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August 17, 2009

1)  NEA Gets Into the Real Estate Business. The next time someone tells you that the National Education Association Representative Assembly (RA) is "the world's largest democratic deliberative body," ask him or her about the RA's deliberations regarding the establishment of a trusteeship over the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA), the $2.5 million loan to help bailout ISTA and its insurance trust, and now, the creation of an Indiana real estate firm run by the national union's executives.

I'm sitting here looking at the articles of incorporation for NEA Properties Inc., a non-profit entity created on July 22, 2009 and headquartered in the ISTA offices, which is convenient, because the corporation was apparently formed for the sole purpose of purchasing the ISTA building in Indianapolis, along with its branch offices in Evansville and Bicknell.

ISTA will continue to occupy its offices in all three locations, but NEA Properties Inc. will be owner and landlord, assuming ISTA's outstanding debt for the holdings.

It is difficult to put a dollar amount on the transaction from the available documentation, but ISTA's 2006-07 IRS filing showed the total worth of its fixed assets (buildings, equipment and furniture) at $4.2 million, with an accumulated depreciation of more than $3.4 million, leaving it with a net book value of $770,000.

NEA Properties, Inc. enlisted the services of the Indiana real estate law firm of Wallack, Somers & Haas to handle the paperwork, and named as its principals Bill E. Thompson (NEA's director of financial and membership services), Lily Eskelsen (NEA vice president) and Rebecca Pringle (NEA secretary-treasurer).

2)  I Just Happened to Be in the Neighborhood. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel told members of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association that the union "will support any compensation system that a local bargains," in response to the Tulsa Teacher Effectiveness Initiative. The plan will include performance pay and eliminate salary increases for advanced degrees and additional certifications.

"Compensation systems, plain and simple, are a local issue," Van Roekel said. "It's bargained between management and the union. It should never be imposed, and it's what you believe is a fair system - you've got to know what you're paying for, how to measure it, and then you distribute the resources."

If it's so obviously a local bargaining issue, what was Van Roekel doing in Tulsa? There are other places.

3)  Contract Hits. Wherein we highlight a contract provision from the current agreement between the National Education Association and its largest staff union. This is Article 23, Part D, Section 3:

"NEA may make short-term transfers/reassignments (up to one year) of employees in order to maximize the deployment of available staff in priority efforts of NEA, subject to the following conditions:

(a) Every reasonable effort will be made to harmonize the employee's preference with NEA's needs.

(b) Employees will not be disciplined, adversely evaluated, or in any way disadvantaged in regard to their regular position if they are unable to successfully perform tasks unrelated to their regular position description.

(c) Extensions to the time frame shall be agreed to by NEA and the Union on a case-by-case basis."

4)  Last Week's Intercepts. EIA's blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from August 10-17:

* Top 10 Most Annoying Teachers on Your Staff. I didn't come up with this, but I wish I had.

* Dogs and Cats Living Together. Signs of the apocalypse.

* The Cheese Is Not the Only Difference. California and Wisconsin union officers take different approaches to the Race to the Top guidelines.

* Revolving Door. The labor market for teachers is good… or maybe it's bad.

* Die Hard (Drive). How I'll spend the rest of my summer.

5)  Quote of the Week. "There is an undeniable correlation between teacher salaries and resources given to teachers and student achievement." – William Leibensperger, vice president of the Ohio Education Association. (August 16 Columbus Dispatch)


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