Sunday, February 27, 2011

How It Is

A unionized public employee, a taxpayer, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, then turns to the taxpayer and says, "Look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie!"


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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Look, It's a Northwest Professional Educators Sighting!

I guess they really do still exist.

Cindy Omlin of the Northwest Professional Educators popped up in the Spokesma-Review this morning with one of the sillier letters she's done over the years. It's worth parsing the whole thing:
Not all teachers agree with the Idaho Education Association’s position on the education reform bills, but you’d never know it. Many teachers are afraid to speak out for fear of harassment.
I've talked with IEA staffers about the very vivid and livid arguments that have gone on involving policy. What Cindy is doing here is accusing teachers of cowardice, which isn't exactly a very good way to push your agenda.
Exclusive bargaining by IEA has transformed schools from the “free marketplace of ideas” to Big Labor’s pulpit and collection basket. Idaho’s students and educators are suffering for it.
Idaho? Big Labor? Jiminy Cricket, Cindy, have you ever even been to Idaho? Taking brickbats to the IEA, which has done they best they can in a deep red right to work state, is similar using a flamethrower to get a haircut. It's what people like Cindy do to raise money--pretend there's a monster in the closet. Be afraid!
Often, union representatives intimidate teachers to join. If they don’t, they make nonjoiners out to be selfish freeloaders. They tell them their views are harmful, offensive and anti-education. They denigrate nonunion teachers in fliers, articles and emails. They prevent nonunion teachers from communicating in school mailboxes, on bulletin boards and in school meetings about their professional association. They threaten administrators who might inform nonunion teachers of their rights and options for professional support. This unchecked bullying by teacher union representatives has solidified the NEA’s monopolistic control over public education.
Shorter: "It's bad that the selfish, arrogant, child-hating union says things I don't like. Why won't those jerks stop with the namecalling?"

The fact that Cindy uses Idaho to make her case is especially funny. Tom Luna, blatant political hack who got the Superintendents job despite never having done jack-all in education, thinks that trading teachers for laptops is perfectly sound educational policy. It's a paradise where being 50th in the nation in per-pupil funding is still too high; where being 39th in average teacher salary is a sign to go lower; where being dead last in the nation for the number of doctors means that you should slash the funding that would education, well, doctors.

Everything that is wrong about eduation reform can be seen on display in what Cindy is praising Idaho for doing. It's a concentration of power into the hands of a very powerful few who get to be above it all and sneer at those in the trenches who try to make it all work.
Our members have a variety of views on the education bills. I can assure you, however, that not all teachers agree with the teacher union’s point of view as was clearly evident in our member survey.
I see member surveys, too. As president of my local, I get it from all sides on the big issues of the day. This is part of the attack strategy, though--pretend that the teacher's union is a monolith. It's makes the denigration work much better.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

I Was Kindly Invited to the Freedom Foundation Rally

So this Wednesday the Evergreen Freedom Foundation is holding a rally in support of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. The email announcement brings the funny:

This rally is not an attack on the individual public employees who are our friends, neighbors and fellow taxpayers. It is about the unhealthy relationship between union leaders and state lawmakers that is forcing our state into bankruptcy.

Maybe they missed the announcement about the DIME PAC, two years ago, when a big labor bill was killed under the dumbest of circumstances because Governor Gregoire and Speaker Chopp didn't want to bring it forward. That's old news, I suppose, but this notion that labor gets what they want to the exclusion of every other interest in Olympia is rather absurd.

We condemn the labor policies where the State has given unbalanced power to one special interest group.

It was awesome when I totally bounced in and imposed the contract I wanted on the management team. High five!

We need to see courageous leadership regarding this issue from our elected officials now, before the situation becomes much worse and there is a meltdown similar to what is currently taking place in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is going through all of this over about $100,000,000; our hole is 50 times that. What's causing this "meltdown" is Governor Walker's attack on organized labor, which is exactly what you're proposing a rally in support of. Good work, guys.

Make signs – We need to have signs that spread our message. Please avoid any hateful or harmful language that will misconstrue the positive steps we are trying to take.


Oh, this'll be good.

Taxpayers treated like 2nd class citizens Remember up above, when we said to remember that union members were also tax payers? Just kidding!

Stop leeching, start teaching Teachers have lost three days of pay because of the Learning Improvement Days going away, they're about to lose three more days of pay when the calendar reduction goes through for next year, the salary schedule freeze is finally going through so that there will be no more raises, and the state might save millions on the back of National Board Certified teachers by not giving them their promised bonuses. You're right, F those guys.

