A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

“We know we could experience an immediate, short-term loss of membership.”

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 30•15

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Hot Tips from the Hoosegow

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 30•15

Dateline – Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania:

A former Wyoming Area School District teacher who embezzled nearly $60,000 from the teachers’ union when she was president has written a “how to” book on surviving federal prison.

While Lisa Barrett was sitting in the top bunk of her cubicle at Danbury Federal Prison Camp in Danbury, Connecticut, she penned the book “How to Navigate Through Federal Prison and Gain an Early Release.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in September 2013 had charged Barrett, then 48, with one count of embezzlement of funds of a labor organization. Prosecutors had determined she had taken $59,732 from the Wyoming Area Education Association over several years, and said the union had determined $94,125 was missing, but they could not confirm the higher amount.

…An explainer on provides this description of the book:
“Have you or a loved one been sentenced to serve time in Federal prison and have no clue what to expect? This experience doesn’t have to be as scary or stressful as you may think. There is a way to overcome this obstacle as quickly as possible and come out on top! Let Lisa Barrett teach you the ropes!”

…Smashwords says Barrett taught nearly 30 years in the Pennsylvania public school system and advocated for education reform as a teacher’s union president and as regional director of political action for the Pennsylvania State Education Association.



Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 27•15

NEA president: It’s time for education companies to be transparent” – headline, Washington Post, March 26

Missouri Officials Block Efforts to Track Time Teachers Spend on Union Business; Officials: Union activities exempt from transparency laws” – headline, Washington Free Beacon, March 26


NEA Shows It’s Serious About 2016 By Sending Letter to John Bolton

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 26•15

So we got a media blitz yesterday and this morning, informing us that the National Education Association is already planning for the 2016 Presidential campaign.

“We have 3 million members who want desperately to know what the candidates have to say to really, seriously improve public education,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García told reporters. “We intend to activate those 3 million members, the parents, even the students.”

(How about activating the students to learn math?)

Activation will involve the cutting edge tactic of placing billboards at the Des Moines and Manchester airports. NEA tried billboards in 2004, coupled with a basket of apples for a debate moderator, to no discernible effect.

The Post reminded Eskelsen Garcia that the Gates and Broad Foundations spent $25 million on “Ed in ’08,” to no discernible effect.

“Even though Gates has lots and lots of money, we have something they don’t – 3 million members,” she said. Except that NEA has spent more than $25 million each Presidential election year, and it used to have 3.2 million members, to no discernible effect.

The union also sent questionnaires to 20 people it thinks might run for President. Fifteen of them are Republicans, including John Bolton and Ben Carson. One is independent Bernie Sanders.

That makes 16 wasted stamps.

The four Democrats are Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb.

That’s two more wasted stamps and one necessary only as a courtesy to the sitting Vice President.

It will be Hillary, and if she wins we will have at least four more years of union complaints about the cozy relationship between establishment Democrats and corporate education reform. If she loses, the billboards for 2020 will go up soon after.



Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 25•15

I spent so much time watching what the Teamsters were doing in Las Vegas that I forgot to look at how the folks at the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA) were taking it.

Not well.

First came the resignation of Brian Christensen, the executive director of the embattled Education Support Employees Association. Then came the departure, under undisclosed circumstances, of NSEA executive director Gary Peck.

The union benefited from a pre-recession teacher hiring boom, but has since been losing members steadily, currently at about 24,000 total membership. The impending loss of 5,000 ESEA members would force the affiliate to become yet another NEA protectorate. The number of state affiliates unable to support their own weight will be a drag on the national union for years to come.


Rock the Union

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 23•15

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If At First You Don’t Secede…

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 23•15

I wonder if anyone has researched the history of unions leaving unions. There are some meaty stories, from Change to Win leaving the AFL-CIO, to FMPR in Puerto Rico, to more recent instances like UHPA in Hawaii, and failed attempts in places like Dearborn, Wicomico County, Modesto and Oregon.

We have a couple of new divorce cases on the docket. The Grand Rapids Community College Alliance of Support Professionals voted to disaffiliate from the Michigan Education Association, and will continue as a local-only union.

And the Yakima Education Association extended its years-long battle with the Washington Education Association over its desire to withdraw from the regional UniServ, WEA MidState. Some NEA state affiliates have an additional layer of governance between local and state. Yakima’s complaint is that the services it receives from the region are not worth what it costs in dues money.

What is unusual about this case is that WEA is threatening to disaffiliate Yakima, not the other way around. I wonder if Yakima’s officers responded with “Please don’t throw us into the briar patch.”

Back in 2013, the WEA board ruled Yakima “out of compliance with the minimum standards of affiliation” and later banned its delegates from participating in the state union’s representative assembly. But WEA doesn’t have any useful intermediate measures to use against Yakima. It can ineffectually complain, or it can kick Yakima out… and lose almost 1,000 members.

Unfortunately for Yakima, WEA does have one tool: the big hammer. A state takeover is the preferred method of dealing with recalcitrant locals, so don’t be surprised if it happens again.