community ally.” As Antonucci writes, the new category would be open to “any person who demonstrates support in advancing the cause of public education, who advocates for the mission, vision, and core values of the Association, and who is not eligible for any other membership category.” Since labor unions can only solicit political action committee contributions from members, this could open the door for deep-pocketed folks like Tom Steyer to join. This strategy is legally tenuous to say the least, and most likely will be subject to judicial scrutiny.

To read Antonucci’s pieces on CTA and NEA, go here and here.

Educators for Excellence has released “Voices from the Classroom: A Survey of America’s Educators” which the group says is a “ground-breaking, nationally representative survey written for teachers, by teachers.” And there are certainly some very interesting findings. For example, the poll found that 57 percent of all teachers have neither read nor heard anything about the Janus case. Another question from the survey addressed agency fee payers and asked if the Court case rules in favor of Mark Janus, “How likely would you be to opt out of paying agency fees to a union?” Sixty-one percent said they would be somewhat or very likely to do so. To read more about the survey, go here.

In April 2015, Bain v. CTA, a lawsuit brought by StudentsFirst, a Sacramento-based activist outfit founded by Michelle Rhee, was filed on behalf of four public school teachers in federal court in California. The aim of the suit was for teachers not to have to resign from a union because they didn’t want to pay for the political part of union dues. Well, today the suit is officially dead. The 9th Circuit dismissed the case because all of the original plaintiffs have left their teaching positions in the three years the case has been pending and are no longer union members. Bain attorney Josh Lipshutz said the issues it challenged are still outstanding and “plans to file a similar lawsuit, possibly with the Association of American Educators, a non-union organization of educators, as plaintiffs.” Lipshutz explains,

Janus is great for teachers who want to opt out of unions and want nothing to do with them. But there’s arguably a larger class of teachers who want the benefits, who want to serve on policymaking committees in their districts, but don’t want to be put to the choice of all or nothing. Without Bain, teachers will still be put to that choice.

To read more, go here.

As per the recent email we sent you, I have been informed that the law firm is still looking for plaintiffs.  

A law firm is looking for current or newly retired teachers who feel they have been unjustly treated and would like an opportunity to recoup agency fees they were forced to pay going back three years, which is the statute of limitations period. If you are interested, please contact Sloane Skinner directly at sskinner@clarkhill.com or call her at 202-640-6673. 

If you are still using a school email to receive these newsletters, please consider sending us your personal email address. More and more school districts are blocking CTEN. In any event, if you enjoy these letters and find them to be informative, please pass them along to your colleagues and encourage them to join us.

Also, anyone wishing to donate to CTEN can do so very simply through check, money order or PayPal - http://www.ctenhome.org/donate.html  As a non-profit, we exist only through the generosity of others. Thanks, as always. Enjoy your summer!

Sincerely,
Larry Sand
CTEN President

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dear Colleague,

With a decision in the Janus v AFSCME case expected within weeks, there is no shortage of opinions on how the world will change if the Supreme Court comes down on the side of the plaintiff. The lawsuit, which could make dues paying for public employees voluntary nationwide, has the California punditry opining in vastly different directions. Writer Tom Elias warns that the Janus decision “could change California politics.”

If Janus wins, politics and civic life in California could change dramatically. For decades, public employee unions have been a driving force in this state's politics, financially and in providing campaign manpower. They are one big reason for the Democratic dominance in virtually all aspects of state government.

However, teacher union watchdog Mike Antonucci has a very different take. He writes, “…those expecting large-scale changes in a post-Janus world may be sorely disappointed. However, there may be individual regions (he mentions Los Angeles and San Diego) and job categories that are disproportionately weakened.”

To read the Elias piece, go to https://www.theunion.com/opinion/thomas-d-elias-janus-decision-could-change-california-politics/ Antonucci’s thoughts can be found here - http://laschoolreport.com/antonucci-where-will-the-effects-of-a-janus-ruling-fall-fastest-and-hardest/

Also, on the subject of unions and California, veteran Washington Post writer Jay Mathews recently took the California Teachers Association to task for playing it fast and loose with the truth. “Maybe this teachers union needs a crash course in truth in advertising” takes the union to task for running a radio ad that is somewhat less than honest. Part of the spot claims,

They’re lining up against our local public schools. One after another, out-of-state billionaires are trying to buy our politicians. Following the lead of Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, billionaires like Koch brothers allies Jim and Alice Walton have their own narrow education agenda to divert money out of our public schools and into their corporate charter schools. It’s true. Out-of-state billionaires investing millions into politicians who will protect corporate-run charter schools that lack accountability.

