Archive for July, 2012

July 29, 2012

Don’t Buy NEA Snake Oil

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

The teachers union uses bogus numbers to con the public into believing that education needs more funding.

The National Education Association is relentless in its quest to raise taxes. In its latest gambit “Massive Budget Cuts Threaten America’s Children” the union claims that “…America’s schools have added 5.4 million students since 2003.” The only documentation for this outlandish number – an 11.1 percent increase – is a link to another article where they state the same fiction.

However, the National Council for Educational Statistics, an organization without an agenda, tells a far different story. NCES says that in 2003-2004 there were 48,540,375 K-12 students enrolled in the nation’s pubic schools. In 2010-2011, that number climbed to 49,484,181, an increase of just under 944,000 students – a 1.9 percent gain.

NEA also tries to convince us that severe spending cuts are dooming our children to an inferior education. But Mike Antonucci offers a realistic look at spending data culled from the U.S. Census Bureau. He came up with a chart which shows that between 2004-2005 and 2009-2010 per student spending increased 22 percent nationwide (9.3 percent after correcting for inflation.)

However, as Antonucci points out, the spending flattened out toward the end of that five year period. And in all likelihood we will be in for a decrease in the near term. But, what must be determined is how spending correlates to student achievement.

Compared to other countries around the world, we are fourth in spending after Luxembourg, Switzerland and Norway. Yet,

The three-yearly OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.

Not much of a correlation there. What about individual states? A recent study about the U.S. failure to close the international achievement gap released by Education Next finds nothing at all convincing.

No significant correlation was found between increased spending on education and test score gains.  For example, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey posted large gains in student performance after boosting spending, but New York, Wyoming, and West Virginia had only marginal test-score gains to show from increased expenditures.

The spendthrift teachers unions and their fellow travelers insist that we need more teachers because small class size is an essential component to a good education, but there is no evidence to back up this assertion. In fact, in a wonderfully contrarian op-ed, Cato Institute’s Andrew Coulson makes his case that “America Has Too Many Teachers” and other school employees.

Since 1970, the public school workforce has roughly doubled—to 6.4 million from 3.3 million—and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers’ aides. Over the same period, enrollment rose by a tepid 8.5%. Employment has thus grown 11 times faster than enrollment. If we returned to the student-to-staff ratio of 1970, American taxpayers would save about $210 billion annually in personnel costs

Referring to the NAEP tests, also known as the nation’s report card, Coulson says that in spite of the increased workforce,

These tests, first administered four decades ago, show stagnation in reading and math and a decline in science. Scores for black and Hispanic students have improved somewhat, but the scores of white students (still the majority) are flat overall, and large demographic gaps persist. Graduation rates have also stagnated or fallen. So a doubling in staff size and more than a doubling in cost have done little to improve academic outcomes.

Ah, but what about the kids who do get lost in larger classes? A story in the Huffington Post addresses this, focusing on a sweet eight year old girl in New York City who is having a tough time in school because, due to budget cuts, her 3rd grade class now has 32 students. To be sure some students are hurt by being in bigger classes. But despite the appeal to sentiment, it is hardly a universal truth.

HooverInstitution senior fellow and economist Eric Hanushek has devoted much of his time studying this issue. In 1998, he released the results of his impressive research.

Examining 277 separate studies on the effect of teacher-pupil ratios and class-size averages on student achievement, he found that 15 percent of the studies found an improvement in achievement, while 72 percent found no effect at all—and 13 percent found that reducing class size had a negative effect on achievement. While Hanushek admits that in some cases, children might benefit from a small-class environment, there is no way “to describe a priori situations where reduced class size will be beneficial.”

In our fiscally tough times it is more important than ever not to be swayed by emotion, demagoguery, and plain ol’ BS. Americans must do their due diligence and not be conned by the hucksters. And be especially wary of the teachers unions; the snake oil they sell is particularly venomous.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

July 28, 2012

Aurora, Colorado Knee-Jerks and other Jerks on the Left

Burt Prelutsky
humor columnist

UNDER NORMAL CONDITIONS, I would not address the tragic events that took place in Aurora, Colorado. For one thing, it was the insane act of a single psychotic, as opposed to the sort of stuff I generally deal with, such as Obama’s destructive policies and the loony legislation enacted by the left-wing pinheads in Congress.

