Welcome to the blog of the California Teachers Empowerment Network. CTEN is a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the public at large with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
“Steve Bannon Tried
to Recruit Teachers Union to Trump’s Agenda While in the White House” reads the
eye-catching headline in a post on The
Intercept earlier this month. From the piece:
“Look, I will meet with virtually anyone to
make our case, and particularly in that moment, I was very, very concerned
about the budget that would decimate public education,” Weingarten said. “I
wanted it to be a real meeting, I didn’t want it to be a photo-op, so I
insisted that the meeting didn’t happen at the White House.”
Weingarten didn’t take notes at the meeting,
which was held at a Washington restaurant, but told The Intercept she and
Bannon talked about “education, infrastructure, immigrants, bigotry and hate,
budget cuts … [and] about a lot of different things.”
She came away a bit shook. “I came out of
that conversation saying that this was a formidable adversary,” she said.
He was looking, Weingarten said, for some
common ground that could assist him in realigning the two parties, his
long-term goal in politics.
advocate E.D. Hirsch, who argues that “only a well-rounded, knowledge-specific
curriculum can impart needed knowledge to all children and overcome inequality
of opportunity,” has written a compelling piece on the subject.
Our schools now exhibit a diminished sense,
once widely held, that a central goal of American schooling is to foster
national cohesion—“out of many, one.” The loss of that sense of mission in the
early grades has occurred because of two intellectual changes that have gained
ascendancy during the past 80 or so years. The first and most important change
was a shift, starting in the 1920s and ’30s, from an emphasis on initiating
children into the mores of the national tribe to an emphasis on developing the
nature of the individual child.
According to the
Learning Policy Institute, the U. S. annual teacher attrition is about 8
percent and LPI finds this number alarming. Should this be a cause for concern?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that in 2016, the “quit rate” for
teachers was indeed 8.8 percent. But other fields didn’t fare nearly as well.
In manufacturing the rate was 14.6 percent, in real estate 18.5 and in retail
trade it was over 35 percent. In fact, BLS reports that 25 percent of all
workers left their jobs in 2016. So teachers quit their jobs only about
one-third as much as all workers.
Nothing really new here, as Mike Antonucci
wrote about the issue in 2007. Using numbers from a 2004-2005 National Center
for Educational Statistics report, he acknowledges that while some teachers do
leave the profession because of education-related issues, most leave for
non-education related reasons – to pursue a position other than that of K-12
teacher, retirement, pregnancy or
reasons,health and changed residence, etc.
Is the Youth Entrepreneur program right
for you? It “equips young people
with the values and vision to pursue their dreams. We strive to change the
mindsets of young people, so they believe in themselves and what they can
accomplish. Our experiential education model instills entrepreneurial and
economic principles built for prosperity. We inspire students to overcome
barriers and seize opportunities for good.”
Additionally, YE is not just a
business class. It is “an engaging elective course and alumni program that
prepares students from fragile communities for success in the workplace and in
The Independent Institute’s Vicki Alger has
released a report on the value of educational savings accounts. She writes that
“California is among the bottom five states in the nation in reading and math.
Currently, nearly one out of five high school students does not graduate, and
just 43 percent of those who do graduate meet California’s four-year college
course requirements.” She continues,
proven policy-path for dramatic improvements in student achievement is parental
choice: giving parents the ability to choose the methods and means of their
children’s education, including the freedom to use education savings accounts,
On the union front, if the Janus v AFSCME case, due for a hearing
early next year, is successful, no teacher or any public employee in the U.S.
would have to pay money to a union as a condition of employment. The American
Federation of Teachers is getting ready for the worst case scenario andsent its director of
field programs Rob Weil to speak to the Baltimore Teachers Union. In a
presentation titled “Janus, Unions, and the Rest,” Weil details the potential
ramifications of the lawsuit. In one of his more interesting comments, he posits
that “Unions may be forced to spend larger amounts of time and money on
membership maintenance instead of other more progressive union activities.” He
adds that the progressive moment (sic) as a whole, and many specific groups,
“will lose resources (both $$ and people) which will lessen their impact. Some
social partners may, unfortunately, no longer exist.”
In other words, without forced dues,
the unions may actually have to pay attention to their members and their
political preferences. Mike Antonucci has a different take, however. He writes,
“Although their overall numbers will be reduced, it is conceivable that unions
will become more progressive organizations. Those who pay dues out of personal
choice, rather than mandated obligation, are more likely to support their
unions’ political goals as well. There will be less union, but it could be
So will the unions become even more
politically strident? Or will they soften their political positions to attract
more members? Only time will tell.
For an in-depth look at the history of
labor reform going back to 1935, Sean Higgins has written an excellent piece on
the subject for the Washington Examiner.
It includes an interesting quote from former SEIU President Andy Stern:“If states are going to adopt
right-to-work laws, they should release unions from the responsibility of
representing non-members in collective bargaining. If you are not a member of
something, you shouldn't get the benefits.”
For CTA agency fee
payers, the November 15th deadline has passed, so we hope you have
already submitted your 2017 rebate form. However, if you are a first time
filer, you may resign from the union after the 15th. You will not
get the full amount, but rather a prorated one depending on how long after the
15th you file. For more information, please visit http://www.ctenhome.org/know.htm
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.