To read Mathews’ piece, go here - https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/maybe-these-teachers-need-to-take-a-crash-course-in-truth-in-advertising/2018/04/29/97578000-49df-11e8-827e-190efaf1f1ee_story.html?utm_term=.0566f761da69  To listen to the CTA ad, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCagrWqUhd4

The above CTA ad is an attempt to discredit Marshall Tuck who is running against Tony Thurmond for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. In a pitch for union members to tune in to a tele-townhall on May 9th, the union’s website claims, “… corporate billionaires are pouring millions into the races of candidates who share their agenda to divert funding away from neighborhood public schools to privately-run charter schools.”

In fact, Tuck is adamantly opposed to privately run charters and has stated so many times, claiming, “Profit has no place in our public schools….”

To see CTA’s page on the SPI race, go to  http://view.cta-mailings.org/?qs=f1861e9d778baf4d02396bc9e03d43dc8a037c12f221f242ce210083da06c5208a67a5c33aaa0a0359c9a2cbeb6b92265ba6f6082de1e156f3f0f769e772239578f4c4162a93c1cbb788452e9aa6c746

To read what Tuck has to say on charters, go here - http://laschoolreport.com/marshall-tuck-support-nonprofit-charter-schools-ban-for-profit-charters/

Also, CTA’s actions notwithstanding, “Charter schools are booming in California” as the Sacramento Bee headline reads.

California’s charter school enrollment continues to skyrocket, growing by more than 25,000 students during each of the past 10 years.

Almost 630,000 students attended California public charter schools at the start of this school year — about one in every 10 students, according to new data from the California Department of Education. California charter school enrollment has increased 150 percent in the last 10 years.

To learn more and see where charter school growth has been the most dramatic, go here - http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article208863954.html

In recent days, the news has been filled with stories about teachers’ strikes, which have been widespread in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kentucky, and Arizona. AFT President Randi Weingarten claims “Teachers rising up in rebellion of everyday heroes” in which she writes,

Teachers are standing up for their students and themselves against largely red states with weak labor laws and where governors and legislators have opted for tax cuts for the wealthy instead of investments for children. This has left education conditions deplorable and educators pauperized.

However, writing in City Journal, Jason Richwine and Andrew Biggs have a different take. In “No, Teachers Are Not Underpaid,” they write,

Contrary to myth, teachers are generally not foregoing higher salaries by staying in the classroom. Data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation show that teachers who change to non-teaching jobs take an average salary cut of about 3 percent. Studies using administrative records in Florida, Missouri, Georgia, and Montana showed similar results; the Georgia study found “strong evidence that very few of those who leave teaching take jobs that pay more than their salary as teachers.”

To read the two very different points of view, go here - https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/04/16/education-oklahoman-west-virginia-teachers-walkout-column/518686002/  and https://www.city-journal.org/html/no-teachers-are-not-underpaid-15867.html

On the subject of teacher pay, researcher and economics professor Benjamin Scafidi found that between 1950 and 2015, the number of teachers increased about 2.5 times faster than the uptick in students. Also, the hiring of other education employees – administrators, teacher aides, counselors, social workers, etc. – rose more than 7 times the increase in students. Scafidi adds that despite the staffing surge, students’ academic achievement has stagnated or even fallen over the past several decades. Scafidi also has written that instead of this wasteful spending, had non-teaching personnel growth been in line with student growth, and the teaching force had risen “only” 1.5 times as fast as student growth, our schools would have had an additional $37.2 billion to spend. He asserts that we could have raised every public school teacher’s salary by more than $11,700 per year, given families of each child in poverty more than $2,600 in cash per child to attend the private school of his or her parents’ choice, more than doubled taxpayer funding for early childhood education, etc.

To read more about the “staffing surge,” go to https://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/11-2012-Staffing-Surge-WEB.pdf and https://www.edchoice.org/research/back-staffing-surge/

Senate Bill 1150 has been introduced in Oklahoma, which would “require that a majority of educators in the district vote every five years to keep their collective bargaining unit. More than half of the eligible employees would have to cast a ballot for the union for it to gain recognition in the district. If not, the entire school district would lose union representation.” The bill would also prevent school districts from deducting union dues from teacher paychecks. Instead, teachers would have to make arrangements with their union to pay their dues.

