Tag Archives: Education Choice

Education Unions: Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

25 Oct

The question which increasingly asked is whether teachers unions help or hinder education. PBS has a great history of teaching, Only A Teacher: Teaching Timeline which discusses unionization:


There are two national teachers unions in the United States today, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. The NEA was founded in 1857 as a policy-making organization, one that hoped to influence the national debate about schools and schooling. Over the next hundred years, it played a significant role in standardizing teacher training and curriculum. Until the 1960s, the NEA tended to represent the interests of school administrators and educators from colleges and universities.

The AFT, on the other hand, was always much more of a grass-roots teachers’ organization. It was formed in 1897 as the Chicago Teachers Federation, with the explicit aim of improving teachers’ salaries and pensions. Catherine Goggin and Margaret Haley allied the CFT with the labor movement, going so far as to join the American Federation of Labor – an act that horrified everyone who wanted to see teaching as genteel, white-collar employment. At the same time, the union conceived its work in terms of broader social improvement, bettering the lives of the poor and the alienated. By 1916, several local unions had come together to form the AFT. In the 1940s, the AFT began collective bargaining with local school boards, which again horrified some people. Collective bargaining always carries the threat of strikes, and teachers, as servants of the community, were long seen as both too indispensable and too noble to engage in work stoppages. The issue of strikes remains contentious today.

Teacher militancy has waxed and waned over the past 50 years. But many teachers believe that whatever gains they have made — in pay, benefits, job security and working conditions — have come from the efforts of their unions. Today, the NEA and AFT flirt with the idea of merging and have made significant strides towards combining their memberships. Their common interests — greater professionalization, increased authority for educators, enhanced clout in Washington, better working conditions and improved schools — dictate working together, and perhaps even becoming one very powerful union. http://www.pbs.org/onlyateacher/timeline.html

See, “Understanding the History of Teachers Unions,” a Panel Discussion with Diane Ravitch               http://webscript.princeton.edu/~sfer/blog/2010/12/understanding-the-history-of-teachers-unions-a-panel-discussion-with-diane-ravitch/                                                                                                                                                    https://drwilda.com/2012/07/04/teachers-unions-are-losing-members/

Garrett Epps wrote in the Atlantic article, The End of Public-Employee Unions?

The truth is that since at least Marbury v. Madison, Courts and Justices have hinted, signaled, begged, and reached out to litigants to bring them issues where one or more justice thinks the law needs to change. On the current Court, few of the Justices have signaled quite as vigorously as Justice Samuel Alito. Alito, a man of firm likes and dislikes, has twice questioned the constitutionality of public-employee contracts. Neither case, however, presented the chance to invalidate them.

Now his moment may have come. In response to Alito’s hints, the issue has landed squarely in the Court’s inbox in the form of a petition for review in a suit against the California Teachers Association. If Alito gets his desired result, it will deal a long-lasting blow to union power—and, perhaps by coincidence, the Democratic Party.
Here’s the issue: Even in union states, public employees cannot be required to join a union. Such a requirement, the Court has said, would violate their First Amendment rights, because that would be the government requiring them to speak and associate against their will. However, state governments can sign agreements with unions designating the union as the official bargaining agent for all employees, members or not. The union then must represent both members and non-members—and representation costs money, in the form of lawyers, economists, researchers, and so forth. Non-members are thus potentially “free riders” who get a service paid for by their fellow workers.

In response, a compromise developed called the “agency-fee” or “fair-share” payment. Requiring objectors to pay for political activities or lobbying would be “compelled political speech,” and violate the First Amendment. However, under the “fair share” system, non-members are charged a fee that excludes these political activities and is designated to cover only the chargeable costs of actual representation—negotiating contracts, administering benefit programs, and helping employees with grievances.

