Exposing the real "Right to Work" supporters agenda

Efforts to pass "Right to Work" laws go back decades (a measure was defeated in Ohio in 1958, by the massive margin of 63.3% No to 36.7% yes), and have always been pursued by monied interests looking to put a dent in the power of workers ability to stand up for themselves and each other through collective action.

It should not be lost on anyone that the major backers of this latest anti-union push are billionaires and big business, none of whom actually belong to a union. Having seen previous "right to work" efforts defeated, the extreme right, and their big business backers have had to send their latest effort through a rebranding exercise and they have come up with a new catchy title "work place freedom".

Who doesn't love freedom? Well apparently the very people promoting the effort. reported on a meeting of Tea Party members discussing "work place freedom" and why they were pursuing it

Speakers at an Allen County Patriots meeting Thursday made the case that the National Education Association abuses teacher dues to support a liberal agenda that disrespects Christian values.
According to Boyatt, NEA gave close to $15 million to advocacy groups in the 2011-12 school year and $18 million in 2010-11. The advocacy groups, she said, included the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Human Rights Campaign, Women’s Campaign Forum and Rainbow Push Coalition.

From there, it got uglier, much uglier

Harvey said the NEA has supported an “immoral, deviant and destructive” gay agenda for at least 25 years, citing its gay and lesbian caucus started in 1987. Harvey criticized the union for supporting a gay and lesbian history month, diversity training that included homosexuality, and pro-homosexual school counseling. She said the NEA has asked schools to protect students and staff from sexual orientation harassment and discrimination and has replaced the word “tolerance” with acceptance and respect.

“Kids are being trained as activists now,” she said.

Harvey said the NEA has voted to lobby for same-sex unions and said petitions are currently circulating to overturn the 2004 Ohio marriage amendment, which stated that that only a union between a man and woman would be recognized as a valid marriage. The OEA opposed the amendment.

This is why the Tea Party in Ohio wants to pursue "right to work" legislation, not to create any kid of "freedom", but to enable their ongoing bigotry by attacking organizations that have a long history of standing up for equality and fairness. Public opinion polls show strong majorities now supporting marriage equalityand how out of the mainstream these Tea Party "Patriots" truly are.

The NEA and its members should be rightly proud of their support for equality, even when it was unpopular to do so.

Big business backers of this effort ought to take a closer look at who some of their allies are. The world has moved on from 1958, but voters are likely to deliver an equally stinging defeat to the purveyors of this ugly bigoted agenda.

Education News for 11-28-2012

State Education News

  • Black grad rate lags in Ohio (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Ohio is the sixth worst state in the nation at graduating black students from high school on time, a new federal study says…Read more...

  • Ohio’s grad rates show racial disparity (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Ohio has one of the nation’s lowest graduation rates for black students but one of the better rates for white students. The gap between black and white students’ success is so wide — white students’ rate is 26 percentage points higher…Read more...

  • House tweaking schools legislation (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Majority Republicans in the House say legislation to ramp up the school accountability system and create new report cards for schools and districts could be voted on as early as Thursday…Read more...

  • Ohio ties for 8th in U.S. for high school graduation rates (Dayton Daily News)
  • Twenty two states have better high school graduation rates than Ohio under a new, more uniform method of calculation, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education…Read more...

  • Local HS Introduces Unique Texting Program (WJW)
  • A Lake County high school is now using a unique text messaging program which allows students to anonymously send tips about any potential dangers at their school…Read more...

Local Education News

  • New Albany levy passes; district will build a school (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Voters approved a New Albany schools tax that will pay for a new school building, according to final, official results the Board of Elections certified yesterday…Read more...

  • Vanlue, Kenton agree to share school treasurer (Findlay Courier)
  • Vanlue and Kenton school districts have agreed to share a treasurer, school administrators announced this week…Read more...

  • Mansfield school district rethinking budget situation (Mansfield News Journal)
  • A gamble by the Mansfield City Schools Board of Education backfired at the polls this month, and the district will operate with $4 million less next year…Read more...

  • No comments for proposed 'double dip' (Newark Advocate)
  • No one spoke up at a public hearing Tuesday concerning the proposed retirement and rehiring of the superintendent of the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County…Read more...