To read more about SB 1150 go to http://newsok.com/bill-is-revenge-for-teacher-walkout-unions-say/article/5593286

The online Western Governors University (WGU) is offering 100 scholarships to current and aspiring teachers and school administrators seeking a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education. The school’s press release, in part, reads,

In recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week, Western Governors University (WGU) is offering 100 scholarships to current and aspiring teachers, and school administrators, seeking a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education. WGU is also waiving the $65 application fee for prospective students who apply to a Teachers College degree program by June 30 using the code: NOWFREE.

Each WGU Teacher Appreciation Scholarship is valued at up to $2,000—$500 per six-month term for up to four terms. New students can apply for these scholarships now through June 30 at www.wgu.edu/teacherappreciation. To be eligible, scholarship applicants must be officially admitted to WGU, complete the scholarship application, and be interviewed by a WGU scholarship counselor. While WGU will award up to 100 scholarships, recipients will be selected based on academic records, financial need, readiness for online study, and current competency, among other considerations.

To learn more about the scholarship and apply, go to www.wgu.edu/landing/teachersweek18

And finally, as you well know, data and solid information are very useful in scoring political points and making cases for various causes. To that end, CTEN has a “cheat sheet,” which has been updated on our website – all with original sources. To see it, go to http://www.ctenhome.org/cheatsheet.html

If you have information that counters what’s there or would like to see something added, please let us know. As always, thanks for your continuing interest and support.

Sincerely,
Larry Sand
CTEN President
 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dear Colleague,

With much hoopla, the 2017 NAEP scores were released last week. The basic response thus far from edu-pundits has been, “Meh.” National averages were essentially unchanged since the test was last given in 2015.

In some ways, the flat trajectory nationwide provides relief for educators after the especially bitter NAEP news in 2015, when scores dropped for three out of four age/subject groupings. The development came as states were still rolling out testing regimes aligned with the Common Core, and the new standards were widely (and controversially) blamed for bringing down student performance.

Although scores for American students have gone through periods of sizable and consistent growth — most recently at the dawn of the modern era of academic standards and school accountability in the late 1990s and early 2000s — results over the past 10 years have left education reformers at a loss.

California did register a 4-point gain in 8th grade reading scores and 4th graders gained 3 points. The state’s 1-point gain in math scores was not a significant change, according to a spokesman for the National Center for Education Statistics.

For more, go to http://laschoolreport.com/california-makes-some-gains-in-reading-but-naep-scores-remain-flat-amid-signs-of-a-widening-gap-between-highest-and-lowest-performers/

One California school did stand out recently. El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills won the California Academic Decathlon in Sacramento. The Los Angeles Unified high school will advance to the national competition this weekend in Texas.

In Academic Decathlon, nine-member teams of ninth- through 12th-grade students compete in academic contests in 10 categories — art, music, language and literature, social science, science, mathematics, economics, speech, interview and essay — plus the Super Quiz, a "Jeopardy!"-style question-and-answer session that draws from all subjects.

The theme of this year's competition is Africa.

Schools from LAUSD have won the national competition 18 times since 1987, and California has held the national title for the last 15 consecutive years.

To learn more, go here - http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-academic-decathlon-20180325-story.html

Speaking of charters, there is a new study out that compares the cost-effectiveness of charters and traditional public schools. The findings include:

Education dollars go farther in charter schools than they do traditional public schools.

For every $1,000 in per-pupil funding, students in charter schools earn 17.76 points on the reading portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) compared to 13.42 points for students in traditional public schools. In math, students in the charter sector earn 19.21 NAEP points compared to 14.48 in traditional district schools.

Every dollar spent on students in traditional public schools results in $4.67 in lifetime earnings for those in traditional schools, $6.44 for those in charters, and $5.40 for those who split their K-12 years between both.

To read more about this study, conducted by Patrick J. Wolf of the University of Arkansas, Corey DeAngelis of the Cato Institute, et al, go to https://www.educationdive.com/news/study-compares-cost-effectiveness-of-charters-traditional-public-schools/517101/

Those of us who believe that not every single student in the country needs to go to college are buoyed by a recent story about Fresno County, where nearly every school offers Career Technical Education courses.

From robotics, to culinary arts, to construction- these are just some of the career tech courses Fresno County students are learning in classrooms in school districts throughout the Central Valley.

"One of the things we try to do in career tech education and ROP particularly is have some consistency across districts in like subjects because our employers don't care what side of the district boundaries you come from they are looking for a core group of competencies," said Administrator Valerie Vuicich.

The skills students are mastering in class were put to the test at the annual career skills challenge….15 hundred students going up against each other in teams; competing against one another in their area of interest.

