A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

The Teacher Shortage Crisis Is Always “Coming”

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 15•16

The Learning Policy Institute, created by Linda Darling-Hammond, issued a report on teacher shortages to coincide with its day-long forum on the topic in Washington DC. It even has a hashtag. This prompted the usual alarm and demand for solutions. The top story on Politico‘s Morning Education is headlined “The coming teacher shortage crisis.”

My analysis of teacher shortages has been consistent for a very long time – about as long as we’ve been hearing about teacher shortages. But it’s hopeless. The teacher shortage crisis has been “coming” since the early 1990s. I suppose it will get here eventually. While we’re waiting, here’s a graph from the National Center for Education Statistics showing the pupil-teacher ratio for the last 10 years for which we have comprehensive data.

If you prefer text:

The number of students per teacher, or the pupil/teacher ratio, has generally been decreasing over more than 50 years at both public and private schools. In fall 1955, there were 1.1 million public and 145,000 private elementary and secondary school teachers in the United States. By fall 2013, these numbers had nearly tripled to 3.1 million for public school teachers and to 441,000 for private school teachers. However, increases in student enrollment were proportionally smaller over this period: from 30.7 million to 50.0 million public school students (a 63 percent increase) and from 4.6 million to 5.4 million private school students (a 17 percent increase). For public schools, the pupil/teacher ratio fell from 26.9 in 1955 to 15.9 in 2003. The ratio continued this decline until 2008, when it dropped to 15.3. In the years after 2008, the pupil/teacher ratio rose, reaching 16.1 in 2013.

But there’s no stopping a tidal wave of political activism with a sand wall of historical data. The teacher shortage is coming. Run for your lives.


Unions Have Cash But Not Partners In Fight Against MA Charter Proposal

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 14•16

Click here to read.


NEA’s Ballot Fund Being Brought to Bear in States

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 13•16

The National Education Association collects an annual special assessment from each member that goes into the national union’s Ballot Measure/Legislative Crises Fund. State affiliates then apply for grants, which are either approved, reduced or denied by the union’s executive committee and board of directors. At last check the fund contained $58 million.

NEA keeps the amount of these disbursements close to the vest, but we have learned that the union pledged $1.4 million to Massachusetts, $1.5 million to Georgia, $2 million to Oregon and $500,000 to Maine.

Now enough time has passed for that money to start appearing in campaign finance disclosure reports and it appears that the deployment of the funds differs from state to state.

In Massachusetts, NEA delivered the $1.4 million in one lump sum to the No on Question 2 campaign on September 1. This is uncommon, as the union usually prefers to send money in smaller batches as it is being used.

In Georgia, the campaign to oppose the governor’s Opportunity School District initiative has so far reported only a $125,000 contribution from the Georgia Association of Educators and no money from NEA, though the campaign begins running TV ads today.

In Oregon, Yes on Measure 97 reported $750,000 in contributions from the Oregon Education Association and $750,000 from SEIU Local 503, but nothing yet from NEA. The measure is polling well, which might give NEA the option of reducing its commitment if the money isn’t needed.

In Maine, the committee in support of Question 2 received $300,000 from NEA. Another $40,000 came from in-kind contributions of staff time from the Maine Education Association, accounting for almost all of the committee’s income.

Looking at the total picture, it appears NEA hasn’t yet committed the full force of its donations to state-level campaigns and at the end of the month will be able to authorize even more grants from the ballot measure war chest. We will likely not know the extent of the national union’s contributions until after the election.


Madeloni’s Non-Job Could Soon Be at Non-Workplace

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 12•16

The Massachusetts Teachers Association web site describes president Barbara Madeloni as “on leave as a senior lecturer in the Labor Studies Department at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.” But as EIA reported last April, Madeloni has never worked in the Labor Studies Department, has no office or presence there, and according to the terms of her unique agreement with the university, will never work there.

Now it looks like the Labor Studies Program itself may fade away, as UMass Amherst administrators have begun cutting its budget. Why? It isn’t making any money.

“Problems at the center, which offers master’s degrees in labor studies that train students in collective bargaining, workers’ rights, and the history of organized labor, seem to boil down to money and declining enrollment,” reported the Boston Globe.

The center’s former director, Eve Weinbaum, claims she was ousted by the university. “There is a reality to the economic situation, but I think to deal with it by making short-term decisions about what’s generating revenue and what’s not is a real mistake,” she said.

UMass claims the program has two new students this year and 16 total, down from 30 total a decade ago.

Labor activists are up in arms, and Madeloni included a shot at UMass in a recent email to MTA members. “The UMass Labor Center is one of the most respected labor centers in the country and has graduated staff and organizers within the MTA and our coalitions,” she wrote. “Cuts are underway that will reduce the Labor Center to a shadow of itself. Cuts are being implemented because the Labor Center is not generating income. The corporate university – as opposed to the public university – demands that programs become revenue generators. Under this demand it is more and more difficult to support programs that welcome and support a diversity of students, and it is too easy to eliminate programs that do not fit the ideological parameters of corporatists.”

So the program is prestigious and respected but students don’t enroll. It’s lacking money but the unions don’t help. It employs people who don’t work there. It really is a labor studies program.


We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Table

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 09•16

When Hillary Clinton addressed the delegates at the National Education Association Representative Assembly last July she told them, “And if I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, educators will have a partner in the White House – and you’ll always have a seat at the table.”

Thanks to Mother Jones we now know how small that table is. The left-wing publication revealed the members of Clinton’s K-12 policy working group:

+ Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association

+ Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers

+ Carmel Martin, executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress

+ Catherine Brown, vice president of education policy at the Center for American Progress

+ Chris Edley Jr., president of the Opportunity Institute

+ Richard Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton

Two labor union presidents, two executives from a policy institute that receives money from those labor unions (plus a treasure trove of others), the president of a policy institute whose chair is a former hedge fund manager and the biggest contributor to SuperPACs, and a Friend of Bill who received NEA’s Friend of Education award.

I don’t believe any of these people has filled out a lesson plan in this millennium.


How NEA Came to Love Citizens United

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 08•16

Click here to read.


Record Holders

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 07•16

California’s educators launched the “Kids Not Profits” campaign today, calling for more accountability and transparency of California charter schools and exposing the coordinated agenda by a group of billionaires to divert money from California’s neighborhood public schools to privately-managed charter schools. These billionaires are spending record amounts of money to influence local legislative and school board elections across the state.

California Teachers Association press release, August 31, 2016

California Teachers Association expenditures on November 2016 ballot initiatives – $14 million

California Teachers Association media advertising fund – $7.9 million

California Teachers Association political allocation fund – $7.1 million

California Teachers Association advocacy fund – $14.2 million

California Teachers Association lobbying expenditures – $3.4 million

California Teachers Association PAC expenditures – $1.2 million

California Teachers Association political spending 2000-2010 – $212 million