Useful Links

Informative links from around the web:

Union Issues

Not if, but when: Living in a world without Fair Share… is a brief PDF in which CTA envisions the future. Apparently, the union is resigned to the fact that forced dues – the so-called “fair share” – will not be with us for long.

The California Teachers Association has released a 34-page “Strategic Plan.” This attempt to affect policy is very broad in scope and will stretch on for years.

Bullying Teachers: How Teachers Unions Secretly Push Teachers and Competitors Around a report by School Reform News' Joy Pullmann.

We have  complied a fact sheet that is not typically available at one's fingertips. If you find anything that you think is erroneous, please let us know.

The American Federation of Teachers’ deceptive tactics used to successfully neuter a Parent Trigger law in Connecticut came to light because someone within AFT decided to put its strategy in the form of a PowerPoint on their website. All is revealed here.

Perhaps the most egregious example of union tactics is a training tape, clearly inspired by Marxist community organizer Saul Alinsky, made by the Michigan Education Association, an NEA affiliate, in the 1990s for union negotiators who collectively bargain with school boards. I urge you to listen to the audio and not just read the text. The creepiness of actually hearing the trainer pitch his hardball tactics adds a dimension that is missing when you just read the words.

In National Teachers' Unions and the Struggle Over School Reform, by the Citizen's Commission on Civil Rights, the teachers unions are accused of consistently blocking any and every meaningful education reform effort.

The Center for Responsive Politics -- breaks down union donations into political sub-categories. To see where the two national teachers unions are spending your union dues, go here.

Union Facts -- huge database of facts pertaining to unions. To see a video that features teachers talking about their unions go here.

Rent-to-Own Unionism? -- A University of Virginia professor discusses alternatives to current union status quo, including making informed decisions when voting to install a union and how employees might more easily remove an ineffective union.

US Department of Labor -- LM-2 page— tells you where your union is spending your dues. For the latest NEA report, go here. For the latest AFT report, go here.  Also, the Education Intelligence Agency website has information from 2011 posted in an easy-to-read list for the NEA which can be accessed here and for the AFT which can be found here.

Most people are not aware that NEA donates far more than is commonly thought to political causes - only it is not listed under donations. For example, according to Mike Antonucci, in the 2008 election cycle, "NEA dropped $260,000 on one of the many front groups operated by Craig Varoga and George Rakis, two men Fox News identifies as 'Democratic Party strategists.'" This money is not listed under donations to advocacy groups. It is listed in their disclosure report "as expenses for media." As Antonucci says, ".NEA's advocacy spending extends well beyond the easily identifiable groups." To read his entire post, go here.

The National Right to WorkLegal Defense Foundation's California Freedom Project -- a wealth of legal information. If you would like to know what your rights are, this is the place to go. If you can't find what you are looking for at the above site, go to http://www.nrtw.org and do a search.

Public Service Research Foundation -- studies the impact of unionism in government on government.

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, the general public is becoming more critical of the teachers' unions.  To learn more, click here.

As a non-profit corporation CTA must file a publicly accessible "exempt from income tax" form with the IRS. To see the latest Form 990, go here.

Alternative Teacher Organizations

Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionism, the arm of the National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Foundation that deals with educators, has a new website which is well worth checking out. Among other things, it tells teachers how to get free legal aid, gives info about non-union professional educator groups, etc.

California Independent Teachers is a local-only, independent alternative to your teachers union. For more info, go here.

Educators 4 Excellence -- "E4E is an organization of education professionals who seek to provide an independent voice for educators in the debate surrounding education reform. E4E's mission is to unite the education community around a shared set of goals, principles, beliefs, and actions, which place student achievement first." To learn more about this organization for independent-minded teachers who are frustrated when the loudest voices in the education debate lose sight of students' needs, go here.

Association of American Educators -- AAE is the largest national, non-union, professional educators' organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to teacher representation and educational advocacy, as well as promoting professionalism, collaboration and excellence without a partisan agenda.

Christian Educators Association International-- sectarian alternative to the NEA and AFT.

Reform-minded Organizations

The California Charter Schools Association -- everything you need to know about the growing charter school movement in California.

ClickSchooling, an excellent homeschool website, has a wealth of information that regular classroom teachers can also use. The site is constantly updated and is worth visiting frequently.  Or you can sign up and start receiving ClickSchooling’s web-based curriculum ideas. To learn more, go here.

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is a one-stop shop for all school choice issues, studies, etc.

Michelle Rhee’s national advocacy group, Students First is now based in Sacramento. The hope is that Ms. Rhee and her organization can help California get back on track.

Students for Education Reform - a nationwide group of dedicated teachers-to-be who are going into the profession with the idea of reforming it. To learn more, go here.

National School Choice Week will be Jan. 27-Feb. 2. To learn more and sign up to be a part of this event, please go here.