The “fair share” fee is Alito’s current target. In a 1977 case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Burger Court said the fees do not violate the First Amendment: “Public employees are not basically different from private employees,” the Court said. “[O]n the whole, they have the same sort of skills, the same needs, and seek the same advantages.” The subjects of collective bargaining are the same in either case. Wages and working conditions in the public sector have a political quality, but in their essence were more like the issues that private employers and their workers must negotiate. A state could decide that “exclusive representation” would make for a more orderly workplace; it could also decide to disallow “free riders.” Neither decision violated the First Amendment. “A public employee who believes that a union representing him is urging a course that is unwise as a matter of public policy is not barred from expressing his viewpoint,” the Court said. “Besides voting in accordance with his convictions, every public employee is largely free to express his views, in public or private orally or in writing….” http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/02/the-end-of-public-employee-unions/385690/

The issue is whether public employees can be required to pay fees.

Antonia Domingo summarizes the issues in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association Heads to the Supreme Court:

While public employees cannot be required to join a union, they can be required to pay fees associated with union representation. In Abood, public school teachers alleged that these “agency shop” or “fair share” agreements amounted to compelled political speech in violation of the First Amendment. The Court disagreed, finding that fair share agreements did not violate the Constitution as long as the non-member fee was limited to collective bargaining and contract administration expenses.

The Court has repeatedly upheld the Abood decision. Supporters argue that because unions are required to represent all employees, whether they choose to join the union or not, it’s only fair to require everyone to pay their share. Otherwise non-members are allowed to free-ride, enjoying the benefits of union representation without contributing. Critics argue that the line the Abood court drew between political and non-political activities is illusory; collective bargaining in the public sector is inherently political. As such, fair share agreements compel speech (or at least the subsidization of speech) and thereby violate objectors’ right to free speech and freedom of association.

In two recent cases, Justice Alito has strongly suggested a willingness to overturn Abood. In Knox v. Service Employees International Union, the Court found that allowing non-members to opt out of increased special fees was not enough; instead non-members only have to pay if they affirmatively opt in. Justice Alito, writing for the majority, said, “free-rider arguments…are generally insufficient to overcome First Amendment objections.” And while the majority opinion in Harris v. Quinn was fairly narrow, Justice Alito went out of his way to state that Abood is an “anomaly.”

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

In the Friedrichs petition, the plaintiffs ask the Court to rule on two questions: 1) whether fair share agreements violate the First Amendment; and 2) whether allowing objecting employees to opt out rather than requiring everyone to opt in also violates the First Amendment. Plaintiiffs make the now familiar arguments that ordinary public sector bargaining topics, like teacher tenure and salary, are political. Thus, requiring non-member employees to contribute to union representation on these issues is a violation of their First Amendment rights…. http://onlabor.org/2015/03/09/friedrichs-v-california-teachers-association-heads-to-the-supreme-court/

There must be a way to introduce variation into the education system. To the extent that teachers unions hinder the variation in the system, they become a hindrance.


Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association                                                                                               http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/friedrichs-v-california-teachers-association/

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association et al.                                                                                                       https://www.cir-usa.org/cases/friedrichs-v-california-teachers-association-et-al/

Debate: Are Teachers’ Unions the Problem—or the Answer?

Quiet Riot: Insurgents Take On Teachers’ Unions

Can Teachers Unions Do Education Reform?

Let a New Teacher-Union Debate Begin

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School choice: California public school charter serves homeschoolers

1 Jan

Moi has several posts about homeschooling. In Homeschooling is becoming more mainstream, moi wrote:

Parents and others often think of school choice in terms of public school or private school. There is another option and that is homeschooling.Homeschooling is one option in the school choice menu. There are fewer children being homeschooled than there are in private schools. There are fewer children in private education, which includes homeschools than in public education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the vast majority of students attend public schools. Complete statistics can be found at Fast Education Facts http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372

The question, which will be discussed at the end of this comment, is: What is so scary about school choice? After all, the vast majority of children are enrolled in public school and school choice is not going to change that.

What is Homeschooling?

Family Education defines homeschooling.

