Shunned. The Shame of My Teachers Union – A Good Friday Reflection


Day 1 of Spring Break. I am up bright and early on this beautiful Good Friday morning.

The sun is shining over my little piece of Florida. We say tomorrow will always be a better day. Today, it came true.

I am thankful to be the mom of two wonderful daughters, raised among a family that stretches far and wide. I am thankful for my hardworking husband who never fails to be there for us. I am thankful to live in a caring, compassionate community of citizens.

Good Friday is a good day to remember what we are thankful for. After all, Jesus is a good ol’ hero of mine. He fought for what was right. He was persecuted. He would not be held down…

I’m with him.

I’ve been shunned by my teachers union, all the way to the top.

Make no mistake. Once, they loved me. I joined, I rallied, I organized, I affected change. But, then I witnessed, and then I whistled …

I blew the whistle. Hard.

I blew the whistle on election violations. I blew the whistle on unfounded, unvetted, early endorsements. I blew the whistle on backdoor deals. I did what you are never supposed to do – I blew the whistle on union leadership.

I blew hard. And, they buried me.

I am the shame of my union.

I am ashamed of my union.

I’m not with leadership. I’m not with Hillary.

I’m not with her. .

In my classroom, I have a saying written across the top of my board:

“Tomorrow is Always a Better Day.”

It is a daily reminder to keep on keeping on. It is a reminder to keep up the fight and to keep up the faith. I will do just that.

Will you?

I’m with you.

 

thorn

 

Hypocrisy of My Teachers Union: If It Looks Like A Duck & Quacks Like A Duck, It’s Duck, Baby


Can I take a quick break from the Testing Games to point out a quick example of hypocrisy?

Specifically, I’d like to note the hypocrisy of our Florida FEA union suing our state for the Best & Brightest scholarship, based on it being a form of age discrimination against older teachers, when our own local union bargained to give huge raises to young teachers and nothing to old fogies like me. Really? Really?

Old fogies unite.

Here is my point:

On Monday, the Florida Education Association put some heft behind the words, filing a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Florida Commission on Human Relations. The complaint states:

 

“The exemption of first-year teachers from the requirement that they provide evidence of being rated “highly effective” under the respondent employers’ performance evaluation system further discriminates against and has a disparate impact on teachers older than 40 years old. First-year teachers are overwhelmingly younger than 40 years of age.

OK. Makes sense. They filed a lawsuit.

But, now this. Our local Lee County union, TALC, just released it’s proposed contract changes, bargained for local Lee county teachers. Turns out, older teachers won’t see a penny of increase in their pay.

Not a penny.

But, younger, newer teachers are getting a hefty chunk. Very hefty.

How is that not age discrimination?

Why would our union sue against age discrimination and then commit the act themselves?

Hypocrisy. Call that duck what it is …

duck

Wake Up. Our unions. Our contracts. Our choice. Our vote.

ps. I would provide a copy/link of our local union contract changes proposal but, even though we must vote in just a few days, the official document has not been sent out to members by our local union. So, instead, I will borrow the comment of a wonderful Lee County teacher who posted this online:

“I know you all work hard for us, but I, too, am very disappointed. If you look at how much I have made in the last 10 years, it hasn’t changed very much. I am working towards my retirement and I’m disheartened by how people who have given so much to our district are constantly left out.

 

The idea to increase the beginning teacher’s salaries is to bring in more people on an annual contract and to appease those who are thinking of looking elsewhere for employment. Just like the Best and the Brightest “Scholarship” helps Teach For America and it’s corporate and political backers, this just helps some.

 

When I first started teaching I would get so excited to see the possibility of what I would be getting at my retirement when the forms came in the mail. I didn’t realize that they were figuring in 6% raise each year in their predictions. As it is now, I would make a little more than half of what I make now, and for each year I work, my future cost of living increase goes down. It was definitely bait and switch.

 

New teachers, realize that you will be me someday. Do you want to be left out after you have put so many years into the system? Do you want the book, computer, and test companies taking money from our families’ lives? We ALL deserve more!”

Bravo. I could not have said it better. Do the right thing, Lee. Expect better.

#JustVoteNo

The Hypocrisy of OUR Teacher Union Leadership Bragging about Hillary Clinton in Nevada


So, I see our president,  Randi Weingarten, president of our 1.6-million member American Federation of Teachers union,  bragging that they helped Hillary Clinton win Nevada.

