News & Updates
Read selected articles from CTEN:
Janus related articles
Janus related legislation
The unions and their friends in the legislature in Sacramento have been planning for the ruling for quite some time now, and there is no shortage of new laws intended to insure the unions don’t lose too many of their members.
A year ago AB 119 was signed into law. Government unions now have access to all workers’ personal contact information and rookies are now required to attend a mandatory union “orientation” meeting, during which a union huckster tries his/her best to convince a captive audience about the benefits of union membership.
More recently, AB 2970 would prohibit government agencies from publicly disclosing information about the new employee orientations. The unions fear that new public employees attending the orientation meetings might hear opposing views. More here.
AB 2577 would allow a “deduction (of) an amount equal to the amount paid or incurred during the taxable year by a taxpayer for member dues to a labor organization.”
SB 866 stipulates that if an “employee notifies the district of his/her desire to opt out of paying dues/discontinue membership in the union, district staff must refer the employee directly to the union in order to work out termination of union membership/agency fee deductions.” More information here.
For a review of all Janus v. AFSCME related California legislation, the law firm of Lozano Smith has an extensive list which can be accessed here.
Also, California Policy Center’s Ed Ring has compiled “A Catalogue of California’s Anti-Janus Legislation, which can be seen here.
Janus related lawsuits
The Buckeye Institute has filed two separate lawsuits calling for an immediate end to the laws that force public-sector employees to accept their union’s representation. Both cases question the constitutionality of compelled “exclusive representation” and have been filed. Now that teachers and other employees don’t have to belong to the union, why should they have to be represented by the union? The right of a union to be an “exclusive representative” – which they have always insisted on – may be coming to an end. The cases which have been filed in Ohio and Minnesota “call upon the courts to recognize public employees’ First Amendment right to free association and to end the forced exclusive representation.”
To read more, go here.
Public-sector workers across the country are now suing to recover dues they paid to unions over the last several years. Class action suits have been filed against 11 unions in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Maryland, California, Oregon, Ohio, Illinois and the state of Washington, “accusing individual unions of violating workers' rights by collecting mandatory dues payments.” The suits argue that any public-sector employee who participated in forced dues systems should receive financial "redress" from labor organizations.
Grand Rapids, MI attorney John Bursch, the man behind many of the lawsuits, claims his litigation is an attempt to reclaim “a refund of the fees that were illegally extracted.” For more information on the lawsuits, go here and here.
For information about other lawsuits, go here.
John Kruger, founder and director of The Kids Union, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness for school choice reforms, has penned a very thoughtful piece for LA School Report. It begins,
"Imagine starting your college journey with a $75,000 scholarship. If that piques your interest, you’ll want to tune in to a brewing education battle in the Golden State. While the school choice debate has often centered on education outcomes, its fiscal impact in California is also of serious consequence. School choice could literally help send most students to college with a huge portion of the cost already accounted for. The math is actually fairly simple."
To continue reading this provocative piece, go to http://laschoolreport.com/commentary-school-choice-could-make-college-affordable/
EdChoice’s Jason Bedrick wrote a cogent post for Jay Greene’s blog, in which he maintains that “Real Accountability Is Choice, Not Regulation.” He writes,
"…true accountability is when service providers are directly answerable to the people most affected by their performance. When that isn’t possible, as when a utility company has a monopoly, top-down regulations may be necessary instead. But we shouldn’t confuse the inferior alternative accountability regime for the ideal form of accountability just because that’s what we’re used to."
To read Bedrick’s post, go here.
In a post for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, EdChoice’s Greg Forster makes the case that “School Choice Makes Teachers Free to Teach.”
Our whole education system is designed to treat teachers like factory line workers, not responsible professionals. That’s because the government monopoly on schooling makes every political interest group see schools as its business. If government runs the schools, you’re not allowed to tell taxpayers and voters to butt out of the classroom—not if we’re going to have a constitutional, democratic republic where government is of, by, and for the people.
Some of these interest groups are well-meaning and just want to help. Some have strong ideological commitments they want the government school monopoly to teach. And a lot of them are just greedy and don’t care about education one way or the other as long as the gravy trains run on time. But all of them want to have their fingers in the classroom, which means the whole education system runs on politics.
To read more of Forster’s compelling piece, go here.
EdChoice scholar Greg Forster has written a detailed five-part series on accountability: the best way to measure it, who should be in charge of it, etc. In Part 5 he writes,
"The hiring, firing and paying of teachers must attract and retain wise professionals with a commitment to nurturing children’s ability to achieve and appreciate the true, good and beautiful. It should not place a high priority on more utilitarian metrics like small fluctuations in test scores.
Holding teachers accountable requires us to hold schools accountable. Schools need to have strong institutional culture. School leadership must instill shared moral commitments pointing to the higher purpose of education, and defining the rules of acceptable behavior for educators and students implied by that higher purpose.