To read more about this important program, go here - http://www.yourcentralvalley.com/news/education-matters-apprenticeship-career-skills/1060801150

On the school choice front, there was an interesting piece written by American Enterprise’s Rick Hess and Sofia Gallo, in which they claim that “School-Choice Supporters Should Drop the Overheated Rhetoric.”

The school-choice movement features more than its share of alarmist rhetoric and extravagant boasts. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has opined that school choice is necessary because millions of students “are trapped in schools that fail to meet their needs.” Proponents boast that “like Uber disrupts the transportation industry, charter schools and private schools can and are disrupting the education industry.”

Hess/Gallo claim that choicer verbiage is alienating too many parents. But researcher Greg Forster strenuously disagrees, positing that choice is:

…winning in statehouses, winning in governors’ mansions, and winning in public opinion polls. No doubt that success will ebb and flow in the future, as it has in the past. But choice has better public perception today than at any time in its history.

To read the Hess/Gallo piece, go here - https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/04/school-choice-debate-rhetoric-overheated/  To read Forster’s rejoinder, go to https://jaypgreene.com/2018/04/04/hess-and-gallo-get-words-wrong-in-nro/

In January, it was discovered that Californians David and Louise Turpin, who were homeschooling parents, had imprisoned their thirteen children for years in the most disgusting and degrading ways. Shortly thereafter, State Senator Susan Eggman, (D-Stockton) hatched AB 2926, a bill that would establish an advisory committee whose purpose is to make recommendations to the state board of education “on the appropriateness and feasibility” of imposing additional requirements on a home school. They would include, but are not limited to, health and safety inspections, specific curriculum standards, and certification or credentialing of teachers.

The teachers unions and other education establishmentarians are cheering this bill on, “Teachers of home instruction programs should meet California certification requirements. Additionally, there are certain guidelines educators believe should be followed. … Permission granted by the local governing board shall be required annually,” CTA spokeswoman Claudia Briggs said.

But others are alarmed, insisting that the law is unnecessary and way too meddlesome. To learn more, go to http://gvwire.com/2018/03/23/battle-isnt-over-for-homeschoolers-new-regulations-ahead/

The unions have been very much in the news lately, initiating statewide strikes in West Virginia and Oklahoma. The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss has a very sympathetic view, stating, “Teachers don’t want to strike and they don’t like to strike. But they will strike if you make it clear to them that you intend to do them harm, and that you won’t listen to them any other way. If there are no not-unseemly options, unseemly is what you get.”

However, the Center for Education Reform has a very different take, blaming much of low teacher pay on escalating pension costs.

STRIKING FOR THE WRONG THING? The teacher unions won’t tell them, but the teachers who are striking across the country aren’t going to solve anything even if the legislatures give them an annual raise. Why such a strident statement? Consider the following number: $1,000 PER PUPIL. That’s the annual cost of employee pensions. Imagine a school of 600 students — that’s $600,000! Let’s just say half those funds could go to teachers instead of the state pension coffers upfront. There are approximately 26 classroom teachers in a school that size, if we are talking a traditionally organized school. If you took just half of those funds and put them in teachers’ salaries in that school, they’d be earning another $11,000 a year each! Please note that these funds are above and beyond employee contributions, Social Security and taxes.

To read the Strauss piece, go here - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/04/06/those-unseemly-teachers-strikes/?utm_term=.5b0143272b55  To get the opposing point of view, go to - https://www.edreform.com/2018/04/newswire-april-03-2018/

Last month, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 7055, which includes a provision that would decertify any teacher’s union that fails to get the approval of 50 percent of its workforce. Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran said simply: “The reality is nobody should be forced to be led when the majority of the people you’re leading don’t want to be there.… It’s un-American.”

Needless to say, the teachers unions and their friends don’t agree with Mr. Corcoran, and instead have launched into sky-is-falling rhetoric. “It is a not-so disguised attempt to destroy public education in the state of Florida,” said Wendy Doromal, president of the Orange County teachers union. “It’s a direct torpedo to the unions who come to the rescue of educators,” warned Florida State Rep. Kionne McGhee.