Ha. Really?

Listen. Teacher unions have a few mantras. If you have ever been involved in one, you know. Fight charter schools. Fight against tying test scores to contracts. Fight against privatization.

Who are they fighting? Big corporations, like, um … Walmart.

Oh yea. Walmart and unions … not friends.

But …

Who is our teacher union leadership  running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to get elected to President of the United States?

Yup. You guessed it. Poster child for Walmart, herself…

Hillary Clinton.

Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

Ward Harkavy, Village Voice, 2000 – Twice in three days last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton basked in the adulation of cheering unions . . . They would have dropped their forks if they had heard that Hillary served for six years on the board of the dreaded Wal-Mart, a union-busting behemoth. If they had learned the details of her friendship with Wal-Mart, they might have lost their lunches. . . 


As she was leaving the dais, she ignored a reporter’s question about Wal-Mart, and she ignored it again when she strode by reporters in the hotel lobby.

But there are questions. In 1986, when Hillary was first lady of Arkansas, she was put on the board of Wal-Mart. Officials at the time said she wasn’t filling a vacancy. In May 1992, as Hubby’s presidential campaign heated up, she resigned from the board of Wal-Mart. Company officials said at the time that they weren’t going to fill her vacancy.

So what the hell was she doing on the Wal-Mart board? According to press accounts at the time, she was a show horse at the company’s annual meetings when founder Sam Walton bused in cheering throngs to celebrate his non-union empire, which is headquartered in Arkansas, one of the country’s poorest states. According to published reports, she was placed in charge of the company’s “green” program to protect the environment.

But nobody got greener than Sam Walton and his family. For several years in the ’80s, he was judged the richest man in America by Forbes magazine; his fortune zoomed into the billions until he split it up among relatives. It’s no surprise that Hillary is a strong supporter of free trade with China. Wal-Mart, despite its “Buy American” advertising campaign, is the single largest U.S. importer, and half of its imports come from China.

Was Hillary the voice of conscience on the board for American and foreign workers? Contemporary accounts make no mention of that. They do describe her as a “corporate litigator” in those days, and they mention, speaking of environmental matters, that she also served on the board of Lafarge, a company that, according to a press account, once burned hazardous fuels to run its cement plants. . .
And the Clintons depended on Wal-Mart’s largesse not only for Hillary’s regular payments as a board member but for travel expenses on Wal-Mart planes and for heavy campaign contributions to Bill’s campaigns there and nationally. . .

Lisa Featherstone, Nation 2005– Unlike so many horrible things, Wal-Mart cannot be blamed on George W. Bush. The Arkansas-based company prospered under the state’s native son Bill Clinton when he was governor and President. Sam Walton and his wife, Helen, were close to the Clintons, and for several years Hillary Clinton, whose law firm represented Wal-Mart, served on the company’s board of directors. Bill Clinton’s “welfare reform” has provided Wal-Mart with a ready workforce of women who have no choice but to accept its poverty wages and discriminatory policies.

Just read this from today’s edition of USA Today and ask yourself … why did our union leadership jump to endorse Hillary Clinton ?

First, some background. Clinton was a director at Wal-Mart from 1986-1992, a time of rapid growth for the company. From 1986-1991, Wal-Mart created 230,000 jobs, more than any other firm in the country. The company grew quickly because it was wildly profitable and it was wildly profitable because it obsessively managed expenses. Cost management was vital to Walmart because, like most retailers, its profit margin — the amount of profit a business makes on each dollar in sales— is notoriously thin. For every dollar in sales Walmart makes, the company pockets just about three cents in profit.

Of course, then, as now, Walmart’s biggest cost was labor. And to keep labor costs in check, Wal-Mart took pains to make sure its workers didn’t unionize. During Clinton’s tenure, the company’s strategy for dealing with organized labor was directed by fellow board member, John Tate. Mr. Tate famously summed up his philosophy at a 2004 managers meeting: “Labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living.”

According to former board members, Clinton did not denounce the ‘anti-union’ efforts Tate spearheaded, nor rail for increased employee wages. Donald G. Soderquist, the board’s then vice chairman, has said that not only was Clinton “not a dissenter,” but that “she was a part of those decisions.” Wal-Mart’s stock rose by more than 500%during her tenure and Clinton’s shares were worth nearly $100,000 by 1992.