Homeschooling means learning outside of the public or private school environment. The word “home” is not really accurate, and neither is “school.” For most families, their “schooling” involves being out and about each day, learning from the rich resources available in their community, environment, and through interactions with other families who homeschool. http://school.familyeducation.com/home-schooling/alternative-education/41106.html

Essentially, homeschooling involves a commitment by a parent or guardian to oversees their child or teen’s educational development. There are almost two million homeschoolers in this country.
There is no one federal law, which governs homeschooling. Each state regulates homeschooling, so state law must be consulted. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has a summary of each state’s laws. http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp

Why Do Parents Homeschool?

According to the Washington Homeschool Organization, there are many reasons parents choose to homeschool.

Advantages of Homeschooling
• Parents are with their children all day.
• Parents know and understand their children, and are influential in their lives, even as they enter the teen years.
• Homeschooling prevents premature parent-child separation, avoiding inappropriate pressure on children.
• Children are allowed to mature at their own speeds, no “hurried child” syndrome.
• Parents and other adults are the primary role models for homeschooled children.
• Homeschooling provides positive and appropriate socialization with peers and adults.
• Homeschooled children are largely free from peer pressure.
• Homeschooled children are comfortable interacting with people of all ages.
• Homeschooled children view adults as an integrated part of their world and as natural partners in learning.
• Family values and beliefs are central to social, emotional and academic development.
• Family life revolves around its own needs and priorities rather than the demands of school.
• Homeschooling creates/maintains positive sibling relationships.
• Homeschooling promotes good communication and emotional closeness within a family.
• Research shows that the two most important factors in reading and overall educational success are positive home influence and parental involvement; homeschooling provides both.
• A child’s natural thirst for learning is nurtured, not squelched, and learning becomes a lifelong joy.
• Each child’s education can be tailored to his or her unique interests, pace, and learning style.
• Homeschooling children have time to pursue their special interests and talents.
• Homeschoolers enjoy unlimited educational resources; the world is our classroom, and resources abound in the community.
• Homeschooling provides a high adult/child ratio for the student.
• Homeschooled children become independent thinkers who are secure in their won convictions. http://www.washhomeschool.org/homeschooling/why.html

Homeschoolers of Color

The Village Voice has an excellent article about the experiences of Black homeschoolers and why they made the choice of homeschooling.

Black parents tend to take their children out of the schools for other than religious reasons, and homeschooling groups say black children taught at home are nearly always boys. Like Robinson, some of New York’s parents have concluded that the school system is failing the city’s black boys, and have elected to teach them at home as an alternative. http://www.villagevoice.com/2008-04-08/news/the-new-home-room/full

The National Home Education Research Institute http://www.nheri.org/research/nheri-news/homeschooling-more-ethnic-minorities-lower-income-families-and-parents-moderately-high-education.html which cites statistics from The Condition of Education 2009 reports the number of homeschoolers of color is growing. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009081.pdf

If one reviews the statistics from the last four years of USDE research (i.e., the last two USDE reports), one will find that 77.0% of homeschool students were white in 2003 while 76.8% were white in 2007 (i.e., a 0.2% decrease in those who are “white”). Second, this authors’ roughly 25 years of experience with and studying the homeschool community shows that the percentage of the homeschool community comprised of minorities is continuing to increase. Third, homeschool leaders across the nation are telling this author the same; that is, an increasing percent of the homeschool community is non-white.

Homeschooling is the choice for many parents because they don’t feel that current education institutions serve either their child or their values well.