Even FDR opposed public unions Read the quote a little closer. He specifically mentions collective bargaining, which is an element of unionism but not the entire picture. And really, the EFF is going to praise Roosevelt?

Our kids can't afford your pensions anymore Therefore, we should show our kids that contracts mean nothing by ripping them up. Trying to make something as complex as pension policy fit on a sign is a fool's errand.

Hey public unions: You can't bully your way into a pay raise! Hey, idiot think tank: there's a long, long, long list of unions around this state that have made concessions in the last year. The ones in Wisconsin are, too.

I can barely afford my rent, but my taxes are going up to pay for your pension! And if you want your sign to be really good, cite the bill that would do this!

I look forward to seeing the crowds.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shorter Scott Walker

We have to eliminate collective bargaining so that the idiot managers who negotiated those terrible agreements in the first place can have more power.


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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Confidential to the Freedom Foundation

If you're not going to use RSS on Liberty Live any more, then I'm not going to be able to follow Liberty Live.

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

In the Year 5399....If Kids Are Doing Fine....and the LEV is Over the Line.....You May Find.....

The first big education kerfuffle of the legislative session is regarding SB5399, proposed by Senator Rodney Tom, which would mandate that those teachers with the lowest evaluations were the first laid off, and order that the principal must agree before any teacher can be transferred into the building. You can read most of the obvious objections to the bill in this comment thread over at Publicola, but there are a couple of other pieces of media that deserve to be highlighted too:

On The Conversation on KUOW last week they had a segment with Mike Ragan, Vice President of the WEA, and Shannon Campion of Stand for Children, an advocacy group that has poured tens of thousands of dollars into supporting senators like Tom who will bring forward their bills. The money quote from Campion comes at the 15 minute mark, after a comment about how the bill will get in the way of teacher collaboration.
Shannon Campion: "Teachers won't get ranked in the school. The evaluation....that's not really connected to what this bill is all about. There's no public ranking or listing of teachers."
Shannon apparently didn't read the bill her group wrote, because that's exactly the entire purpose of what they're trying to do here: rank the teachers, and get rid of the ones on the bottom when the whim strikes. There's a math formula embedded within the bill that averages evaluations and comes up with a number for each teacher, fer chrissakes. To pretend that this isn't a ranking system is intellectually dishonest.

Then there's Chris Korsmo of the League of "Education" Voters:
Publicola covered the opposition to the bill which seemed a little ill-informed. The opposition, that is – ill informed. The bill includes a “mutual agreement” provision requiring the school principal and teacher to agree on the teacher’s placement. This legislation would be a great next step in the work to change the way we assess and value our teachers.
No comments on why the opposition is ill-informed, no sign of her participating in the debate over at Publicola, and no rebuttal of the very real objections that have been raised. Way to raise the debate, Chris.

My belief, on which I will not yield, is that RIF should be about economics and non-renewal should be about performance, and never the two should meet. Building a system where a principal has every incentive to give higher-paid employees worse evaluations so that they can put more money into their own budgets isn't in anyone's interest, but that's what this bill does. Elevating the principal above the contract, the superintendent, and the school board might make sense to some (hi, Liv), but to everyone else that's lunacy.

This is a bad bill. It won't make things better. It should go no farther.

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

No E, Just FF

So the Evergreen Freedom Foundation is dropping some syllables and choosing to just become The Freedom Foundation. Why?
Turns out, our name and brand didn’t help us make an accurate first impression. People either thought we were an environmental group, or were simply confused. So over the past three years we’ve been making changes to ensure we present a more accurate image of who we are that makes sense to the people we need to reach. Because the Internet has become the most important point of introduction for people, we knew that it had to be a major part of our rebranding effort.
Gotta say, don't like it.

Evergreen means Washington. We are the Evergreen State, after all--we used the nickname on one of the public universities, fer chrissakes. Cutting loose the association with Washington sort of makes them look like just another think tank (Heritage Foundation! Gates Foundation! Hewlett Foundation!), and I really can't see how that branding helps.

The name confusion that I've noticed is between them and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which does a ton of work on censorship and net neutrality, but that raises the obvious question of what a Google search for "Freedom Foundation" will bring up. How about:
One wonders about their long term health. Bob Williams and Lynn Harsh have both recently left day-to-day involvement for other opportunities, their hire for CEO doesn't exactly fit the mold, and we've yet to see another run of the school report card project they started in 2009. On the other hand, the Liberty Live blog is still quite active, and their Supreme Court coverage is second to none in the state, but there enough space for both the EFF and the Washington Policy Center?

Something to watch.

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