Intercepts

A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Compromise(d)

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 20•14

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NEA Drops $335K Into House Race in Maine

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 20•14

The National Education Association’s Super PAC has concentrated almost exclusively on trying to preserve the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, but last week it made a $335,000 expenditure to produce and air ads in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District against Republican Bruce Poliquin.

Poliquin has a slight lead in the polls over Democrat Emily Cain, who is a state legislator with a higher education background.

NEA also spent smaller amounts in the Senate races in Alaska, North Carolina and Iowa.

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NEA Spending Almost $80 Per Arkansas Member on Senate Race

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 17•14

The National Education Association’s Super PAC dropped another $350,000 on a media buy in the Arkansas U.S. Senate race, bringing its total spending in the state to about $840,000.

The teachers’ union represents fewer than 11,000 working public education employees in Arkansas (out of about 32,000).

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Philly Follies

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 16•14

You have probably heard by now that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission unilaterally canceled the collective bargaining agreement with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. In order to close a budget deficit the commission wants union members to contribute to their health insurance, which they do not do now.

Of course, that was enough to anger the union, but the commission hit even closer to home when it decided to stop using the PFT trust as the district’s health insurance provider. So the battle flags were unfurled and we can expect the usual.

The first round of wacky began with the district’s Parent University – a program to increase parental engagement – sponsoring a movie night featuring Won’t Back Down, a film produced by Walden Media that champions parent trigger laws and criticizes teachers’ unions.

Why anyone thought this was a good idea under the current circumstances is a mystery, but it elicited a predictable response in a student protest during the screening.

“The School Reform Commission decided to show a movie that blames teachers and their unions for the state of public education,” said student Avery McNair. “It’s the government that should be blamed for the budget deficit, not teachers.”

“They’re showing a propaganda film in order to manipulate parents to support how the SRC cancelled the teachers’ contract last week,” said McNair. “If students don’t stand up for themselves and for their teachers, it’s just going to keep spiraling downward. We deserve the same quality of education as the suburbs.”

Well-spoken, if it weren’t for the fact that McNair is a student at the Charter High School for Architecture and Design, which doesn’t have unionized teachers or a collective bargaining agreement. What’s more, the school supports the Save My Charter project, which calls for equal funding and expansion of charter schools in Philadelphia. Its web site notes, “There are still many organizations and legislators who would prefer to see charter schools abolished in Pennsylvania.” Who might they be?

If that weren’t confusing enough, there are a handful of unionized charter schools in Philadelphia, whose members want equal respect within AFT for the work they do, while at the same time committing to “fight the expansion of charter schools.”

There is plenty of blame to go around for the district’s fiscal condition. What we are seeing is the inevitable result of the gravy train going off the rails.

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Has NEA Abandoned the Nevada Tax Initiative?

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 15•14

The latest filing for Question 3, the margin tax initiative on the Nevada ballot, appears to show the Nevada State Education Association standing entirely alone and, it seems, almost out of cash.

The Education Initiative PAC, which supports Question 3, raised $653,204 and spent $1,098,181 in the latest period. Since Jan. 1, the political action committee raised $888,204 and spent $1,523,712. Counting 2013, the committee raised $1,888,204 and spent $1,775,278.

All of the money in the latest quarter came from NSEA, except for a whopping $3,204 from NEA national.

Meanwhile the opposition is rolling in contributions from a multitude of sources. It’s never safe to assume that teachers’ unions have no money available to spend on campaigns, but unless NEA is gearing up for an October surprise, it may have folded its hand in Nevada.

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NEA’s Super PAC Goes on “Grassroots” Shopping Spree

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 14•14

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Flash! NEA Not Planning to Change Much

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 14•14

Last year the National Education Association appointed a governance review committee to examine the union’s structure and policy-making apparatus. Some bold ideas came under consideration, including a Representative Assembly (RA) only once every two years, a smaller Board of Directors, a reduced Resolutions Committee, and a host of other changes designed to widen participation and reduce costs.

The committee concluded its work this month and it isn’t much of a surprise that none of those things will happen. The one proposal it will present to the next RA is whether to change the deadline for the submission of new business items.

It’s a disappointing end to a process that began with high-minded aspirations, as demonstrated by this NEA PowerPoint presentation I have posted to EIA’s Declassified page. Evidently the union believes it already has a structure that is “strong, effective and able to adapt to rapidly changing environment so that we make informed decisions in a time of uncertainty and attack.”

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