Sarah D. Sparks reported in the Education Week article, Calif. Charter Caters to Home-Schooled Students:

The Da Vinci Innovation Academy serves home-schooled students within a 90-minute drive of Los Angeles International Airport. The school, a partnership between the Da Vinci charter-management group and the Wiseburn school district, has developed intensive, connected parent-and-teacher professional development to keep widely disparate students on the same page.
“There are 270 kids attending DVIA, and they all have very different programs because every parent is seeing their role a little bit differently,” said Tom R. Johnstone, Wiseburn’s superintendent.
The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics show that roughly 3 percent of all school-age American children, or 1.77 million, were home-schooled in 2011. As the practice becomes increasingly popular, more states are requiring districts to provide at least some educational services if parents request them.
The partnership between Wiseburn and Da Vinci offers one model for keeping home-schooling families connected to the larger district community and highlights a more holistic approach to getting parents involved in their children’s schooling. While parent cooperatives are becoming more commonplace, the Innovation Academy is unique as a full public school serving only home schoolers.
“Asking parents to volunteer twice a year for a fundraiser isn’t enough to connect them emotionally to their students’ learning,” said Laura B. Glasser, whose son Jacob attends Da Vinci. “Doing homework with my kid at public school was really about [both of us] doing the same paperwork in a different location. Here, family learning is about understanding multiple strategies. … [The school] offers families multiple ways to understand their child’s education.”
Students attend in-school class two days a week, either in a Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday cohort, though the school also offers a half day of fee-based elective classes on Wednesdays. For the rest of the week, children work with their parents on projects developed in partnership with the school’s teachers and aligned to the Common Core State Standards that most states have now adopted. Parents fill out a detailed “work journal” linking the activities they do on home days to specific standards, and a panel of teachers audits the journals every 20 days to ensure students are completing at least 20 days’ worth of learning in that time….
Parents attend two days of training at the start of the fall semester, learning how to align what they do at home with what students learn in class. Throughout the year, they continue to attend workshops given by teachers and other home-schooling parents on topics from reading-comprehension strategies to occupational therapy, and teachers provide online videos and other materials to help parents link school content to home lessons….
The school population is about half white, and the rest is a mix of black students and those of Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern backgrounds. While under California charter law students can enroll from anywhere in the state, all so far hail from across the Los Angeles metro area, and a majority qualify for free or reduced-price meals. “When you think of home-schooling families, you think middle-class white, and that doesn’t end up being the model here,” said current Principal Michelle Rainey.
Parents run the gamut in educational experience, too, she added: “Some say, ‘I’m a home schooler at heart; I want complete autonomy.’ We have others who say, ‘I’m not sure about this whole home-schooling thing, but I like the way you work with kids, so give me materials and hold my hand through this…..’ ”
With parents responsible for covering the bulk of core content, the school also has more time to focus on teaching students to apply what they learn in multiple subjects, as well as cultivate noncognitive skills such as decisionmaking and cooperation.
“Content is about 50 percent of what we do here, and in most schools, content is 95 percent of what they do,” Principal Rainey said…. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/12/30/15homeschool.h33.html?tkn=XOYFB5vCgN6oINU1CKtwJQQO62cE6pldq%2F2m&cmp=clp-edweek&intc=es

Many of our children are “unschooled” and a far greater number are “uneducated.” One can be “unschooled” or “uneducated” no matter the setting. As a society, we should be focused on making sure that each child receives a good basic education. There are many ways to reach that goal. There is nothing scary about the fact that some parents make the choice to homeschool. The focus should not be on the particular setting or institution type. The focus should be on proper assessment of each child to ensure that child is receiving a good basic education and the foundation for later success in life.


‘Hybrid’ homeschooling is growing https://drwilda.com/2012/08/16/hybrid-homeschooling-is-growing/

New book: Homeschooling, the little option that could https://drwilda.com/2012/10/12/new-book-homeschooling-the-little-option-that-could/

Homeschooled kids make the grade for college

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The education opportunity divide: Parents face jail for wanting a better life for their child

10 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi wrote about the importance of parenting in Not P.C., but it is true, parents and parenting matter:

Many “progressives” want to put forth the idea that families don’t matter, particularly in low-income communities of color. It is a different story in middle and upper income “progressive” families as they “helicopter parent “their children. There are some awesome single-parent households, but moi is going all “OLD FART” on you and saying that children need two active, engaged,and involved parents to thrive. http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/not-p-c-but-it-is-true-parents-and-parenting-matter/  The fact that two parents care very much about the well-being of the child means that they might face felony charges for caring too much.

