Intercepts

A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

TL;DR

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 05•16

As much as I’d like to dazzle you with brilliant analysis of NEA’s and AFT’s comments on proposed ESSA regulations, their sheer mass and density made it a losing proposition.

AFT’s letter clocks in at about 3,740 words, with seven uses of the word “stakeholder.”

NEA, being almost twice as large as AFT, felt compelled to write a letter almost twice as long. It’s about 6,400 words, with 13 instances of “stakeholder,” but showed some restraint by using “zip code” only once.

It’s a shame that this Christmas miracle to usher in a new era in public education already requires 10,000 words’ worth of correcting.

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Is it Bribery to Withhold Cash?

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 04•16

I don’t think so, but that’s the charge being made by New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney against the New Jersey Education Association.

NJEA representatives called county Democratic chairs on Tuesday and told them that if the proposed constitutional amendment to ramp up pension payments is not voted on by next week, in time to put it on the ballot in November, they won’t get any political donations from the union until at least next year.

Sweeney is a Democrat and a vice president of the ironworkers union, but he has crossed swords with NJEA in the past. He sent letters to both the U.S. Attorney and the New Jersey Attorney General.

“These threats clearly cross the line from lobbying to attempted bribery and conspiracy. Essentially, the NJEA has put members of the New Jersey State Senate in the position of tying specific official action to the receipt of a campaign contribution,” Sweeney wrote. “Rather than engaging in public issue advocacy focused on the education of our children the NJEA has diminished advocacy to engage in unprecedented tactics designed to extort public officials into undertaking actions that would benefit the pocketbooks of its members.”

This is quite a dust-up, but there’s less here than meets the eye. Buried at the bottom of this story is the news that “the NJEA and its county affiliates are still supporting candidates directly.” Apparently it’s only the county Democratic party committees that will be shut out. That’s significant, but it’s not like NJEA is getting out of the campaign contribution and electioneering business.

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News Flash! I’m on The 74 with Union Report

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 03•16

The good folks over at The 74 have taken leave of their senses and given me space on their web site and in their weekly newsletter.

The column is called Union Report and will appear each Wednesday morning. The inaugural post – “3 Things America’s Biggest Teachers Union Will Expect From a Clinton White House” – is already up.

You may wonder how this will affect EIA’s usual operations and the happy answer is – not much at all!

I will still post daily here at Intercepts, and the EIA Communiqué will still be archived on the main EIA site. But to avoid scooping myself, each Union Report column will go up first and the Communiqué won’t appear until after, usually Wednesday mornings.

Even better, Union Report will have a dedicated Twitter account – @UnionReport74 – so you can see I’m only 10 Internet years behind everyone else.

It will take time to juggle all this stuff with reasonable proficiency, so bear with me. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, I am always available at mike AT eiaonline.com.

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3 Things America’s Biggest Teachers Union Will Expect From a Clinton White House

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 03•16

Click here to read.

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From Compromise to Retreat to Surrender to Massacre

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 02•16

That’s the path taken by California Assembly Democrat Susan Bonilla, who introduced a bill (AB 934) that would have revamped the state’s tenure and school employee evaluation laws. As you might expect, the teachers’ unions were opposed. So the amendments began.

Three times the bill was altered in an attempt to make it more palatable to the unions and their friends in the legislature. It was watered down to the point that it lost one of its key backers, Students Matter, the organization that filed the Vergara lawsuit. The final version that went before the Senate Education Committee would have increase the teacher probationary period from two years to three, but that’s about all.

It was defeated 5-2, with two abstentions.

Eager to extract something from the long and arduous process, Bonilla amended the bill yet again, forgetting about tenure, evaluations and probationary periods. The new bill simply reads:

Existing law requires the public school employer and the exclusive representative, upon request of either party, to meet and negotiate regarding causes and procedures for disciplinary action, other than dismissal, including a suspension of pay for up to 15 days, affecting certificated employees.

This bill additionally would require the public school employer and the exclusive representative, upon request of either party, to meet and negotiate regarding procedures for disciplinary action, including dismissal, based solely on unprofessional conduct or unsatisfactory performance, or both, affecting certificated employees.

In other words, unions would have to bargain dismissal procedures for unsatisfactory performance, if it were requested of them. That’s it.

Would this surrender to the collective bargaining process be enough to assuage the wrath of the teachers’ unions?

No.

The new version was introduced Monday and by yesterday California Teachers Association activists had already received an alert warning them of it. “Can you imagine the impasses, the bargaining crisis and the impacts on our students if this is allowed to go forward?” it cried.

In the highly unlikely event Bonilla’s bill makes it out of the Senate Education Committee, it still needs approval by the Senate Rules Committee, which is chaired by Kevin de León.

Former CTA and NEA employee Kevin de León.

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Hillary’s Ingenious Plan to Bankrupt Hedge Fund Managers

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 01•16

Thanks to the National Education Association, we are all aware that hedge fund billionaires are “cackling Monopoly men who light their cigars with dollar bills (and take candy from babies as they laugh all the way to the bank).” They make their obscene profits by investing funds from vast teacher pension systems, for which those systems receive a high rate of return.

Fortunately the teachers’ unions have a champion in Hillary Clinton, who informed us that “the top 25 hedge fund managers make more than all of the kindergarten teachers in America combined.”

“That’s not acceptable,” she said.

But who could have guessed that her scheme to strip these evildoers of their ill-gotten gains involved taking millions from them – in the form of campaign donations and independent expenditures?

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Hedge funds are playing a far bigger role in 2016 than in past elections—and Hillary Clinton has been the single biggest beneficiary.

Owners and employees of hedge funds have made $122.7 million in campaign contributions this election cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics—more than twice what they gave in the entire 2012 cycle and nearly 14% of total money donated from all sources so far.

The lines around what constitutes a hedge fund aren’t always clear in the data, or in the financial industry. But the numbers are stark. The top five contributors to pro-Clinton groups are employees or owners of private investment funds, according to federal data released last week and compiled by OpenSecrets.org, the center’s website. The data show seven financial firms alone have generated nearly $48.5 million for groups working on Clinton’s behalf.

No doubt a system is already being developed to distribute this windfall to America’s kindergarten teachers.

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A Border Wall Hillary & Teachers’ Unions Defend

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 29•16

Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention didn’t contain much to excite her public education troops, though she did fish out a “zip code” reference as a small treat for them.

Going over her long list of differences with Republican nominee Donald Trump, Clinton declared, “We will not build a wall,” referring to Trump’s much-remarked-upon pledge to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

But Clinton, the Democrats and their allies in the public education establishment are not weak on border security. They may be a bit squishy on international borders, but they are downright Trumpesque when it comes to school district borders.

Alan and Candace Hill are both DC police officers who live in Maryland. A DC superior court judge ordered the couple to pay more than $500,000 in fines because they sent their kids to DC public schools without paying the out-of-district tuition. Another victory in the war against the school choice black market.

The Washington Post reports that since 2012 the district “has secured more than 24 monetary judgments and out-of-court settlements totaling more than $1.2 million.”

No word on whether the Hill children were deported back to Maryland.

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