Intercepts

A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Those Who Remember the Past Are Condemned to Repeat It

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 08•14

I’ve revised Santayana’s trademark quote because certain topics appear in stories and are treated as new phenomena, and I feel obligated condemned to point out that we have seen this before, with exactly the same interpretations, and the results were not as predicted.

The occasion for this latest repetition on my part is an Education Week story headlined “Calif. Teachers’ Union Sets Sights on Charters.” The occasion for the article was the visit of the new NEA president to a unionized charter school campus.

To her credit, reporter Arianna Prothero includes a section sub-headed “Earlier Efforts,” and tells us that “the number of charters unionizing each year seems to remain at a relative trickle.” But she buries the lede, which actually appears in the 10th paragraph: “Nationally, the percentage of unionized charter schools has dropped from 12 percent in 2009 to 7 percent in 2012, according to an annual survey by the Center for Education Reform, a Washington-based research and advocacy group.”

The reason for this is obvious: The number of new, non-union charter schools opening each year far exceeds the rare instances of a charter school unionizing. The unions can’t even hope to gain ground unless they can enforce caps on the number of charter schools.

So go ahead and read about the push to unionize charters from last week, or from last April, or from May 2013, or from April 2013, or from April 2011, or from May 2006, or from November 2000.

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Michigan EA Loses 5K Members in One Month, Declares Victory

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 05•14

Now that Michigan is a right-to-work state, public school teachers no longer are required to belong to the teachers’ union, nor support it financially through agency fees. Of course, a large number are still tied to the old law because their school district contracts were quickly ratified before the new law took effect.

August was opt-out month (another union practice that may soon fall by the wayside) and the Michigan Education Association was proud to announce that a mere 5,000 members left the union.

Since the union admitted to having “about 110,000 active members” beforehand, that might not seem like a lot, but it is the equivalent of the total number of teachers in MEA’s five largest locals.

MEA was already in financial difficulties before the right-to-work law, and the cumulative effect of membership losses is significant. In 2008-09, the union had 129,000 active members. The latest loss brings that number down to 106,000 – a drop of almost 18 percent.

While MEA might be glad the situation isn’t worse, more and more members will be eligible to drop over the next few years, and there certainly isn’t any sign of a reversal of fortunes. Some NEA state affiliates will rebound as the economy improves, but there will be a widening gap between the haves and have-nots.

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Gallup Poll Shows Public Doesn’t Buy Unions’ “Fair Share” Argument

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 04•14

For each Labor Day, Gallup runs a poll on Americans’ attitude towards labor unions. This year’s edition didn’t supply any surprises, except this time Gallup asked specifically about right-to-work laws.

Most pollsters would stop right there, but Gallup also tested the arguments of both sides about right-to-work laws.

The popularity of right-to-work laws may be a result of Americans’ greater agreement with a major argument put forth by right-to-work proponents than by one of the main arguments put forth by opponents of such laws. The poll finds 82% of Americans agreeing that “no American should be required to join any private organization, like a labor union, against his will,” a position advanced by right-to-work proponents. Pro-union forces partly oppose right-to-work laws because of the “free-rider” problem, with non-union workers benefitting as much as union workers when unions negotiate pay and benefit increases with employers. But by 64% to 32%, Americans disagree that workers should “have to join and pay dues to give the union financial support” because “all workers share the gains won by the labor union.”

When your cornerstone argument is failing by a two-to-one margin, it probably is time to consider contingencies.

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Palm Beach Local Finally Elects New President

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 03•14

Back in July the Florida Education Association assumed control of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association because the term of its president had expired while election results were still being disputed.

Those issues are still being resolved, but the union went ahead with another runoff and challenger Kathi Gundlach unseated incumbent Debra Wilhelm. Turnout was typically low.

We’ll see if this leads to a speedy exit by FEA, or whether lingering turmoil extends its stay.

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Highlights from the 2014-16 NEA Strategic Plan & Budget

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 02•14

Click here to read.

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Polarization

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 02•14

September 1 Washington Post:

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, agrees that the polarized debate is not productive. “The polarization . . . won’t solve the problems of social immobility, income inequality or help public education become the ladder of opportunity for more kids.”

She said her union welcomes “people who want to solve problems, and improve, rather than throw stones at public education,” but hasn’t agreed to otherwise support Education Post.

August 31 message from Randi Weingarten to union activists:

We are fighting back—whether it’s against Campbell Brown’s efforts to strip teachers of their due process rights and pit teachers against parents; corporate hospital chains seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of patients and healthcare professionals; politicians like Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who never met a public school, public service or public employee he didn’t want to eliminate; or those saddling students with debt, ripping them off and “Wal-Martizing” the higher education workforce.

The austerity hawks, the privatizers and the deprofessionalizers know that there’s a growing disconnect between what they are peddling and what the American people want. And the only way they can keep their power is by demonizing and marginalizing us.

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Have a Super Labor Day!

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 01•14

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