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teachers unions

About the Janus ruling

by Dan Burns on June 28, 2018 · 2 comments

scotus2A couple of items:

A 2015 study found strong empirical evidence that unions may help children move up the economic ladder.
According to the study, the New York Times reports, “Children born to low-income families typically ascend to higher incomes in metropolitan areas where union membership is higher. The size of the effect is small, but there aren’t many other factors that are as strongly correlated with mobility.”
The positive impact of unions on children’s upward mobility isn’t exclusive to low-income children, the Times reporters note, and they extend beyond families with union workers to nonunion families too.
(Jeff Bryant/

After holding steady for decades, the percentage of American workers in all jobs who would say yes to join a union jumped sharply this past year, by 50%, says a new, independent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The evidence is clear: The popularity of the labor movement is surging as more people want to join unions than ever before. Every worker must have the freedom to negotiate in a union over pay, benefits and working conditions.

Comments below fold.


school2We’ll see whether the author of this is right, but it’s important as an awareness-raiser.

In other words, this should be fertile territory for Democrats. But the coming decimation of public sector unions also means that the Democrats will be more dependent than ever on corporate money, especially from the financial sector. Accept the growing influence of the party’s biggest donors, comprised of Wall Streeters, hedge funders and Silicon Valley elites, and you also get their cramped and narrow vision of what is possible. And the moneyed influencers within the Democratic Party share a vision of education—personalized, privatized, union free—that’s increasingly difficult to distinguish from the one DeVos espouses.

On September 28, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it would give a handful of states, including Minnesota, an “additional $253 million in grants to expand charter schools,” in order to spur on school choice–an education reform strategy long embraced by Democrats, Republicans and wealthy financiers…
Such announcements are often accompanied by cheerful talk of innovation and choice. The new federal funding is all about “seeing how we can continue to work with states to help ensure more students can learn in an environment that works for them,” according to DeVos. But this new funding will also support Minnesota’s increasingly segregated public and charter school landscape, as well as an exodus of money and students from union-staffed districts. (Charter school teachers and staff are mostly non-unionized, in Minnesota and beyond.)
(Bright Light Small City)


Back to all-too-often underfunded public school

by Dan Burns on August 18, 2016 · 0 comments

abandoned2Though I was good at school I didn’t like it much, and always got bummed out at this time of year. Decades later I still experience a residual echo of that, now and then. Anyway:

Indeed, back to school supply lists are likely longer than ever before due to the simple reason that schools increasingly don’t have the funds to pay for items on the list. And because of persistently inadequate budgets that continue to dog our schools, you can be sure the longer your shopping list, the worse the funding situation is throughout your child’s school system.
Not only are school stockrooms increasingly bare of supplies, but teachers aren’t being adequately paid, class sizes are ballooning, programs are being cut and school buildings increasingly forego required maintenance.
(Campaign for America’s Future)

Two more relevant items:


Minnesota Republicans solve education

by Dan Burns on December 29, 2014 · 3 comments

abandonedschoolI’ve written before about the challenges that Minnesota Republicans face, politically. I am pleased to report that they are being triumphantly met, via the MNGOP Solution Center. I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this glorious endeavor, from time to time; for today, a few notes about GOP solutions on education, to the admittedly limited extent that my puny left-wing intellect can process such breakthroughs.

The big blue box on the linked page is deliberately vague. But all you have to do is scroll down a bit and look at the sources for “Other Resources” to know where they’re coming from: more charters – that is, corporatization – and attacking public school teachers.
2014 has been aptly named “The Year of the Charter School Scandal,” nationwide. And a study done in the Twin Cities shows that charter schools there are not as good as public ones. In fact, Minnesota would do well to, at the very least, impose a moratorium on new charters until such time as the many, many problems with them are resolved. Which, given the depth and breadth of those problems, is no time soon.

GOP talking points like “accountability” are (transparent) code for crushing teachers unions, and generally destroying respect and support for the teaching profession. That’s bad. Even some people on the left try to be polite and claim that there’s no “proof” that de-unionization badly hurts students, because correlation doesn’t necessarily prove causation. In fact, by a process called “induction,” as well as the application of plain old common sense, one can absolutely state that ending teachers’ rights to unions causes worse schools (see point 3 in the linked article). Then again, worse schools don’t bother a lot of conservatives; they need undereducated kids to turn into misinformed, gullible adults, who are then much more likely to vote for (and in particularly unfortunate cases become) right-wing politicians. And conservatives in Minnesota, and everywhere, desperately need that, in the long term. It’s their only chance.
Comments below fold.