Clinton’s Wal-Mart tenure not only not only raises the issue of hypocrisy, but it makes one question whether she even believes in her own policy prescriptions.

Whose interests are our teacher union leaders representing?

Not ours.

Maybe they should have polled more than 2% of members before endorsing. #JustSaying

Wake. Up. Members. Wake. Up. Voters. #WithAQuickness

walmart

ps. Really, Randi?

Ms. Weingarten suggested that some of the blame for confusion about the level of labor support for Mrs. Clinton resided with the A.F.L.-C.I.O

Pitting us against AFL- CIO?

Choosing Hillary over solidarity? That’s low…

The reason folks doubt support your endorsement of Hillary is

because you endorsed without even asking.

Big mistake.

#Huge.

 

 

One Key to Finland’s Successful Schools: Teacher Unions. — One Union Gal Speaks Up.


As I was surfing Twitter today, I saw this tweet to our AFT President, Randi Weingarten. The tweet was sent by Matt Frendewey, the National Communications Director for @schoolchoice aka the American Federation for Children.

Image

Needless to say, being a union gal, this caught my eye.

I am not sure why Mr. Frendewey believes that children are better served in non union schools, but most of us know better.

One example of a country with exceptional schools and the majority of its teachers in unions is Finland. We have heard about Finland’s high rankings on international tests like the PISA for years.

Recently, Henna Virkkunen, Finland’s Minister of Education, was asked about the role teacher unions play in Finland. Specifically, referring to the anti union climate in the US, she was asked if unions are seen as a problem standing in the way of reform.

She responded:

“It’s a totally different situation in Finland. For me, as Minister of Education, our teachers’ union has been one of the main partners because we have the same goal: we all want to ensure that the quality of education is good, and we are working very much together with the union. Nearly every week we are in discussions with them. They are very powerful in Finland. Nearly all of the teachers are members. I think we don’t have big differences in our thinking. They are very good partners for us.”

Does that sound to you like unions are bad for schools and children?

#Nope

For more on the success of Finland’s schools, check this Smithsonian Magazine. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html

… and, oh yea, don’t believe everything you read on Twitter.

Image

#BadAssTeachers

TEACHER UNIONS = DEMOCRACY IN ACTION … Which word do they object to more? Collective ? or Bargaining ?


A reporter recently contacted me. He had seen my posts objecting to a Gradebook article that referred to legal agreements drawn up by our teacher unions as ‘side deals’ and ‘disturbing’.

Here is the Gradebook article:

http://blogs.tampabay.com/schools/2010/06/blogs-abuzz-about-floridas-race-to-the-top-side-agreements.html#comments

I emailed the reporter this response …

I am just a teacher and a parent. I do not speak for the union, but I have followed SB6 and RTTT closely. FB has a sister page, Stop Race to the Top, that you might check out for more info on our objections to Race to the Top.

During Florida’s Memorandum of Understanding meeting, drawn only after a public outcry to be part of the process, the working group only had one day to work out a plan that would dramatically change Florida’s education of children. The plan was unfunded. Everyone knew the Race to the Top funds would not be sufficient to cover the changes. The original plan, SB6, also violated due process rights of teachers. So, our union top man, Andy Ford, worked hard to maintain our right to bargain collectively with regard to our contracts. Our local unions did the same. These are not shady side agreements; they are legal and necessary, and we thank our unions for protecting our livelihoods.

The federal Race to the Top is a carrot on a stick incentive race to reform state policies. The stimulus requires states to remove the cap off charter schools. The public education system will have to compete with charters, specifically corporate charters, who do not get held to the same rules of accountability that NCLB is requiring of public schools. This will lead to more public schools struggling and more money being moved out of the public sector and into corporate hands. Many of us object to the privatization of public education. We know that they can not do so when the employees, us teachers, are collectively protecting and bargaining, not just for our rights, but for the rights of our children. Thus, targeting our unions is an easy answer for ‘them’.

Unions are not backdoor thugs as some village idiots or our Washington reformers might make it seem … unions are collections of workers organized to protect themselves from corporate greed and unfair policies. Considering the current push to make corporate education the norm in America, we have never needed unions more.

I never heard back from the reporter … I hope the message got out.

. . .

unions = democracy in action

don’t let them convince you otherwise

. . .