To learn more, go to http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/school-zone/os-vouchers-teachers-union-house-bill-20180205-story.html

Washington State teacher Barb Amidon tells an interesting tale in a two-minute video that she made for Rebecca Friedrichs’ new venture “For Kids and Country.” Amidon talks about how her forced union dues had gone to causes she disagreed with, which included a huge loan to a PAC which concerned itself with political causes having nothing to do with education. Worse, the Washington Education Association subsequently forgave the loan. Amidon put out a newsletter to other teachers explaining what happened, but WEA took exception to that and wound up suing Amidon! Must See TV, the video can be found here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DnRZ70bT6E  To check out Friedrichs’ new “For Kids and Country” website, go to https://forkidsandcountry.org/

If you are still using a school email to receive these newsletters, please consider sending us your personal email address. More and more school districts are blocking CTEN. In any event, if you enjoy these letters and find them to be informative, please pass them along to your colleagues and encourage them to join us.

Also, anyone wishing to donate to CTEN can do so very simply through check, money order or PayPal - http://www.ctenhome.org/donate.html  As a non-profit, we exist only through the generosity of others. Thanks, as always.

Sincerely,
Larry Sand
CTEN President

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dear Colleague,

“What should we do with teachers that no one wants but who are guaranteed a job by state law and union contracts?” Not at all an unusual question in the Golden State. Recently the Los Angeles Unified school board debated how best to deal with these “must-place” teachers Tuesday, while discussing strategies to improve chronically underperforming schools. Several ideas emerged:

“My response would be, get rid of them all,” said Board Vice President Nick Melvoin.

“Execution is not part of the deal,” Schmerelson shot back.

Smaller districts tend to buy these teachers out, Vladovic offered.

Board Member George McKenna bemoaned the union’s defense of ineffective teachers. “I have openly said to my friends in the union, as long as we have underperforming non-charter schools in this district, and you keep protecting the employees at the expense of the children, you are not helpful to this process,” he said.

To read more about this very sad state of affairs, go to http://speakupparents.org/speakup-board-watch-take-action/2018/2/28/board-debates-what-to-do-with-teachers-no-one-wants

At the same time the LA school district is trying to deal with its unwanted teachers, the children in the nation’s second largest school district are not faring well. Seth Litt, executive director of Parent Revolution, recently wrote about some very disturbing numbers revealed by the California School Dashboard:

• 40 percent of all students are graduating college or career ready.
• 39 percent of Latino students are graduating college or career ready.
• 30 percent of African-American students are graduating college or career ready.
• 17 percent of English learners are graduating college or career ready.
• 12 percent of students with disabilities are graduating college or career ready.

To learn more, go to http://laschoolreport.com/parent-revolutions-seth-litt-much-more-much-better-is-possible-right-now/

After struggling for years with a big backlog of educator misconduct cases, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing reported in December that they have pretty much caught up. The CTC routinely processes about 5,400 misconduct cases annually, with about one-third third being for first-time alcohol infractions.

Although the commission has the authority to suspend or revoke teacher credentials as a result of criminal behavior, first-time alcohol offenses typically do not generate agency discipline. But, until the board made changes to the system, precious staff time had to be spent researching and analyzing each case.

Under existing rules, an applicant or holder who is convicted of one misdemeanor alcohol related offense shall not be submitted to the Committee of Credentials for review. Instead, staff will close the matter and note the offense in the agency's discipline database.

A big part of the backlog problem came as a result of hundreds of cases being sent from Los Angeles Unified. Officials at LAUSD became concerned about oversight of educator conduct after a former elementary school teacher was arrested on 23 charges of sexual abuse.

To learn more, go to https://www.cabinetreport.com/human-resources/educator-misconduct-caseload-steadies

Moving from misbehaving teachers to misbehaving students, we are now faced with SB 607, authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. It represents the latest effort “by a broad coalition of civil rights organizations to cement gains they’ve made in recent years to significantly reduce suspensions and expulsions in schools statewide.” The current law on willful defiance, which went into effect in 2015, had the support of Gov. Jerry Brown, the California Teachers Association as well as associations representing administrators and school board members. That law limited the ban to just kindergarten through 3rd grade. But SB 607 wants to extend the law to include grades K-12.

Advocates have long sought to outlaw suspensions for behaviors that teachers and administrators deem “defiant” or “disruptive” because they are considered too subjective and disproportionately meted out to students of color.

“When we remove students from the classroom for low-level misbehavior that is part of youth development, we eliminate the opportunity for them to learn and to receive support that would address the root cause of their misbehavior,” said Angelica Salazar, director of education equity for the Los Angeles-based Children’s Defense Fund. “Study after study has shown that a reliance on suspensions to change student behavior doesn’t work.”

However, there are some who believe that we have become too lenient in meting out punishment and make a case that Parkland murderer Nikolas Cruz could have been stopped from committing his dastardly deed had there been consequences for some of his transgressions early on.

