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Rank-and-file teachers speak truth to prog power

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 22, 2011 09:36 AM

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” – Thomas Jefferson

Since my days as a columnist for the Seattle Times, I’ve profiled courageous public school educators who have challenged the compulsory dues racket of their teachers’ unions. Here’s my 1999 column on how public school teachers in Washington state challenged their union over their political dues power grab. Here are your rights as a union worker. Here is a backgrounder on the permissible use of forced dues. As I wrote on Labor Day last year, free speech not only means the freedom to voice your political views, but also the freedom from being forced to pay for someone else’s. U.S. Supreme Court precedent established by the D.C.-based National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation guarantees the right to full financial disclosure from a union and a right to challenge the figures in court if they disagree.

On Sean Hannity’s Fox News television show last night, one of those brave teachers from the state of Ohio exposed how her union siphoned off her dues ($700 a year) to attack her husband, a GOP state legislative candidate whom the left-wing Ohio Education Association opposed:

You’ll recall that I shared Thompson’s plight last October:

I’m Jade Thompson and my husband, Andy Thompson, is running for the Ohio House of Representatives. I am a teacher at Marietta High School. Imagine my chagrin when my friends and colleagues began showing me the awful attack ads against my husband which they had received in the mail. Now imagine my dismay when I saw that those defamatory mailers were paid for by the Ohio Education Association – my teachers’ union. In effect, they are using my union dues to attack my husband! This is a new low, even for the OEA.

There was a recent letter to the editor about AEP withdrawing its support from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce because the chamber made a political endorsement. The writer found it “inappropriate and shameful” for that organization to ignore its members. I wonder if she would say the same for the OEA, an organization that endorses the most liberal candidates in the field and which month after month promotes progressive causes and programs in its member newsletter. Are Ohio’s teachers that unanimously liberal or does our union simply not represent our views at all? If teachers are representative of the larger voting public then you would expect that our political views would be just as diverse.

Teachers should be free to spend their hard-earned dollars to contribute to the candidates and causes they actually support. The OEA and its parent organization, the NEA, refuse to acquiesce because they have an obvious agenda. After all, as the general counsel for the NEA once said in federal court, “if you take away payroll deduction, you won’t collect a penny from these people, and it has nothing to do with voluntary or involuntary. I think it has to do with the nature of the beast, and the beasts who are our teachers … (They) simply don’t come up with the money regardless of the purpose.” Teachers, this is what your union thinks of you.

Jade Thompson is not alone. Across the country, there are thousands and thousands of teachers disgusted with the monopoly power-tripping of public employee unions whose politics they abhor.

Reader and teacher Mike Bennett of California writes:

Dear Michelle,

I am a public school teacher for the Yucaipa/Calimesa School District in Southern California.

Since November of 2008 I have been trying to get some answers from the California Teachers Association as to how my dues are spent and why they continue to support the Democratic Party and paganistic liberal causes and propositions. I have been promised both responses from the President and Controller of the CTA yet have never received any!

I have continued to complain to my local union president and she keeps forwarding my complaints to the CTA. I have e-mailed the CTA asking what are the salaries of the employees of the CTA?

Again I get no response.

I have just sent a letter of complaint to the state controller (endorsed by the CTA), asking him to investigate the CTA. I don’t know if I will get much help from him either.

I wanted you to know that there are many teachers who do not want their money funneled from their check to support causes they are diametrically opposed to.

Reader and teacher Sondra Barnes shared her letter to Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker:

Dear Gov. Walker:

I am so sorry you are getting pounded by those teachers, students and unions. As a teacher in California, I got into trouble with the unions myself when I only asked a simple question.

I repeatedly tell everybody I know that they are crazy to give any more money to education/teachers/teacher’s unions. Here in Los Angeles, all we do is throw money at education and here we are at the bottom in the country. We only graduate 40% of our high school students and they can’t even read, do not know history or math, and more importantly cannot do any critical thinking.

What I see in the Los Angeles classrooms is pretty much just ideological brainwashing by a huge majority of their teachers– and yes, teaching their students to protest and to march. In my humble opinion, this is child abuse.