  • Austintown teens learn work skills (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Hartford Orchard has hosted many families and events throughout the season, but on Tuesday, those visiting the orchard were put to work…Read more...


  • Plenty of big questions facing Ohio's schools (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • When it comes to the state government in Columbus and big issues involving Ohio’s public schools, there are more big unknowns than knowns at the moment…Read more...

  • Ohio ready to reform tests, data (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • At long last, Ohio seems on the brink of simple, common-sense school reforms. One would compare the performance of students to those in other states. Another would eliminate the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo…Read more...

Education Profiteering: Wall Street's Next Big Thing?

The end of the Chicago teachers' strike was but a temporary regional truce in the civil war that plagues the nation's public schools. There is no end in sight, in part because -- as often happens in wartime -- the conflict is increasingly being driven by profiteers. The familiar media narrative tells us that this is a fight over how to improve our schools. On the one side are the self-styled reformers, who argue that the central problem with American K-12 education is low-quality teachers protected by their unions. Their solution is privatization, with its most common form being the privately run but publicly financed charter school. Because charter schools are mostly unregulated, nonunion and compete for students, their promoters claim they will, ipso facto, perform better than public schools.

On the other side are teachers and their unions who are cast as villains. The conventional plot line is that they resist change, blame poverty for their schools' failings and protect their jobs and turf.

It is well known, although rarely acknowledged in the press, that the reform movement has been financed and led by the corporate class. For over twenty years large business oriented foundations, such as Gates (Microsoft), Walton (Wal-Mart) and Broad (Sun Life) have poured billions into charter school start-ups, sympathetic academics and pundits, media campaigns (including Hollywood movies) and sophisticated nurturing of the careers of privatization promoters who now dominate the education policy debate from local school boards to the US Department of Education.

In recent years, hedge fund operators, leverage-buy-out artists and investment bankers have joined the crusade. They finance schools, sit on the boards of their associations and the management companies that run them, and -- most important -- have made support of charter schools one of the criteria for campaign giving in the post-Citizens United era. Since most Republicans are already on board for privatization, the political pressure has been mostly directed at Democrats.

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The Big e-school rip off

The evidence is becoming clearer and clearer. E-School charters are a tax payer rip-off that delivers awful results.

At Join the Future we have focused most of our attention on the poor quality Ohio's e-schools have delivered. Providing the highest quality education is, after all, the most important aspect to schools. In article after article, we have highlighted the packed virtual classrooms, and the poor graduation rates they produce.

But now comes news that not only do they produce awful results in terms of educational quality, they are also a huge pay payer rip off. First for some context as to the scope of e-schools in Ohio

Enrollment in online schools in Ohio has passed 30,000, more than 12 times the number in 2000 when the first "virtual" school opened in the state.

Only Arizona had more students enrolled full time in online schools in 2010-11, according to an annual report by the Evergreen Education Group.
Although scattered around the state, the online students combined would make up the third-largest district in Ohio — about the size of the Cincinnati schools. The online schools are charters, independently operated but publicly funded.
Ohio's online schools have become a big business. The state paid online charter schools $209 million in 2010-11 to educate students, or an average of $6,337 per student.

Results are mixed at both for-profit and district-run schools. Online students have lower graduation rates than those at traditional schools. They attend college at a lower rate. At the same time, other measures have shown online students learning as much as, or more than, students in many districts.

It's a growth business. And reporting from StateImpact Ohio and the Plain Dealer indicate why

Robert Mengerink didn’t know how much an online school really costs to operate — until he started one.

When he learned this summer that the agency he heads, the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County, could offer a basic online program for less than half of what the state pays online schools per student, he was taken aback.
The cost? About $2,980 per student for a full course load all year.

That's more than 50% cheaper than the for-profit charter operations such as ECOT, and it's not an isolated example.

TRECA Digital Academy, another publicly operated provider of online K-12 education, says it can do it for about $3,600 per student.

That potential savings highlights questions that critics of online schools have been asking for years: What really happens to that taxpayer-provided money? Is most of it going to educate students? Or are schools pocketing a large profit while cutting corners for students?