The Obama-era Departments of Education and Justice – under education secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder –issued school guidelines in 2014 that claimed students of color are “disproportionately impacted” by suspensions and expulsions, a situation they said leads to a “school-to-prison pipeline” that discriminates against minority and low-income students.

“Broward County was the first to have the goal of lowering suspensions, lowering expulsions, lowering arrests,” explains (Manhattan Institute senior fellow Max) Eden. “And, so, they decided to reduce police involvement by not bringing in cops to arrest kids for a whole range of serious offenses, and then, as you would expect, the arrests go down when you stop arresting. That was taken to be a sign of success, based on that metric alone.”

To learn more about AB 607 go to https://edsource.org/2018/youth-advocates-pushing-to-expand-californias-ban-on-willful-defiance-suspensions/593754  To read about how lenient measures may have led to the Parkland massacre, go here - http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/02/26/broward-county-likely-inspiration-for-obama-school-discipline-policy-to-report-fewer-arrests-suspensions/

In light of the recent school shooting, the subject of teachers carrying guns has been in the news lately. AFT President Randi Weingarten said, "I am sickened by those doing the bidding of the gun lobby, and those like President Trump and (Education Secretary) Betsy DeVos who want an arms race and to turn schools into militarized fortresses by arming teachers. Anyone who wants guns in schools has no understanding of what goes on inside them -- or worse, doesn't care."

I have very different thoughts on the subject, however, which I wrote about in the Orange County Register and several other So Cal dailies.

To learn more about Weingarten’s views, go here - https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/21/us/trump-armed-teachers-school-staff/index.html To read my op-ed, go to https://www.ocregister.com/2018/03/10/its-time-to-arm-teachers-to-better-protect-students/

The Janus oral arguments before the Supreme Court took place as scheduled on Feb. 26th. A decision probably won’t be handed down until June, and Janus supporters are optimistic. Known as the Court’s swing vote, Anthony Kennedy destroyed union arguments at every turn, using phrases like, “…your argument doesn’t have much weight.” Also, after the union attorney admitted that ending forced union dues would diminish the political power of unions, Kennedy responded, “Isn’t that the end of this case?”

To read the transcript of the hearings, go to https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/2017/16-1466_gebh.pdf

Also, even if Janus is successful, that is not the end of it. Ryan Yohn a 13-year veteran middle school history teacher in Westminster, CA and seven other teachers are litigants in a case that raises a second issue. These teachers argue that the current opt-out process for those who don’t want to pay dues is “overly burdensome and also violates the Constitution. Instead, they maintain, educators who want to join should have to affirmatively opt into the union.” Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, which is bringing Yohn’s case says, “Teachers who don’t know about, or can’t follow, the opt-out process are also being forced to subsidize speech they don’t support.”

For more on the Yohn case, go here - https://www.the74million.org/article/after-janus-another-key-lawsuit-targeting-unions-how-californias-yohn-case-targets-opt-out-rules/  For an excellent brief video by Choice Media on the lawsuit, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyTPvSsHmWE

Barry Garelick's talk on "Math Education in the US" chronicles the reform/progressivist-minded ideals that have shaped how math is taught in K-12. Garelick recently retired from the federal government and is on a second career as a math teacher, currently working at a middle school in California. In the talk he describes his initial discovery – via his daughter's second grade teacher – that math wasn't being taught as it should. He also links the reform/progressivist philosophy to how Common Core standards are being interpreted.

To watch the video, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTtdBkRh46E&feature=youtu.be

CTEN has three Facebook pages. If you have a Facebook account, we urge you to visit ours and let us know your thoughts. Having a dialogue among teachers is an effective way to spread information and share our experiences and ideas. Our original Facebook page can be found here https://www.facebook.com/groups/125866159932/   Our second page, which deals with teacher evaluation and transparency, can be accessed here - https://www.facebook.com/groups/126900987357825/   Our newest page is Teachers for School Choice and can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/teachersforchoice?fref=ts

In any event, if you enjoy these letters and find them informative, please pass them along to your colleagues. We know that there are many independent-minded teachers in California who are looking for alternative sources of information. Many thanks, as always, for your interest and support.