Rosa Duarte of WFMZ69 News is reporting Parents face felony charges for sending daughter outside their district:

A Philadelphia couple is facing felony charges after allegedly lying about where they lived in order to send their daughter to a school outside their district.

Hamlet and Olesia Garcia were charged in August of this year with “theft of services”, a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison, by the Lower Moreland School District in Montgomery County.

The Garcias are accused of sending their daughter to the district even though they didn’t pay property taxes, according to the District Attorney’s office. The couple cost tax payers $10,752.81.

Thursday, civil rights activists along with lawmakers held a press conference saying the laws and the ways Pennsylvania public schools are funded are unfair.

The District Attorney should go after real criminals and not put parents in prison facing up to seven years and be registered as felons because they allegedly stole a quality education,” said former California State Senator Gloria Romero.

Romero introduced the nation’s first ‘Parent trigger’ law in 2008, which allows parents of a failing school district to vote on a method to restructure the school, mostly by transforming it into a charter school….

According to Bethlehem Area School Superintendent, Joseph Roy, stories like the Garcias’ are a symptom of a much bigger matter.

This issue of inequities and funding has been going on for years and there have been different efforts to try to adjust it but never to full satisfaction,” said Roy.

As for a solution, those involved like the Garcias’ attorney Thomas Kenny said it’s up to legislators, “I would very much like the laws in the commonwealth to change and I hope today is the start of that process happening,” he said.

One suggestion is to just have the state contribute more to public education, take the burden off the local taxpayers, another is to create more regional districts so you have a balance of wealthy areas and poorer areas in areas where they’re divided,” said Roy….http://www.wfmz.com/news/news-regional-southeasternpa/Parents-face-felony-charges-for-sending-daughter-outside-their-district/-/121434/17688040/-/ek6n7/-/index.html

The Garcias’ case is the beginning of many because education equity is the next great civil rights struggle.

Moi wrote inThe next great civil rights struggle: Disparity in education funding:

Plessy v. Ferguson established the principle of “separate but equal” in race issues. Brown v.Board of Education which overturned the principle of “separate but equal.” would not have been necessary, but for Plessy. See also, the history of Brown v. Board of Education

If one believes that all children, regardless of that child’s status have a right to a good basic education and that society must fund and implement policies, which support this principle. Then, one must discuss the issue of equity in education. Because of the segregation, which resulted after Plessy, most folks focus their analysis of Brown almost solely on race. The issue of equity was just as important. The equity issue was explained in terms of unequal resources and unequal access to education.

People tend to cluster in neighborhoods based upon class as much as race. Good teachers tend to gravitate toward neighborhoods where they are paid well and students come from families who mirror their personal backgrounds and values. Good teachers make a difference in a child’s life. One of the difficulties in busing to achieve equity in education is that neighborhoods tend to be segregated by class as well as race. People often make sacrifices to move into neighborhoods they perceive mirror their values. That is why there must be good schools in all segments of the city and there must be good schools in all parts of this state. A good education should not depend upon one’s class or status.

I know that the lawyers in Brown were told that lawsuits were futile and that the legislatures would address the issue of segregation eventually when the public was ready. Meanwhile, several generations of African Americans waited for people to come around and say the Constitution applied to us as well. Generations of African Americans suffered in inferior schools. This state cannot sacrifice the lives of children by not addressing the issue of equity in school funding in a timely manner.

The next huge case, like Brown, will be about equity in education funding. It may not come this year or the next year. It, like Brown, may come several years after a Plessy. It will come. Equity in education funding is the civil rights issue of this century. https://drwilda.com/2011/12/02/the-next-great-civil-rights-struggle-disparity-in-education-funding/

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