Saturday, January 16, 2016

School Scope: Too Much Ed News to Report in Depth - Norm in The Wave

Published Jan. 15, 2016

School Scope: Too Much Ed News to Report in Depth
By Norm Scott

I am overwhelmed with news reports on education, both traditional and alternative so I’ll just give you snippets and you can search the ones that interest you on your own.

Attacking agency fee union dues at SCOTUS
A group of California teachers who are not union members but pay dues because they get the same benefits as union members are suing (Friedrichs vs State of California) claiming that any dues they pay is a violation of free speech because the very act of bargaining even for higher salaries is by nature political. A late 1970s decision at SCOTUS separated normal activities from political action – thus dues may not be used to contribute to candidates or lobbying activities and in the UFT there is a separate voluntary COPE contribution for those purposes. The lead teacher in the case actually argues that even calling for higher salaries is political and she takes the position that she should not have to pay dues to bargain that case since she thinks with so many school districts facing budget crunches, paying teachers more money is not necessarily a good thing. Over 20 states have agency fee laws while the others are right to work states, where as one would expect, teacher salaries and working conditions are worse. Arguments were held on Jan. 11 and from the way the justices spoke, it will be a 5-4 loss for the unions, thus turning every state into a right to work state.

There has been a lot of discussion on the ed blogs over this issue, with some internal critics of the UFT Unity Caucus leadership saying “good” and others, even groups like MORE, running against the UFT Unity Caucus in the upcoming elections (full disclosure -  I am associated with MORE), are arguing for people to keep paying dues and engage in the internal battle for union democracy and a progressive union. I have mixed feelings and would demand the UFT democratize and show more support for its members. I’ll leave the rest for you to sort out.

New study says charter schools are America's new subprime mortgages
School Scope and ednotes readers know that I have opposed the very concept of charters as having an overall negative impact on all kids over time by creating a dual school system that steals resources from the most struggling schools and neighborhoods. I have labeled much of the charter school movement as hedge-funder supported scam artists.

A recent article in Business Insider goes even further by comparing the charter movement to the subprime mortgage disaster that almost brought down the entire economy. Hedge funders made their fortune on this crisis, so it is not really a surprise to see these hedge hogs emerge out of the slime once again.

“The study says that while charter-school boards have the responsibility to follow the laws mandated of public schools, the incentive of these outside organizations is to increase revenue or cut expenses. And that misalignment creates an environment that may discriminate against students the organizations see as "too expensive," such as those with disabilities, according to the study.”

Read the article at ( I had 10 stories to report and only got to two. I’ve been covering the Detroit teacher sick-out story in some depth on my blog at

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