The big challenge for school accountability is that these moral commitments cannot be simply imposed by force. The school must be a free community in which students genuinely internalize the transcendent goals of education rather than merely conforming reluctantly to the grown-ups’ demands. This means accountability systems must have strong moral and social connections to schools. That way educators and students will accept their decisions not as a hostile outside force but as part of, and supporting, the free moral community of the school itself."
To continue reading and access Parts 1-4, go here.
Robert Pondiscio, Vice President for External Affairs at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, has written a forceful piece for U.S News & World Report in which he suggests that we "Let Poor Parents Choose Too." Making the case for parent power in the current political climate, he writes,
"If it's education reform technocrats and accountability hawks versus parents this time, the mood, the moment and the moral argument would seem to favor parents. If this year has taught us nothing else, it's that Americans have had just about enough of their betters deciding what's best for them and expecting them to play gratefully along. Reformers might have to start accepting that our greatest point of leverage is to help parents choose wisely, rather than trying to police their choices by means of aggressive accountability schemes."
To continue reading, go here.
Harvard’s Paul E. Peterson maintains that reforming the education system from within is unlikely to succeed in the years ahead. “If school reform is to move forward, it will occur via new forms of competition—whether they be vouchers, charters, home schooling, digital learning, or the transformation of district schools into decentralized, autonomous units.” To read more, go here.
“America has too much standardized testing” has been repeated so many times that it’s believed to be a fact. But is it? To get another perspective, go here.
The teacher shortage. How bad is it? Does it even exist? AEI’s Nat Malkus looks at the data. To get his take, go here.
Is choosing choice about choosing families? Greg Forster thinks so, and he explains it here.
An educational model in which the student is the customer? Written by Thomas Bogle, a public school teacher from Arizona, the piece examines public education from a libertarian perspective. To read it, go here.
Hoover Institution senior fellow and economist Eric Hanushek recently wrote about the small class-size myth in the New York Daily News. To read it, go here.
Kara Kerwin, president of the Center for Education Reform, writes “Newly Elected Leaders Must Separate Fact from Fiction on Charter Schools.” To read this brief and informative op-ed, go here.
Benjamin Scafidi, an economist and senior fellow with the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, has an interesting idea. He proposes “An Employee Stock Ownership Plan—for America’s Public Schools.” To read about it, go here.
Thomas Kane, researcher at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has written “Do Value-Added Estimates Identify Causal Effects of Teachers and Schools?” in which he concludes that there is now substantial evidence that value-added estimates capture important information.He does issue two caveats however. To read this balanced piece, go here.
Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli and Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey discuss Common Core. While the two men differ greatly on the subject, they do agree on certain facts as laid out in this informative piece. To read it, go here.
From Kansas: “State Board of Ed approves regulations for hiring teachers with subject expertise but no education degree.” While teachers in California can circumvent the traditional ed school route to the classroom, Kansas is taking it to another level. To read the story, go here.
The entire December 2013 Education Matters, the newsletter of the American Association of Educators, concerns itself with Common Core. To read articles pro and con, go here.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a collaborative effort among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries, and regularly tests in reading, math and science. There has been much written about the 2013 results, which reveal that the U.S. is not faring well. In a Time Magazine article,StudentsFirst’s Michelle Rhee paints a gloomy picture – while over at Education Week, AEI’s Rick Hess writes “7 Reasons I Don't Care About the PISA Results.”
CitizenshipFirst’s aim is to “become the country’s most creative driver of civic-education innovation. Through creative advocacy, in-school programs, research and reports, CitizenshipFirst aims to remind educators, policymakers and all Americans that the founding purpose of education was to prepare our nation’s young people for self-government—and that restoring the civic mission of education must be an urgent national priority.” To learn more, go here.
Learning by rote memory has gotten a bad rap of late, but is there a place for it? New York teacher and writer David Bonagura certainly thinks there is. In “What's 12 x 11? Um, Let Me Google That,” he makes a strong case. To read this important article, go here.
George Leef, Director of Research of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, has written a provocative piece which claims that American schools of education are “A Key Reason Why American Students Do Poorly.” To read Dr. Leef’s piece in Forbes go here.
Common Core will affect just about every public school teacher in California. While there is no shortage of articles on the national standards – pro and con – we found this one to be especially poignant. Koret Task Force scholar Eric Hanushek views it as a distraction. To read what he wrote in US News & World Report, go here.
Are you a tough teacher? Do you call your kids “idiots” when they screw up? My guess that you don’t and that a vast majority would find this abusive. But writer Joannne Lipman has another take. In The Wall Street Journal, she makes a compelling case for the opposite in “Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results.” To continue reading this thoughtful and controversial piece, please