I am only making an exception in the case of James Holmes because of what it tells us about liberals. Understand, I’m not laying his massacre at the feet of leftists. I leave that sort of thing to the media. You know, the folks who announced that Jared Lee Loughner was a conservative as soon as they heard that he had gone on a murderous rampage in Tucson, Arizona, that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords wounded and several people dead. In similar fashion, we all got to hear that James Holmes was a member of the Tea Party even before the smoke had cleared.

What the events at the Aurora movie complex tell us about liberals is that, taking the advice of Rahm Emanuel to heart, they are loath to let a crisis go to waste. As sure as shooting, within hours of the tragedy, they were out in force complaining about that darn Second Amendment. The fact that if someone in the theater had been carrying a concealed weapon, Holmes might have been stopped almost before he got started fails to register on those who hate guns to such a degree that they can never acknowledge that they can ever be used for good.

But, then, they also refused to concede the irony that it took a police officer to end Major Nidal Hassan’s bloody rampage at Fort Hood because the powers-that-be decided that a military base, of all places, was to be a gun-free environment.

When I hear liberals blame guns for what Holmes did, I realize they don’t appreciate how much worse the carnage could have been. If, instead of entering the theater with his semi-automatic weapon, he had set off the bombs with which he had booby-trapped his apartment, God only knows how many more people would have been killed and maimed.

Liberals are always eager to ban guns, but even after the Oklahoma City bombing, you didn’t hear them talk about banning fertilizer. That’s probably just as well because sane people would have then been forced to point out that manure doesn’t kill people; people kill people.

One of the creepy things about liberals is that they only wish to discuss actions and inevitable consequences when the actions can be traced to conservatives. You never hear them reprimand parole boards, which are nearly always comprised of social workers, psychologists and other college degreed morons, when one of the felons they release murders or rapes another victim.

You never hear liberals blaming people like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama, for bringing on the financial meltdown by insisting that home loans be given to people who couldn’t come up with a down payment, all because they knew that the votes of those new homeowners could be so easily bought and paid for with the tax dollars of the solvent.

Have you ever heard a liberal lay the blame for Islamic terrorism at the feet of Jimmy Carter, the man who pulled the carpet out from under the Shah of Iran, thus inviting the Ayatollah Khomeini and his mullahs to embark on their mission of worldwide domination?

Speaking of lunatics such as Jared Loughner and James Holmes, it’s been liberal state legislators who have cut funding for insane asylums and the ACLU who have fought the commitment of psychotics. As a result, these days, there is no way to force the mentally deranged to take their medications and no way to get them off the streets once they decide to forego their meds until the day the voices in their heads send them off on a killing spree.

Also, you may have noticed that all the knuckleheads on the Left need to do is place “phobic” at the end of words in order to cow their opponents into silence. If you don’t think that same-sex marriages are a great idea, you’re homophobic. If you don’t believe that our country owes its creation to Muslims, you’re Islamophobic. I have reached the point where I am phobiaphobic. All I need is for someone to try to win a debate by introducing “phobic” into the discussion and I go berserk.

Moreover, nobody is supposed to be judgmental, lest they be accused of bigotry. So the fact that one of the major reasons that the black community is so dangerous and so dysfunctional is because more than seven out of every 10 black babies is born to an unwed mother is supposed to be ignored in the name of political correctness. In one of Leona Salazar’s columns, I read that the most appropriate name for those unfortunate babies is “souvenirs.” I couldn’t have said it any better, or I would have.

In conclusion, I would say that when you realize there are about 315 million people now living in the United States, and that thousands of them didn’t think twice about standing in line in order to see a comic book movie at midnight, and that tens of millions more will, in spite of all the rotten things this administration has done over the past three years, vote for Barack Obama this November, it’s rather surprising that such tragic events as took place in Columbine, Tucson and Aurora, are as rare as they are.

via BurtPrelutsky.com.

July 28, 2012

Scientists Develop Microchip Version of the Human Body

A microchip version of the human body is currently in development. The final device won’t look much like a person, but it will host real human cells and have the same basic functions as 10 major human organs.

The device’s makers hope it will become a high-tech testing ground for new drugs, replacing lab animals in some studies, they say.

Researchers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have already re-created the functions of a few human organs on fingertip-size chip devices, including a lung-on-a-chip and a gut-on-a-chip.

The institute is now announcing it’s starting a project to develop 10 such chips and wire them together so they can interact in one complex system. Institute scientists will also build a controller for the chips that will send fluids in and out of the system and measure the biochemistry inside.