Please stand strong and do not let these union thugs beat you down. So many of us stand behind you.

Sondra Barnes, Van Nuys, CA

From the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal, a telling chart on the Wisconsin Education Association Council’s political priorities and clout:

And this:

On top of being one of the state’s most dominant political forces, with an ability to influence legislation and elections, Wisconsin’s teachers unions have a direct effect on teacher quality through the role they play in local contract negotiations and representation of teachers targeted for improvement or dismissal.

By adhering to pay schedules that fail to distinguish between low- and high-performing teachers, protecting ineffective teachers from dismissal and fighting for work rules that provide more benefits for their members than for children, teachers unions stand in the way of improving the profession, critics argue.

…According to figures from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, WEAC’s political action committee has spent more than $9 million in unlimited independent expenditures on behalf of political candidates between 1998 and 2008, with only $17,136 of that amount spent to help a single Republican candidate – one who was challenging a GOP Assembly incumbent.

In the November elections, the WEAC political action committee spent nearly $1.5 million to help Democrats in just four state Senate races, only to see three of them lose.

Higher-ed employee Jason Hart exposes where Ohio teachers’ dues money goes:

Who but a union would insist merit pay is the wrong way to encourage hard work and reward the best educators? That anyone capable of enduring several years as a teacher should have a job for life, with longevity raises on top? That charter schools and vouchers should never be tried? As with AFSCME Council 8 & Local 11, the OEA stands between Ohioans and the services our tax dollars fund.
Exciting OEA Facts, Fiscal 2009

* $22,771,159 paid to union officers and staff — equal to $176.71 per member
* 143 union employees paid more than $70,000
* 117 union employees paid more than $100,000
* 12 union employees paid more than $150,000
* Executive Director Larry Wicks paid $208,469
* Executive Director Dennis Reardon paid $202,997
* $8,151,341 spent on benefits — less than 36% of the amount disbursed to union officers and staff
* $25,000 given to Policy Matters Ohio, a far-left Cleveland think-tank (09/23/2008)
* $10,000 sent to Colorado education union (10/17/2008)
* $10,000 sent to Oregon education union (10/27/2008)

The OEA also found $1,614,690 in the couch cushions to donate to Democrat campaigns in the 2010 cycle, according to records from the Secretary of State.

It comes to this: should we buy the OEA’s sales pitch about outsized union influence being the route to effective education? Or should we resist demands to further increase taxes, disassemble the union machine, and allow teachers, parents, and school districts to make their own decisions? This is what an attorney might call a leading question.

More from Jason on Ohio’s Senate Bill 5 here.

***

I’ve linked it before, but it’s well worth revisiting Mike Antonucci’s investigation of where $13 million in NEA dues go:

An Education Intelligence Agency analysis of NEA’s financial disclosure report for the 2009-10 fiscal year reveals the national union contributed more than $13 million to a wide variety of advocacy groups and charities. The total was about half the amount disbursed in the previous year, though more than in 2007-08.

The expenditures fall into broad categories of community outreach grants, charitable contributions, and payments for services rendered. In this list, EIA has deliberately omitted spending such as media buys, or payments to pollsters or consultants that have no obvious ideological component. The grants range from $2.125 million to a California ballot initiative campaign, down to smaller grants to organizations such as People for the American Way, Media Matters and Netroots Nation.

Here is an alphabetic list of the 130 recipients of NEA’s contributions, with relevant web links. All of these were paid for with members’ dues money (the union’s federal PAC is a separate entity funded through voluntary means):

AFL-CIO – $150,000

AFSCME – $90,000

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity – $33,000

America Votes – $300,000

American Constitution Society – $15,000

American Federation of Teachers – $28,365

Arizona State University Office for Research & Sponsored Projects Administration – $325,000

