Tagline Corroboration

A little serendipity on a Friday…

I finished yesterday’s post on the Clark County union dispute with “It’s just an educated guess, but I’m pretty sure a majority of members had no idea they were paying dues to NSEA and NEA.”

The Clark County Education Association responded with this tweet:

I finished last week’s column on the salaries of national teacher union officers landing them in the top 1% of wage-earners with “But the unions have fallen prey to the all-too-common definition of the rich as ‘anyone who makes more money than I do’.”

Yesterday the American Federation of Teachers tweeted this about a Randi Weingarten speech:

Weingarten’s $472,197 salary places her in the top 0.6% of wage earners in the United States, a cohort that includes about 800,000 individuals. If I understand her math correctly, she is now only worried about the 136 highest wage-earners in the U.S.

After the AFT tweet, the very next tweet that came up in my timeline was this:

The linked story tells us “Democratic state lawmakers are worried because California relies so heavily on the income taxes it collects from high earners to fund government services. The state’s wealthiest 1 percent, for instance, pay 48 percent of its income tax, and the departure of just a few families could lead to a noticeable hit to state general fund revenue.”

The usual government approach should remedy this problem: just grab hold of the slightly less rich and work your way down to the middle class.

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Clark County Union Dispute Goes to Trial

Motions to dismiss were rejected by a Clark County judge in the ongoing dispute between the Clark County Education Association and its parent unions, the Nevada State Education Association and the National Education Association.

Both sides claimed victory, with CCEA stating the failure of NSEA’s motion to dismiss meant the state union has to provide financial information to CCEA. NSEA stated the judge “dealt a blow to CCEA’s illegal attempt to withhold dues.”

In reality the major points of contention will be decided at trial, and it is likely that CCEA’s suit and NSEA/NEA’s counter-suit will be consolidated before moving forward.

The NSEA press release also states, “A majority of members contacted by NSEA had no idea their dues are being illegally withheld by CCEA.”

It’s just an educated guess, but I’m pretty sure a majority of members had no idea they were paying dues to NSEA and NEA.

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From the Vault: July 21, 2003

Unasked Questions About the Nadeau Sex Scandal. Having been elected to the National Education Association Executive Committee, Wayne Nadeau of Vermont was destined to labor in relative obscurity for six years, facing no more media scrutiny than a rare mention in the EIA Communiqué. Unfortunately for him, someone dug through the public records of the Vermont Department of Education and came across the fact that Nadeau’s teaching license had been suspended earlier this year for having sex with a teacher’s aide in his classroom. Both the Stowe Reporter and the Rutland Herald have examined a January 29 agreement between Nadeau and the Vermont Department of Education in which he admits to the activity and that it “occurred when students were, and might have been, present in the building.” His license was suspended for 20 working days.

NEA and Vermont NEA are supporting Nadeau, though their reaction is tempered because Nadeau hadn’t seen fit to mention his problem to his colleagues. The Rutland Herald asked Mark Cebulski of Wisconsin, who ran and lost to Nadeau for a seat on the NEA Executive Committee, for his thoughts. “I think the delegates would have liked to have known all the facts surrounding it before making a judgment,” he said.

The chairmen of the Vermont House and Senate education committees (one a Republican, the other a Democrat) both called on NEA to conduct a full investigation, but NEA demurred. “Having an affair is not a disqualification, and I know it’s something he regrets. He’s been disciplined; the matter is closed,” said NEA spokeswoman Kathleen Lyons.

“There’s no legal basis to exclude him from membership in this organization or a leadership position,” said Vermont NEA President Angelo Dorta.

Lyons and Dorta are evidently correct. In fact, in some circles Nadeau is now qualified to be President of the United States. NEA officers can be impeached for violating the Code of Ethics of the Education Profession, which was adopted by the Representative Assembly in 1975. The preamble states, “The educator accepts the responsibility to adhere to the highest ethical standards,” but the provisions of the code do not apply to Nadeau’s case as we know it. The code prohibits lying or withholding information on a job application “related to competency and qualifications.” It also states that educators “shall not accept any gratuity, gift, or favor that might impair or appear to influence professional decisions or action.”