Just as a computer microchip holds an electric circuit, biological microchips hold circuits of hollow channels that can carry liquids. The chip’s channels are lined with human cells and designed to mimic an organ in miniature. The channels in the gut-on-a-chip, for example, are lined with human intestinal cells and seeded with the beneficial bacteria that naturally live inside people’s intestines, according to the Wyss Institute.

The gut-on-a-chip’s channels also stretch and compress, mimicking the muscular movements that human intestines make to move food along. Each chip is made of transparent, flexible plastic so scientists can observe what’s happening inside.

Researchers hope a human body-on-a-chip will be a better testing ground for new drugs. The National Institutes of Health think the device may be a faster, cheaper way of testing drugs, agency officials said in a statement.

The Wyss scientists hope their system will be an alternative to rats and other lab animals, as many new drugs appear to work in animals, but don’t work when tested in humans, they say.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects has signed a $37 million deal with the Wyss Institute for the body-on-a-chip project. Meanwhile, the NIH has given out about $13 million to several other labs to develop other organs-on-a-chip.

via Scientists Develop Microchip Version of the Human Body.

July 23, 2012

France’s Jewish Extermination – Vél d’Hiv – The only thing new in this world is the history you don’t know.

Haaretz has written about French president Francois Hollande’s visit to the site of one of the worst cases of collaboration with the nazis during WW2:

French President Francois Hollande’s decision to speak last week at a commemoration of the single worst deportation of Jews in Western Europe during World War II is an important step toward addressing European anti-Semitism.

On an early morning in July 1942, 13,000 Jews were awakened in their Parisian homes by French gendarmes, or soldiers. They were pushed into buses and trucks and taken to one of the most popular sporting stadiums in France. Located in the heart of working class Paris, the Vél d’Hiv was the cathedral for France’s most passionate sport – cycling.

The Jews were left in the stands of this revered velodrome to swelter in the summer heat. The glass roof had been painted dark blue as part of black-out procedures, and the windows were shut tight. A single tap provided water for the victims. Children were separated from their parents. The whole operation was carried out with scarcely a German uniform in sight.

This was French anti-Semitism organized as state action by French civil servants, police officials and other public functionaries. The Jews were later taken to German extermination camps on Polish soil. But the historic importance of Vél d’Hiv is that the horrible sequence of hatred was initiated by French citizens in the name of France.

And that is why it was obliterated from official French history for decades and why Hollande’s decision, early in his presidency, to speak about the duty to remember Vél d’Hiv is so important. A recent survey showed that 60 percent of 18 to 24 year olds in France have never heard of the Vél d’Hiv mass round-up of Jews.

The related picture I’ve uploaded is from Henri Amouroux’s book Les Passions et les Haines, which shows a scene from the urban concentration camp set up by the traitors to humanity. Incidentally, while Hollande’s visit in itself is a noble act, it’s not clear whether he’s acknowledged his father’s own collaboration with the nazis at the time, and if he condemns the shame it brings upon him.

And if he keeps up the PC tactic of even remotely calling Israel an “occupier” and excusing Islam, then he hasn’t done much to distinguish himself from Jacques Chirac, who was notorious for that.

via THE ASTUTE BLOGGERS: MORE INFO ON VEL D’HIV.

July 19, 2012

Damning the Children

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Protecting image and turf in the face of evil is unconscionable.

As if the Jerry Sandusky fourteen year long child abuse tragedy hasn’t been painful enough, former FBI director Louis Freeh released a report last week that condemned Penn State’s legendary football coach Joe Paterno as well as other school leaders for conducting a massive cover-up. The report said that Paterno, University President Graham Spanier et al agreed

… to conceal child sexual abuse allegations against assistant coach Jerry Sandusky for more than a decade, choosing to preserve the university’s reputation over protecting the victims of a pedophile….

(They) showed “total disregard” for the abuse victims, concealed crucial information and failed at least twice to act on sexual assault accusations against one of their own because they feared the consequences of bad publicity on the university….

Clearly the brunt of the evil lies at the feet of Sandusky, the depraved assistant coach who sodomized young boys. But what can be said of the people who knew about Sandusky’s repulsive acts and did nothing? While Sandusky is guaranteed a special place in the ninth circle of Hell, what about Paterno and the others? Sorry, Coach. Your legacy will not be that you were the winningest college coach in history, but that you and others knew that unspeakable things were being done to children and were more concerned about image than responsibility.

