Delaware Shakedown

The owners of the Back Burner restaurant in Delaware couldn’t believe their eyes when they received this letter from teachers in the nearby Christina School District. They passed it along to the Wilmington News Journal. The response of the Delaware State Education Association? “It’s unusual,” said the DSEA communications director. I’m sure the jab at NCLB was just coincidental.

Enjoy your own “small weekend getaway” and we’ll see you here Monday!


Double Standards

* “Teachers have the right to express an opinion, but they are aware of the code of ethics and should be able to read and understand what it means.”

That was the response of Orange County Classroom Teachers Association President David DeMond when teacher Jan Hall wrote a letter published in El Nuevo Dia that claimed Hispanics and other immigrants were hurting the quality of the public schools. Hall also suggested the laws should be changed to stop Puerto Ricans from moving to Central Florida. The remarks led to parent protests in front of Hall’s school.

DeMond said the union would provide legal advice to Hall if she is a member.

DeMond’s response is an understandable and measured one, but would he have been so understanding if Hall had been the superintendent, or a principal?

* Two headlines in this morning’s Honolulu Advertiser:

1) 66% of Isle schools miss No Child goals

2) Officials say test scores don’t tell full story

“Overall, these are the percentage of kids proficient in a score, but they don’t tell us how safe do kids feel in that school or how much do they like that school or how engaged they are,” said Robert McClelland, director of the Hawaii Department of Education planning and evaluation office.

Again, Mr. McClelland is correct. But would he have delivered this caveat if test scores had been good?


Facing the Music

* The New York Times reports that music teacher Dorrit Matson would take sick days from her job at the High School for the Humanities so she could conduct the New York Scandia Symphony. She was nabbed when her principal heard her introduced on public radio while she was supposedly out sick.

There are frauds in every one of life’s endeavors, but this caught my eye because of what happened next. The Times states that Ms. Matson sought an unpaid leave in February due to chronic fatigue syndrome brought on by a strained relationship with school administrators, according to a doctor who treated her. But she could still conduct if she wanted to, the doctor told investigators, “because she would be away from the environment which caused her the stress that resulted in the onset of the condition.”

In other words, she was sick and tired of school.

EIA will check to see if the NYC public school contract has an “attendance incentive plan.”

* The Associated Press’ Ben Feller has written a level-headed piece about teacher retirement and retention. Check it out.


Michigan Education Association Supports the Right to Work!

Just a housekeeping note before we begin: I expect to make a quick update here at about this time each weekday morning, then a second one later in the day, if necessary, after I’ve had a chance to do my normal newsgathering.

NEA persuaded another school district — United Independent in Laredo, Texas — to join its lawsuit against NCLB. At this rate, all 15,000 school districts will have joined the suit by April 7002.

Three stories out of Michigan this morning:

1) The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled against allowing the Michigan Education Association to organize teachers at the Brother Rice High School. EIA reported on this story in July 2003. “The MEA is extremely disappointed in the court’s decision to deny the teachers the right to decide for themselves if they want union representation,” said David Crim, a union organizer for the MEA. EIA agrees. All teachers in Michigan should be able to decide for themselves if they want union representation. MEA should work with the National Right to Work Committee to see that this dream is realized.

2) MEA activists are gathering signatures to place a school funding initiative on the ballot. Or maybe they just want to collect some NEA initiative fund money before tossing the signatures in the trash, like the California Teachers Association has done twice now.

3) The Detroit Federation of Teachers is making noise about a strike. Check the EIA Archives for August and September 1999 for the entertainment we enjoyed the last time this happened.

Also, the Washington Times reports that the California Teachers Association mortgaged its headquarters to finance its November campaign. But you, dear reader, have known that for five months.


Welcome to Intercepts!

Welcome to Intercepts — the new EIA blog. Here you will find the latest inside information on public education and the teachers’ unions. The weekly EIA Communique’ will not change, but Intercepts will bring you news as it happens, fold in the best aspects of School News Monitor, and allow you, the reader, to post your comments to each item that appears here.

Please be patient, as EIA is incorporating a lot of web site changes and tech procedure upgrade all at once. There are bound to be a few glitches, but I’m sure things will settle into a routine relatively quickly.

So, thanks for joining us. Explore the rest of the web site and we’ll get started as soon as possible.