Intercepts

A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

NEA’s Next Target: Florida’s 2nd District

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 23•14

The National Education Association’s Super PAC has pivoted recently to close House races, spending $335,000 on an ad buy in Maine’s 2nd Congressional district last week.

This week it spent $126,000 on a TV ad against incumbent GOP Rep. Steve Southerland in Florida’s 2nd District. Southerland is locked in a tight race with Democrat Gwen Graham, daughter of former Florida Gov. and U.S. Senator Bob Graham.

Graham is running ads of her own distancing herself from ObamaCare.

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It’s a Teacher Union Real Estate Sell-Off!

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 22•14

Yesterday’s post about the Massachusetts Teachers Association selling its headquarters building in Boston was one in a long line of stories about teachers’ unions and real estate.

There was the United Teachers of Dade sale, and the Indiana State Teachers Association sale (to NEA Properties Inc.), and even the United Federation of Teachers multiple sales.

This morning came the news that the Chicago Teachers Union sold off a 29-story apartment building for just under $50 million. The union purchased the tower in 1966 as a place for retired teachers to live.

A 600-square-foot one-bedroom apartment rents there for between $1500 and $1700 per month. The union spent $3 million renovating some of the units, and raised rents accordingly. The new owners expect to continue that strategy.

“We are very happy to be working with the buyer and we think it’s a fair deal for everyone involved,” said acting CTU president Jesse Sharkey.

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Massachusetts Teachers Association Becomes a Tenant

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 21•14

Last year we reported the Massachusetts Teachers Association put its eight-story headquarters building in Boston up for sale. After almost a year, the union finally found a buyer.

New York-based real estate investors Faros Properties purchased the building for a reported $9.85 million. Under the terms of the sale, MTA will remain in the space as tenants until December 2015, after which the union will need to find a new home.

Faros has holdings in many cities in the Northeast, primarily converting properties within city limits into apartments and condominiums.

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Compromise(d)

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 20•14

Click here to read.

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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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