teachers unions

Common Core support is crumbling: Opponents still have a long way to go, but they’re shifting the narrative

There is a growing movement inside Congress and states legislatures to fight back against the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and it looks like it’s beginning to bear some fruit. Over at Reason, Robby Soave reports on a new poll showing the tide turning against the the college- and career-ready standards:

The numbers come courtesy of an Education Next poll. In 2013, 65 percent of people supported Common Core. That number fell to a slim 53 percent majority this year—much of that support coming from Democrats, who remained largely unchanged in their overall opinion.

The results for both Republicans and teachers are even more staggering, however. The Republican numbers changed from 57 percent in favor to just 43 percent in favor and the teachers changed from 76 percent in favor to 46 percent.

These results are significant, since they chip away at key assertions made by the backers of Common Core. The backers have often maintained that opposition to Common Core stems from misinformation and that those who understand the new standards best—i.e., teachers—liked them just fine. That is clearly no longer true.

The premise of Common Core is that the same education standards would be applied across the United States. States that participate in Common Core are allowed to develop their math and language arts curricula.

Parents are taking back their children’s education from harmful teacher’s unions, and it’s working!

School Choice

Teachers unions like the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) are suffering. Internal strife, a number of landmark court decisions against pro-union policies, organizations funneling money into public education alternatives, and shifting public opinion on unions have put Big Education on defense.

POLITICO reports:

Long among the most powerful forces in American politics, the unions are contending with falling revenue and declining membership, damaging court cases, the defection of once-loyal Democratic allies — and a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign portraying them as greedy and selfish.

They took a big hit Tuesday when a California judge struck down five laws they had championed to protect teachers’ jobs. The Supreme Court could deliver more bad news as early as next week, in a case that could knock a huge hole in union budgets. On top of all that, several well-funded advocacy groups out to curb union influence are launching new efforts to mobilize parents to the cause.

Responding to all these challenges has proved difficult, analysts say, because both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are divided internally. There’s a faction urging conciliation and compromise. Another faction pushes confrontation. There’s even a militant splinter group, the Badass Teachers Association.

Big blow to Big Labor: California court strikes down protections for “grossly incompetent” teachers

Vergara v. State of California

In a huge blow to teachers unions in California, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled unconstitutional five laws pertaining to teacher tenure, terminations, and layoffs, according to a POLITICO report:

[Superior Court Judge Rolf] Treu found that the statutes permit too many grossly incompetent teachers to remain in classrooms across the state — and found that those teachers shortchange their students by putting them months or years behind their peers in math and reading.

He ruled that such a system violates the state constitution’s guarantee that all children receive “basic equality of educational opportunity.” In a blunt, unsparing 16-page opinion, Treu compared his ruling to the seminal federal desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education, decided 60 years ago last month.

Treu wrote that there is “no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms” and that the legal system protects them by making it all but impossible for districts to fire even the worst teachers.

He also expressed outrage at a system that shields veteran teachers from layoffs, regardless of their competence. “The logic of this position is unfathomable and therefore constitutionally unsupportable,” he wrote.

Florida hotel suspiciously cancels anti-Common Core group’s reservation

Say

In the Netflix show House of Cards, powerful labor unions were able to temporarily threaten an event sponsored by the spouse of fictional South Carolina Congressman Frank Underwood.

Labor unions were irrationally opposed to an education reform bill sponsored by Underwood that would have diminished their stranglehold on the country’s government-run school system. Under threat of a walk-out, unions were able to leverage a posh Washington, DC hotel from hosting the event, forcing Underwood and his wife to get creative in their effort to continue the fundraiser for her organization.

While entirely a work of fiction, sometimes Hollywood can foreshadow events that actually happen in the real world. Unfortunately, a conservative organization recently learned that first hand.

FreedomWorks, an organization with strong ties to the grassroots and Tea Party movement, has worked hard recently to raise awareness to the Obama Administration’s Common Core Standard Initiative. This initiative, strongly backed by teachers unions and other organizations, would erode state and local control and further nationalize education standards.

In an effort to raise awareness to the problems with increasing federal government involvement in education, FreedomWorks is planning to assist and provide activist training to concerned parents who plan to protest a pro-Common Core conference in Orlando, Florida at the end of this month.

Because a Less Informed Public Is a More Compliant Public

Written by Walter Olson, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Remember when organized teachers used to be big on civic education and raising awareness about the voting process? Times have changed, as Jeff Mapes of the Oregonian reports:

The Oregon Education Association wants state legislators to remove the notice on ballot envelopes warning voters of a potential property tax hike in upcoming elections.