The Center for Educational Reform has valuable information about charter schools and school choice. The website is an excellent resource for teachers who want to stay in the field, but not in a traditional public school setting.

Too often, school boards are politically driven, and the interests of teachers and students are secondary. A dedicated group of activists in Pittsburgh decided to take on this issue. They act as watchdogs - going to board meetings, taking notes, and then issuing grades to its members. To read the Education Week article, please go here. To visit the watchdogs' website, go here.

The National Council on Teacher Quality -- is a nonpartisan research organization dedicated to reforming public policy for the purpose of increasing the number of effective teachers.

If you are reform-minded and wondering what you (teachers, parents, all citizens) can do, there is plenty of grist for the mill on the Waiting For Superman site.

Edward Amatetti, a teacher in Maryland, has an ambitious project called New Renaissance In Education His mission is ". promoting integrity and rational thinking in K-12 and higher education, as well as enhancing teaching of America's cultural and Constitutional heritage, including the eminence of individual liberty, free enterprise, rule of law, and social virtues such as justice, hard work, and temperance."

In 2010, without much fanfare, a new law went into effect in CA. The "Parent Trigger" could have major ramifications for teachers, parents and students. To learn more, go here. Also, the Heartland Institute has put out a policy brief explaining the promise and possible pitfalls of the Parent Trigger.

Sal Khan, Bill Gates’ favorite teacher, has become the online learning guru. His Khan Academy has over 2,600 videos.

Reform Media

Bob (“The Cartel”) Bowdon’s Choice Media is a one-stop shop for matters pertaining to education reform, one can find original stories, state-by-state happenings and listings of every reform conference, event, etc. in the country.

Education Next  -- This educational journal is a breath of fresh air.  It is attractive, well written and usually filled with provocative articles.

EAG News is the flagship website of Education Action Group Foundation, Inc., a national whose goal is promoting sensible education reform and exposing those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Employment - CA

EDJOIN is an excellent site to find jobs in public education in CA.

Employment - U.S

If you are seeking an alternative to teaching in a public school, private school may suit you. Research says you may find greater satisfaction there. Please read this study from the Friedman Foundation.

Education Week has employment information  in its newspaper and online.

Wanttoteach.com - districts from all over the U.S. use their service to post openings.

RISE -- a national nonprofit organization that places and retains effective teachers in quality K-12 public schools serving low-income communities.

Dollars and Cents

The LA Times warns “Health benefits are a promise school districts find hard to keep” and advises us that school districts aren't prepared to absorb the cost of retiree health insurance they've promised employees.

 “School Choice Means Higher Teacher Pay” according to a new study from the Texas Public Policy Foundation. While the report is specific to Texas, the findings could be applied to other states as well. Go here to read “Teachers Win: A Case for School Choice.

About teachers’ pensions in CA, Marcia Fritz, president of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility writes “The California Teachers Association: A Failure of Leadership.”

“Better Pay, Fairer Pensions for Los Angeles Teachers?” A Manhattan Institute report by Marcus Winters and Josh McGee tells us it’s possible.

A good website for keeping up with daily news about public employee pensions is Pension Tsunami.

Regarding the pension tsunami, the National Council on Teacher Quality has released a state-by-state analysis that challenges the claims of pension boards and other groups about “the cost-effectiveness, fairness and flexibility of the traditional defined benefit pension plans still in place in 38 states.” It includes a report card on each of the 50 states and D.C. with a detailed analysis of state teacher pension policies. To access the report, go here. Details on California, rated “C,” are here.

403bwise -- tells you everything you need to know about 403b investing.

Miscellaneous

For all you high school history teachers and anyone who teaches current events, Student News Daily is an excellent website that you should be aware of. Its goal is to build students’ knowledge of current events and strengthen their critical thinking skills.A politically balanced and fair-minded website, it includes quizzes on the stories that are posted on a daily basis. To learn more and download Student News Daily apps for iPhone, iPad and Android, go to http://www.studentnewsdaily.com/

"Edmodo is a secure, social learning platform for teachers, students, schools and districts. We provide a safe and easy way for your class to connect and collaborate, share content and access homework, grades and school notices. Our goal is to help educators harness the power of social media to customize the classroom for each and every learner." This website would seem to bypass some of the problems associated with other social networking websites. To learn more go here.

The American Textbook Council -- addresses the issue of dumbed down and overly politicized textbooks. Please go here to read more. Also, we have found a site which explains how to take action when textbooks are not up to snuff. To learn what you can do, please go here.

CTEN Newsletters -- Each month CTEN puts out a monthly newsletter which is emailed to all our supporters. Those letters are now archived and can be found here.

Teachers who have worked in other fields before going into education may be affected by the Social Security offset situation.  If this applies to you, please go to this government website http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10045.html#who to learn more.

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