Asian American Justice Center – $7,500

Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund – $5,000

Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies – $5,000

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance – $5,000

Baptist Center for Ethics – $20,000

Campaign for America’s Future – $15,000

Campaign for College Affordability – $25,000

Center for Economic Organizing – $13,200

Center for Independent Media – $5,000

Center for Law and Education – $25,000

Center for Tax and Budget Accountability – $60,000

Center for Teaching Quality – $230,767

Center for U.S. Global Leadership – $10,000

Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association – $50,000

Children’s Defense Fund – $5,000

Citizens United for Maine’s Future – $25,000

Citizens Who Support Maine’s Public Schools – $250,000

Coalition for Our Communities – $625,000

Coloradans for Responsible Reform – $400,000

Colorado Deserves Better -$50,000

Committee for Education Funding – $25,000

Committee on States – $6,500

Communities for Quality Education – $1 million

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. – $8,800

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute – $50,000

Council of Chief State School Officers – $50,000

Council of State Governments – $34,500

Democracy Alliance – $85,000

Economic Policy Institute – $250,000

Education Commission of the States – $50,000

Education Law Center – $5,000

Educational Policy Institute – $5,000

Educator Compensation Institute – $25,000

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate – $200,000

Emerge America – $5,000

Employee Benefit Research Institute – $7,500

Everybody Wins DC – $8,000

Excelencia in Education – $47,400

FairDistrictsFlorida.org – $250,000

FairTest – $25,000

Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute – $10,000

Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network – $5,000

Global Institute for Language and Literacy Development – $10,000

Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice – $250,000

Harvard Labor and Worklife Program – $5,000

Health Care for America Now! – $450,000

HEROS, Inc. – $202,835

HOPE (Yes on SQ 744) – $1,758,000

Human Rights Campaign – $15,000

Jobs with Justice – $15,000

Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy – $12,230

KnowledgeWorks Foundation – $75,000

Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State – $5,000

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights – $15,000

Learning First Alliance – $91,199

Lincoln Center Institute – $50,000

Mana – $25,000

MediaMatters – $100,000

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund – $25,000

Midwest Academy – $5,000

Missourians for Early Vote – $41,000

NAACP – $5,000

National Action Network – $10,000

National Association for the Education and Advancement of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans – $5,000

National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund – $12,500

National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification – $5,000

National Coalition of ESEA Title I Parents – $5,000

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation – $15,000

National Conference of State Legislatures – $64,043

National Congress of American Indians – $10,000

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education – $381,576

National Council of La Raza – $26,500

National Forum on Information Literacy – $5,000

National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts – $10,000

National Indian Education Association – $50,000

National Latino Children’s Institute – $15,000

National Popular Vote – $5,000

National Public Pension Coalition – $90,375

National Staff Development Council – $25,000

National Urban League – $33,700

National Women’s Law Center – $10,000

Netroots Nation – $15,000

New Democratic Network – $25,000

New Organizing Institute – $65,000

New Teacher Center – $325,000

No on 1033 – $328,600

Organizations Concerned About Rural Education – $5,000

Organization of Chinese Americans – $5,000

Partnership for 21st Century Skills – $61,350

People for the American Way – $64,538

Plan!t Now – $25,000

Progress Now – $60,000

Progress Ohio – $50,000

Project New West – $185,000

Protect Colorado’s Communities – $25,000

Rainbow PUSH Coalition – $5,000

Rebuild America’s Schools – $10,000

Republican Main Street Partnership – $25,000

Ripon Society – $10,000

Robert Russa Moton Museum – $50,000

Roosevelt Institute – $5,000

San Diego Public Library Foundation – $5,000

Stop the Gag Law – $350,000

Task Force Foundation – $5,000

Trans Afro Group of Companies – $7,600

Tribal Education Departments National Assembly – $5,000

United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – $30,000

U.S. Action – $70,000

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition – $35,000

U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute – $26,447

Vote Yes for Oregon – $200,000

Voter Activation Network – $9,500

WAND Education Fund – $15,000

Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation – $166,666

Washington Families Standing Together – $15,000

Wellesley Centers for Women – $6,151

Wellstone Action! – $47,532

Will Steger Foundation – $15,000

Win Minnesota Political Action Fund – $50,000

Women’s Campaign Forum – $10,000

Yes on 100 – $50,000

Yes on 24 – The Tax Fairness Act – $2,125,000

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