Oregon voters passed the requirement as part of Measure 47 in 1996, but the union sees now as a politically propitious time to get rid of it:

Union officials say the warning, which the law now requires to be “boldly printed in red,” unfairly singles out property tax measures and is not needed because the ballots themselves contain clear information about proposed tax hikes.

Critics and taxpayer advocates say the union’s objective is to reduce turnout by tax-skeptical voters, especially in low-participation off-year elections where the union might otherwise prevail just by turning its own people out. (An uncharitable observer might even see the aim as “voter suppression.”) The union’s response is a classic:

[OEA spokeswomen Becca] Uherbelau said the teachers union is not trying to depress turnout.

“Our history has shown that we have done a lot to increase voter participation,” she said, noting that the union has frequently spent money encouraging people to vote in local school levy and bond elections.

Chicago Teachers’ Union’s War On Children

On Monday, the Chicago Teachers’ Union has gone on strike after rejecting a proposed pay raise.

The union that represents nearly 30,000 teachers and support staff in the nation’s third-largest school district called the strike after negotiators failed to reach a contract agreement with school administrators despite eight months of talks.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said teachers were harming Chicago’s children by striking.

“This is, in my view, a strike of choice, and it’s the wrong choice for our children,” he said. “Stay at the table. Finish it for our children.”

He said negotiators had resolved all but two issues — teacher evaluations and provisions dealing with jobs for laid-off teachers.

However, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said teachers had no choice but to strike, despite “intense but productive” bargaining sessions.

Basically Chicago government school teachers are holding the city hostage until their demands are met. They’re demanding more pay, more job security, and less accountability. It is not about improving the quality of education or the lives of their students. It is about plundering the taxpayers of the city of Chicago.

Just what are the “successes” of the status quo in Chicago?

The Machine: The Truth Behind Teachers Unions

Co-produced by Reason.TV and the Moving Picture Institute, ”The Machine” details just how teachers unions and other parts of the K-12 educational “machine” generate money and influence - anything but meaningul results for the kids at the center of the system.

An economics lesson for Matt Damon

In his pathetic attempt at political activism at the recent and poorly named Save Our Schools rally in D. C., Matt Damon gave an interview to Think Progress in which he stated that “despite what you hear even the union teachers are underpaid.”

Some teachers are underpaid, and some are also highly overpaid. The problem is we don’t know which we’re paying too little and which we are paying too much. As I’ve noted before, absent a free market in education, we don’t know if teachers are underpaid or overpaid because, with fixed wages in a monopoly, we don’t know what teacher wages should be.

If teacher A has an efficacy rating of 85% and teacher B has a rating of 50% and they are both being paid $40k per year (and all other factors are equal), teacher A is being underpaid relative to teacher B. But they both may still be underpaid, or vice-versa, because we don’t know what each of them should be getting paid.

Prices (of which wages are in specie) convey information; they tells us things we cannot know inherently, such as the subjective value of a teacher.

Teachers unions explained

Here is an incredibly biased, though hilarious discussion on teachers unions. While it is biased, the arguments of the union supporter sound so familiar:

H/T: Outside the Beltway

Wisconsin government employees protest a perfectly reasonable proposal

Today has been a crazy busy day for me, but the events in Wisconsin have caught my eye. In case you haven’t heard, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is looking for a way to fix the state’s budget by asking state employees (ie. taxpayer-funded jobs) to pay more for their health insurance benefits and pensions.

From the release from Gov. Walker’s office:

The state of Wisconsin is facing an immediate deficit of $137 million for the current fiscal year which ends July 1. In addition, bill collectors are waiting to collect over $225 million for a prior raid of the Patients’ Compensation Fund.

The budget repair bill will balance the budget and lay the foundation for a long-term sustainable budget through several measures without raising taxes, raiding segregated funds, or using accounting gimmicks.

First, it will require state employees to pay about 5.8% toward their pension (about the private sector national average) and about 12% of their healthcare benefits (about half the private sector national average). These changes will help the state save $30 million in the last three months of the current fiscal year.

While some 10,000 workers are throwing a collective fit at the state capitol in Madison, the Wall Street Journal notes that if these if these measures are rejected by the state legislature, a cut of some 6,000 state jobs would be necessary to fill the budget gap. Given those circumstances, it would seem that the measures propsed by Gov. Walker are entirely reasonable.


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