Sunday, February 27, 2011

Representative Government Undermined

The bottom line:  Private-sector unions have competitors and bargain over the profits they help create. The government earns no profits. Government unions have a legal monopoly and bargain for a greater share of tax dollars. Collective bargaining in government means that voters’ elected representatives must agree on tax and spending decisions with union representatives.

from Time to Restore Voter Control: End the Government-Union Monopoly  February 25, 2011 by James Sherk

 Collective bargaining gives unions a monopoly on the labor supplied to government. This takes away the final say on government policy from the voters’ elected representatives. Elected representatives must negotiate with unions over acceptable spending and policy decisions. State and local governments cannot hire nonunion employees to work for different terms.[7] If the government and unions disagree, the union can strike against the public or call in an arbitrator to impose terms.

Collective bargaining forces elected representatives to negotiate a contract with union leaders, excluding all other citizens and potential workers from the bargaining table. Voters’ representatives do not fully control spending and tax decisions. They must reach agreement with union leaders who are unaccountable to the general public. This undermines the principle of voter sovereignty. Union leaders once recognized and opposed this. As recently as 1959, the AFL-CIO Executive Council stated flatly that “In terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition Congress—a right available to every citizen.”[8]

[7]Federal laws permitted President Reagan to fire the illegally striking air traffic controllers in 1981 and bring in emergency replacements. State and local laws do not allow the government to hire nonunion workers to lower labor costs. States and municipalities must hire workers for the terms agreed to in the contract or imposed by the arbitrator.

[8]Kramer, Labor’s Paradox, p. 41.



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Friday, February 25, 2011

Get the Facts!

Wall Street Journal, Feb 25

The showdown in Wisconsin over fringe benefits for public employees boils down to one number: 74.2. That's how many cents the public pays Milwaukee public-school teachers and other employees for retirement and health benefits for every dollar they receive in salary. The corresponding rate for employees of private firms is 24.3 cents.

Gov. Scott Walker's proposal would bring public-employee benefits closer in line with those of workers in the private sector. And to prevent benefits from reaching sky-high levels in the future, he wants to restrict collective-bargaining rights.

Overall, for teachers and other employees, the district's contributions for pensions and Social Security total 22.6 cents for each dollar of salary. The corresponding figure for private industry is 13.4 cents.

The district's contributions for health insurance of active employees total 38.8% of wages. For private-sector workers nationwide, the average is 10.7%.

Overall, the school district's contributions to health insurance for employees and retirees total about 50.9 cents on top of every dollar paid in wages. Together with pension and Social Security contributions, plus a few small items, one can see how the total cost of fringe benefits reaches 74.2%.

As the costs of pensions and insurance escalate, the governor's proposal to restrict collective bargaining to salaries—not benefits—seems entirely reasonable.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Congress must prevent federal control of the content of public education.

How to Avoid Dumbing High Schools Down

in Re-authorizing ESEA

Sandra Stotsky

There are good reasons why Congress should remove wording in the re-authorization of ESEA that implicitly requires states to adopt or use Common Core’s standards, or leaves states no choice but to adopt or use them.

The blackest mark CCS gets is for the low level of the academic expectations built into their definition of, and standards for, college-readiness.  Besides the legal questions, Common Core’s “college- and career-readiness standards” are not rigorous enough to prepare American high school students for authentic college-level coursework.  Nor can they make this country competitive in mathematics and science. 

CCS are neither internationally benchmarked nor research-based.

If states must use tests based on standards claimed to “prepare all students for college and career” in order to get their Title I money, USDE would end up in control of public education in every state in this country.

Policies built  into ESEA wording should strengthen, not weaken, the high school curriculum and prevent federal control of the content of public education.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

History Lesson for YOUR Legislators!

Funding for NSF's Education and Human Resources division is under consideration.  Please share THIS with your legislators!  (Scroll down under the NSF heading)

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Can They? Or Are They?

Christopher T. Cross, who is a partner in the Washington-based education consulting firm Cross & Joftus, noted that the 1979 law that created the most recent iteration of the U.S. Department of Education prohibits the federal funding of curriculum. Cross helped write that law when he was the Republican staff director of the House committee on education and labor in 1978.


It's been happening for a long time - to the mathematical detriment of our children!

School math books, nonsense, and the National Science Foundation

Show Us the Money!!

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Keeping an Open Mind while Looking Ahead

We're talking about a world where the digital revolution that's hit the rest of the world now gets to take off in education too. We aren't talking about an adult-less or teacher-less world, but a world where the technological advances that have swept the globe start to take over education. And a lot of people, including in the private equity world, are starting to think about that.

Joel Klein in an interview with Rick Hess, Education Week Blog, Feb 2, 2011

Why is News Corp buying [Wireless Generation]? Murdoch says it’s because education in the U.S. is a $500 billion sector “waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching” and Wireless Generation is at the “forefront” of individualized, tech-based learning.

Forbes, Nov 23, 2010

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Innovation Agenda

For some reason this one didn't cross-post simultaneously.

State of the Union and Education

Education in Obama's State of the Union

Jay P. Greene's Blog

These national standards, which the President promoted in his State of the Union address, have retreated from the decades-long consensus that we should strive to match top-performing countries by teaching Algebra I in eighth grade to as many students as we successfully can.

Education Message Didn't Add Up to Excellence

National Review Online - The Corner

Washington lacks both the constitutional authority and the capacity to manage local schools. The federal government provides less than 10 percent of the funding that goes to education, but far more of the bureaucracy and red tape.

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