That's a really good question. For a Governor and legislature that talks about reducing government spending so much, we are left wondering why they continue to allow such a laissez faire attitude to these terrible schools.

We recommend you read the full State Impact report, it really should open some eyes.

The Casino shell game

Hopes of school districts hitting the proverbial jackpot are set to take a significant hit if analysis conducted by the Cincinnati inquirer prove accurate.

“This is all a big shell game,” said Warren County Administrator David Gully. “We’re not really getting anything. All the new money we’re getting is going to be offset by cuts in the Local Government Fund.”

Gully was referring to state budget cuts through mid-2013 that severely slashed funding to counties and local communities in order to close an $8 billion budget gap.
Tax projections also depend on whether slot machines open at Ohio’s seven racetracks. Local governments can count on a 27 percent reduction in projected tax proceeds if that occurs because “racinos” are expected to dip into casino profits. The low end of The Enquirer’s analysis includes that scenario.

That scenario is now certain, with the Governor signing SB386 which will allow racetracks to offer slot machines. Ohio schools are likely to received just 39% of what was promised in 2009, which wasn't big money to begin with. In 2009 projections were that $327,441,791 would flow from casino to local tax juridistions, but now just $130,452,323 is expected, a massive drop of $196,989,468

School officials are skeptical about how much money they’ll receive and what it will mean to their budgets.

Consultants have told school districts to expect $21 per student for 2012 and up to $80 per student when all casinos are open.

“It’s not big money, although it sounds like a lot to the average Joe,” said Randall Bertram, treasurer at Northwest Local Schools, the second-largest school district in Hamilton County with about 9,000 students.

Northwest, which is laying off 56 people on Aug. 1, including 21 teachers to trim $3 million from the payroll, is hoping to get about $1 million a year in tax revenue from the casinos. That’s still only 1.25 percent of an $80 million general fund budget in a district that axed $16 million from its spending since 2005, Bertram said.

The further fear, which materialized with the lottery revenues, is that casino revenues will further supplant state funding

“It took one or two biennium budgets and it’s in the same bucket of money as everything else,” Bertram said of lottery proceeds. “We don’t know how long this is going to last. It’s almost like stimulus money. You hope you get it, and you hope you can do good with it. You don’t rely on it.”

Here's a district by district breakdown of expected revenues.

Casino Revenue Analysis

I Don't Understand Michelle Rhee

A must read

Of all the images of Rhee, the one that sticks in my head is when she invited a PBS film crew to watch her fire a principal. She said to the crew: "I'm going to fire somebody in a little while. Do you want to see that?" Of course they did, and they filmed it. It was then that I realized that she enjoys hurting people. She enjoys watching people suffer.

In another infamous incident, Rhee told an audience of young teachers that when she was a teacher, she controlled her restless class by putting duct tape on their mouths; when the tape came off, their lips were bleeding. Apparently, the audience found that act of child abuse very funny.

Today Rhee is a national figure. Her organization claims to have a million members, though I hear that anyone who goes to her website is automatically registered as a member. StudentsFirst sends out deceptive email solicitations—I received one myself—asking the recipient if you want to see a great teacher in every classroom. Rhee's name does not appear anywhere on the email. If you answer yes, you are registered as a "member" of StudentsFirst. I don't understand this kind of deceptive marketing on behalf of someone who claims to be concerned about education.

Her organization allegedly has raised more than $200 million and is well on its way to raising $1 billion. This money will be used to attack teachers' unions; to strip teachers of any job protections; to promote vouchers, charters, and for-profit organizations that manage charter schools; and to fund candidates who want to reduce spending on public education and privatize it. I have heard rumors about big-name donors to Rhee, but can't verify them. StudentsFirst does not release the names of its contributors.

Let me add that I find offensive the very concept of "StudentsFirst." The basic idea is that teachers are selfish and greedy and do not have the interests of students at heart. So students need a champion to protect them against their venal teachers, and Rhee is that champion. Supposedly, Rhee and her allies—assorted billionaires, big corporations, wealthy foundations, and rightwing governors—are the only people who can be trusted to care about our nation's children. A New York City writer, Gail Robinson, recently challenged Rhee's claim to be above self-interest after Rhee announced that she was bringing her campaign to New York City.