A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

A Pu Pu Platter of Hawaii Union Election Stories

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 22•15

It all hit the fan yesterday in the Aloha State as the challengers in the recent Hawaii State Teachers Association elections went to the press to make their case. Each of the media outlets had its own details and takes on the situation.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser story gave us information about the vacated results:

Rosenlee said he won the top post along with his running mates, King Kamehameha III Elementary teacher Justin Hughey for vice president and Mililani High teacher Amy Perusso for secretary-treasurer. Rosenlee said he and Perusso each won their races outright by more than 150 votes, noting that only 26 percent of members voted. Hughey, meanwhile, won a runoff election against current HSTA Secretary-treasurer Colleen Pasco, but Rosenlee said the union hasn’t released that vote count.

It is significant that the challengers all won, but a 150-vote margin among 3,300 ballots cast is still pretty close.

Honolulu Civil Beat reports the challengers may file for an injunction against any new election. They also claim HSTA’s allegations of voting irregularities lack evidence.

When asked by email why the union is not releasing more specifics on the number of teachers who complained about missing ballots or why the election issues weren’t addressed before holding the runoff, Okabe said only “it is an internal matter.”

Rosenlee — who was present at the board meeting and voted in favor of certifying the election — and his running mates argue that the “only verified claim” involved complaints from approximately a dozen teachers who said they did not receive a ballot.

“In each instance, it was acknowledged that HSTA staff had promptly rectified the situation by providing a ballot and the member was able to cast a vote,” their press release said.

“Despite being requested to do so, HSTA has refused to release any information regarding any of these allegations,” the release said. “The manner in which these concerns about the election were raised and considered violated the HSTA’s Bylaws.”

At a press conference Thursday evening, Hughey said that the company hired to conduct the election sent a letter to the union saying it stood by the election results.

The HSTA Board of Directors is responsible for certifying election results but, as Labor Notes reports, some of the board members who voted on the certification were candidates, and voted after knowing the results. This is reportedly a violation of the union’s bylaws.

The KHON-TV broadcast presented the official HSTA line and gave short shrift to the challengers.

Hawaii News Now went in the other direction, focusing on the challenger’s charges, and offering the HSTA position as a sidebar.

It’s hard to imagine that this will end well for the HSTA incumbents, even if a new election goes forward, but we will keep you updated as circumstances warrant.


Decisions, Decisions

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 21•15

The National Education Association Representative Assembly will meet in Orlando, Florida, the first week of July. Convention delegates are given a stipend to offset the costs of attending, but there are demands placed on their personal budgets while there. For example…


Yes, the goal this year is for the average delegate contribution to NEA’s political action committee to be $185. Most of this money goes to battling the agenda of Evil Corporations. Orlando, however, is home to the most insidious of these.


So you can spend your money here…


…or here…

Tough one.


HSTA Letter to Members Re: Disputed Election

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 19•15

Background here.




Teachers’ Unions: Masters of the Compartmentalized Argument

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 18•15

Click here to read.


No Aloha After Union Election

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 18•15

Hawaii State Teachers Association president Wil Okabe was term-limited out this year, leading his vice president, Joan Lewis, to seek the post. She was challenged by Corey Rosenlee, a member of the union’s board of directors. Rosenlee ran on a slate from the Hawaii Teachers for Change caucus, who want to transform HSTA “from a business model union to an organizing union.”

There was a long delay in announcing the outcome of the election until finally HSTA told members there would be a runoff for the office of vice president. But the union didn’t disclose the actual vote counts, nor did it certify the results for president or secretary-treasurer.

The runoff was held, but in a marathon session on Saturday the union’s board of directors voted not to certify the results of either the first election or the runoff, citing unnamed irregularities.

This caused a firestorm of protest, particularly after secretary-treasurer candidate Osa Tui revealed he had lost the initial vote to Teachers for Change candidate Amy Perruso. Tui then withdrew from the race.

Angry activists are peppering the union’s Facebook page with demands for transparency, while conspiracy theories begin to float around. A petition has been posted calling for all details of the votes and the board meeting to be made public.

It’s still too early to call this type of thing a trend, but the days of simply anointing new union presidents do seem to be gradually coming to an end.


Where Did You Get That Idea?

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 15•15

May 13, 2015 NEA Today: “Teacher Turnover Is Much Lower Than You Probably Think

That’s interesting. Why would I think teacher turnover is high? Could it be because I was reading this stuff?

April 2, 2015 NEA Today: “Revolving Door Of Teachers Costs Schools Billions Every Year” “Over the next five years, nearly half of new teachers will transfer to a new school or leave the profession altogether – a revolving door of teacher turnover that costs school districts upwards of $2.2 billion a year.”

NEA Research Spotlight on Recruiting & Retaining Highly Qualified Teachers: “Some sources estimate that 50 percent of the teachers currently in our classrooms will either retire or leave the profession over the next five to seven years. The statistics for teacher turnover among new teachers are startling. Some 20 percent of all new hires leave the classroom within three years. In urban districts, the numbers are worse. Close to 50 percent of newcomers leave the profession during their first five years of teaching.”

December 17, 2012 story on NEA’s Education Votes site: “According to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF), teacher attrition has grown by 50 percent over the last fifteen years. Educators leave the profession now at a rate of 16.8 percent. Over 30 percent of young teachers leave the profession within the first five years.”

September 10, 2012 press statement from NEA president Dennis Van Roekel: “Currently, conditions in our schools are so difficult that almost half of all new teachers leave the profession in the first five years.”

March 31, 2011 editorial from NEA president Dennis Van Roekel: “Let’s do the math…. Nearly 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession in the first five years, and schools lose 100 percent of their investment.”

Apr 5, 2008 NEA Today: “Nationally, the average turnover for all teachers is 17 percent, and in urban school districts specifically, the number jumps to 20 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future proffers starker numbers, estimating that one-third of all new teachers leave after three years, and 46 percent are gone within five years.”

March 14, 2008 NEA Today: “Nearly half of new teachers leave the classroom during the first five years of teaching—and, although the reasons are varied, low pay is certainly one of them.”

January 20, 2007 NEA Today for Tomorrow’s Teachers: “Just as one about to be married does not want to ponder the shocking statistic that nearly half of all U.S. marriages end in divorce, a soon-to-be teacher does not relish hearing that nearly half of all new teachers leave the profession within five years (in fact, some 20 percent leave after just one year).”

A March 19, 2000 New York Times story profiled two new Bridgeport, Connecticut teachers, Elena Pelaez and Gary DeBrizzi, and contained this quote: “But in a school district that loses up to one third of its new teachers every year, and in a nation where half of all new teachers quit within five years, according to the National Education Association, the chances of teachers like Ms. Palaez and Mr. DeBrizzi being in classrooms here a decade from now are slim.”

I could not determine if Ms. Pelaez is still teaching 15 years later, though I was able to locate several Elena Pelaezs who still teach Spanish. As for Mr. DeBrizzi, not only is he still teaching in Bridgeport, he is listed as the treasurer of the Bridgeport Education Association.


Call the Secret Service

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 14•15

Because Matthew Ladner deftly eviscerated President Obama after his remarks at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty at Georgetown University.

The President made a thoughtful and reasoned argument about the free market, common goods and public investment. Unfortunately for him, he was actually describing the reality in some alternate universe (or perhaps, Alfie Kohn’s Planet Mongo).

I’ll turn the stage over to Ladner, and simply highlight a Heritage Foundation chart he used. He likes it because it shows where the money goes. I like it because it bolsters the sad reality that U.S. public education policy is a labor issue, not an education issue.