A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Rhetorical Question

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 22•15

“Salary schedules…Do they still have value? Or would you prefer your administration decide your salary based on their assessment of your experience and qualifications?” – a July 20 post on the Facebook page of the Oregon Education Association’s professional staff union.


You Get What You Pay For

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 21•15

“Incumbent Tom Torlakson, a former teacher heavily backed by teachers and labor unions, narrowly walked to re-election Wednesday as California’s superintendent of public instruction.” – November 5, 2014 U.S. News & World Report.

“Under California’s new local control funding formula, schools get additional money for low-income, non-English speaking and foster youth. In a letter State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has told districts they can spend that money for across-the-board teacher raises if they can link the increases to better student services.” – July 20, 2015 Capital Public Radio.


Official NEA State Affiliate Membership Numbers for 2014

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 20•15

Click here to read.


WEAC Falls Below 40,000 Active Members

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 20•15

In 2009, the Wisconsin Education Association Council had more than 100,000 members. In 2011, Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 10 into law, severely restricting collective bargaining for teachers, eliminating agency fees, and requiring local unions to hold recertification votes annually.

In a March 12, 2011 story headlined “‘This is the Beginning’ – Wisconsin Workers Still Galvanized,” NEA Today stated:

By signing his notorious budget repair bill into law on Friday, Gov. Scott Walker may have won a battle, but his political standing has taken a beating from which he most likely will not recover. Furthermore, the bill’s passage has done nothing to dampen the political activity that has engulfed Wisconsin over the past five weeks and in fact has united his opposition and even strengthened the hand of labor and working families everywhere.

…“Phase two” will be fought on two fronts: legal action and recall elections. Multiple complaints have already been filed charging that the vote taken by the Senate on Wednesday night violated the law and state-and-national groups have started major petition drives to force recall elections against the GOP senators who approved it.

Four years later, the legal actions have failed, the recall elections changed nothing, and Scott Walker is running for President of the United States.

In June 2012, it didn’t require a crystal ball to write, “Now that the recalls are over, we’re likely to see a WEAC in a few years that’s no better than half what it was at its peak.”

That day is here. WEAC’s 2015 membership numbers show an organization with fewer than 50,000 total members, and fewer than 40,000 who are currently employed in Wisconsin’s public school system. The downward spiral is so pronounced the union cut dues by $60, but it does not seem to have reversed its fortunes.

Despite the rosy picture NEA attempted to paint earlier this month, the union still faces enormous membership problems, with only a handful of state affiliates slowly returning to health. I will have the full story in today’s communiqué.


Monday Is Numbers Day

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 17•15

After five days of posts from the NEA convention, I figure you probably have had your fill of words. So Monday’s communiqué will feature numbers – lots of numbers. Percentages, decimals – even a chart with footnotes and asterisks.

Each Monday thereafter we’ll have more numbers, until the numbers run out or Labor Day, whichever comes first.

So warm up your calculator, dust off your slide rule and get ready for some math.


Esquith Tipster Mortified by Events

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 16•15

It has taken a month, but details have finally emerged about the “Mark Twain” incident in the classroom of renowned Los Angeles teacher Rafe Esquith. Esquith was placed on administrative leave, reportedly for reading an excerpt from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and making a joke about students being obliged to perform in a play naked.

Last month we asked, “Who Ratted on Rafe and Why?” We are still not certain why, but now we know who.

LA School Report posted a letter from Esquith’s attorneys to the Los Angeles Unified School District that contains a timeline and account of events that preceded Esquith’s suspension.


Hayden had told the principal that Esquith’s joke about nudity could be deemed offensive to students and their parents. Hayden is the school’s art supervisor and technology coordinator and has worked with Esquith for many years. Esquith references her in his books and calls her “my friend.” Here is an excerpt from Real Talk for Real Teachers:

The warm feelings between the two are mutual. Hayden e-mailed Esquith several times after the incident, expressing support.


While Hayden might have handled things differently, she followed procedure, as did Principal Paek, and at some point upon arriving at the district level the investigation went completely off the rails. If Esquith’s account is accurate, it raises questions not just about whether the suspension was warranted, but whether school district officials are qualified to conduct even a rudimentary investigation.



Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 15•15

That’s what I’m told the AFT Executive Council vote was in favor of the Hillary endorsement. The early reaction suggests this was not exactly representative of the rank-and-file’s feelings, but I guess we’ll find out when the dissidents either acquiesce or organize.