What’s missing from the Nadeau case and the “personal mistake” defense is the other party. We know that the sex was consensual, that it happened on more than one occasion in his classroom, that it was a woman, not Nadeau’s wife, and that she worked as a paraeducator in the same high school. That narrows the possibilities to about six or seven women, but we do not know if she assisted Nadeau in his professional duties, nor do we know what disciplinary measures were taken against her, since paraeducators are not subject to the same oversight agencies. We also don’t know who ratted them out and under what circumstances. Nor do we know about Nadeau’s professional treatment of his lover relative to the school’s other paraeducators. EIA does know that Nadeau has no plans to resign.

If an extramarital affair with a colleague is all there is to it, then Nadeau will simply pay a price of current embarrassment for his previous silence, and suffer no further repercussions. But maybe NEA ought to hear from the woman before it starts bandaging Nadeau’s slapped wrist.

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From the Vault: July 3, 2003

EIA Exclusive: State Merger Talks Cause Uproar in Texas AFT Affiliate. While the education world turns its eyes to the National Education Association Representative Assembly in New Orleans, the week’s biggest teacher union news comes from the American Federation of Teachers affiliate in Texas.

The Texas Federation of Teachers (TFT) held its annual convention over the weekend and soon found itself waging an internecine war over merger talks with the NEA-affiliated Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA). These talks have been going on for two years, with much progress being made on side issues without any real progress on how to overcome the key problems.

The biggest obstacles to merger on the TFT side are their two largest locals – Houston and Dallas. Houston is inalterably opposed while Dallas is only very, very opposed. Coupled with a handful of other locals, these two hold about 40 percent of the TFT delegate vote. These numbers make a most volatile mixture, because the pro-merger locals have a majority to pass just about any merger resolution, but lack the two-thirds majority necessary to force the required constitutional changes.

The differences between the two sides have been simmering the entire time negotiations have been taking place, but they boiled over last weekend, when Dallas and Houston introduced several resolutions to alter the merger negotiation process. All were defeated on the floor by the predictable 60-40 split. The result satisfied no one. The TFT leadership is rumored to be considering bypassing the convention delegates and asking for a membership referendum. Two-thirds approval of the members at-large will get the deal done, but that may be a more difficult hurdle to clear, since not all members will vote.

For its part, the entire Houston delegation walked off the convention floor after the resolutions were defeated. Houston Federation of Teachers President Gayle Fallon told the TFT leadership that Houston would continue to pass dues money to the state and national affiliates, but that she would participate in no more state federation activities, meetings and conferences.

Alliance AFT, the Dallas affiliate, tells EIA it will “campaign hard against any merger proposal.” One Dallas official said, “This entire merger issue has created major splits in the TFT of the likes I have never seen before.”

One overriding issue is the relative fortunes of Houston and Dallas when compared to those of TSTA. Both Houston and Dallas posted 1,000-member gains last year. TSTA, on the contrary, is in a downward membership spiral and exists largely on loans and grants from NEA. The non-union Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) is the largest teacher organization in the state. TSTA’s financial problems have descended into the comical. A TSTA source tells EIA that the union is seeking a bank loan to pay off the remainder of its $3 million loan from NEA, because a bank would provide lower interest rates than NEA does. Additionally, TSTA has begun to crack down on its own Dallas affiliate for late transmittal of dues – and we know from Washington and Miami that that isn’t a good sign.

Up to this point, almost all opposition to state mergers has come from the NEA side. Merger opposition on the AFT side is more volatile, because the locals are strong and independent enough to go their own way. Texas bears close watching, because if a state merger happens there, it will be the first one to occur over significant organized opposition. The consequences will be illustrative for other states considering the issue.

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Bennies

The National Center for Education Statistics released its first look at the comprehensive public education revenue and expenditures figures for the 2014-15 school year.

Despite the usual complaints, our public schools seem to have put the aftermath of the recession behind them and have resumed spending at their traditional clip. Total expenditures grew by more than 3 percent nationwide to reach $652 billion. Student enrollment grew by 0.5 percent.

Employee wages and benefits accounted for 79.8 percent of all current spending in 2015, but we are now seeing quite a change in the rate of increase between those two categories.

Wages went up 3 percent, commensurate with overall spending, which is what you would expect. But spending on employee benefits rose 5.9 percent to total almost $131 billion.

The public is woefully uninformed about education spending and salaries, but at least the topic is constantly discussed. The level of benefit spending is the purview of a few brave souls whose warnings go unheeded.

There is a two-year lag in the NCES numbers, but there is no reason to believe this was merely a momentary spike. The pension tsunami is growing, to the point where it might even drive salaries and shortages from the public agenda.

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