While protecting image will push some otherwise decent folks into moral turpitude, the same can be said for protecting turf. A few weeks ago, at the behest of the California Teachers Association, six members of the California State Assembly education committee refused to sign off on a bill that would have shortened the now endless and expensive process for firing a teacher who abuses children with sex, drugs or violence. As an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle stated,

The influence of the California Teachers Association was rarely more apparent – or more sickening – than in the defeat of SB1530. The union showed its willingness to defend an expensive and cumbersome process for firing bad teachers at almost any cost – even if that means school districts must continue to spend exorbitant sums of time and money to dismiss teachers in cases involving sex, drugs or violence with students.

Even more disturbing than the union’s predictable dogma was certain legislators’ equally predictable acceptance of it.

These legislators blatantly disregarded their public mandate in order to protect their positions in the legislative body. The teachers union did what it typically does – protect every dues paying member no matter how incompetent, rotten or perverted they are. The union’s laughably transparent defense was that if administrators would follow protocol, bills like SB 1530 would not be necessary. While admittedly school administrators dropped the ball in the Mark Berndt case in Los Angeles, it doesn’t negate the fact that the system is rigged to protect teachers who should not be allowed to be near kids.

For many reasons – including callous dismissal of children’s claims, missing teacher files and operating in a culture of non-accountability – Berndt got away with sexually abusing his students for over 20 years. The system is so perverse that the school district couldn’t get rid of Berndt without going through a lengthy appeals process costing over $300,000. So, when his crimes were exposed, Berndt gamed the system by accepting a $40,000 bribe and retired – of course only after racking up another year of credit toward his pension. Writer RiShawn Biddle succinctly and emphatically gets to the heart of the problem,

Yet those education traditionalists, especially AFT officials in L.A., and their counterparts at the statewide affiliate and the NEA’s GoldenState unit, who want to simply blame school leaders for the failure to catch Berndt are also essentially refusing to hold their colleagues responsible. Actually, let me go further: If any education traditionalist tries to use the failures of L.A. Unified as a justification for defending their opposition to making it easier to get evil men like Berndt out of their jobs, then they should look in mirrors and ask forgiveness of their Creator. Because their argument is morally repulsive, intellectually dishonest, and abhorrent violation of one’s obligation to their fellow men and women. An important reason why Berndt was able to perpetuate educational and criminal abuse on the children in his care for so long lies with state laws that effectively make it almost impossible for L.A. Unified and other Golden State districts to dismiss teachers who don’t belong in classrooms.

What happens when an adult does the right thing? Ask seven year veteran principal, Eileen Blagden. In 2010, Kevin Kirby, a teacher who had been suspended from a nearby middle school for lewd and lascivious behavior and trespassing, was sent to Blagden’s school – Stowers Elementary, part of the ABC School District in southern Los Angeles County – where he was assigned as a Kindergarten teacher! (Because it is virtually impossible to get rid of a teacher in California, no matter how incompetent or perverted, Kirby had to be placed somewhere.)

Kirby, after his leave of absence, reported to Stowers “disheveled, stressed, and with blood visibly on his body,” alleging that he was in a motorcycle accident. He was clearly distraught and began talking about suicide and killing two Kindergarten teachers at the school. When Blagden told Carol Hansen, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, of the threats, she was stunned when Hansen told her not to mention it to anyone. But after sending Kirby to the hospital, Blagden did not remain silent. In order to protect the involved teachers and their students, she informed the teachers about Kirby’s threats. As Blagden said,

In the wake of the Miramonte Elementary School and Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandals coupled with the Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Seal Beach tragedies, none of us entrusted with the safety of children can afford to guess at the genuineness of the threat when danger presents itself.

As a result of disobeying a superior, Blagden then was relieved of her duties and eventually “demoted” to the classroom for “poor performance.” Unwilling to accept the district’s action, Blagden filed a lawsuit alleging retaliation for whistle-blowing.

Then, on July 6th the court ruled that the district fabricated evidence when it said that Blagden was demoted before she went to the police. In what will undoubtedly make it into the deer-in-the-headlights wing of the deposition hall of fame, the former and current ABC Superintendents hem and haw and bob and weave their way through the tough and forthright questioning of Blagden’s attorney Ron Wilson.

As these three cases show, when protecting image and turf become paramount, our institutions become nothing more than a Potemkin villages. Until we reach the point where those in positions of authority make morality their number one priority, evil will prevail. When this evil invades our schools, children are the victims. And any society that abuses children on a regular basis is doomed to fail.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

July 18, 2012

Michelle Obama praised Romney’s Bain Capital

President Barack Obama‘s re-election campaign has been on a mission to vilify Bain Capital, the venture capital firm co-founded by Mitt Romney.

