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December 18, 2006

1)  Ohio Education Association Plans Constitutional Amendment for 2007 Ballot. The Ohio Education Association Representative Assembly passed a new business item earlier this month that sets the stage for placing a constitutional amendment on the November 2007 ballot to address school funding.

The agenda item calls on the union to "use all necessary resources and take a leadership role to work with the governor, legislature and coalition partners to draft and support a constitutional amendment to guarantee a quality public education as a fundamental right for all children in the state of Ohio."

The item goes on to direct that the proposed amendment include provisions for growth in school expenditures and an end to what the union sees as an over-reliance on local property taxes. If agreement is not reached with the governor and legislature, the union plans to use the ballot initiative process to place the issue before the voters in the November 2007 election.

EIA readers got wind of this last June (see Item #6), but the delegate action makes the effort official union policy.

2)  NEA Disclaims NCLB "Dismantling" Petition. When it comes to the No Child Left Behind Act, NEA will happily embrace arguments made by states' rights proponents, but it's uncomfortable with the public discussion of one possible outcome of its efforts: the dismantling of the law.

An organization called the Educator Roundtable has posted "a petition calling for the dismantling of the No Child Left Behind Act." NEA headquarters was prompted to distribute an internal memo about it.

"Information about the petition and calls for signing it have been circulating on many email lists," reads the memo from NEA President Reg Weaver and Executive Director John Wilson. "Affiliates, NEA staff, and others are asking questions about the petition and whether or not NEA endorses it. The short answer? Absolutely not."

NEA says the petition "does not propose any positive changes or alternatives" and that "some of the petition's initiators have been critical of NEA and our efforts around NCLB."

The petition website is registered to Philip Kovacs, but it appears to bear the stamp of the second signature on the petition – Susan Ohanian.

Indeed, NEA's reaction is the subject of not one, but two, "NCLB Outrages" on Ohanian's web site.

"What is the NEA leadership afraid of?" Ohanian asks. "That its members might think for themselves?"

Those are two short questions deserving of one long answer, but it will be more fun watching NEA and Ohanian thrash it out for themselves.

3)  Alabama Education Association Increases PAC Deduction. The national NEA and most of its state affiliates are required to raise PAC contributions through solicitation, like any other special interest PAC. In a few states, however, the law allows unions to deduct PAC money (for state campaigns) from the paychecks of members along with their dues. The funds are segregated upon collection, but the process leaves most teachers in those states unaware that they are contributing PAC money to the union with every paycheck.

Alabama is one of these states (California is another). At its recent delegate assembly, representatives of the Alabama Education Association approved an increase of this PAC deduction to $3 per month. AEA has about 72,000 active employed members in the state's public schools, so that chunk of change goes a long way to explain how a union can survive and thrive in the deep South.

4)  Scheduling Note. There will be no communiqué next week, but we will return on Tuesday, January 2. Intercepts will be updated daily for the rest of this week, and as circumstances warrant during Christmas week.

5)  Last Week's Intercepts. EIA's blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from December 11-18:

*  Classroom Management by Torquemada. A medieval torture rack in a Nebraska parochial school… but it's the Lutherans! What would Davey do?

*  Card Check for Me, But Not for Thee. Singlehandedly, the Boston Teachers Union undermines the arguments for the Employee Free Choice Act.

*  Rebonics.
A nostalgic lament for Ebonics in American Heritage. Wack.

6)  Quote of the Week. "I'm livid that people are making allegations and have absolutely no proof to back up their allegations." – Clark County Education Association President Mary Ella Holloway. The union's foundation runs a training program that offers college credits to teachers at the top of the salary scale, enabling them to receive a one-time $3,000 pay increase. The union foundation charges $200 per credit. The state offers the same training program and charges $45 per credit. Could it be an intricate union scheme to prove that the public sector can provide the same service cheaper than the private sector? (December 18 Las Vegas Review-Journal)


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