Obama Administration Angers Its Friends in the Teachers Union by Supporting Anti-Tenure Court Decision

Duncan
(Cleveland.com)

The recent landmark California court decision in Vergara v. California – which ruled the state’s teacher tenure laws are unconstitutional – is exposing a growing rift between the Obama administration and the teachers unions that twice helped to elect him.

President Obama, through Education Secretary Arne Duncan, has continuously pushed for increasing teacher accountability and other education reforms unpopular with the teachers unions, but Duncan’s recent comments applauding the results of the California case is sending the unions and their allies over the edge, Businessweek reports.

Duncan said the Vergara case “presents an opportunity for a progressive state with a tradition of innovation to build a new framework for the teaching profession that protects students’ rights to equal educational opportunities while providing teachers the support, respect, and rewarding careers they deserve,” according to the news site.

But American Federation of Teachers President Rhonda Weingarten took Duncan to the tool shed over his take on the case in an open letter that “was clearly meant to gird her members for battle,” Businessweek reports.

“Teachers across the country are wondering why the secretary of education thinks that stripping them of their due process is the way to help all children,” Weingarten said.

From Businessweek:

“It is unexpected to see a top Obama administration official staking out a position so at odds with teachers unions. They are, after all, a key part of the Democratic Party’s base. But Duncan’s praise for Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu’s June 10 decision speaks volumes about the ruling’s potential to change the public education system in the U.S.

“Treu tentatively ruled in favor of nine California students – backed by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch and his nonprofit organization Students Matter – who argued that they were deprived of their right to a quality education because of state laws granting tenure to teachers after just 18 months on the job. The judge accepted the plaintiffs’ case that too many underperforming teachers wind up in low income and minority schools and can’t easily be fired. Treu rejected the argument made by unions that tenure is simply the right to due process; he noted that tenured instructors in California are rarely dismissed.”

Union officials typically refrain from speaking publicly about the obvious political connection between the teachers unions and their beneficiaries, but unflinching union apologist Dianne Ravich didn’t hesitate to admonish Duncan for betraying his supporters in the Democratic Party.
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Expanded Voucher Bill Awaits Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s Signature, But He’s Not Saying if He’ll Sign it or Not

Scott
(huffingtonpost.com)

Teacher unions and the rest of Florida’s Education Establishment are putting the pressure on Gov. Rick Scott to veto a bill that would open up the state’s voucher program to more students.

“The (current) voucher program, also known as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, provides private-school scholarships for children from low-income families,” Bradenton.com reports. “The scholarships are funded by businesses, which receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits in exchange for their donations.”

Under the proposed expansion of the voucher plan, more scholarships would be made available to families beginning in the 2016-17 school year. The expansion would also allow partial scholarships for children from higher-income families, and would “remove some of the barriers to participating in the program,” Bradenton.com reports.

There would also be more oversight of the voucher program, a key consideration to getting the bill through the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Gov. Scott, a Republican, has not indicated whether he supports the expanded voucher plan or not, but he’s generally seen as a supporter of school choice.

That has the Education Establishment worried.
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Venezuela, like America, Is Using K-12 Classrooms to Convert Kids to Socialism

Hugo
(AlJazeera.com)

It’s not just happening in America.

Leftists in lots of nations have figured out a way to get a jump on their political opponents – by taking their cause to K-12 classrooms and brainwashing children into becoming socialists well before they are old enough to vote or participate in government.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Venezuela’s government has published dozens of new textbooks that glorify (the) late President Hugo Chavez and belittle his adversaries, infuriating opposition critics who call them part of a campaign to indoctrinate school children.

If this sounds outrageous, it’s really pretty common. Right here in America, teacher colleges typically train prospective educators to take a “social justice” agenda into the classroom and find ways to make the socialist message part of their everyday lessons. Teachers unions have also been encouraging this movement.

One might expect classrooms to be politically-free, or at least places where all sides of all issues would be fairly presented and discussed. But that sort of traditional approach to does not win converts to the cause of destroying American capitalism.

New Orleans’ Last Five Government-Run Public Schools Close in Face of Charter Competition

chained
(BBC)

If you build it, they will come.”

That famous quote may be from a movie about a fictional baseball field, but it also accurately describes the real-life school choice drama that’s occurring in The Big Easy.

The Washington Post reports that charter schools – independently operated public schools – have proven so popular with New Orleans parents that they’ve driven traditional, government-operated public schools out of business.

During the just-completed school year, an estimated nine of 10 New Orleans students attended a charter.

As a result, New Orleans’ last five government-run schools closed their doors for good this week. The city will be the first in the nation to have a school district comprised entirely of charter schools.

The Post writes:

“An all-charter district signals the dismantling of the central school bureaucracy and a shift of power to dozens of independent school operators, who will assume all the corresponding functions: the authority to hire and fire teachers and administrators, maintain buildings, run buses and provide services to special-needs students.”

New Orleans officials turned to charter school operators to help recreate their broken school system in the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Before the storm, the city’s public schools were widely viewed as the worst in the nation – not only because of poor academic results for students, but also because of widespread corruption and incompetence among school leaders.
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D.C. schools spend huge amounts per pupil, but most pupils failing reading and math

school-funding
(blogs.kansas.com)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recently released data tells us that Washington, D.C. public schools spent more than $29,000 per student in the 2010-11 school year, which is at least six thousand more than any other district in the nation. New York schools, for instance, were second at $23,966 per student that year.

From CNS News:

…In 2013, fully 83 percent of the eighth-graders in these schools were not “proficient” in reaching and 81 percent were not “proficient” in math.

For years we’ve been listening to the teachers unions and their pals (including President Obama) argue that public schools need more money to reverse the national trend of poor academic performances.

And for years Congress, state governments and local taxpayers have kindly obliged, buying into the theory that money can solve anything. The D.C. schools disaster reminds again about the folly of that argument.

When public schools get increased revenue, a good portion of it is usually spent on higher salaries and more expensive benefits for teachers and other staff through the collective bargaining process. But there’s no guarantee those employees will work any harder or try new things to get better results.

They don’t have to, because most are members of teachers unions that refuse to let them be judged by their classroom performance, and state tenure laws, which frequently guarantee them jobs for life – whether they are good at them or not.

Public schools would have a lot more money to operate if school officials had the power and will to cut down on union labor cost, which can take up nearly 80 percent of school budgets. And students would start learning more if the schools had the power to evaluate teachers based on results and dump those who don’t produce. But to do all of that, the unions would have to go. Just think, we could have public schools where students are the first priority, and labor disputes among adults do not interfere with learning.

Authored by Steve Gunn