But before Romney was the Republican nominee for president, first lady Michelle Obama praised a child care company Bain Capital helped get off the ground.

In 2011, the first lady said she was “excited” about the role of Bright Horizons, a corporate day care company founded in the 1980s backed by Bain Capital, in her “Let’s Move! Child Care” campaign, according to a video reviewed by The Daily Caller.

“The Partnership for a Healthier America is working with private providers like Bright Horizons,” the first lady said at a June 2011 “Let’s Move!” child care announcement.

“That’s the nation’s second largest private child care provider, and they’re going to implement this checklist at nearly 600 child care centers across the country,” she said. “So we already have commitments that are going to affect hundreds of thousands of children today.”

Michelle Obama added: “Again, that’s why we’re excited to be able to launch this.”

The Boston Globe recently reported that Bright Horizons was founded in a “Cambridge kitchen” and was financially backed by “Bain Capital, then led by Mitt Romney.”

via Michelle Obama praised Bain-backed child care company | The Daily Caller.

July 18, 2012

Trump to Romney: Demand Obama’s college records

Billionaire businessman and Mitt Romney supporter Donald Trump said Monday morning that the GOP nominee should release more of his tax returns — as soon as President Obama releases his college records.

“Obama should give his college applications and records — you talk about transparency,” Mr. Trump said on “Fox and Friends.” “We will learn more about Obama when we look at those college applications than any other thing that can happen.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney last week dismissed the issue as “preposterous,” labeling it “the Donald Trump question.”

“This is from the guy who insisted that he didn’t believe the president was born in the United States,” Mr. Carney said.

Nevertheless, Mr. Trump said Republicans should keep pushing on the issue.

“If I were Mitt Romney or advising Mitt Romney, I would say, ‘I will put out all of my records, I’ll go back as far as you want, after you put out your records on college,'” he said.

“I’ll tell you what — the Republicans have to get a lot tougher,” he continued. “They have to get down and dirty also, because that’s what’s happening to them.”

via Trump to Romney: Demand Obama’s college records – Washington Times.

July 18, 2012

Leaked! Obama’s devastating 2nd-term plans

A soon-to-be-released, game-changing election book will reveal the blueprint for a second Barack Obama presidential term.

Slated for release Aug. 7 by WND Books, “Fool Me Twice: Obama’s Shocking Plans for the Next Four Years Exposed” uncovers the template for Obama’s next four years – the actual, extensive plans created by Obama’s own top advisers and progressive strategists.

The explosive book unveils all the main areas of Obama’s second-term domestic policy onslaught – jobs, wages, health care, immigration “overhaul,” electoral “reform,” national energy policy, Pentagon plans and much more.

via Leaked! Obama’s devastating 2nd-term plans.

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July 16, 2012

Frank Marshall Davis: Why Obama’s Mentor Went From Republican to Devout Marxist | The Communist | TheBlaze.com

Last Friday, The Blaze provided you with a first look into Paul Kengor’s soon-to-be released, provocative book published by Mercury Ink, entitled, “The Communist,” which closely examines the life of President Obama’s longtime mentor, Frank Marshall Davis.

After establishing why presidential mentors have, historically, been of great import and consequence, Kengor goes on to explain how this devout Marxist actually began his political path as a Republican, often stumping for GOP presidential contenders on their respective campaign trails. Of course, especially at the time, the GOP represented the party of Lincoln while Democrats comprised the Southern racists so reviled by black Americans.

Oddly, Davis took a turn for the hard-left after being duped into believing that the racism he experienced as a black youth growing up in Kansas, and, later on into adulthood, was the product of a diseased Capitalist system, and that only the Soviet Union had managed to crack the code of equality, thus creating a racism-free utopia for all.

Yes, you read that correctly. Frank Marshall Davis became a card-carrying member of the Communist Party U.S.A. after being successfully indoctrinated by a clever Soviet-led propaganda campaign that targeted members of the American black community. The former USSR achieved this seemingly impossible feat by manufacturing what were known as Potemkin villages (or Potyomkin villages). These stage props were created to showcase an “ideal” agrarian society flourishing under the banner of Marxist-Leninism.