Sincerely,
Larry Sand
CTEN President

 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dear Colleague,

While the oral arguments in the Janus v. AFSCME case are just a few days away, the Supreme Court decision probably won’t be known until June. Until then, pundits and non-pundits alike will weigh in on the outcome. A decision for the plaintiff means that teachers will have a choice whether or not they want to pay money to the teachers union. Not surprisingly the unions are gearing up for the worst, and some are doing very strange things. The United Teachers of Los Angeles has sent out a contract to teachers in LA that was emailed to me a CTEN member. Mike Antonucci then wrote about the contract which states:

This agreement to pay dues shall remain in effect and shall be irrevocable unless I revoke it by sending written notice via U.S. mail to UTLA during the period not less than thirty (30) days and not more than sixty (60) days before the annual anniversary date of this agreement or as otherwise required by law. This agreement shall be automatically renewed from year to year unless I revoke it in writing during the window period, irrespective of my membership in UTLA.

The question becomes, why would anyone sign this? Even if Mark Janus prevails, teachers will still be able to be full dues-paying members without signing a restrictive contract.

The UTLA contract can be seen here: http://www.eiaonline.com/intercepts/2018/01/31/teacher-union-plans-to-take-dues-even-if-you-stop-being-a-teacher/

If your school district has tried to hook you with this kind of form, please send a copy to cteninfo@ctenhome.org so that we can share it with all CTENers.

Also, with the Janus case in mind, the unions have been busy trying to get to all new teachers in an attempt to make sure they become union members. As per California’s AB 119, they are entitled to face time with all new teachers, with each district deciding with their union how best to accomplish this. What follows is wording from the tentative contract with the Chino Valley Unified School District.

3.14 THE DISTRICT SHALL PROVIDE AT LEAST TEN (10) DAYS’ ADVANCE NOTICE OF ANY NEW EMPLOYEE GROUP ORIENTATIONS. A ONE (1) HOUR BLOCK OF TIME WILL BE RESERVED FOR THE ASSOCIATION TO MEET DURING THE GROUP ORIENTATIONS WITH NEW EMPLOYEES WITHOUT THE PRESENCE OF THE DISTRICT.  THE DISTRICT WILL SCHEDULE THE ASSOCIATION’S BLOCK OF TIME.  IF THE SCHEDULING OF THE ASSOCIATION’S BLOCK OF TIME WILL OCCUR AFTER THE LUNCH HOUR, THE DISTRICT SHALL CONSULT WITH THE ASSOCIATION. 

IN THE EVENT THE DISTRICT CONDUCTS ONE-ON-ONE ORIENTATIONS WITH NEW EMPLOYEES, IT WILL INFORM THE ASSOCIATION PRIOR TO THE ONBOARDING SESSION TO ALLOW THE ASSOCIATION TO SPEAK TO THE NEW HIRE. 

THE ASSOCIATION LABOR RELATIONS REPRESENTATIVE MAY ALSO ATTEND THE ORIENTATION SESSION(S).

3.15 THE DISTRICT WILL PROVIDE THE ASSOCIATION WITH THE NAME; JOB TITLE; DEPARTMENT; WORK LOCATION; WORK, HOME, AND PERSONAL CELLULAR TELEPHONE NUMBERS; PERSONAL EMAIL ADDRESSES ON FILE WITH THE EMPLOYER; AND HOME ADDRESSES OF NEWLY HIRED EMPLOYEES WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS OF HIRE OR BY THE FIRST PAY PERIOD OF THE MONTH FOLLOWING HIRE. THE DISTRICT WILL PROVIDE THE ASSOCIATION WITH THE ABOVE INFORMATION FOR ALL BARGAINING UNIT MEMBERS AT LEAST ONCE EVERY 120 DAYS.

Your school district probably has a similar type agreement. If your district is significantly different, please send the wording along to cteninfo@ctenhome.org so that we can share that also.

As a concept, “bargaining for the common good” was cooked up in 2014 by leaders from public sector unions and community organizations at a national conference held at Georgetown University. The meeting’s priorities included “using the bargaining process as a way to challenge the relationships between government and the private-sector; working with community allies to create new, shared goals that help advance both worker and citizen power; and recognizing militancy and collective action will likely be necessary if workers and citizens are to reduce inequality and strengthen democracy.”

Which brings us to the Friedrichs case. The plaintiff’s lawyers in that SCOTUS lawsuit argued, “…bargaining with local governments is inherently political. Whether the union is negotiating for specific class sizes or pressing a local government to spend tax dollars on teacher pensions rather than on building parks, the union’s negotiating positions embody political choices that are often controversial.” As such, Abood should be overturned and teachers should not be forced to pay any money to a union at all. (The 1977 Abood decision, which the unions applauded, stipulated that the fair share system is a workable compromise. Accordingly, workers should have to pony up for collective bargaining but not union political spending.)