I have to send positive vibes toward TC Daily Planet, because given the state of contemporary “dialogue” about education in the U.S., nobody is supposed to take note of discomfiting realities like this.  It’s inconvenient, to say the least, for those that want to see American public education turned into a rote-spouting factory system being strip-mined for profit by corporate greedheads.  In these parts, we call such as those “education deformers.”

Twin Cities charter schools enroll a smaller proportion of special education students than St. Paul and Minneapolis district schools. The special education students who do attend charters tend to have less intense needs than the students with disabilities attending district schools.

See, it wasn’t supposed to be like this.  The charters (for-profit and non-profit; the various definitions get complicated, and I’m just using the senses most commonly used) were supposed to take the challenging students, and succeed magnificently with them, what with not being “burdened” by the obstinate traditionalism that drives the “failing” public schools.  (“Failing.”  Yeah, right.) This wonderful success would allow public schools to deal with the rest of the kids, as efficiently and (what’s of ultimate importance, to far too many) cheaply as possible.  (I want to emphasize that the first linked article isn’t about charter-bashing, and neither is this blog post.  This is about calling out the deformers.)

The reality, so far, is way different.  The public schools are getting the more challenging kids, and the fingers of contemptible sorry-a** demagogues are shaken at public-school teachers – specifically, their unions – because those students aren’t becoming super-achievers.  As if the education deformers doing all that blaming are intellectual shining stars, themselves.  Rather, by their deeds rather than their fulsome words, they embody the hostility to real knowledge and understanding, that is inevitably present in any society, like ours, where conservatism remains a force.

Incidentally, another piece of deformer propaganda is in theaters.  Thankfully, it’s tanking.


Thursday GOP presidential hopefuls Michele Bachman, Rand Paul and Herman Cain descended upon the Iowa Christian Homeschoolers annual Capitol Day to preach fire and brimstone about the U.S. Department of education, describing it as-among other things– a threat to our nation’s children and unconstitutional.

This particular tent meeting is hardly the first time Bachmann and the GOP lunatic fringe (oh wait, are they still fringe?) has made such an attack.  In courting evangelicals for the presidential bid, Republicans have been more and more donning the mantle of Reconstructonist Theology to paint Public Education as an opium den to destroy the minds of this nation’s children. This is of course all taking place while Beelzebub (aka: the Democrats) steal  Americans’ hard-earned money  (via the Satanic tools of the public school teachers and their godless commie unions).

Rand Paul told the crowd in Iowa:

The public school system is now a propaganda machine. They start with our kids even in kindergarten, teaching them about family values, sexual education, gun rights, environmentalism – and they condition them to believe in so much which is totally un-American.

Bachmann, who homeschooled her own 5 children–some would say  with little grasp of some academic subjects herself , stated: “The family has a level of authority that the government may have trampled on. We need to make sure that families enjoy their untrammeled right without state interference.”

“Enjoy” their “untrammeled right?”  As a progressive parent very familiar with the workings of my own public school district and its teachers, I am wracking my brain to cobble together a list of what rights my kids’ public education is trampling upon. here’s what I’ve come up with:
A right to a safe, cost-free and quality instruction for children of all ages, creeds and needs?
A right to interventions and therapies for children with special educational needs and disabilities?
A right to eat a cost-free hot breakfast and lunch if their family is in poverty and can’t feed them?
A right to be exposed to a diverse curriculum and population of others which expands the child’s worldview?
A right to learn the essential academic canon without the bias or undue influence of any one individual’s or groups personal faith or political ideals?
Access to athletics, art, music, languages and other enrichments that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive for most families on their own?

The most frightening part of all the anti-education rhetoric coming from the GOP 2012 camps-including from Tim Pawlenty, who in comparison sounds like a reasonable moderate with some of the anti-teacher snake oil he’s trying to sell— is just how dangerous the increasing “mainstreaming” of Reconstructionist ideas about education are.  Writer Judy Ingersoll from Religion Dispatches described the gravity of these fundamentalist fringe “Christian” ideas best:  

Whether through homeschooling or Christian schools, the goal is to “replace” public education… is considered unbiblical. According to Reconstructionism, the Bible gives authority for education to families-not the state-and the Bible does not give the state the authority to tax people to pay for the education of other peoples’ children. Reconstructionists are therefore opposed to public education, not only for their own children, but at all. They long have been proponents of dismantling the federal Department of Education and reducing funding for public education at every opportunity.