In the Potemkin, workers appeared thrilled with their positions in life, homogeny fostered “tolerance,” agricultural output was bountiful, and majestic birds soared on high through perpetual skies of blue. Indeed, on the surface, it seemed Mother Russia had successfully birthed a picture-perfect existence.

via Frank Marshall Davis: Why Obama’s Mentor Went From Republican to Devout Marxist | The Communist | TheBlaze.com.

July 3, 2012

Knox vs. SEIU – A Reaffirmation

The Supreme Court reached the right decision in the Knox case, but we still to need to let all American workers choose whether or not they want to belong to a union.    

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

While last week’s Supreme Court’s Arizona immigration and Obamacare decisions have caused great controversy in some circles, its earlier judgment in the Knox vs. Service Employees International Union case was widely heralded; only the union elites and their fellow travelers were unhappy with it. A great majority agreed that the Court acted properly in issuing a verdict that supported the freedom of union workers not to have to have dues forcibly removed from their paychecks and given to political causes that they don’t support. By a 7-2 margin, the justices said the SEIU could not force its members to pay the part of union dues that goes for political causes even if the union felt it was for the workers own good.

Actually this decision didn’t break any new ground. Unions haven’t been allowed to force workers to pay for their political agenda since the 1970s and 1980s when several landmark decisions were handed down by the court. But SEIU Local 1,000 in California tried to hoodwink the rank and file. The case probably never should have reached the high court, but their involvement became necessary in order to overturn a decision from the far left Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (or as it’s affectionately known to us left coasters – the Ninth Circus), which has become a regular occurrence these days.

According to the Wall Street Journal,

The California SEIU local attempted to end run these protections in a special 2005 election and the midterms in 2006, amid a furious debate about union government perks. The SEIU joined a “Political Fight-Back Fund” to defeat two propositions that would have given then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger the ability in some cases to modify salaries, benefits and pensions. To fund this advocacy, the SEIU imposed a temporary 25% hike in union dues, never providing its 28,000 non-union members the Hudson notice that would have let them opt out.

The SEIU argued that lobbying against the ballot initiatives was really work on behalf of all workers. Yet that would erase the legal distinction between politics and collective bargaining. These activities may be especially fungible in public employee practice already, but this was too much even for liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who concurred with the majority on the narrow if obvious grounds of technical precedent.

The irony here is dazzling. Steve Greenhut notes,

It’s ironic that SEIU took money from nonmembers to specifically battle a statewide proposition that would have stopped them from being able to take such money in the future. There’s something disturbingly totalitarian about that – making me give you money that you can use to stop me from exerting my rights.

The SCOTUS even went so far as to question whether or not an “opt in” method of dues collection would be more just.

Writing for a five-member majority, however, Justice Samuel Alito raises larger questions about compulsory union dues and individual rights. Shouldn’t the people who choose not to join a union, he asks, have to opt into political and ideological activities that they may presumably dispute—rather than opt out? “Which side should bear the risk?” he continues. “The answer is obvious: the side whose constitutional rights are not at stake.”

While the court is to be commended for its decision and bringing up the notion that opt out as the default position is grossly unfair, there is a bigger worker freedom issue at stake – that is, paying union dues as a condition of employment for certain workers in 27 states and the nation’s capital.

In California, for example, in order to teach in a public school, teachers are forced to pay dues to three different unions to the tune of over $1,000 a year. They must fork over money to a national union (National Education Association or American Federation of Teachers), a state affiliate (California Teachers Association or California Federation of Teachers), as well as their local union. If they choose not to have any part of their dues go to union supported political issues or candidates, they must resign from the union, and by November 15th of each year ask for a refund. They can expect to get back about a third of their dues. The bad news is that the union still gets to keep the rest, claiming that this is a “fair share” because they are representing teachers – whether or not this representation is wanted. And of course, union members usually have to find the resignation procedure out for themselves; the unions only grudgingly, upon request, give its members minimal information – and fairly often the information they do provide is misleading or erroneous.

Anyone who believes in liberty should be outraged about forced unionism. As a teacher, I was aghast at just about everything that CTA stood for, yet was still forced to line its pockets. The only way to pay nothing to the union as a teacher is to become a religious objector. This entails hiring a lawyer and proving that you are “religious enough.” If successful, the teacher still has to pay the full dues amount to a mutually agreed upon charity. Bottom line: In a non-right-to-work state, a teacher must pay to play.

With Independence Day upon us, we the people need to confront the fact that it is downright un-American and immoral to force workers to join an organization that they don’t want to belong to as a condition of employment. Anything short of giving workers the freedom to choose is not acceptable.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

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