But with bargaining for the common good, Caputo-Pearl and many other public sector union leaders across the country are insisting that collective bargaining incorporate blatantly political issues. This would seem to doom the union’s case in Janus v AFSCME, the follow-up to Friedrichs.

For more on “bargaining for the common good,” go to http://prospect.org/article/teacher-unions-are-%E2%80%98bargaining-common-good%E2%80%99

And talking about unions and politicking, CTA has published a list of candidates it is supporting in November’s election and there are no surprises. The roster includes Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for CA Governor and Bay Area Assembly Member Tony Thurmond for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The union also is in favor of re-electing Secretary of State Alex Padilla and State Controller Betty Yee, “both of whom are strong advocates of public education.” They also voted to back 38 state Assembly and 6 Senate candidates… everyone a Democrat.

To see the list, go here - https://www.cta.org/en/About-CTA/News-Room/Press-Releases/2018/01/20180121.aspx

According to Corey DeAngelis, Policy Analyst at the Cato Center for Educational Freedom, “The Evidence on School Choice Is Far from 'Mixed'”

Seventeen experimental studies of the effects of private school choice programs on student achievement exist in the U.S. today. As shown in this graphic (http://www.uaedreform.org/private-school-choice-meta-analysis-of-experimental-test-score-effects/)  the majority of the 17 studies find statistically significant positive effects on student test scores, while only two detect negative effects. And it is important to note that the two studies finding negative impacts are first-year results.

As shown in this table, a peer-reviewed analysis of the evidence found that 11 rigorous studies link private school choice programs to students’ levels of tolerance and civic engagement. The majority of them found large positive effects. In one study, researchers from Harvard University and the University of Arkansas surveyed students from the experimental evaluation of the D.C. voucher program. In one question, the researchers asked the students to identify the group (such as Nazis or the K.K.K.) that they agreed with the least. Interestingly, the next three questions gauged tolerance levels by asking the students if they would allow members from the disliked group to: (1) have the right to free-speech, (2) run for president, and (3) live in their neighborhood.  Interestingly, the responses to all three of those questions indicated that the voucher program increased students’ tolerance of others by over 50 percent.

To read more, go to https://townhall.com/columnists/coreydeangelis/2018/01/30/untitled-n2441717

Also, on the school choice front, the Koch Brothers have been busy. In addition to their Libre Initiative, they have been trying to advance the school choice ball, most recently in Arizona.

(Arizona Governor) Doug Ducey, the former chief executive of Cold Stone Creamery, became a member of the Koch network in 2011. Since 2015, he’s attended the seminars as governor of Arizona. Last year, he signed legislation to dramatically expand the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program so that students can use taxpayer dollars that would be spent on them in public schools to cover private-school tuition or other educational expenses.

Teacher unions, worried that this will undermine the public system, collected enough signatures to put the law on hold and create a ballot proposition to let voters decide in November whether to expand vouchers.

Addressing the seminar yesterday, Ducey touted the measure as further reaching than anything that’s been tried in other states. He warned that, under Arizona law, if advocates lose at the ballot box, they will not be able to legislate on the topic in the future. “This is a very real fight in my state,” Ducey said. “I didn’t run for governor to play small ball. I think this is an important idea.”

The Koch network is likely to spend heavily to support the voucher law, setting up a battle royal with the labor movement.

To read more, go to https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2018/01/30/daily-202-koch-network-laying-groundwork-to-fundamentally-transform-america-s-education-system/5a6feb8530fb041c3c7d74db/?utm_term=.83cf9d4bcfcd

To learn more about the Libre Initiative, go here - http://thelibreinitiative.com/about-us

From CTEN member Rabbi Nachum Shifren:

I am opening a charter school based on traditional American values and principles.  The school will be very familiar to those of prior generations. Please watch the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z66Kynj07bY&feature=youtu.be) as I make my case for a new (yet old) approach to common sense education in our country.

Teachers, if you have had it with the corruption and dumbing down of standards, students, and America...WE NEED YOU! Be part of our team. We also need counselors, administrators, coaches...patriots who see the problem and know what we need to do to correct it.

If what I am saying here resonates, please contact us at WarningForAmerica@gmail.com

And finally, as you well know, information is frequently used to score political points and make cases for various causes. To that end, CTEN has a “cheat sheet,” which has been updated on our website – all with original sources. To see it, go to http://www.ctenhome.org/cheatsheet.html

If you have information that counters what’s there or would like to see something added, please let us know. As always, thanks for your continuing interest and support.

Sincerely,
Larry Sand
CTEN President